Open Net Welcomes Court’s Ruling That a Nonprofit Organization’s Use of “Free Font” Is Fair Use
A Meaningful Court Ruling That Will Help Deter Abusive Use of Copyright Against Non Profit Organizations
Open Net participated as a legal advisor for the defendant in a civil suit(2022. 5. 13. 2021Na59869) represented by the Dongcheon Public Interest Foundation. The case involved a font copyright holder suing a nonprofit organization for damages for its use of a “free font” that was distributed under “free use for non-profit” terms. The defendant had used the “free font” to promote the non profit organization’s upcoming events.
A Nonprofit Organization’s Use of the “Free Font” Is Fair Use of Works Under Article 35-5 of the Copyright Act
The court ruled in favor of the defendant that the nonprofit’s use of the “free font” for “educational purposes and for the public good” was fair use of works under Article 35-5 of the Copyright Act.
The court’s ruling that the nonprofit organization’s one-time, non-profit use of a very small portion of the font program’s combination of letters have little significance in terms of the entire works provide an important criterion on the future determination of fair use of works.
Article 35-5 (Fair Use of Works)
(1) Except as provided in Articles 23 through 35-4 and 101-3 through 101-5, where a person does not unreasonably undermine an author’s legitimate interest without conflicting with the normal exploitation of works, he or she is entitled to use such works.
(2) In determining whether an act of using works falls under paragraph (1), the following matters shall be considered:
1. Purposes and characteristics of use;
2. Types and purposes of works;
3. Amount and substantiality of portion used in relation to the whole works;
4. Effect of the use of works on the existing or potential market for the works or current or potential value thereof.
Abusive Use of Font Copyright Against Nonprofit Organizations Must Be Stopped
Together with a ruling from a case represented by Open Net earlier this year that terms and conditions cannot be recognized as the contents of the contract if the conditions prohibiting commercial use was insufficiently presented, this ruling makes clear that abusive use of font copyright against nonprofit organizations will not stand.
*This is a partial translation of Open Net’s original statement in Korean. You can find the full Korean version here. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.