Working with the Font Properties Extension Utility

Everyone knows that software licensing can be a tricky issue. Even if your organization works hard to stay legal, it’s still easy to overlook some types of licenses. It’s common sense to know that things like applications and operating systems require a license, but some types of files seem so insignificant that you may not have thought about a license being associated with them. One of these often-overlooked licenses applies to fonts. In this article, I’ll explain how you can take steps to ensure that your fonts are legal.

It’s easy to understand why fonts are so easy to accidentally bootleg. After all, most fonts consist of a single file, which doesn’t include any documentation about the licensing issues involved with installing the font. As such, fonts often appear to be freeware (and many of them are). Because of the lack of documentation associated with typical fonts, it’s a common practice to embed fonts into applications or to copy fonts for friends.

However, there’s an easy way to determine exactly what the licensing requirements are for a given font. Microsoft makes a utility for Windows 2000 called the Free Font Properties Extension Utility.

After installing the Free Font Properties Extension Utility, a font’s properties sheet has several new tabs. From a legality standpoint, the most useful are the License and Embedding tabs. The Embedding tab explains the level to which you may embed the font in applications or documents that are intended for distribution. The License tab displays the font’s full license, along with contact information for the font’s manufacturer. Although not related to licensing, I’ve also found the Hinting/Font Smoothing tab helpful; it reveals the point sizes at which the font is smoothed or hinted.

Determining Licensing Requirements

Getting the Utility

You can download the Free Font Properties Extension Utility from the Microsoft Web site at As you can see by the URL, it’s a Resource Kit utility. Although you may be able to locate copies of this utility from sources other than this Web site, I recommend using the copy from Microsoft, because several enhancements have been made to the utility since its original release. Once you download the utility, simply run the executable file. The installation process is extremely simple. //

Brien M. Posey is an MCSE who works as a freelance writer. His past experience includes working as the director of information systems for a national chain of health care facilities and as a network engineer for the Department of Defense. Because of the extremely high volume of e-mail that Brien receives, it’s impossible for him to respond to every message, although he does read them all.

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