DaFont.com

RusselQ's picture

How is it possible that DaFont.com can provide hundreds of fonts for free? Some look like existing fonts yet have a different name. What're the pros and cons of using a source like this?
Just curious.
_

pattyfab's picture

Pros... they're free!

Cons... usually the quality isn't as good - and the families less complete. I have found very few free fonts that are good for more than a gimmick.

I should add that you can sometimes get good quality free fonts on sites like myfont or fontshop, often one weight of a family will be offered for free as a teaser in order to entice you to buy the whole family.

Goran Soderstrom's picture

Some look like existing fonts yet have a different name

This is because there is also some piracy going on here. To bad that the people that runs these kind of websites dont have the knowledge or interest to prevent pirated fonts to end up here. I believe there is no such as thing as checking the sources here, when people upload fonts.

Jackie Frant's picture

Do any of you have any knowledge "for real" about dafont.com?

Not only do they know fonts - I, who was a typographer in New York City for 20+ years have learned from them...

When a font is a "rip-off" and noted - it is removed IMMEDIATELY from dafont. They, [Rodolpho] really care what they put on their website.

I use to believe that if someone is selling a font commercially - then there should be no rip-offs of it. However, learning that some of these fonts were designed in the 1800s or early 1900s - and in some cases the FREE font was the first digitized version out there - then, by all means - it belongs out there for the public to use.

Linotype, Berthold, Alphatype, Mergenthaler, Compugraphic, etc. got enough of our money to keep them in business. The advance of computers for all - did them in. They were so busy selling our customers -- ah, new money - new greed... they forgot about the typesetters that kept them going for 100+ years.

The example that comes to mind immediately (because it was recently on WTF) is Lainie Day digitized 1993 and was for FREE. Lady Dawn and a Mr. Lackboroughs showed up in 2004 for PROFIT - designed by Charles P. Bluemlein prior to 1943 (Thank you Mike F.). Yes, Soft Horizon was known for cloning... and Sudtipos seems to have digitized most of Bluemlein's fonts -- but this is a case of the chicken or the egg folks.

There are so many out there - that were designed before copyrights came into effect or family estates demanded rights.

I am sorry dafont no longer has a board to communicate with. The majority of their moderators were extremely knowledgeable -- and most were type designers themselves.

Yes, there are a lot of sites out there that are giving blatant not only rip-offs - but original commercial fonts for the taking... You may stand on your Sunday soap box at Hyde Park and complain about them.

But before you speak up about Dafont -- I suggest you get to know them a bit better.

Oh, and mas bien sur -- practice up on your French!

And P.S. Before you go on about how great commercial fonts are - stop for a moment. I own most of OPTIFonts fonts - and they are out-and-out LOUSY. All commerical, all paid for. Hey, any of you have the original Adobe library, like I do? I still have the MAC disks - where Adobe sent me their "REVISIONS" on a regular basis... shall we go on... and on... and on...

And to Russell - many type designers throughout the world have donated to that site. Every designer is listed -- including their website when available. Each font that is submitted is welcomed to be submitted with a "READ ME" - not all the fonts there are free - many shareware/charityware even some drinkware...

cuttlefish's picture

Thank you Jackie, for saying what I was feeling but couldn't come up with words for.

My fonts are among those listed on daFont.com. At first, somehow they were included on the site without my knowledge, but at least proper attribution and the readme file was kept with them, and I have recieved inquiries from people who found them on that site. I've since sent them a few more.

RusselQ's picture

Thanks guys. I appreciate both sides of the story. Like "patty" I've rarely run into good quality free fonts, though the organic/funky/grungy ones typically are fine to use, but rarely come into play in my projects. But it's good to hear Jackie's take on it too.
...The question arose when my company suggested looking to more "free" font sites whereas I want to justify the use of professionally created fonts from sites like fontshop, etc. But I guess there's a time and place for both. Thanks!

Si_Daniels's picture

>They, really care what they put on their website.

Is this because they are afraid of the font vendors lawyers?

Or because they're looking to protect their advertising revenue?

Or some other reason?

tophy52's picture

I think you can look at it this way:
you will find lots of fonts on the commercial sites (Linotype, ITC,...) that have the same name, but are designed with a slight difference.
What are the differences between a real Helvetica and Sun Microsystem's Helmet ?
Almost nothing but very similar.
see http://tophy52.free.fr/forum/dafont/Helvetica_Helmet.gif

According to this, i don't see why anyone couldn't create a font that look like a commercial font, with some differences, as long as the designer doesn't call it the same name and/or make it stand for the commercial one, or try to sell it as the commercial font.
(You can't design fake rollex watches,
write rollex on it and sell it for a rollex, that's called "bad money").

To answer Sii, there is nothing to be afraid of with lawyers, when we had to deal with Playboy lawyers asking to all free font websites to retreive the "PlayToy" font, We just did it, no problem, no hassle.
And it's not the only exemple.

Each font submitted to Dafont is compared, analysed because there are so many fonts now that it's easy to pass by an existing one.

Tophy52

Goran Soderstrom's picture

Do any of you have any knowledge “for real” about dafont.com?

Yes. For instance, I just spotted in a couple of minutes a script which is identical of the same script which the agency I work for bought a couple of months ago ( a Bitstream font), and believe me – we didn‘t do the copy :) Of course I dont know the history here, but it makes me wonder anyway. I have also spotted more fonts before.

I am not sure if it’s OK to name it here in public, since I have been deleted before hen talking about pirate fonts so I just send the link to Miss Tiffany as usual.

I also know a type designer who have been pirated on Dafont, well not BY Dafont but by a user who uploaded a copy.

Göran

Don McCahill's picture

> Hey, any of you have the original Adobe library, like I do? I still have the MAC disks - where Adobe sent me their “REVISIONS” on a regular basis

True, but to be fair Adobe was breaking new ground, and there are bound to be problems for the pioneers. They should be judged by the quality they provide now, not back then.

tophy52's picture

I also know a type designer who have been pirated on Dafont, well not BY Dafont but by a user who uploaded a copy.

That's too easy to say, Göran, you should provide an example of what you affirm.

If you looked at the font closely, you would probably realise it was not a "copy" but a similar one, with enough differences that made it a new creation, as i said above.

Tophy52
Dafont.com

Si_Daniels's picture

>To answer Sii, there is nothing to be afraid of with lawyers

So what's the motivation?

Miss Tiffany's picture

But Tophy, how do you know when you've made enough changes for it to be original. AFAIK the word "changes" implies derivative, and derivatives aren't allowed by 90% of the EULAs out there.

Goran Soderstrom's picture

Tophy, se my message to you.

The fonts are identical, arent they?
EDIT: You are not accepting that another user contact you, so I could not send the example to you.

Goran Soderstrom's picture

If you looked at the font closely, you would probably realise it was not a “copy” but a similar one, with enough differences that made it a new creation, as i said above.

Question; If I open up a font in FontLab, apply the automatic bold effect, move a few nodes on every letter and then make the whole font italic. Is this "legal" according to Dafont?

Another question; If I download a PDF specimen sheet and from that generate a Truetype font that is similar, either I redraw the curves or use an application to "steal" the curves. Finally I make a font out of this and publish on Dafont. Is this legal according to Dafont?

Don‘t get me wrong, I dont mean to prosecute Dafont, I just want to encourage the people who runs the site that they should check the sources better before publishing the fonts on the site. Not after it’s been spotted as a copy by the owner or a foundry – before it’s even published.

TBiddy's picture

...And that Jimmy, was how Font Wars: Episode 15 began! :)

tophy52's picture

Arf, I guess i didn't even look at the options of my account for private messages.
But it's a board, let's just talk here.

Göran,
if you were doing such a thing as opening an existing font in a software to try to modify it,
who else but you could decide how far you could modify it to feel at ease and be able to say "it looks good enough"?
Who else but you could say it's different enough not to be harrassed by the company lawyers?

I guess, then, that you could submit it to Dafont or to any other free fonts website and if we felt like it's different enough, we could upload it.

Is it clear?

Dafont is quite known, our board was in french and english (it should re-open sooner or later...), Rodolphe, the owner receives many fonts to be submitted, but so far he never told us he had big troubles with a major foundry.

Tophy52
Dafont.com

dezcom's picture

"if you were doing such a thing as opening an existing font in a software to try to modify it,
who else but you could decide how far you could modify it to feel at ease and be able to say “it looks good enough”?"

Why do you need to open some elses font to begin with? Why don't you design your own font from scratch to begin with?

ChrisL

Jackie Frant's picture

Goran Soderstrom

Goran - please use something better than a Bitstream font. They didn't want to pay many licensing fees and renamed fonts -- redrew them - normally a bit wider than the original and then sold them.

****

sii

For your personal interest - dafont just likes to be a free site -- not interested in stepping on anyone's toes. The people that give it the most hassle were ourselves - the moderators. Many times dafont would show us a font if they weren't certain of its humble beginnings to see or know if it was commercial and known to us.

They manage (as of today)
7176 fonts of which :
1859 with accents
1143 with the Euro symbol

When I am moderating on WTF and a "freebie/shareware/charityware/drinkware" font comes up - I try to first refer the person looking to dafont. Why you ask? Because I am confident that I am dealing with a site that is not trying to, once again, step on anyone's toes. They are not harboring any illegals...

Goran Soderstrom's picture

Göran, if you were doing such a thing as opening an existing font in a software to try to modify it, who else but you could decide how far you could modify it to feel at ease and be able to say “it looks good enough”? Who else but you could say it’s different enough not to be harrassed by the company lawyers?

Hopefully Dafont. Get my point?

Goran Soderstrom's picture

Why do you need to open some elses font to begin with? Why don’t you design your own font from scratch to begin with?

ChrisL

Chris, it was just an example to illustrate my opinion on how sites like Dafont should act in order to prevent piracy.

William Berkson's picture

Jackie, the story of Bitstream is different and more complicated than what you say. See this thread with David Berlow's account and John Hudson's reply.

Jackie Frant's picture

Only the law complicated it William -- I just stripped it down to skin and bones.

An interesting point for you though -- back in 1989 - the original Adobe library - that means- yes all its fonts... was US15.000. While Bitstream offered its library to TANY (for those of you who do not know that acronym - it stands for Typographic Association of New York) for US300. My fellow typesetters bought the Bitstream - but none of the designers in NY were using it...they were too busy going to Sam Flax and using the real Adobe library. Still gets me -- almost the same amount of fonts - and many of the same families - and a difference of only US14,700 dollars!

Oh, and URW was a mere $699 for their two disks...

Just how many legal copies of Garamonds is a girl suppose to own?

Jackie Frant's picture

sii
14 December, 2006 - 7:39am
>They, really care what they put on their website.

Is this because they are afraid of the font vendors lawyers?

Or because they’re looking to protect their advertising revenue?

Or some other reason?

Sii,

I'm sorry. I left out a very important part about why Dafont doesn't put commercial fonts online - and it has absolutely nothing to do with lawyers.

It has to do with RESPECT. The owner knows that making a font is a long process - and a creative one. If a designer has chosen the path of getting paid (what a novel idea) then that is respected there.

After all, most that help out there are designers, if not font designers.

I'm so sorry you never had the chance to experience the forums. They were very interesting, and most outsiders would consider them brutal. Should some idiot ask any of us for a commercial font for free - well, they had their heads handed to them. And yes, we had fun asking if we could have the keys to their car, or did they mind that our friends couldn't feed their families...

Maybe if it gets back on - you'll consider visiting. It would be a very enlightning experience for you.

aluminum's picture

"Question; If I open up a font in FontLab, apply the automatic bold effect, move a few nodes on every letter and then make the whole font italic. Is this “legal” according to Dafont?"

AFAIK, and IANAL, that is legal according to US IP law.

From my understanding, letterform shapes can not be trademarked at all.

Font names can be, and specific font outlines can be patented, but anyone can retrace/redraw a font and be in the clear in terms of IP laws.

Whether it's morally right or wrong is a different debate, of course, and I have no idea what the laws are in different countries (or if my understanding of US font legal issues is even 100% correct...so someone jump in and correct me if needed!)

Goran Soderstrom's picture

But breaking an EULA – that must be illegal, or? If the EULA says that no editing is allowed of this perticular font etc.

William Berkson's picture

I am not a lawyer, but as far as I know, Goran is more right on this.

Here is a reference to the Adobe vs SSI, which seems to be the main case on this. According to the Luc's web site--and he is not happy with the ruling--SSI had taking existing data and moved it around a bit. They lost and Abobe and Emigre won.

Miss Tiffany's picture

It is a sad day when a technicality is treated as a loophole (or excuse) to ignore the EULA. Is it even a technicality or just a gross rationalization? Shouldn't "right and wrong" figure into this discussion just as much?

Jackie Frant's picture

When we left hot metal type for cold computerized type - there was a case that was brought up before a Federal judge (talking in the States now). I don't remember the case -- but I'll never forget the TANY meeting about it.

It came down to a judge saying he could not tell the difference between fonts. It didn't matter if it was a serif font or a san serif. What came out of that ruling was that the drawings themselves could not be copyrighted but... the programming onto the disk could be.

It was also declared that a minimum of three letters could be changed and a new face would be born - but it had to be a new name.

I was an Alphatype shop at the time. It is why our Helvetica was called Claro, our Optima was Musica, our Times Roman was English, etc. Most of Alphatype fonts had the capital R, the asterick and one other letter (I can never remember which one they picked on) different from the original drawings.

Things really haven't changed that much.

Goran Soderstrom's picture

It was also declared that a minimum of three letters could be changed and a new face would be born - but it had to be a new name.

I was an Alphatype shop at the time. It is why our Helvetica was called Claro, our Optima was Musica, our Times Roman was English, etc. Most of Alphatype fonts had the capital R, the asterick and one other letter (I can never remember which one they picked on) different from the original drawings.

I’m not sure I really believe all this but it makes me feel sick.

blank's picture

But breaking an EULA – that must be illegal, or? If the EULA says that no editing is allowed of this perticular font etc.

Anything question involving EULAs is only likely to be answered correctly by a lawyer, and there's a very good chance that the answer will be that there isn't any good precedent yet. EULA issues are still pretty new, and the courts have yet to do a good job sorting out whether or not a EULA is actually a binding contract, and if so, what sort of penalties one faces for violating the terms. It also doesn't help that a font EULA creates interesting question where precedent is involved, because a font may or may not be considered a program, which could have a big impact on what other cases affect it. Worse still, judges generally don't know or care much about computers, so there's a pretty good chance that nobody would ever get a sane ruling out of a EULA-related case anyway.

Jackie Frant's picture

Goran,

It doesn't matter if you believe it or not -- it is what we lived through in the 1980s.

Meanwhile - I wanted to share another piece of typography history. When fonts were first being digitized for personal computers and Macs -- they came with very lengthy Agreement statements. Bitstream did not allow you to do any manipulation -- just bringing one of their fonts into Illustrator to outline, fatten, bend, etc. was just illegal to do. Adobe on the other hand were encouraging designers to do just that - but they owned Illustrator - made perfect sense. And neither "foundry" would allow you to collect your fonts to hand over to a printer to have your job come out looking just like you wanted it.

As a typographer at that time - I ended up having to purchase many different foundry fonts - just so I could run them on the imagesetter. Bitstream fonts were always wider - and would not allow a substitution of another manufacturer's font. Linographics, Compugraphic (later Agfa-Compugraphic), and the other old typesetters -- all had very similar weights -- and Adobe could be substituted...sometimes.

Meanwhile, I remember when I purchased the URW library. (Talk about much better drawings for fonts, they even tackled some of the old problems from cold type that were found in the ITC font drawings.) URW understood that a designer work should remain in tack. They were the first to allow the designer to include their font to a printer to print the job.

I think I'm rambling on at this point. What I think I'm trying to point out is -- many of the rules were made by the manufacturers. Sure, they have matured, but still - they are not all the same.

Si_Daniels's picture

>It has to do with RESPECT.

Do you respect them enough to share ad revenue with them? :-)

Jackie Frant's picture

You are really a pisser sii

make a statement - get a 180 degree turn.

The owner of dafont gets advertising to keep his site on line -- someone has to pay for it... why should it come out of his own pocket?
Would you rather he charge people for being there? He would... that would be like charging them for other's people work - the fonts.

Maybe you should write to Roro at dafont - and get the info for yourself.

Meanwhile, Merry Christmas.

Si_Daniels's picture

> You are really a pisser sii

Did you not see the smilley? ;-)

I think you're taking this far too seriously. It's only a font archive. If the owner makes some reasonable money, then best of luck to him.

Happy Holidays!

Mark Simonson's picture

heron2001 said: It was also declared that a minimum of three letters could be changed and a new face would be born - but it had to be a new name.

I was an Alphatype shop at the time. It is why our Helvetica was called Claro, our Optima was Musica, our Times Roman was English, etc. Most of Alphatype fonts had the capital R, the asterick and one other letter (I can never remember which one they picked on) different from the original drawings.

Things really haven’t changed that much.

One difference between now and then: People using Alphatype equipment could not use Helvetica even if they bought the font from Linotype. Fonts were tied to specific brands of equipment. The formats were proprietary and incompatible. The competition back then was between machines, not fonts. Manufacturers copied the most popular fonts from other equipment to focus customers' attention on the features and benefits of their machine. Fonts definitely played a part in the marketing of equipment, but were not usually a deal-breaker as long as comparable fonts were available.

Today, practically speaking, there is only one kind of typesetting machine: a personal computer and an output device. Also, for practical purposes, there is only one kind of font: the kind you can use on personal computers. True, there are different formats (PostScript, TrueType, OpenType), but you can use them all at the same time on the same machine.

Claro did not compete directly with Helvetica in the old days. But today, a Helvetica look-alike competes directly with Helvetica. In this sense, things have changed.

Jackie Frant's picture

Hi Mark,

One thing about Alphatype - I guess you didn't catch it in my other note - when they were bought out by Berthold - and for the last few years of their existence - Alphatype shops had the real, true Helvetica -- and it was beautiful. Claro was our Helvetica up to that point, but the letters never quite fit, no matter how much time and attention we spent on kerning - it was actually a flaw in the drawings of each letter. For an Alphatype shop pre-Berthold -- Claro was Helvetica -- and our customers accepted it as Helvetica, just as they accepted Eurogothic for Eurostile, Musica for Optima... etc., etc., etc. And for every type shop with different manufacturer's equipment -- their versions of these beloved fonts were in direct competition with each other -- how -- because our customers depended on us giving them the "real" thing...and yes, our typesetting competitors would try to let all our customers know -- they had the real thing...

I don't know if you realize it, but there are still countries "setting type" with our old equipment -- and there is still a fully functional hot metal typesetter in New York. They are still producing and for them it is most affordable (and productive). True, no where the amount of shops that we saw in the '70s and '80s (I understand Boro recently gave up their Alphatype equipment - the last in NY City) but in third world countries and small pockets of poor areas you'll find them...

Curioustype's picture

don't ask how i ended up on this old thread, but i have to respond to this:

"...it was just an example to illustrate my opinion on how sites like Dafont should act in order to prevent piracy."

I'm going to have to disagree here. I have typefaces for sale, and have one on dafont as well. And as far as I'm concerned, sitting around and expecting dafont or any other free-fonts site to be the guardians of anyone's intellectual property is akin to feeling like you should be able to have a 24/7 bodyguard for free. Preventing piracy is first and foremost the responsibility of the designer wanting to prevent being pirated. There are some steps that can be taken - for example, learning how to produce attractive pdf specimens that are invulnerable to extraction - but to expect others to be your own personal police force rings of elitism.

LaurelRusswurm's picture

Fascinating. This thread is amazing. I have really enjoyed reading this history.

@Curioustype

I disagree with your choice of the word "piracy", since that word has lately been used largely to target personal uses of legally purchased copyright material, but the context implies your primary concern is protecting your work against commercial copyright infringement, which can be more clearly referred to as "bootlegging." That said, I agree that the responsibility lies with the rights holder, rather than with dafont, which serves a valuable service to both designers and the public.

You should understand that pdfs are not anywhere close to being "invulnerable to extraction." If a bootlegger wants to bootleg it, there is nothing you can do other than go after them once they've bootlegged it. If they want to, they will.

(Adobe pdf software is in fact constantly subject to both spyware and malware attacks, so can actually prove to make your computer insecure.)

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