Don’t Make This Mistake When Copying Things From The Internet

The internet makes it simple to find information with a few keystrokes (some of it is even true). So one can forget that access does not equal ownership or a right to use. Copyright law can restrict usage.

Copyright extends to more than music, books and movies, although these are the kinds of works we commonly think of. Almost anything that is designed to be seen or heard can attract copyright protection, including the symbols you are looking at right now: fonts.

Anyone designing a typeface (we will use “typeface” and “font” interchangeably, although they are not precisely the same) can theoretically get the same protection as any other artistic work. The fact that many typefaces are in the public domain (free to use by anyone) or are licensed for free (technically there is an owner, but the owner has given up the right to profit) does not change the fact there is copyright. And although copyrights are often ignored it does not necessarily mean that anyone can use the typeface freely.

Such is the case with a font known as “Generation B”, and owned by typeface company Font Bros. It looks like this:

generation b sample

Obviously this is different than common fonts like Arial or Courier but given the multitude of typefaces we are exposed to, even the unique nature of the characters in Generation B is unremarkable. That does not matter for copyright law, however. There is no test of “artisticness” to get copyright in a typeface, only that it was not copied from somewhere else.

Font Bros. made headlines early in 2016 when it accused Hasbro of appropriating Generation B in connection with the toymaker’s “My Little Pony” products. An example that Font Bros. provided is at

Few of these disputes make it to trial, and this may fall into the same boat. This was only an allegation and Hasbro may have arguments to rebut the claims. The lesson is simply to pay attention to all visual aspects, including typefaces. This is especially so when it is so easy to copy something from the internet and use it elsewhere. Dig into the details and ensure that either the product is free to use, or that you have appropriate permission.

Above all, do not think that copyright only applies to “big” works like books or movies. Even little things like typeface characters fall into its scope.