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6 posts

Font (and graphic) Copyrights, need info :)

Dec 06, 2012 at 15:54

Hello all! I'm a graphic artist to be and I was hoping to find out as much as possible on the subject of Copyrights in the context of graphic design (excluding photography, I leave that for later) both generally and also more specifically about Fonts. I was hoping someone could provide a good source/website, the more official and the clearer it is, the better -->> Regarding EU laws <<--

Additionally I also have a specific question regarding fonts. Inspiring oneself of other fonts is of course permissible and unavoidable. The question is, how far can we go before infringing on copyrights? Say there's a really nice font I'd like to use but can't find the 150 I would need to do so. As designer surely I can then just make a font of my own based on the first one, but to what extent? If I vectorize a letter and move say, 3-4 points around, I end up with a new shape (assuming I've moved them more than just a pixel or two but not that much that it looks obviously different), but where are the (clear) lines not to cross? (avoiding any "grey area" as much as possible). Because I often see two almost identical fonts from different designers, and for example one is the "same" as the other only with added "serifs". And to me I find it normal, I don't find myself thinking its a ripoff in anyway.
Thanks a lot for the help!

Dec 06, 2012 at 16:33

It can now be argued that opening up a commercial font in a font design program (such as FontLab), copying the outline to the template or mask layer and redrawing the letter to match the shape of the original is a breach of copyright law.

Dec 06, 2012 at 18:18

More food for thought:

A typeface design, the shape of the letterforms, falls under artistic work and as such the designer automatically owns the copyright. There is no need for registration.

Dec 06, 2012 at 23:13

Thanks for the replies! =)
To claude, what if its the case of not matching the exact shape of the original. My aim is not to manage to somehow just make a copy. My question is, in making a new font, for myself (one I would use in a graphic composition as opposed to a font to cash in on) basing myself on a font that I like, how different must the new shapes/letters be to avoid problems? For example, imagine having a square shaped "E" letter and decide to make one of the straight lines/sides slightly curved, is that "enough" a change? Because at some point theres going to be so many "copyrighted" fonts that it will be impossible to come up with a new one with isnt some kind of variation thereof.
Im guessing what Im asking is, how different does the new set of letters have to be before it can be "called" a new font, ie, free of copyright hassle from the inspiring font.

Dec 06, 2012 at 23:47

If they develop a font that is very similar to an existing font they must be quite careful that all the design work is original: that every glyph is redrawn and that other software information (such as width metrics) is not based upon the original software 'code' of the font.

Bref: Do not use a font (ttf or otf).

Dec 07, 2012 at 00:01

You can make an 'old font' but from the original (paper).

Example : Cucumber (1970)

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