New Letterhead Fonts antipiracy font lockdown scheme

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zebrasystem's picture
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New Letterhead Fonts antipiracy font lockdown scheme
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Has anyone else dealt yet with the new LetterheadFonts.com method for installing/using fonts? I recently bought one of their new fonts since they converted their entire library over to OpenType in late December. And aside from the very nice font I must say I am quite dismayed. Here is what they've done:

1. You no longer receive an actual font file, at least not that you can see.

2. Instead what you download is an installer that installs an application called "Letterhead Fonts" (at least on Macintosh which is what I use).

3. The fonts are either embedded in this "Letterhead Fonts" application or somewhere else unknown/hidden from the user. No fonts are installed in the traditional Font folder locations.

4. Once installed, the "Letterhead Fonts" application activates the fonts permanently, at least as far as I can tell, like a font manager. You see them only in the font menus of your other applications, nowhere else. It also doesn't currently allow fonts to be seen or managed in font manager applications like Suitcase, Font Agent, etc., though LHF apparently plans to add this capability.

Aside from the obvious antipiracy objective, here are the biggest ramifications and problems I see for the user (myself, for one):

- You are completely prohibited from organizing the fonts like you want on your hard drive, such as for classification or other purposes. All your flexibility is taken away including any system or method that you might have had in place to manage fonts for your own needs.

- As mentioned, the LHF fonts can't be activated individually. It's an all or nothing proposition. (Unless/until they enable font managers to "see" the fonts perhaps, but maybe not even then, I haven't seen them say.)

- It means you can't add kerning pairs to a font, for example, or otherwise tweak the font yourself if problems are found or you have special needs.

- And of course, you can't really back up the fonts themselves. Your only recourse if something were to happen is a reinstall from the various installers you may have accumulated over time, or else go back to their site for the installers there. (They do make provision for downloading previous font orders you have made with their new shopping cart system.)

A real shame since this will probably make a lot of people think twice about buying additional fonts once they see how it works the first time. I know it has me, despite LHF's unique fonts. Lots of other good independent foundries around these days as alternatives. What do the rest of you think about where LHF has gone with this?

Dennis Hill's picture
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I think if some people put as much energy into marketing and making new fonts, as they use worrying about pirates, they would probably come out ahead. Some people have never uttered a peep about pirates, and are doing quite well.

IMO, it's kind of like life in general. On one side is pragmatism, and on the other, bitterness. You could be full-time stressed and miserable about how screwed up the world is, or you can try and make the best of things where you are, and try to enjoy what is valuable to you.

CreeDo's picture
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Interesting to read this thread years later. The idea of 3rd party software instead of standard font files is only mildly annoying. I'd work like a dog to get at the font file (if it existed) but only as a technical challenge.

I guess the irritation level depends on your usage of PDFs. I convert all fonts to outlines anyway when sending a PDF, but that's for signs, logos, that sort of thing. It avoids issues with the font not having embed permissions or with an identically named (but worse) local font replacing the intended font. But I can see where outlines are unacceptible for a technical document or book.

It may be my imagination but, just for the hell of it I tried looking for letterhead fonts in shady places online, torrents and whatnot... and they may be a little harder to find than others. You can get stuff like gotham or champion script, but good luck finding unlovable or packard script.

But I have no doubt that if someone cared a lot about it, any protection system will be cracked. If anyone doubts the resourceful nature of the guys who do this, spend a minute reading http://insecure.org/news/cryptanalysis_of_contents_scrambling_system.htm

...now about those rude phone calls and emails...

Blank's picture
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@Tiffany: I don’t think it’s strange—font designers have bills to pay. It’s a crummy situation, but not a strange one, and not one limited to the font industry.

I think if some people put as much energy into marketing and making new fonts…

I tend to agree, but I think that teaching type design would probably be a better option than making new fonts. I really got into type piracy when my first design teacher passed around two DVDs packed with six gigabytes of fonts. I only started paying for type after I had learned about the people and the labor behind type design. I think that making that experience part of the curriculum of every design program would have a big impact on font piracy.

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I have read through this post and have this to say. While I whole heartedly agree that designers have the right to and should protect their intellectual property, the case can be made, that a lot of the "protected material" on Letterhead Fonts is actually the intellectual property of others. Namely Frank Atkinson, Al Imelli, and the Rawson Evans Glass Co. to name but a few. Some of these "fonts" have been around for well on 100 years and started out as typestyles for signwriting. Which begs the question - Who is protecting the intellectual property rights of the actual real designers of these typefaces?

Christopher Slye's picture
Joined: 5 Oct 2006 - 11:03am
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Um, right. BigLeague, just because you "believe" you "should" be able to do something doesn't make it legal. You're describing your own moral/ethical choices, but they won't necessarily hold up in a court of law.

By the way, the typical Adobe font EULA allows a font to be installed on five computers. I would guess that one reason Adobe allows that is because it gives Adobe a competitive advantage (in theory) over other foundries which only allow one computer installation. If you "refuse to buy the same font over and over," then find a foundry that allows you to do what you want instead of making up your own rules!

Bert Vanderveen's picture
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Letterheads line of reasoning could ultimately lead to just one sale a year — for say $ 624,678 —, right?

Makes me think of a plan a friend of mine lauched some decades ago. He got to tell about it in a very popular tv talk show. His 'Plan to reduce smoking' went like this: Smokers cease to buy their cigarettes, but boost them from other smokers. That of course goes on until just one person in the whole country has to provide for all those smokes. He or she won't be able to bear the grunt in the end, stops buying cigarettes and ergo: all smokers have to stop.

Just use the words fonts and piracy and end users in the right places. ; )

. . .
Bert Vanderveen BNO

Stephen Coles's picture
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You're on to something, James. Piracy is in many ways a symptom of undereducated design students. Young people don't react to scolding or price increases. A patient, thorough education in letter drawing will help them value type. Of course, that education isn't the responsibility of the type makers, but it is helpful for everyone to understand the roots of the problem.

Jackie Frant's picture
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Patternmaker - ... does not hesitate to seek criminal or civil prosecution of any offenders...

When my Adobe font collection was stolen and being used by a company down the street from me -- and I was very close to Adobe in those days and let them know, they first wanted to know how I knew it was my library. When I explained I altered and renamed some fonts and that no one else would have them that way but me -- they listened a bit more. The Adobe library alone at that time was a $15,000 investment. Know what the outcome was - it wasn't enough in be worthy of a lawyer, and they never pursued it.

So do you think any foundry losing a font here or there could afford the legal expense it entails - for a $29 or a $449 font?

The only company I know for sure that went after someone was Quark. A New York marketing person had sold about 15 or 20 Mac computers to a corporation when computers were first going in... Each computer was outfitted with programs - all with different serial numbers. Then the marketer went to another corporation, got them computers -- and outfitted those with the same serial numbers as the first company. I don't know how many times the marketer did it -- but he lost one of the companies about 2 years later - just in time for the latest Quark update. Well, needless to say, the serial numbers were already accounted for and that compnay was not the one that they were registered to. You see, they were all registered to the marketer, and he'd go from company to company upgrading to the latest software as part of his service. Don't think he ever expected to lose an account, or have an account bright enough to update on their own. And yes, Quark went after him - and yes, they won.

In that case, yes financially, it was definately worth going after legally.

fontplayer font I was thinking of buying didn’t have a full character set

Fontplayer, almost everyone of Chuck's fonts has/had a Betafont put out for a select group to try the font and give their opinion. The Betas never had the full character set. I wonder if that is what you were referring to and maybe, didn't know it. I own a few LHF fonts and they are all complete, and some even more so with alternatives.

Chuck still uses human beings to answer the phones and talk to custumers (even those of us who aren't purchasing at the time). It's a nice way to do business -- and see, makes people like you have a soft spot for him, and keeps his regulars calling back. The last time I spoke to LHF it was about 8pm EST and it was about a font. Not only did I get all the information I needed, I could not believe how busy everything sounded -- their phone seemed to ring off the hook.

I hope LHF survives and thrives through this modern age. They have some wonderful fonts - different from the every day stuff -- and not going into the square san serif look that is coming out of Europe these days. They are strong, bold fonts with a hint of femininity (my opinion of the ones I own) and the other foundries do not have anything like them.

Did this thread hurt Chuck? Honestly, I don't think so. For those of us that want those distinctive fonts for display type - I doubt it. What has hurt are people who get their hands on the fonts and pass them all over the internet. That really hurts.

P.S. aluminum If all the content is outlined, it’s impossible for their internal search engine to index any of it.

One thing you may consider is using your display type (LHF) in vector format - then bringing it into your page layout as a graphic -- then all your body copy would still be in a font that a search engine could get to... Two minutes more work for you -- but you'll have the design you want and still have a large percentage of your page as you want it.

You are right - for me - I just use the pdfs two ways. One to give to a customer that I do not want them touching it in any shape anyway. (All corrections made in a master file) and Two - to the printer (who I do not want touching it either...) if they run into a problem, let them tell me so I can fix it -- and keep it fix from that point forward.

Thank you for letting me speak up early in the morning - I should get to work now. Later :-)

James Arboghast's picture
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It’s bad marketing. Macy’s doesn’t tell you they are increasing prices because of shoplifting and in-house theft, but they are.

Some things are left unspoken.

j a m e s

Stephen Coles's picture
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I noticed that Letterhead Fonts is now directly linking price increases to piracy.

>

Fonts are tangible goods around here and will forever be treated as such. Theft always affects the price of fonts and there are some costs that must be recouped. ... In order to recoup these losses, LHF Garner must now sell for $39 (32% increase).

I share Letterhead's interest in reducing piracy, but I'm puzzled about how they think the pirates will respond to this. I fear it will have no effect on piracy and will have a negative effect on sales.

Prices should be set based on the value of the product. Like some have said earlier in this discussion: punishing your paying customers is not a good way to reduce piracy, nor endear respect.

Daniel Peebles's picture
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Not sure if it's appropriate to go after the bigger issue in this thread, but I was talking about it with someone the other day and we got onto the topic of libraries. Everyone takes them for granted these days, but if the concept didn't exist already, would someone be able to get a public library system going?

Look at the reactions to google's book search. People were screaming bloody murder and saying that google was profiting off of authors' hard work. Personally, I use google book search to search for books, and then if a book looks suitable, I'll order it from amazon. Similarly from a library. There's something nice about owning a book, just as there is with owning anything, including fonts, legitimately. I don't think, however, that nowadays most content producers would see it that way, and I really doubt public libraries would ever have been allowed in this day and age.

Ultimately, I think that people are applying IP law in a rather one-sided manner. It is there to protect the content producers, but also the consumers. The wave of DRM schemes that have been popping up recently is a knee-jerk reaction from people scared of development. It is too simplistic to compare file sharing with physical theft. It's been said a thousand times before, but computer copying is not a zero-sum game. My taking a file from someone else does not hinder their use of it. It also does not necessarily equate to lost sales, as I might never have bought the file in the first place, or never have even been exposed to it, and through the so-called piracy, might have even decided to buy it. I have certainly borrowed CDs from friends, and in some cases decided to buy a copy myself because I liked it enough.

The digital world brings many benefits with it, but the paradigms are ultimately different. Gone are the days when a customer needed to walk into your shop(pe) and engage in conversation with you to get your product. It means less infrastructure is needed to be successful, but also inherently means significantly less control over where your product goes. Unless people start trusting EULAs or the government imposes "trusted computing" on the world, I see no way to gain any more control over distribution of anything digital. DRM schemes are as flawed as EULAs, really. Instead of asking you not to do bad things with the font, they ask your computer not to let you; you (assuming no trusted computing) have full control over your computer, and with some technical expertise, it is rather trivial to overcome most schemes.

Anyway, that's just my 0.02 on the topic. I must say I've never used any Letterhead fonts, but judging from the website, they do look rather attractive. I hope that over time Chuck will realize that his good customers will remain good customers if he listens to them, and removes the DRM. As it stands, he's sticking it to the pirate but his legitimate customers are becoming "collateral damage." He really needs to evaluate if 1 pirated copy equates to 1 lost sale.

Well, I'm usually just a lurker so I'll go back to lurking. Apologies if this post is rather straggly and (I hope not!) off-topic... I've been up for way too long.

Stephen Coles's picture
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Letterhead has responded to this criticism, but I don't think the post really answers the key question: how do price increases reduce piracy?

Blank's picture
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You’re confusing me, James. I thought you were anti-DRM.

I am, but I also understand that, contrary to some paranoid fantasies, not all DRM exists as part of oddball conspiracies vendor lock-in conspiraciess. The simple fact is that, in design circles, pirated content of all sorts is passed around like joints at a Phish concert. Fonts, due to their tiny file sizes, seem to be the most conveniently and commonly pirated item around. So while I certainly do not like, or want anything to do with, DRM, I can understand why some businesses distrust their customers enough to deploy it.

Paul B. Cutler's picture
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It's bad marketing. Macy's doesn't tell you they are increasing prices because of shoplifting and in-house theft, but they are.

pbc

Blank's picture
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Macy’s doesn’t tell you they are increasing prices because of shoplifting and in-house theft, but they are.

Are you kidding me? I see signs in stores all the time stating that they have security cameras everywhere so that prices don’t keep going up!

Dennis Hill's picture
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On another hand, Letterhead's prices still aren't what I've seen Veer fonts going for. This might be naive, but I guess if Veer can get $99 for a font, then what is $39?

Michael Albright's picture
Joined: 27 Nov 2005 - 1:52pm
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Can someone please point us to the place on the LHF site where they say they have dropped their copy protection scheme?

After reading this ...

"Letterhead Fonts is currently licensing regular Opentype fonts. The installer and the server are gone. The downloaded OTF file can be managed any way you prefer."

... I looked everywhere to confirm but couldn't find a word.

Thanks.

Jason Pagura's picture
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Indeed, one does not necessarily have to agree with another's action in order to understand, and even sympathize with, their motivation for that action.

rattybad1's picture
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Even though this thread is a bit old, I'd like to report in on it. Like many who've posted here, I have a HUGE problem with the Letterheadfonts.com "installer"—after a few months, my fonts no longer showed up, and I had to reinstall several times. Their system's not all it's cracked up to be, let's just say. I will no longer buy from LHF even though I love their fonts. With the installer, they're basically telling the customer that they do not trust them. If I'm purchasing a product, I don't expect the guy I'm giving money to to look over my shoulder when I use it. It lacks professionalism.

However, the other day I went back to the site (the other day = mid July) and got into my account and was able to download the .otf files for my two purchased fonts separately, though up 'til now had only been available with their awful installer app. I don't know if I found a glitch in the system or if LHF has sensed the error in their judgment and is creeping back into "regular" font downloads. Anyway, I was pleased. If they go back to font files instead of installer apps, I'm sure to spend money there, but if LHF continues to disrespect their customer by disallowing me to use what I've purchased, i.e. it's *mine*, in my font management software or simply to organize my font libraries, then I'll have none of it, and I wrote them a few emails telling them so.

I just can't see the point in the installer. They say they'll lose money if they don't, but there are several sites that *TRUST* their customers and are doing a fine business. You know what I do now instead of buying LHF fonts? Go to other foundries and buy theirs. Wow, that installer really works, huh? It makes the fonts AND customers disappear. Show some respect, LHF.

Stephen Coles's picture
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Fontplayer - The difference here is motivation. Veer feels that very extensive OpenType fonts are worth $99 a pop. I would take no issue with Letterhead if they deemed their fonts are worth more than their standard $29.50 price (I'd bet they are worth every bit of $39). But raising the cost and blaming pirates is just strange.

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Michael Albright's picture
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I think patternmaker might be in error. According to everything I've seen on the LHF site, including the licensing agreement referred to by patternmaker, the copy protection scheme and installer are still in place.

Blank's picture
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But raising the cost and blaming pirates is just strange.

If Letterhead’s sales are dropping, but use of the fonts is not, it makes a lot of sense. People are getting those fonts somewhere.

Dennis Hill's picture
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The difference here is motivation. Veer feels that very extensive OpenType fonts are worth $99 a pop.

I can't argue with that. Some of them are certainly gorgeous. I trust the designers are doing well in the arrangement; I see some experienced names represented there.

Jackie Frant's picture
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I too am a designer and I don’t use any font management program. I would rather spend the time designing than turning fonts on and off. If I don’t want a font, I don’t install it in the first place.

GREAT FONT MANAGEMENT NEWS FOR LHF FONTS...

In http://typophile.com/node/35411
Peter van Rosmaien suggests we try FontExplorer from Linotype.

IT'S FREE

They have downloads for both Mac and PC...

And it has a section once installed called ACTIVATED FONTS - and the LHF fonts show up there - and you can click them off if you so please.

Just had to come back and let you know...

Dennis Hill's picture
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I am curious if the Letterhead fonts are able to be managed by the common font managers, so they can be batch installed, and uninstalled with others of their style. If not, that sucks, because I often find that I like to try several script (or whatever) fonts until one has an overall look that appeals to me, or fits the space alloted.

So, in the end, it’s only BAD for the paying user.

I wouldn't be surprised if some ingenious person could get one OS or the other to spill the beans, and extract a font from the exe. At which point, it is only the paying users that are discomfitted.

I am tempted to see if there has already been some success in that area, because I remember being surprised more than once by the abilities of the Usenet group. Apparently some of the font-collectors (or pirates, as they are known here) are programmers.

I believe font-collecting is an addiction. I managed to kick the habit when I realized that I didn't have time to organize bazillions of fonts, and my addiction to playing with fonts, was suffering. In the end, I probably have more empathy for the 'collectors' than most people here, although I certainly see, understand, and agree with (for the most part) the point of view of the people who make their living with fonts.

I just wish I had made better printouts from when I (allegedly) had tons of fonts, because my eyes are strained by the small samples I have, and they are a good resource for the ID group.
: )

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Rattybad1,

In the early days of Mac in the office, I had a font collection that I spent wel over $15,000 on in the first few months of owning a computer. Adobe loved me... (10,000+), URW's library was $700, Bitstream had a special offer to typesetters, their whole library $300 - and the rest went to OPTIFonts, FontFonts and the Font Store.

Well, let's put it this way, one of my employees decided it was okay to steal the entire font library and give it to a photographer down the street from me - who started advertising to my customers he could do everything I could - even had my "exclusive" fonts... (Several fonts were "customized" for different publishing houses - like Belwe becoming the old typositor font Elizabethan).

So as an owner and person that has paid her dues... I appreciate any effort to save them.

Like you, I was weary of Chuck's latest -- and you are absolutely right to have your own opinion and say you don't want to use LHF any more.

I feel that would be your loss. I love his fonts. I just did a poster for The Wizard of Oz and used LHF Chunky Block. Everyone who sees it loves the type.

BTW - I am on a MAC. I find I don't like using his fonts in Quark - because if I need a pdf - I have to take an extra step and save each page as an .eps and then distill. However, since I seem only to use LHF for display type (never body copy) I tend to use it in Photoshop and illustrator.

Works for me.

Dennis Hill's picture
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The Betas never had the full character set. I wonder if that is what you were referring to...?

I don't think so. This was back around the turn of the century, give or take a year or two, back when I had money to throw away on fonts, and I remember him being surprised that anyone would want international characters, while I was incredulous that anyone would have commercial fonts that were incomplete.

I guess something probably reinforced my view and he got the fonts completed. So, you can partially credit me for that.
; )

TG's picture
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>>I think some foundries think fonts being pirated EQUALS a lost sale.

Not only foundries, every software company likes to do those statistics of losses due to piracy. (Number of illegal copies/downloads x Price = Loss)
Of course, that is nonsense. The ones who are collecting gigabytes of fonts in P2P networks are usually teenagers who would never had bought the fonts. So there is no loss.
But there is also a number of professional designers who try to find a font for free, and only if they are not successful they will buy it. So here the download can be a real financial loss for the foundry. So the real question is: Is the time spent hunting down these people less expensive than the loss they create. I guess not.
I would even image that many fonts (or other software products), that are used without a license today, can turn into a real sale tomorrow. I didn't bought my first version of Photoshop, but I did when I started a company. The same could be true for fonts.
Another example: Some years ago I did this type specimen book with recommendable fonts from various foundries. The majority of foundries was willing to give me their fonts to be presented in the book. But some foundries didn't, and I'm sure they didn't gave it me because they were afraid I could spread the fonts for free. But in the end, those were the fonts I couln't advertise …
Font piracy was invented the day after the first letter was casted. It was always there and it will never go away. I guess if you are overcautious with your fonts, you are the one decreasing the sales …

darrel's picture
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"Given the rampant nature of piracy in the design industry, especially when it comes to fonts, it makes good sense not to trust the customers"

It makes no sense.

"The simple fact is that, in design circles, pirated content of all sorts is passed around like joints at a Phish concert."

Very true. But then there's the simple fact that DRM does nothing to stop that...just as a few security guards do nothing to stop people from getting high at a Phish concert.

"I can understand why some businesses distrust their customers enough to deploy it."

Paranoia. Frustration. It's there. It's likely a normal reaction. People tend to believe technology can fix a lot of things that it just really can't.

pumpkingod...don't bring up the concept of public libraries. It causes DRM folks to get brain aneurysms. ;o)

André's picture
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edit : cmd+shift+p

BigLeague's picture
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For any of you who are not technically aware. You can get around the whole idea of locked fonts quite easily. Make the file yourself. You can download a font creator program for free off Dafont.com. After that, open illustrator (or CorelDraw) and type in all individual letters and numbers into your artboard. Convert the font to outlines and the add them to the font creator program as individual letters. Once finished the program will create a TTF for use whenever you want and you can give it as freely as you wish. Although I do not agree with piracy, if I pay for a font, I believe I should be able to put it on all of my computers at home, not just one. I refuse to by the same font over and over for a different computer. My purchase, mine to do with as I please.

TG's picture
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Now that the LHF installer is gone, I have an idea to recycle it.
I also don't like a DRM system for fonts that I have bought and need to work with. But I would love to see such a technology for try-outs! Since the installer controls the activation of the font at the system level, it would be very easy to limit the use to a try-out period, say three days and the fonts would be deactivated and deleted after that.
So the users could try the fonts in their usual workflow, for example in InDesign. They could check how a font can be combined with different styles and other fonts, apply OT features and so on. Everything the usual type testers on websites cannot offer.

ant's picture
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apologies for not reading the whole of that above so this question may have been posed and answered already but:

does Illustrator let you 'create outline' of these fonts?

John Savard's picture
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It's true that this scheme is awkward for the legitimate user. What I think will have to eventually happen, though, is that the operating system include some sort of standard way to lock a font to a machine.

The font installer would basically talk to the OS when installing the font, and the OS would put an encrypted form of the font on the machine that wouldn't work if copied to another machine, being encrypted by a random unique key set up when the OS was installed.

That would obviate the need for techniques as extravagant as this one. Regular executables could be handled in this way by an OS as well, and this would encourage developers to develop for the OS, as they wouldn't have to develop their own security schemes.

Incidentally, increasing prices to recoup losses due to piracy isn't the same thing as increasing prices to discourage piracy. Presumably piracy causes some lost sales, and so the unit price on the remaining sales has to be increased to keep revenues constant. Of course, though, a lower price should mean more legitimate sales, and a higher price likely will mean less sales - even if the result is purchases of other fonts, not more piracy.

Alex Pankratov's picture
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The font data will still need to appear somewhere in the computer memory in its raw format (otherwise the font will not be usable by the software like Illustrator). Once it is raw, it will be grabbed and saved into a de-DRM'd file.

This is a really old issue that has been explored in depth with shareware programs. DRM does not work (as in it is easy to break) unless it is rooted in the hardware (e.g. specialized chip) and the user is denied arbitrary access to this part of his computer. The problem here of course is how to convince a user to buy a computer that he does not have a full control over.

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Chuck doesn't really make fonts anymore. He sells the fonts of better designers, and treats them like garbage. Just ask Larry White. As for that sham Fontguard, Chucky doesn't have much faith in it. He now places the purchaser's name and address in the Copyright/version string of the fonts you buy. And, he makes you register an account with a valid telephone number so he can call you and make sure that you're white.

I registered to buy Factory earlier this year. Within about an hour he called me. The call went like this;
ME. Hello
Chuck.(Rudely) Yeah I'm calling to register an account for 'NAME', is that you?
ME. Yes, wow that was fast.
Chuck.(Rudely) Where are you from?
ME. I was born here in the US, why?
Chuck.(Rudely) No you're not, You don't sound American. You have a ghetto Accent.
ME. Well, my parents were from Asia, received citizenship in the 80's. But I was born here & I'm not ghetto.
Chuck. (Rudely)Forget it I can't help you. Go somewhere else. (Hung up)

Guy's a jerk. So if you have an accent or aren't within his color preference, I guess he won't sell to you. But sadly, that's really only hurting the designers who sell through him. Give it a try yourself. Let him call you and have a friend with a Russian or Hispanic accent answer. Watch him hang up. Before he sees this post that is. If only smart phones could record their audio...

darrel's picture
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"I think some foundries think fonts being pirated EQUALS a lost sale. "

You are absolutely correct. It's a theoretical lost sale, at best, and even then, it's a rather flimsy theory.

I agree with most everyone here...it's fine to increase prices...it's silly and almost insulting to blame it on 'pirates'.

Jackie Frant's picture
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As much as I dislike what Chuck has done - it is not difficult to work with. I just used one of the fonts - and yes, I'm sad I cannot make an pdf from Quark (please remember - I've reminded you enough, that there are folks out there that extract embedded fonts and toss them all over the net) because the new font will not allow itself to be embedded. However, I can make .eps and turn those into PDFs without problem and only adding a few moments onto any one job.

Since the nature of Letterhead fonts is for DIsplay purposes only - I also tend to make my "logotype" in Illustrator or Photoshop and then import it into my page layout program From that I can make PDFs...

I think I may be repeating myself - but it is worth it. Letterhead Fonts are unique and enjoyable to use for the final designs I produce. This is just a small snag - and one I'm getting use to working with. Why? Because I like the finished product -- and better, so do my customers.

darrel's picture
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"This is just a small snag"

While not limited to Letterhead, the inability to embed typefaces in PDFs is a rather huge issue for anyone using PDFs for their intended purpose of electronic data management.

If you have to convert type to EPS to make a PDF, then the PDF is no longer text and impossible to parse via screen readers, search engines, document management systems, etc.

Marlene Mouchette's picture
Joined: 7 Mar 2011 - 3:28pm
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Yesterday I had a young friend come over to my house and bring her laptop in order to design a logo for my new business. I wanted to use Letterhead Fonts so I purchased a couple of fonts, paid through Paypal and then was informed by the LHF website that I had to wait 30 minutes for someone to call me to confirm my order since it was my first purchase. I waited 45 minutes and never got a call. Apparently I missed the call sometimes affter that, LHF cancelled my order, refunded my payment and never answered their phone when I tried to call. The next day I emailed at 8 am and again at noon. I finally received a rude email from Carolyn Smith (customer service)asking why I didn't answer my phone the day before but offered no solution to my purchase attempt. I was locked out of my account after two attempts at reordering and have decided now that it just isn't worth dealing with them. Carolyn must be married to "Chuck" because I can't think of any other reason someone would pay such a rude employee.

André's picture
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I have heard it before in here. Actually this time was more painful as I was reading it was one thirty am. My lovely wife resolved to stick to this tv show and we ended up not going to bed at the customary time. Ah, I wasn't watching the show as I was hammering a invitation project. It was at some point kind of difficult to proceed because my keyboard is black and the small type (actually it looks like Univers Italic and it measures ... exact 17 pt.! - I measured it with AGL type ruler, which is very accurate). So, as couldn't read no more and gave up for the day I turned to this tread. I haven't seen this tread until it was already skyrocketed to cosmic measurements. It was one am or so and once again I went to FH website and even thought of buying a font. I just can't not love them cause nineteenth century is glued to my retinas. The prices aren't bad but something bothers me, who have bought a couple of fonts ever due to that the use of fonts is part of the job and when the fonts are available with the packaged files, one can tweak here and there and get the job to rip and bye bye. All is fast in the commercial printing which couldn't be without the font files. Of course doing the ctrl+o before pd-éfing the document, which is easy to do for display fonts as per Miss Tiffany. All measured out and all I guess you can even add dongles to the process which will indeed lock it all out, good, promoting your peace of mind.
I wish you exercise you determination as you see fit. Hail.

The thing with Quark is this.

Joshua Lurie-Terrell's picture
Joined: 2 Apr 2003 - 4:37pm
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@Aluminum et. al. -

"All Letterhead fonts on [MyFonts] are sold in our standard, 'ready-to-download and use' formats, and from what I can see, available as Webfonts as well."

We have 28 LHF packages listed, 23 of which are for sale.

MyFonts does not currently sell anything that could be defined as crippleware.

Jackie Frant's picture
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Aluminum If you have to convert type to EPS to make a PDF, then the PDF is no longer text and impossible to parse via screen readers, search engines, document management systems, etc.

Little Ol' Me :-) I still keep my main Quark document to make ALL changes - and I have NEVER given one of those to a customer. I am still giving my customers PDFs - and if there is a correction -- I make it with a smile.

Fontplayer I am tempted to see if there has already been some success ...

Little Ol' Me :-) I have had many assure me that there isn't a font that can't be gotten into -- and I'm sure someone somewhere has attempted this.

Fontplayer I am curious if the Letterhead fonts are able to be managed by the common font managers...

Little Ol' Me :-) The fonts are installed through a program that Letterhead Fonts developed. And they are open all the time... So they are not managed by my Suitcase program. However, they appear open in all the programs I am presently using. Hope that helps, and, sort of answers your question.

Gregg Eshelman's picture
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Jim Baen, of Baen Books, was worried about piracy etc when he decided to get into the e-book market. His friend Eric Flint, an author and editor, convinced Jim to try something crazy...

Give away free copies of e-books, in several different formats, without any DRM or copy ptotection, and with the only restriction on the downloader being they could not sell copies. The EULA on the free Baen e-books practically demands you give copies to people.

At the Baen Free Library site, the books for free are chosen by the authors. Permission for books by dead authors is given by their estates or whomever holds the copyright.

Flint was right in what he told Jim. Don't give a crap about "piracy". Treat the customers like customers instead of thieves. Don't try to exert micromanagement control over what the customer can and cannot do with the product.

People actually PAY for many e-books Baen gives away for free. Why? Because it supports authors they like, which gets more new stories from those authors. Paying for free e-books also supports Baen, the distributor of the goodies.

But Baen took it a step further. They've released CD-ROMs with several of their hardcover printings containing the e-book version and many other e-books by that author and many others. Printed on all those CD-ROMs is the simple EULA that encourages making copies of the CD's to give to others. The contents of all those CD-ROMs are downloadable from many websites and are all over the P2P networks.

Baen's e-book and dead tree sales keep increasing because they're being nice to their customers instead of glaring through slitted eyes at all those ungrateful potential thieves.

Jim Baen (RIP) figured giving the books away would have his company bankrupt and out of business in short order, because he *had* the typical corporate "They're all thieves!" attitude and agonized over every "lost sale". I suspect he felt much better after dropping the 'tude and realized that people who aren't going to pay to get something just flat out aren't going to pay.

I've read this whole thread and see there's still many who still continue to FAIL to realize the difference between a digital, intangible computer file and a real, physical object. It is not possible to steal a digital file, unless there is only one unique copy and the physical object (such as a CD-RW) containing it is itself stolen or a copy of the file is made and the unique original is deleted.

As long as the copyright owner retains a copy, making more is as simple as commanding a computer to copy it. Once several copies are "in the wild", should the copyright owner somehow lose all his or her or its copies, the owner just needs to obtain one of those other copies.

For physical objects, it is a totally different reality. Take any one of a kind piece of art. If an art thief makes off with that one of a kind piece, it's *gone*, stolen. The only way to get it back is to track it down physically.

If you wanted to really steal a song today here's what you'd have to do. First, obtain every single CD, record, tape and every other piece of media it's ever been released on, including any sheet music copies and lyrics and guitar tabs on the web, and disc stamping plates. Second, delete every digital copy that's ever been made of the song. Third, kill the singer(s) and musician(s) who performed it, or at least somehow make them unable to re-record the song. Fourth, break into Stone Mountain and steal the master recordings, which often include all the individual track recordings that're mixed together.

Finally, you and you alone have all copies of the song and any means of reproducing it. NOW you have well and truly stolen a song. Sony must come crawling to you to obtain a copy so they can feed it to the CD mastering machine to make new plates to stamp new discs. Once they have that single copy, all your effort to steal the song becomes pointless.

Sound ridiculous, impossible? Of course it is. The digital world can ensure that nothing can ever be lost, as long as at least one copy is out there, somewhere.

Concentrate on selling to the honest people. Treat them like you believe they will act honestly and honorably and golly gee, most of them will. The ones who want free copies will almost always be able to find free copies. Most of them will never pay, thus they aren't "lost sales". If you have a reputation for fair dealing, some of those non-payers will at some point decide to pay you for your product.

Don't agonize over the "thieves". They're going to act how they do no matter what you do or think.

Something I remember from a John C. Dvorak article in PC Magazine, went something like "I don't care if the first copy of your software cost you $50,000 to develop. The second copy cost you $2 to make. Convince my why I need to buy your software instead of a competitor's or looking for something free on the web."

Not many customers give a crap about the work that was expended writing a program or creating a digital image or designing a font. What matters is what they can do with the digital product, what it means to them, what they see as the intrinsic values of the product itself. They know that once completed, the 'production cost' of digital products is essentially zero. Bang, bang, bang. Millions of copies as easy as one. (Just look at SPAM e-mails.) Arrangements of electrons whizzing around in silicon, patterns of magnetism on spinning platters or coded spirals of pits in metalized plastic. Duplication is cheap. Truly stealing digital product is impossible, pop off another copy for another paying customer the instant he clicks Checkout.

You have to make it worth it for the customer to appreciate your product and want to eagerly give you money for it. Set a price on your fonts. Tell people buy it, or not. Don't glare at the customers with the ole' stink eye. If you still lie awake worrying about people getting copies without paying, put some sort of serial numbers in the fonts, keep a record of which customer is assigned which numbers. Give the customers copies of the serial numbers.

Make it known (NICELY) that the numbers are useful for your customers' own inventory/auditing/tracking etc. They can help your customers control their own use of the fonts. Printers have to have the fonts in some form, typically embedded in PDFs the way the majority of printing is these days. Throwing rocks in the path of current work and production flows is counter productive.

Perhaps giving printers, who only do printing, not designing and layout, a reduced price on the fonts, or heck, just give them free copies, would help. Then you, the font designer, could use that as a selling point to designers. "Brown's printing in your city has ALL of my fonts so you can use any of my fonts and send PDFs to Brown's and you'll never ever have an issue with the printer missing fonts." Preemptive marketing tactics via carpet-bombing one of the biggest issues in digital design, the printer doesn't have Font X and the font cannot be embedded, but if all the major printers already have the fonts...

Then if you are still paranoid about all that potential theft going on, you can spend (or waste) time lurking around the darker corners of the web and P2P looking for copies of your fonts, downloading them and checking the serial numbers, then making polite calls or e-mails to those customers to inform them that font such and so has escaped their control, would they be so kind as to find out how it might have happened.

That might get many customers to exercise the due diligence to prevent your fonts from getting away from them.

Jelmar Geertsma's picture
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Also, in reaction to BigLeague, you do not buy the font: you buy a license for the font, that allows you to use it the way the foundry states in the EULA.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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@James: But by raising the prices they are punishing those who DO license their fonts not those who DO NOT. Don't you think that is strange?

I've seen on usenet people asking for specific fonts and the regulars piping up that they do not share that foundries fonts because they are so inexpensive and they also have nice free fonts. This sort of action, raising the prices because of the pirating, will probably have an adverse reaction.

darrel's picture
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DRM is like major political philosophies. It works great. But only on paper. It doesn't really work as intended in real life. ;)

zebrasystem's picture
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malbright, I checked the LHF site a couple weeks ago after patternmaker's post to see what was up, and again a few days ago. With LHF's revamped shopping cart system instituted at the beginning of 2007 you can redownload fonts you have previously purchased. So I did that with the locked font I bought earlier, and when I download it now, patternmaker is right, it's a regular .otf font file, not the black box installer thing. However, there is also this notice above the button for downloading your fonts:

"IMPORTANT! Each of your fonts has been encrypted with your unique account information. Please do not share them with friends or colleagues. Instead, encourage them to purchase their own copies so that we may continue making new fonts for you. Thank you."

PDF embedding is still not allowed, however. Although you can now open the font in FontLab and turn the embedding restriction off if you wish, that wouldn't seem smart. Aside from the ethics of that or lack thereof, by doing so and embedding fonts in PDFs that can in any way be traced back to the font licensee (with or without encrypted account info), that's inviting getting caught violating the license.

As an .otf file the fonts can now be managed with font managers of course. But if your workflow or permanent document needs depend on PDF embedding (to support searchable PDF archives, etc.), you may not regard the situation as much better than before.

I do wonder about the encrypted account information put into the fonts, and how that's done. I'm not an expert and not of course recommending this, but couldn't fonts simply be opened with FontLab and regenerated anew to lose the encryption? I would assume that type of encryption has to be added after a font is generated and isn't something supported by FontLab/Fontographer. If so, it would seem to be useless for catching any but small-time pirates who didn't know better. Otherwise, assuming the encrypted account info doesn't breed potential software glitches of its own in use of the font, this might be a livable system for combating font piracy.

It is interesting that there has been no public notice of the change on the LHF site. It's reminiscent of the original institution of the protection scheme several months ago when the limitations of the installer were not spelled out fully (at least not IMO). Or maybe LHF is just attempting to quietly test the waters to see how users and sales respond to the new change without biasing it with a public announcement. Also, if this is not just a temporary glitch in LHF's system, maybe Chuck is gunshy now and just doesn't want to say anything hoping the brouhaha will quietly go away and be forgotten with time.

Again, if not a glitch, it is encouraging in that it would seem to be an effort on LHF's part to meet font users halfway. It would have been a difficult emotional decision on Chuck's part, given he said earlier here more than 2 years work was invested in the installer scheme. Or maybe it wouldn't be so difficult if sales were negatively impacted and left little choice but to drop the scheme or close up shop.

I believe Chuck previously gave that as one of his options here, if his effort to combat piracy didn't prove out. If he ended up closing things down has actually been one of my biggest concerns with the whole thing. If you buy installer-only fonts and LHF later decides to close up shop, then once the Windows or Mac OS's have changed enough over time that incompatibilities arise, the fonts become unusable.

Curious what others think about the new change...

John Savard's picture
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The problem here of course is how to convince a user to buy a computer that he does not have a full control over.

Well, if that is the only kind of computer that will play a Blu-Ray disc, for example, it may also be the only type of computer available for sale before long. I think such features are already present in the latest Intel and AMD microprocessors.

But even a very imperfect DRM might be better than nothing, and good enough that companies will feel they can use that instead of taking such a step as Letterhead Fonts did. Also, while it's true the encrypted font data needs to be decrypted in memory, it doesn't follow that a usable image of the whole file will be there. The individual characters could all be present, but without the data linking them together being present in the same format as in an unencrypted font file... except for a short time when the header, but not the characters, have been read in.