Interesting news item from Typograhi.ca: much as the BSA (Business Software Alliance) audits large companies in efforts to police their respective members’ licensing policies, now large type foundries like Agfa Monotype, Linotype and more are beginning to crack down on illegal usage of their products.
Feedback on this news is, expectedly, largely negative. Nobody likes the heavy hand of enforcement, but fonts suffer the same false impression that software still does: they are easily copied, so they must be value-less.
Type foundries have a unique weapon on their side, as do any institutions producing creative materials with the intent of re-use by the purchaser (ie. stock photography & illustration providers) — the resulting work, by nature, is highly visible. In fact, it’s unsuccessful if it’s not. Lawsuits will no doubt abound from publicly-spotted work.
The question, then, is how does this apply to the limited set we take for granted daily? Web typography is restricted to the small subset of mostly cross-platform fonts that Microsoft bestowed upon us over half a decade ago: Arial, Courier, Georgia, Times New Roman, Trebuchet MS, and Verdana. (Of course, there are also Comic Sans MS, Impact, and Webdings if you’re into that sort of thing)
It looks like the answer is that it doesn’t. Their core web fonts package (which, incidentally is no longer available from Microsoft on the grounds that ‘all the fonts within are included in Microsoft products anyway’) shipped with licensing terms that are refreshingly generous. The FAQ states:
Designers can specify the fonts within their Web pages.. The EULA states:
You may install and use an unlimited number of copies of the SOFTWARE PRODUCT.
We can conclude that no restrictions governing use existed at the time of distribution. Whether this changes in subsequent releases is yet to be determined; it could happen. For now though, our core web fonts are still free for all to use.