Forum

 

18 posts

Ethics of Similarity

Feb 14, 2013 at 20:10

What's you're opinion, morally, ethically, and/or legally about modifying a font like this:

Example 1: BlackJackRegular by TYPADELIC, (free):



and the same text contracted horizontally by 20%:




Example 2: LHF Sarah Script by Charles Borges de Oliveira, (commercial):



and the same text contracted horizontally by 40%:




Example 3: Microsoft system font Broadway:



and the 60% condensed version:




These were made quickly by copy/pasting text from MS Word to MS Paint, so parts of some letters are missing because they can't be selected in this manner.

So, suppose someone wanted to make a new font based on the character set of an existing font, significantly altered, but in a uniform way through an automated method.

There's no question that the basic design of the letters is identical, but the rendering of them is completely different. The weight might be changed significantly, (or not, the 'source' images could me modified further, to restore the original weight). All of the angles are different, but the connection points between letters are still the same, because the vertical alignment isn't changed. If we apply standard criteria for judging similarity, (location and number of vector nodes), these would be completely different. At the same time, however, the design is clearly recognizable as the intellectual property of someone else.

There are thousands of fonts that are more closely related to Helvetica, and who knows how many only a grunge filter removed from a system font.

Maybe this is something that would fall under the 'fair use' legal provision, if it is offered as a free font? Would it be different if glyphs from a commercial font were used? How different would the text have to be before it becomes a mutant, rather than a clone?

I've been working on a condensed version of a public domain typeface, which brought this situation to mind. It could be a good learning experience to modify an existing script before attempting an original one.

This is assuming that consent from the original designer has been neither sought nor received. It would be good etiquette to ask, but is it even needed?

Opinions?


Feb 14, 2013 at 20:43

Broadway Condensed isn't digital.



Feb 14, 2013 at 20:58

metaphasebrothel said  (view post)

This is assuming that consent from the original designer has been neither sought nor received. It would be good etiquette to ask, but is it even needed?

Opinions?

'He had scaled the coordinates of the fonts by 101% on the vertical axis in order to slightly change the fonts.'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adobe_Systems,_Inc._v._Southern_Software,_Inc.


Feb 14, 2013 at 21:03

As long as one keeps it to him/herself as a learning experience I see no problem. When, however, the resulting digital type file is published in whichever way that would be an infringement of intellectual and industrial property. I don't know the situation in Canada but when a case like this were taken to court in The Netherlands it is considered as an economical offense and the fine could easily reach a quarter of a million Euro. Even for a freebee! Some countries take the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works more seriously than other countries. Yet, keep in mind, Canada is a signatory country.


Feb 15, 2013 at 18:19

If it exists only in metal, wood or film, go for it as long as it is not covered by a live patent. If it exists only in digital, find something else unless it is public domain or open license.

If a design is in the public domain like those in the 1800s, I don't care if it has been digitized a thousand times if I like it. Create your font based on a published specimen and stay away from existing digital versions while you are doing the font. Do not copy other peoples mistakes and feel free to make your own mistakes.

Ideally and for ethical consideation, if the design only exists on paper and/or the designer is alive think hard about it or ask permission. But that doesn't happen most of the time. However, if someone is coming out with a pay font, he should consider getting a license or asking permission from the designer or whoever owns the IPR.

In the US, you make a specimen using a digital font, print it, scan that, and make a font from the scan is perfectly legal. Even if it is legal, you will create a reputation as a rip-off artist.

It is another matter in the EU and, as koeiecat pointed out, a very messy affair.

As far as lifting something from a digital font to create another font, I think you should stay away from that. You can only do that to public domain fonts or fonts whose license specifically allows it. For free fonts, a permission from the creator of the font is necessary.

If a font is to be modified for educational purposes, that is entirely up to the person as long as the resulting font is not released.

You are planning to do a script font? Claude is extremely good at that and you two are "neighbors"


Feb 15, 2013 at 18:59

toto@k22 said  (view post)

You are planning to do a script font? Claude is extremely good at that and you two are "neighbors"

Once, now I have difficulty.


Feb 15, 2013 at 20:02

You must be joking, Claude.
A very nice script font that hasn't been done will make it happen again.


Feb 16, 2013 at 01:23

@ claudeserieux: The example of Adobe Systems Inc. vs Southern Southern Software Inc. is not really similar, as there is a huge difference between altering a font design by 1%, and altering its character map by 20 - 40%.

@toto@k22: I have no plans to make a script font at this time. This thread is hypothetical, for discussion.

I'm not suggesting that anyone should open a font, stretch the glyphs, rename it, and claim it to be an original design. I suggested that the character map from an existing font be printed or converted to digital images, those images be modified, the modified images be imported into a new font, the imported images be smoothed, then a new font be generated.

Here's an example where I have done this for a Public Domain alphabet design:



It's obvious that one is a derivative of the other, and yet they are significantly different. All of the angles are changed, except for those that are 100% vertical.

Suppose that the first N had initially appeared as an original design in a font. Does that author automatically own variations that he did not design? How much would the difference have to be before the variation becomes an original design itself?


Feb 16, 2013 at 03:03

Gentlemen:

I have recently been involved in a series of discussions about fonts which appear to be similar to other, more expensive fonts and would like some counsel.

If a Dafont font is similar in design/style to another more famous font does Dafont filter these out of the catalog? Is there some threshold filter, automatic or procedural, to eliminate too-looks-a-like? If an outsider suggested a Dafont font is derivative, at some level, is there a process to verify this allegation?

Rhetorical: Is there a way to break the knees of someone who cries "fraud" too often via email?

Dick Pape


Feb 16, 2013 at 09:23

DPape said  (view post)
Rhetorical: Is there a way to break the knees of someone who cries "fraud" too often via email?

With a few thousand dollars, we might be able to help


Feb 16, 2013 at 10:13

@drf_
Rent-a-Serb


Feb 16, 2013 at 10:22

@ Dick Pape
Which font(s) might that be?


Feb 16, 2013 at 11:35

Yes, or Rent-a-guy-from-the-Balkans-in-general


Feb 16, 2013 at 15:27

I could do Broadway Condensed, but the letters a,e,g,i,k,r will be different to Broadway.
And based on the original 1929.


Feb 16, 2013 at 15:30

@ metaphasebrothel
Have you read - at least an excerpt - of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works? It implies that artistic work is protected. Hence the word copyright. Only the artist who created the original work has the right to make copies, using whichever technique and for whatever purpose. Only the artist has the right to license others to use his/her design and/or transfer his/her right to make copies.

Several exclusive rights typically attach to the holder of a copyright:
- to produce copies or reproductions of the work and to sell those copies (including, typically, electronic copies)
- to import or export the work
- to create derivative works (works that adapt the original work)
- to perform or display the work publicly
- to sell or assign these rights to others
- to transmit or display by radio or video

Applied to the world of typography that means that the form of a letter-shape is protected and may not be copied using whichever technique and for whatever purpose without a license of the copyright holder.

Applied to the world of comics that means that the form of a comics-figure is protected and may not be copied using whichever technique and for whatever purpose without a license of the copyright holder.
Example: The copyright of the Mickey Mouse figure lies with the Walt Disney Company.
Now someone makes, without a license, a coffee mugs with the Mickey Mouse figure and brings these mugs to the market. For a price or for free as a (promotional) gift, or using it for merchandising. A split second after the Walt Disney Company becomes aware of this an army of gray suits are on the doorstep of that person/company. They are friendly but persistent.
Now some reasonably gifted comics artist draws his/her version of the Mickey Mouse figure and uses it to make a coffee mug for other than his/her own private use. Rest assured. The Walt Disney Company reaction is the same.

Applied to the world of graphics art that means that artwork is protected and may not be copied using whichever technique and for whatever purpose without a license of the copyright holder.
Example: The work of M.C. Escher. The copyright, reproduction rights, lay with the M.C. Escher Foundation and The M.C. Escher Company B.V.
Any unauthorized use of any of the works of M.C. Escher leads to a lawsuit. World-wide.

Back to the world of typography, it does not matter which technique is used to reproduce a letter-shape. As long as it is still under the protection of the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works and/or national copyright laws permission for the use of that design is needed.
A font was and is a size of a face of a type. The letter-shape of that type has once been designed. Even if one, like you, prefers to define 'font' as digital type it is still a way to reproduce a letter-shape design. Either way, that letter-shape design is protected under law.

Now, it is true that not all copyright laws in all countries are the same. But typically, the duration of copyright is the whole life of the creator plus fifty to a hundred years from the creator's death. Although there are countries where the duration expires after the creator's death.


Feb 18, 2013 at 13:57

@Dick Pape

Thank you. I know what you mean. I have seen some posts on typophile regarding Aver that in my opinion are nothing short of slander. Seriously. They have no idea what they are talking about.
~Lauren (nymphont/nymfont)


Feb 18, 2013 at 15:52

Lauren. Thanks for the note. I can't think it would do any good trying to defend yourself against the drive-by pot shots. A lawsuit probably wouldn't work because they don't speak for Typophile. They are letting their "noses" drive their brains. Very "boy like". Hah.

You might contact the moderator to ask for an explanation. Or not... DPape


Feb 18, 2013 at 16:55

@DPape,

Yes, I know. This is why I haven't done anything about it, nor do I intend to. And nah... I am not even going to contact the moderators there. I am not really too worried about it. I can tell you this though, the things being said, are without a doubt entirely not true.

Thank you though,
Lauren



All times are CEST. The time is now 02:05


 
Ad by Dukal
Privacy Policy  -  Contact