I am embedding Google Fonts into a commercial website that have either the SIL OFL or Apache License v2.0. Do I need to include the license text or link in the metadata/ elsewhere on the site? I am currently embedding in the following way: <link href="https://fonts.googleapis.com/css?family=Anton|Archivo+Black|Patua+One&display=swap" rel="stylesheet">, and then referencing the fonts in a CSS external style sheet. Thanks!


Google Fonts hosts a number of freely available fonts. All of them are fine for commercial use. Google itself imposes no extra conditions for using their service.

However, the fonts themselves may be subject to a variety of licenses. In general, the open source licenses require that recipients of the font receive copyright and license notices for the font.

  • The SIL Open Font License 1.1, emphasis mine:

    Permission is hereby granted, free of charge, to any person obtaining a copy of the Font Software, to use, study, copy, merge, embed, modify, redistribute, and sell modified and unmodified copies of the Font Software, subject to the following conditions:

    […] 2) Original or Modified Versions of the Font Software may be bundled, redistributed and/or sold with any software, provided that each copy contains the above copyright notice and this license. These can be included either as stand-alone text files, human-readable headers or in the appropriate machine-readable metadata fields within text or binary files as long as those fields can be easily viewed by the user.

  • The Apache 2 license, emphasis mine:

    You may reproduce and distribute copies of the Work or Derivative Works thereof in any medium, […] provided that You meet the following conditions:

    1. You must give any other recipients of the Work or Derivative Works a copy of this License,
    4. If the Work includes a "NOTICE" text file as part of its distribution, then any Derivative Works that You distribute must include a readable copy of the attribution notices contained within such NOTICE file […]

However, these conditions in the OFL and Apache 2 license only apply to you when you copy or distribute the fonts. My interpretation: This is not the case for you. You are only linking to the font, and Google is performing the distribution. You are not party to the license, and therefore have no further obligations.

Due to data protection compliance concerns, I have stopped using Google Fonts and am hosting the fonts on my website. In that case I do have to comply with the licenses myself. I have done this by adding license notices to the CSS that loads the fonts, in a manner that will be obvious to anyone who looks at the source code. The notices mention the license name and basic copyright info and then link to the full license text. Note that the OFL license document may be modified to list reserved font names, so it is not sufficient to link to a generic copy of the OFL.

  • Thanks you so much for your response! I am revisiting my question because I have the same worries about data protection that you mentioned in your answer. If I may ask, did you include the CSS with the license text in the main html file, or in an external style sheet? – OntorTheKobold Dec 11 '19 at 18:47
  • @OntorTheKobold I don't think the difference is relevant from the legal perspective. As a practical concern, I've inlined the CSS snippet with the @font-face directives into the HTML header (just to save a HTTP request), and have included the licensing information in a CSS comment. For example, one comment reads: /* Merriweather Regular [latin]. Licensed under the OFL 1.1. See: /assets/fonts/merriweather-v19-ofl.txt */ – amon Dec 11 '19 at 20:40
  • One thing I wanted to ask is linked to this question some so I did nor make another question.Is recording a viedeo or clicking pictures of those font affet OFL? – ask Nov 26 '20 at 17:28
  • @ask I don't know the answer off hand. – amon Nov 26 '20 at 17:38
  • Please could you answer anytime later.This is linked to this question.scripts.sil.org/cms/scripts/page.php?item_id=OFL_web point no. 5 I feel may be of some help. – ask Nov 26 '20 at 18:04

Read the FAQ Frequently Asked Questions | Google Fonts:

The open source fonts in the Google Fonts catalog are published under licenses that allow you to use them on any website, whether it’s commercial or personal.

Google does not stipulate that you have to add license text or link in the metadata or site; so in the absence of that requirement, you don't have to.

  • 1
    but just the fact that their commercial or personal use is permitted does not make any statement about the license conditions that may be attached to such use. – amon Sep 19 '19 at 16:55
  • I saw that they were allowed to be used on commercial websites, but I think I am still confused on whether or not I need to include the license information in the metadata (or somewhere else). I have gone down a bit of a rabbit hole on whether embedding the link to the font counts as distribution or not. I may have asked my question ambiguously though. – OntorTheKobold Sep 19 '19 at 16:59
  • It's logic: the absence of a requirement to cite a license means you don't have to cite a license. – BlueDogRanch Sep 19 '19 at 17:08
  • Ok! I think maybe I got myself turned around and worried at the Apache License Ver 2.0 section 4 a. (found at apache.org/licenses/LICENSE-2.0.). I am likely overthinking it though, since I have searched a lot of places online, and I haven't found much. – OntorTheKobold Sep 19 '19 at 17:32
  • 1
    @BlueDogRanch it refers to “licences” - the text of those needs to be read to find out what the requirements are. – Dale M Sep 19 '19 at 20:45

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