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I intend to be running a web application in the browser for commercial use. The font I am considering at the moment is: Akzidenz Grotesk which can be downloaded for free provided it is for personal use. For commercial use, the website states:

Akzidenz-Grotesk is totally a free font for personal use. No license, sign up or registration is required for your personal use. But in case of commercial use, a license is highly recommended or you can buy this font by clicking here.

The confusing part to me is the wording:

a license is highly recommended

as if it is purely optional.

When consulting the EULA at the website they are linking to their language is very clear that they are not joking about their license. For my purposes it seems that I need to resort to a Web Fonts License.

The case seems pretty clear and cut to me that the website freefontsvault.com has erred in the details provided; but still, I would like to have some confirmation if there is something obvious I am overlooking?

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When the site says "a license is highly recommended" I can think of one possibility. A web site can be so designed that it uses a particular font if that font is already installed locally, but falls back to some other font if it is no0t, rather than embedding the font. Since the font in question is provided free for personal use, those who individually download it could use such a site.

The designer of a font holds copyright on it, and may license it under whatever terms s/he chooses. If a person wants to design a web site with this as an embedded font, then it must be licensed from the rights-holder on whatever terms the rights-holder offers or will agree to. There does not seem any option but to pay the licensing fee if this font is to be used in a commercial site or product. Using it without permission would be copyright infringement. The rights-holder could sue for damages. Whether it is worth paying that fee is a matter of judgement for the site designer. But there does not seem to be any provision making a license optional for a commercial developer.

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  • This is an amazing insight that restores sanity in all of this: A web site can be so designed that it uses a particular font if that font is already installed locally, but falls back to some other font if it is no0t, rather than embedding the font
    – Khalil
    Commented Dec 12, 2020 at 17:07
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That website is pirating it. The rights to digital fonts branded Akzidenz-Grotesk, and the trademarked name, belong to Monotype, which sells it on its MyFonts website (and some other platforms). (Monotype bought up its previous owner, Berthold Types, a few years ago.)

The design of the Akzidenz-Grotesk typeface is in the public domain: in the US font designs can't be copyrighted and the design anyway is long out of copyright in any country as it was published in the 1890s. There's nothing stopping you from designing your own version of Akzidenz-Grotesk provided you call it something else and many people have (this one is very good).

But the digital font versions of Akzidenz-Grotesk published by Bertold/Monotype are in copyright and the name is trademarked.

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The wording is (possibly intentionally) misleading, and suggests a false choice of

  1. buy a license, or
  2. buy this license

where it may be that "this license" is the only valid one. You would need a licence - and probably that one - to use the font commercially without infringement of the copyright holder's rights.

Alternatively, the option could be

  1. buy a licence, or
  2. risk legal action

which is technically an option, but not one that most people would consider.

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