I have a couple of questions regarding a font legal issue...

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soho100
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I have a couple of questions regarding a font legal issue...

Post by soho100 » Wed May 18, 2011 1:23 pm

If our designer uses a freeware copy of a well known font which has been recreated and named differently, can the copyright owner of the original font sue us for using the copy in commercial artwork?
If the owner of the copy stated for 'Non-Commercial use only' and it was used in a commercial project, what is worst case scenario?

I'm not naming the fonts for legal reasons...and yes the designer is an idiot for doing so.

Thanks

Dick Pape
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Re: I have a couple of questions regarding a font legal issu

Post by Dick Pape » Wed May 18, 2011 3:35 pm

I am not an expert, however it is double short sided to not buy a verifiably legitimate copy of a font to be used in a commercial project. Gives piece of mind to you and income to a designer. Clearly if you do something which is not permitted you take your chances.

Chuck Davis (Letterhead Fonts) sues for thousands of dollars if he catches you using one of his fonts illegally.

soho100
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Re: I have a couple of questions regarding a font legal issu

Post by soho100 » Wed May 18, 2011 3:47 pm

Dick Pape wrote:I am not an expert, however it is double short sided to not buy a verifiably legitimate copy of a font to be used in a commercial project. Gives piece of mind to you and income to a designer. Clearly if you do something which is not permitted you take your chances.

Chuck Davis (Letterhead Fonts) sues for thousands of dollars if he catches you using one of his fonts illegally.
We did not check the freelancers font licenses...I know that was stupid but its too late now.

When you say "Chuck Davis (Letterhead Fonts) sues for thousands of dollars if he catches you using one of his fonts illegally" do you mean a freeware copy of his font?

Dick Pape
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Re: I have a couple of questions regarding a font legal issu

Post by Dick Pape » Wed May 18, 2011 5:11 pm

1. It may not be too late to contact freelancer. 'Fess up. Pay up.

2. It is hard to tell what is truly a free font. Someone could have gotten into the font and wiped out any copyright info. I looked at the LHF web site and couldn't tell what is free and what was a purchase bonus which is not necessarily a free font. Many of my LHF group are not clear on their status. I would go back directly to any vendor or designer for an authorized copy.

Chuck Davis has imbedded stuff in his fonts in order to trap the thieves. He, or some of his friends, have destroyed AE letters to make them unusable. He, or SOHF, has embedded an invoice number or something in the middle dot character. He, or SOHF, apparently has also introduced some spurious Platform encoding which isn't normally seen. It may be in a foreign language font which effectively hides the meaning. No reason for it to be there therefore it must be another example of Chuck's, or SOHF, paranoia...

I would under all circumstances stay away from LHF fonts, even if they are good and appropriate as there's a risk you'll do something wrong. See Typophile blog for others' views.

soho100
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Re: I have a couple of questions regarding a font legal issu

Post by soho100 » Wed May 18, 2011 6:33 pm

Dick Pape wrote:1. It may not be too late to contact freelancer. 'Fess up. Pay up.
That's not going to happen, the lawsuit is for £200,000...gulp.

I've examined the copy font in Fontographer, not that I know a lot about font creation but I am a skilled Illustrator artist and I can see it's a shoddy copy of the original design with spare points, kinks, rouge points very close together etc littering the outline. So I'm wondering if it is indeed a traced copy renamed, which I am led to belive may be okay legally, as opposed to someone loading the original font and moving a few points around...hmmm...hard to determine I'm sure. But as you say there may well be some hidden info linking back to the originator...any idea where one might look for it?

Dick Pape
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Re: I have a couple of questions regarding a font legal issu

Post by Dick Pape » Wed May 18, 2011 11:07 pm

Big Gulp.

I would guess it is hard for font designer or vendor to prove theft or there'd be more court cases. My understanding is a design is not copy rightable why you see so many duplicates of Commercial Script for instance. Lotsa talk about Russian fontists adding Cyrillic characters to common fonts and publishing them as their own and getting away with it.

Again I think you could bury identifying codes anywhere in a font. Some are obvious and others are hard to find. I would look for things that are "not right".

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Re: I have a couple of questions regarding a font legal issu

Post by Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu May 19, 2011 4:03 am

My understanding is that a font design can be protected for 25 years, and only for 14 years in the US.

See One Thousand Linotype Public Domain Fonts.

Seeking legal advice on an internet forum is not recommended if faced with a writ for £200,000 — I think you should seek proper legal advice.
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soho100
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Re: I have a couple of questions regarding a font legal issu

Post by soho100 » Thu May 19, 2011 7:50 am

Of course we are seeking legal advice but I myself am trying to understand the legalities of tracing a font.

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