Advice needed. Commercial use of font I made?

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highwaykind
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Advice needed. Commercial use of font I made?

Post by highwaykind » Wed Jan 07, 2009 9:50 am

Hey all.

I need some advice.
Someone's asking to (commercially, but I'm not sure how "commercially" that would be yet. I'm guessing 'use on a Tshirt in some online shop") use a font I made.

General question for if in the future this happens again.
- what are the going rates for commercial use on Tshirts/posters/business stationary/etc ?

Specific question in this case.

It's a font that I made from screenshots from the TV series House from the writing on the whiteboard, so it's Hugh Laurie's handwriting.
link to font
I made it available for free years ago, and I'm sure a lot of people have downloaded it, and used it for things.
(It's also one of the first fonts I made, so not quite up to my current standards, but that's another story).

Possible ethical/law problem: I didn't exactly (nor could I) ask permission to do this (did snail mail the font to 2 confirmed fanmail addresses but as kinda expected never heard back ;) ).

Since it's not my handwriting, am I even the person to give the permission for commercial use?

If 'yes', do I also decide what kind of use is OK (I'd hate to see it on something offending etc..)

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Re: Advice needed. Commercial use of font I made?

Post by Erwin Denissen » Wed Jan 07, 2009 12:08 pm

I'm not going into the legal aspects of your post, but there are several sites with information about fonts and copyright that might help.
http://www.typeright.org/
http://www.jyanet.com/font-10.htm
highwaykind wrote:General question for if in the future this happens again.
- what are the going rates for commercial use on Tshirts/posters/business stationary/etc ?
When you sell a font, you usually sell a license to someone that allows him/her to use the font. Prices are usually between $20 and $50.
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Dick Pape
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Re: Advice needed. Commercial use of font I made?

Post by Dick Pape » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:18 pm

Or ask for a tee shirt in exchange. Nice to see your work in print... You didn't sell it then.

highwaykind
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Re: Advice needed. Commercial use of font I made?

Post by highwaykind » Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:16 pm

Thanks for the info so far!

I was hoping to avoid all the copyright/legal fuss when I put it online for free, since it usually takes way too much energy to figure all that out.

I mean, I did make the font, but it is not my handwriting.
I don't really care what someone does with it for personal use (free for download means no way to track what happens with it in the first place),
but I'd hate for someone to recognize their own handwriting on something they really don't approve of.

But when someone wants to use a free font I made for something they will make money off, my mind goes to the 50+ hours spent making it and then some form of "payment" seems a really nice idea.

I did the same for another TV series that used handwriting - in that case I found out later that that was an original font (which I didn't know, and I did google before I made it) when the creator emailed me. No problems there, very kind email, and I instantly yanked it offline.

Leaves the part of - can I 'sell' someone else's writing like this?
Legally: I don't know. I was flying nicely under the radar, but is there a chance for me to get fined/sued over something like this?
If not, a T-shirt seems a good plan.
Less of a personal dilemma vs asking money.

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Re: Advice needed. Commercial use of font I made?

Post by Dave Crosby » Wed Jan 07, 2009 4:08 pm

I got into this mess about a year ago and wrote Font Law

I think it is important to realize that each and every font in existence has borrowed, kiped, plagiarized, stolen from other people.
NOTHING IS 100% ORIGINAL! If it were not so only specialists would be able to read it in the first place

One font-house vowed to sue anyone that used so much as a single point from their fonts.
Ridiculous! They themselves are guilty of theft.
Another example of the pot calling the kettle black.

BUT the BIG font foundries (who have stolen everything they sell - Check out the history of Arial/Helvetica, Cooper Black, etc.) have huge funds available and bushels of lawyers that can and will make your life miserable (and damage their own reputation. Look at what's happening to the Music Industry Big Five suing their customers) if they get an opportunity. Not fair, not right, just the way things are.

IF one is forced into a court of law, an expensive lawyer can show how your font came into being and evolved through v1-v25 and is therefore totally your work alone.

There are two valid schools of thought here.
1. A designer (or his boss) owns whatever is designed until ... Whatever Congress has stupidly decided last.
2. An infinite number of curves can be made between two points. ANY change is no longer the same design.

Between the two schools are a million differing opinions. 1% they are not the same, 25% they are not the same, etc.

My opinion is regardless of the original design, when YOU converted it to electronic media, you made thousands of decisions another designer would not have made. Therefore, the work is uniquely your own and NO ONE ELSE'S!

PS, I like your fonts!
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Re: Advice needed. Commercial use of font I made?

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:41 pm

I have always understood that while the Truetype font file is copyright, the font design itself is not, unless it was designed within the last 25 years (14 years in the US).

See this short PDF document One Thousand Linotype Public Domain Fonts

See also other articles of interest on Font Forgers
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highwaykind
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Re: Advice needed. Commercial use of font I made?

Post by highwaykind » Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:54 pm

But what's the design here? It's not my handwriting, I just copied it (screenshots and Photoshop) and made a TTF file (less than 25 years ago :) )

I'm not in the US by the way..

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Re: Advice needed. Commercial use of font I made?

Post by Dave Crosby » Thu Jan 08, 2009 2:14 pm

highwaykind wrote:But what's the design here? It's not my handwriting, I just copied it (screenshots and Photoshop) and made a TTF file (less than 25 years ago :) )

I'm not in the US by the way..
When an artist paints a picture, what he sees is "not his handwriting" either.

The font you made is your interpretation of what you saw that sparked enough interest to TRY to reproduce it in some fashion.
The font you made is NOT what you saw. Don't mistake the map for the terrain. They are totally different things.

It IS your unique interpretation of what you saw, just as the artists painting is his unique interpretation of what he saw. If others like the results, then it has value.

As someone wants to use YOUR FONT, then your font has value, otherwise we wouldn't be having this discussion.
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Re: Advice needed. Commercial use of font I made?

Post by Erwin Denissen » Sun Jan 11, 2009 3:27 pm

This article about selling your fonts might be of interest:
Taking Your Fonts to Market: Foundry, Reseller, or Go Solo?
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highwaykind
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Re: Advice needed. Commercial use of font I made?

Post by highwaykind » Sun Jan 11, 2009 3:52 pm

Thank you!!

I replied that she could use it in exchange for a T-shirt.
She says "Thanks. But I don't think I can afford sending you a Tshirt."
Oh well , she's got her answer, either don't use it or send me a shirt (/new PJs, since I don't usually wear T shirts), or spend your own 50+ hours hunting for screenshots and importing it into FCP :)

Also thanks for the article.
I'm selling one (er.. the only one so far) font I made from scratch through myfonts.com
But good god, that's so much more complicated than I thought!
Seriously, I thought "send font, lean back and wait ".. not the case at all.
Contracts and legal stuff and *big sigh*.
I'm not trying to get rich her people, just on the off chance that I can actually make 20 dollars a year from it I thought I'd sign up, it shouldn't be this complex!

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