Fontsite/Softmaker: so what?

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Hugo Cristo's picture
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Fontsite/Softmaker: so what?
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Hello Typophiles,

I’ve read the following statement in another
thread (Understanding the legal issues…):

Nathan Matteson:
“I think James is hitting it right on the head
here. I’ve been trying to get my school to buy a
decent font collection — even if only for two or
three “type specific” labs — for nigh on three
years now. We just had a good instructor quit
over the lack of type and the beaurocratic hoops
you have to jump through to [not] get it.

And the closest we got was our bookstore selling
the dubious FontSite CD. :-/”


Well, that statement came in good time. I’ve
been browsing the websites of many typefoundries
looking for a basic font CD collection to use
on everyday’s work at my office.

I’ve considered all my options, from Bitstream
to URW, and they range from U$ 120 to U$ 500…
That was until yesterday, when I found both
Softmaker (Megafont XXL) and Fontsite (CD 500)
collections, priced as low as U$ 39 and U$ 49…

So, what’s up here? I’ve recognized many fonts
under different names but I didn’t get if those
collections are legal or even “ethical”.

I’m planning to buy a font CD collection not
only to be “clean”, but also because I want
to make sure that the designers would receive
their proper royalties. I mean, what would
Adrian Frutiger receive if I buy FrontPage*
instead of Frutiger?

I want to make clear that I’m not distrusting
any company/person. I’m just curious why and how
those similar font collections can have so
different prices.

There’s a Brazilian proverb that says “o barato
sai caro”, wich means something like you cannot
have something for nothing… (In fact, I guess
it’s not even Brazilian, it’s an universal law).

Best regards,
hC

* This font equivalence was taken from Luc
Devroye’s website.

Hugo Cristo's picture
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Joined: 24 Feb 2003 - 11:00am
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Well..

It seems that this subject isn’t interesting at
all or maybe it’s too complex to be discussed
here in Typophile.

BTW thanks for the messages I’ve received
privately. I hope I’ve choosen the right
purchase option.

hC

Nathan Matteson's picture
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Joined: 16 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
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Didn’t see this thread. Sorry Hugo. From my experience:

The fonts I saw on the Fontsite CD were pretty terrible. Technically. I.e., fonts with absolutely no hinting, contours running on the wrong direction, etc.

I never did a comparison between their fonts (e.g., FS Caslon) and a font a knew to be reputable (e.g., Adobe Caslon) so I don’t know if they were pure rip-offs or not. (Though I’m interested to do that right now — I’ll let you know.)

I certainly don’t want to suggest that they’re an unethical bunch if they’re not. But frankly, the fonts are dubious enough to put me off. And really appalling from the technical side.

I think those are 2 of the reasons certain font collections are so cheap. Technically inferior & (perhaps) merely stolen outlines from a proper foundry.

Nathan Matteson's picture
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OK. That said, I think a lot of my students still use the Fontsite CD (some, unfortunately, for professional work). I suppose it’s better to have FS Caslon at your disposal than to be stuck with Times New Roman for every project — if you’re broke and you’re school (in my case) doesn’t provide a proper collection from Bitstream, Adobe, etc. Maybe.

Hugo Cristo's picture
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Thanks Tiffany and Nathan for the feedback.

Buying fonts directly from the foundry always
seemed to be the best choice for me. That’s
why those collections surprised me so much.

I’ve almost decided wich collection I’ll buy,
probably Bitstream’s Cambridge. But what still
makes me curious is how that font renaming
thing works. I mean, isn’t there any legal way
of preventing an unauthorized redrawing and
reselling of an original font? And I’m not only
talking about things like Softmaker/Fontsite’s
Sabon x Savoy, but also like Bitstream’s
Humanist 521 x Gill Sans.

Let me put it better: What else, beyond ethics,
prevents anybody from redrawing one of my fonts
and reselling them under other names?

hC

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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I think it was the FontSite CD that was discussed on Typo-L many years ago, and it turned out that the guy selling it (Sean Cavannaugh) got the rights to all those fonts legitimately, when the parent font house (I forget who) did a barter with some money they owed him. So it’s more the parent font house’s fault.

hhp

Nathan Matteson's picture
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>legitimately, when the parent font house (I forget who) did a barter

That’s really interesting. I was at an old student’s office last night and was looking at the FontSite CD — and I was wondering how it was possible to have “URW Grotesk” if it wasn’t licensed. Makes more sense now. But it still doesn’t explain why so many of the fonts aren’t technically up to par.

>What else, beyond ethics,
prevents anybody from redrawing one of my fonts
and reselling them under other names?

As far as I understand it, if you work in the US, nothing prevents that. You can copyright the name of your typeface, but not the outlines. So anyone can rip off your outlines, change the name, and redistribute the font.

Nathan Matteson's picture
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>but also like Bitstream’s
Humanist 521 x Gill Sans.

Hugo, I believe there was a discussion about Bitstream and their naming conventions a month or two ago on Typophile. I’ll try to dig up the link for you.

Try here and here.

Nathan Matteson's picture
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Hugo, also take a look at this discussion re: Gill Sans.

Hugo Cristo's picture
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Nathan said:
>So anyone can rip off your outlines, change the
name, and redistribute the font.

Well, that’s really sad. Most of Brazilian
software-related laws are based on US
standards so I guess there’s nothing to
do about it here.

Talking about the renaming issue, those links
were very helpful. I already knew most of those
threads but this time I’ve read them carefuly
and many of my questions became clear.

Another curious thing is the poor quality
Nathan mentioned. One would find lots of
statements on Softmakers’ site telling how
professional, polished and well hinted their
fonts are. And they even include expert sets.



Hrant: I’m digging the Typo-L archives to find
the messages you said, but I still think that
‘fantasy’ name thing is somehow strange, mostly
because that equivalence list I’ve mentioned
can be found everywhere on the web.

Thanks everybody.

hC

(Now even the Cambridge CD seems ‘evil’ to me)

Hugo Cristo's picture
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Here are the messages Hrant was talking about and this
is Sean Cavanaugh’s (from FontSite) full explaination.

hC

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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Aaah, the good old days.  ;-)

hhp

Hugo Cristo's picture
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Yeah, really.

That archive works like a contemporary history
class for me. I had just entered college when
those messages were written. :-)

I agree with some opinions I read there — like
newer typefaces should be more expensive than
the older ones — but marketing education is a
difficult subject, isn’t it?

hC

PS: The wise proverb shows up again, revised — 
you can’t get something for nothing, even
if it’s old and dusty :-)

Nathan Matteson's picture
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Thanks for digging up that link Hugo. Very interesting read. I feel somewhat bad now for assuming the FontSite CD was a piece of questionable garbage.

I’m wondering now, however, if I should go back to recommending the CD to my students. I suppose there’s two ways to look at it. (1) If they don’t buy the Fontsite CD, they’ll probably just pirate fonts from some file-share network or other — and the CD is legal after all; (2) there’s Hrant’s view (which I assume you still hold, hhp) that the CD is detrimental to the type industry as a whole — so purchasing it is, in the long term, a “bad thing.”

I suppose there’s no easy answer to all of this.

darrel's picture
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Joined: 4 Feb 2003 - 6:03pm
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Isn’t that like saying buying a chair at Wal-Mart is detrimental to the furniture design industry as a whole?

Hugo Cristo's picture
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Darrel,

I don’t agree with that. Design shouldn’t be
understood as a way of selling products for
higher prices, but as way of making things
better, more accessible, cheaper, easier to
use etc.

I really don’t know why fonts are so expensive
or if they should be cheaper.

The only thing I know is that if someone does
everything I do as twice as fast and with the
same quality, he should double his price as well
and not divide it at half.

I’m not saying that the Fontsite CD is evil.
My point is that its costumers must understand
its real purpose (educational/beginner’s kit)
instead of thinking that everything else is
wrong, too expensive and not worth buying.

I think making a Wal-Mart Font CD wasn’t Sean’s
original purpose either :-)

hC

darrel's picture
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Joined: 4 Feb 2003 - 6:03pm
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“The only thing I know is that if someone does
everything I do as twice as fast and with the
same quality, he should double his price as well
and not divide it at half.”

That goes against basic competition in the open market. Some people prefer to sell on price, some on quality, a few can do both.

“My point is that its costumers must understand
its real purpose (educational/beginner’s kit)
instead of thinking that everything else is
wrong, too expensive and not worth buying.”

Well, it’d be nice if people realized that shopping at Wal-Mart isn’t necessarily good for the planet or society as a whole. But that’s how American Capitalism works. We sell as much as we can as cheap as we can. I’m not saying that’s right, that’s just what it is. I agree that the only solution is probably more consumer education.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
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Hugo — I actually meant to reply to this thread, and just kept forgetting. I would always recommend going directly through the foundry, as a first choice. But, that said, going through MyFonts is just as good an option. I purchased a couple different “collections” through MyFonts and see no reason to have done differently. Is this close to an answer?

Riccardo Sartori's picture
Joined: 13 Jul 2009 - 4:20am
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I wish you will discover the power of comma separated list items as soon as possible.

Nick Curtis's picture
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Hey, Ray Larabie!

How many you figure are ripoffs of our freeware stuff?

Uli Stiehl's picture
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Years ago, I analyzed all Softmaker and Fontsite fonts:

http://www.sanskritweb.net/forgers/#MEGAFONT

Note that these fonts had been renamed repeatedly.

Jeffrey's picture
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Mr. Redux...

where are your sources, as I know a thing or two about fontsite and softmaker from previous research. Nothing you say is actually confirmed, and the dates seem just imaginary. can you explain?

edit:
You seem to be quite happy believeing in your own rumours, with posts by a certain Derek from California all over Topix on these themes. In fact the the new Megafont and infinitype release dates were denied in softmakers own forum. What do you wish to archieve with these posts??

Spam, anyone :P

Jeffrey's picture
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Moderators... this is getting silly, can you please look into this, this is SPAM.

Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson's picture
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Jeffrey's picture
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you tell us

Jeffrey's picture
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You should ask Martin Kotulla, and you might as well ask Sean Cavanaugh about the Fontsite opentype collection...

Jeffrey's picture
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You are hilarious, tell me, what will you do this weekend? hanging around with Sean and Martin and having a good old ball with 2,222 font names that I just showed and no multiple variation font names (Rough, Funky, Dirty, etc.) and featuring approx. 15,000+ typefaces in Windows & Macintosh OpenType format that each comes in two forms - "TrueType" and "PostScript" - marking as a total of approx. 30,000+ typefaces included.

This party, which may cost very expensive, should be LOTS of fun, be sure to post some snapshots, straight to us, off course!

John Hudson's picture
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DDD1988Redux, a simple question: is spamming discussion boards what you wanted to be doing with your life when you were a child and imagined what future you might have?

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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There's a very thin line between a very smart robot and a very stupid human.

hhp

Nick Curtis's picture
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There's a very thin line between a very smart robot and a very stupid human.

Not that I've noticed…except that very stupid humans can vote. Bummer.

Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson's picture
Joined: 19 Nov 2010 - 11:15am
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@hrant – Look at "Computer Stupidities". I do not think any robot with a skerrick of intelligence, let alone self-respect, would be caught out like that.

Indra Kupferschmid's picture
Joined: 8 Aug 2007 - 3:23am
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Thank you very much. This is actually a useful list to have.

Richard Fink's picture
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+1 to what Indra said. Thanks.

Better yet, how did you derive it?

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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Can you prove you're human?

hhp

HVB's picture
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@Derek
When you post long lists, it would be much easier for everyone if you could either post them to a website (providing a link here) or at least convert the format to a plain old comma-separated list instead of a three or four-yard long vertically scrolling text list :)

Personally, I find your lists quite useful. It's nice to have fairly complete lists of these collections - no matter what their origins may be.

- Herb

Jeffrey's picture
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might be interesting to find out what softmaker have to say:

http://www.softmaker.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=5&t=11972&p=42225#p42225

they seem to know Derek, as do the MyFonts people, apparently. I don't know what to think about this now. If, Derek, you do understand what I am saying, please read the words by mr Kotulla in the Softmaker forum. It seems at least some things you have said are not true, according to him. I am interested in real knowledge on these subjects, but now it is hard to tell if it is, or if it isjust fantasy. Please explain why you post this stuff...

sorry, if I hurt your feelings with previous posts, but please understand that this can easily be misunderstood as spam.

Uli Stiehl's picture
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HVB:

For your convenience, I uploaded a ASCII file here:
http://www.sanskritweb.net/forgers/megafont.txt

Queneau:

The list is no "baloney", as Mr. Kotolla said at his sofmaker forum.
In fact, the list is more or less Mr. Kotulla's own font renaming list.

Please note: I only stated that the above LIST is no "baloney".

Jeffrey's picture
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Ah Uli, glad you chime in here.

You seem to know a lot about all this stuff. I would like to know what are current and/or former connections between URW (URW++), Softmaker and FontSite. I still do not understand it. Basically the comparable fonts by URW, SM and FS have the same outlines (I checked) so they can be set in one paragraph without noticable difference. The do have different kerning and character sets though, and the FS fonts are now in OpenType with several OT features. They seem to develop the same base material on their own. So do Softmaker. But I thought that Softmaker licensed the fonts from URW, or bought the rights when they went bankrupt. But they claim to have licensed them from URW++ (URWs succesor), which brings the question if they now activily work together or not? I would not be interested in this, if the core set of fonts (outlines, metrics) was not sound, which they are, but I am curious how they can be offered for such different prices, under so many different names....

BTW It seems a core set of fonts that features on the SM collections, seem to be on almost all cheap font CDs here, like the Data Becker CD, Franzis font collections, Clickart packages, Serif font collections, etc. It's a jungle out there...

Nick Curtis's picture
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Derek,

Forgive me for pointing this out, but this entire thread smells suspiciously of Spam…

Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson's picture
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It's blatant advertising, sure, but at least it is relevant to this site.

Karl Stange's picture
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Just found this discussion on myfonts:

http://www.myfonts.com/WhatTheFont/forum/case/160396/

Jeffrey's picture
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I must say: impressive, even if you just made it all up. Jeez

Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson's picture
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Too bad that bumping a big post doesn't get it re-read. Not! ]:-D (That's the 'devilish laughter' smiley, btw.)

Karl Stange's picture
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]:-D (That's the 'devilish laughter' smiley, btw.)

I have always used }:-D, the square bracket striking me as more of a crown.

Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson's picture
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Odd. The curly bracket reminds me of a tiara...

Karl Stange's picture
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Hmmm, perhaps it is best not to dabble in such things... I do like this combo though {]:-D

darrel's picture
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Karl...that's some interesting reading.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
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Get his teacher to explain that here too.

hhp

John Hudson's picture
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If Mr Despie is indeed autistic and obsessed with type, maybe there is some way to channel that obsession into something more interesting and useful to the community than a collection of clones of old fonts that no one much cares about. Seriously, this is deeply boring stuff: the detritus of the desktop publishing rush to digitise. The diamonds among the heaps of slag are few and far between, and most of them have long since been produced in better digital versions by the true trademark owners.

Karl Stange's picture
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It is something like a cross between Luc and Uli's content but without their unique filters and could be put to far better uses. I suppose if it continues that it may well attract the same attention as it did on MyFonts and Wikipedia.

Reynir Heiðberg Stefánsson's picture
Joined: 19 Nov 2010 - 11:15am
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Hey, you can always use them to build the DTP System From Hell: Get a Pentium MMX system with Win98 and slap Serif Publisher or Greenstreet Publisher on it.