Re: Fonts

Subject: Re: Fonts
From: Emily Skarzenski <71220 -dot- 341 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 13 Apr 1995 13:30:23 EDT

I originally wrote:

>Sadly, it seems that type designers can't legally protect a type -design-.
>However, they can trademark the name they give their creation. Therefore,
>anyone can steal a type design and resell it, but they can't use the name of
>original typeface.

Yvette reponded with the following:

>Font designers can legally copyright the font name as
>well as the design of the font. The problem arrises when companies like the
>design and don't want to pay a licensing fee to use it. They then take the
>font, modify it slightly, rename it but let everyone know it is equivalent to
>the other and then sell it without paying for the designer.

Not true. They -can't- protect their design.

As Arlen wrote in a response to the original post, "[designers] can protect the
code which produces the letters (TrueType or PostScript). But the actual shapes
cannot be protected, allowing someone to scan the letters and design other code
which produces the same or similar shapes."

This differs from other forms of art, where the "shape" of the art (the way the
eye perceives it) -is- copyrightable. Therefore, in order for the owner of a
type design to win a suit against a "thief," they must prove that the thief's
code -matches- theirs. Not only is this not easy (how would they get a copy of
the code?), but the act of copying usually creates some minute changes in the
design anyway. (No matter how good, a scan would never exactly match the
original--at least in terms of the code that describes it.)

So thieves really can steal the designs, and they don't have to purposefully
change anything about them to be obeying the letter of the law. All they have to
do is sell the copy under a different name from the original.

Emily Skarzenski
Head Technical Writer
Fastech, Inc. - Broomall, PA
71220 -dot- 341 -at- compuserve -dot- com

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