PDF font extraction

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Nick Cooke's picture
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Joined: 25 May 2004 - 2:29am
PDF font extraction
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I am curious to know whether it is possible to 'extract' fonts from pdf documents. I can't remember where I heard it, but I seem to remember it may be. Sorry, I can't be any vaguer than that!

Claus Eggers Sørensen's picture
Joined: 17 Jan 2007 - 5:49am
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I have heard that it is possible to partly reconstruct a font from a PDF. It involves copy-pasting from the PDF to a text editor. The catch is knowing exactly what to copy from the PDF.

If this holds true I don't know. In theory it sounds possible.

Michael Albright's picture
Joined: 27 Nov 2005 - 1:52pm
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In theory, it is possible. In practice, it's like stealing. At least it seems like that to me.

Because it is entirely possible to pull fonts from pdfs (granted, without kerning pairs and other important features) it is causing more and more foundries to forbid us designers from embedding fonts when we send our files off to printers. One foundry, Letterhead Fonts, has even built in copy protection that prevents such embedding. This creates a world of extra work, and is unfortunate. Understandable, though.

Anyway, in my personal opinion, this is the last place in the world I would look for information on how to extract fonts from pdfs.

Stefan Seifert's picture
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Joined: 17 Jun 2007 - 4:30am
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Anyway, in my personal opinion, this is the last place in the world I would look for information on how to extract fonts from pdfs.

:-))) I think so, too.

Nick Cooke's picture
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Joined: 25 May 2004 - 2:29am
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Hi Michael, I'm not looking for information on how to extract fonts from pdf's. I sincerely hope it can't be done. And yes, of course it is stealing.

Nick Cooke

Claus Eggers Sørensen's picture
Joined: 17 Jan 2007 - 5:49am
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In theory, it is possible. In practice, it’s like stealing. At least it seems like that to me.
But of course. We all hope it's not possible, that goes without saying.

darrel's picture
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Joined: 4 Feb 2003 - 6:03pm
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I'm going to play devil's advocate, but before the dogpile gets too deep...

The Porche analogy is always fun, but alas, we're talking about physical objects vs. digital copies. The analogies can get problematic. It's the difference between shoplifting a book and photocopying pages of the book at the library for research.

As for spending hundreds of hours creating something and selling it for $5, there's definitely an argument for that if there's a mass market. It's not an hourly billing, but a product that can easily be resold many times. So, Gravis, if you're saying that a $5 price point would increase sales a thousand fold, perhaps there's some logic to that. But I'm guessing that's not the case*.

* though that would be an interesting study...two equal typefaces different in form only...one sold for $5 one sold for $500...would the first outsell the latter more than 100 to 1?

TG's picture
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Joined: 8 May 2003 - 2:39pm
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The Porche analogy is always fun, but alas, we’re talking about physical objects vs. digital copies.

Sure, these are different things. I was just commenting on the "I was forced to do it", not on the type of goods. That's a different story discussed many times before on Typophile.

nobodyelse's picture
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Joined: 3 Apr 2008 - 2:13pm
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Sorry to write to a so old discussion thread.

I have programmed a tool myself this afternoon, not to steal the fonts but to be able to change some incorrect information on some documents from which we have lost the originals.

The tool works fully automatic and extracts the subset of fonts embedded in a pdf file and converts them to trueType fonts.

Questions are,
Should I make the tool public available?
Would it be useful for anyone?
What do you think about an online tool, where you upload the pdf and download a zip with the subsets of fonts?
Would I be doing something illegal?

Thanks for the advise.

nobody

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
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Darrel, that is a problem that needs to be overcome. Fonts must be thought of as a tangible object.

Rainer Zerenko's picture
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Joined: 15 Mar 2006 - 6:28am
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Two days late, Troll.

Mike Diaz's picture
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Joined: 14 Apr 2006 - 12:43am
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no you shouldn't make it available

Carl Crossgrove's picture
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Joined: 8 Sep 2003 - 2:07pm
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"Thanks for the fonts"? Not only was poor Gravis forced to steal, he was forced to be snide about it. Boo hoo. Yet another self-righteous teenager.

There's no way that a single weight of any display font ever cost $480, much less $580. Single display fonts tend to cost between $10 and $30. And where does this mysterious markup come from? Why wouldn't you take the lower price, if it was ever quoted as such? There isn't a "wholesale" price that gets marked up by the only available outlet; it doesn't work that way. Forced to pay higher prices, too. ;(

Home users would probably be going to the popular font sites to make their purchases, if they were legitimately willing to pay at all. And once there, they would find a range of prices on a wide selection of products. Choices all around.

The entire thing is nonsense, and a weak excuse for file sharing. Whether it's music, fonts or other software, it's really just ignorance, entitlement and denial that keeps you from acknowledging the hard work that goes into any of these things.

Tiffany Wardle's picture
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Joined: 13 Jul 2001 - 11:00am
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No reason for name-calling, Rainer.

Nobody the tool sounds like something which no one, barring your extreme example, would ever need. If people have proper license for the fonts to begin with they will never need to use your tool, they'd simply need to contact the foundry.

Eben Sorkin's picture
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Joined: 22 Jan 2004 - 4:19pm
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Fonts must be thought of as a tangible object.

I am not sure. When Rhapsody or other similar services rents music instead of licensing it like iTunes does it's a different business model. Like renting a Hotel room. Then it's a service. Certainly these is no equivalent that I know of in type today, but there might be and the possibility of the model existing makes me think that there really could be a variety of valid and ethical ways of thinking about the font business.

I was very happy to buy the El ten Eleven (helvetica movie soundtrack) as a DRM free uncompressed FLAC file. The fact that they made it possible to do that endeared them to me. My loyalty to their 'Brand' is higher now.

So while I think Gravis' ideas about font licensing are sheer lunacy and delusion more or less, I do think that it absolutely behooves the industry think seriously about new flexibility in order better master the social and technological landscape - for straightforward business reasons.

Of course this is high minded talk which short on substance. And I admit it.

Eran Kaplinsky's picture
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Joined: 24 Jul 2007 - 4:07pm
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They may be infringing, but they are not "stealing".

Mike Diaz's picture
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Tiff is the lady!!

darrel's picture
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"Darrel, that is a problem that needs to be overcome. Fonts must be thought of as a tangible object."

No. That only harms and muddies the argument. IP concepts need to be understood and respected. That's the key.

As Eben hints at, Gravis' arguments are silly and easily dismissed. You don't want the industry's counter-arguments to be as silly and easily dismissed as his (the RIAA is a good example of fighting silly arguments with equally silly counter-arguments)

Nick Cooke's picture
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Nick Cooke

Felix Giosanu's picture
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Very interesting method you have presented here. I am a graphic designer and I work mainly for auto industry. They use special fonts for every icon in the car. I had this problem a few months ago. At that time it was very little information about this subject online. After a lot of researching I have developed a procedure to extract any type of font embedded in any pdf file. I will present my method on my blog on http://pdffontextract.blogspot.com so people can use it and solve their problems. Glad to help you guys!

Nick Cooke's picture
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No longer any edit?

I wanted to say that this is the reason I asked the question. I am now fairly confident that it would be pretty difficult, (not to mention financially unviable) to produce working OpenType fonts extracted from the pdf.

Nick Cooke

nerys's picture
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Joined: 25 Aug 2009 - 1:30pm
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Man it makes me sick when I hear people say "its stealing"

facts people. Facts. its not stealing. at the absolute worst its infringement.

Not saying its not bad but its also NOT STEALING

there are very legitimate uses.

My bank sends my statements in PDF. I found out Acrobat lets me EDIT THEM. Wonderful! we run a small business and we are not doing it well. We are learning a lot about records keeping and the government is sternly educating us on what "it" wants (whatever happened to them working for us anyway)

so the idea hit me like a sack of bricks. I can "edit" the PDF statement and add a description and category to each line of the statement! would save THOUSANDS of pages of paper and hundreds of hours in time to PRINT it annotate it and RESCAN IT.

alas while it will let me edit it errors because its using a FONT I don't have on the computer. Well I do have that font its just called something "different" in the PDF.

its called tte191c348t00 which is clearly not its original name.

so I would like to EXTRACT that font so I can then annotate the line items in my statements as easily as click and type (other forms of annotation are a royal pain in the a...) especially when you have HUNDREDS of lines sometimes in one statement.

So far the only way to do it is with font forge but that requires me to install all kinds of other "crap" like cygwin

a nice easy way to rip the font from the pdf so the editor will use it as a system font IE let me annotate the lines.

I would gladly use another font but it won't let me (no security on the file) it just wants me to use the same font but I have not found out how to CHANGE the font. heck I would change the font of the whole damned thing if I could.

its NOT STEALING. at worst its infringement and in this case irrelevant infringement.

copyright has gone WAY too far. if you don't want to share something because someone can "hack" it your in the wrong damned business go find something else to do.

I know all about "copyright" I am a photographer. As far as I am concerned if your not profiting from my work your not going to get too much grief from me.

copyright should also have NO force of law for anything non profit or non damaging.

and DRM should be outlawed. its THEFT of Property plain and simple.

when you apply DRM you are STEALING (real theft here) my rights to MY property.

when I buy a book I OWN IT. its MINE to do with as I please. you own the IP rights "I" own the PHYSICAL rights to that book.

DRM is theft of my physical property rights or PPR rights. It should be outlawed and companies fined heavily for attempting to use anything like it for purchased property.

Gravis's picture
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im going to be honest here: you are charging too much for fonts. all i wanted was a font to mimic a famous tabloid so that i could post a funny picture on a forum. however, when i finally found the font it used, it was $480 to get the font pack and the proxy site that wanted to sell it to me had a huge overhead as it was $580. now, im a home user and no home user is going to pay that outrageous price. i know you are targeting commercial entities so really, you had this coming. i was honestly willing to plunk down $5 for something i would probably only use once or twice but no, now you wont even be getting that. you have only yourselves to blame for this.

thanks for the fonts,
Gravis

name                      type     emb sub uni object ID
------------------------------- -------- --- --- --- ---------
FEIEKC+Interstate-Regular       Type 1C  yes yes yes     60  0
FEIFAJ+EldoradoText-Roman       Type 1C  yes yes yes     54  0
FEIFFO+EldoradoText-RomanSC     Type 1C  yes yes yes     64  0
FEIFNI+Interstate-Light         Type 1C  yes yes yes     80  0
FEIIGG+Interstate-Bold          Type 1C  yes yes yes    130  0
FEIPAI+Rhode-BlackNormal        Type 1C  yes yes yes     87  0
FEIPGP+Rhode-MediumExtended     Type 1C  yes yes yes     71  0
FEIPLE+Rhode-SemiboldCondensed  Type 1C  yes yes yes     78  0
FEJAAK+Rhode-SemiboldWide       Type 1C  yes yes yes     75  0
FEJAFP+Rhode-BlackWide          Type 1C  yes yes yes    107  0
FEJAKE+Rhode-MediumCondensed    Type 1C  yes yes yes     94  0
FEJAOI+Rhode-BlackCondensed     Type 1C  yes yes yes     97  0
FEJBDO+Rhode-BoldWide           Type 1C  yes yes yes    122  0
FEJBKE+Rhode-MediumWide         Type 1C  yes yes yes    110  0
FEJBPJ+Rhode-BoldExtended       Type 1C  yes yes yes    114  0
FEJCEO+Rhode-BoldNormal         Type 1C  yes yes yes    126  0
FEIJIE+Interstate-LightItalic   Type 1C  yes yes yes     40  0
FEINAL+Interstate-Black         Type 1C  yes yes yes     35  0
FEJEBE+Rhode-MediumNormal       Type 1C  yes yes yes     28  0
FEJEFK+Rhode-SemiboldNormal     Type 1C  yes yes yes     23  0
FEJJHO+Rhode-BlackExtended      Type 1C  yes yes yes     18  0
FEJLPL+Rhode-BoldCondensed      Type 1C  yes yes yes     13  0
FEJOKA+Rhode-SemiboldExtended   Type 1C  yes yes yes      8  0

Mike Diaz's picture
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Joined: 14 Apr 2006 - 12:43am
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Gravis, if you are not used to paying money for good fonts then that means you won’t know how to use them well anyway.

Sorry, not impressed!

j's picture
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Joined: 30 Jul 2004 - 1:49pm
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sweet rant

bowerbird intelligentleman's picture
Joined: 5 Mar 2009 - 5:27am
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kent said:
> Say you have a name that your parents gave you,
> and an address where you live,
> and a social security number issued to you
> by the government,
> and a couple of credit card number that you
> have been lent by the credit card companies.
> Say I copy them. You still have them.
> You are still you. What did I steal?

nothing.

yet...

but i might think about canceling the credit-card.

or i might not. because lots of copies of _that_
are already floating around, including the one
at the restaurant where i had dinner last night,
and the gas station after that, and then the bar,
not to mention all the merchants who have the
number stored on file. but _you_, i worry about! ;+)

-bowerbird

John Hudson's picture
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http://fluff.info/blog/arch/00000151.htm

“To revisit the original question, the socially optimal allocation of rights is exactly what intellectual property law is intended to do as well. Sure, IP law is artificial, but physical property law is equally artificial; we're just so used to it that we've forgotten.”

nerys's picture
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Joined: 25 Aug 2009 - 1:30pm
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"“Darrel, that is a problem that needs to be overcome. Fonts must be thought of as a tangible object.”"

Let me show you how incorrect your analogy is

You have a bottle of rare PURE water (rare because pure water IS rare its usually got other stuff in it)

thats 1 liter of a molecule made up of 2 hydrogen and 1 oxygen atom. thats it

I "duplicate" those atoms of hydrogen and oxygen and now I have an identical bottle of water.

you still have YOUR bottle of water

what did i steal?

lets go further. I build a REPLICATOR like you see on star trek. I see a STEAK in acme I "scan" the steak. I don't open it or take it I just scan its atomic structure.

I go home and press COPY on the replicator and out pops and identical steak the original STILL on the shelf at acme

what have I stolen?

you say but but this is impossible.

OK lets do the possible.

I COPY a song from a CD. the original CD is still there. it has not changed or moved.

I go home and hit copy

what have I stolen?

just like the other examples I have stolen absolutely nothing. NO THEFT HAS OCCURED.

I have simply COPIED something.

now in our world we respect "intellectual property" rights. actually a misnomer since it applies the word property to something that is nothing of the sort but thats ok we just expand the definition of property to included the non physical.

alas this changes nothing when something is COPIED.

when you copy and use something OUTSIDE of the "limited" legal wishes of the original IP owner you are stealing NOTHING.

you are "violating" the rights of the original IP owner.

this is why its called copyright infringement. and not THEFT. because the people who coined these words had half a brain and realized there can be no "theft" here since there is nothing to actually STEAL.

well in a WAY there is. it is possible to "kind of" steal the original IP itself if I could for example convince the entire world that "I" wrote "x" song instead of Elvis Presley then you could say I "stole" the song.

otherwise its just infringement.

alas the industry realizes that infringement of copyright is JUST not that big a deal (it leads to other things that ARE a big deal but more on that later)

so they have tried to DEMONIZE infringement and incorrect attach the word THEFT to it since THEFT carries more "moral weight" on people than infringement does.

that's how we can get an insane 2 million dollar judgment against a mother for 24 songs downloaded off kazaa.

The trick is to find the REAL reason for all or this.

its all about control. people wonder how can labels sue there own customers. well thats a logical flaw on our part. You make the false assumption that WE are the customers of the labels.

ahh things get interesting now. Once this becomes clear everything just falls into place.

the ARTISTS are the customers NOT US.

we are customers of the artists NOT the labels the labels are just proxies to the artists.

Starting to make sense now?

the labels exist via there ABSOLUTE iron grip control of the artists. They control everything from store shelves to distribution to production to stadiums to advertising recording studio's and even radio stations.

the digital age namely the following technologies

Digital Compressed Music (mp3)
The Internet
Powerful Home computers
Cheap CD Duplication

The MP3 allows artists to handle distribution in combination with the internet
The internet also handles distribution storage and advertising affordably
Powerful Home computers allow home studio's to become a reality.

With burnables and today mass produced stamped CD's an artists can sell you a CD for $5 and make 20+ times more money than with a label. (average artists gets a "nickel" per cd with some of the bigger artists getting 20+ cents a pop)

these 4 things inevitable lead to one conclusions. LABELS BECOME LARGELY OBSOLETE and definitely OPTIONAL

Interesting ehh?

so by going after the MP3 and DEMONIZING "downloadable" music they protect the iron grip control and there position of need to artists.

THE ARTISTS are the victums err customers of the labels. have you READ some of the contracts artists have to sign? insanity.

THIS is why they demonize downloading (even though its a BOOM to artists its a DEATH NOTE for labels)

Something to think about.

darrel's picture
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I'm going to be honest here, Gravis...your 'need to post a funny picture on a forum' argument won't likely change anyone's mind to cut their prices by 400% and start losing money in the process.

That said, it's a concept that's been tossed about now again...a 'typesetting' license for one-off uses. It has some credence. Of course, for just making a goofy non-commercial JPG to impress your friends, one would assume a screen shot of the word set via the foundry's online typesetting tool would have not only sufficed, but been the quickest way to accomplish what you wanted to do.

stefan's picture
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Joined: 20 Mar 2010 - 7:09am
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You are able to extract fonts from PDF with [Link Removed by Moderator]

Simon Daniels's picture
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...these are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise...

Ben Mitchell's picture
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Whether it's stealing or infringement, it's just wrong.

If you've ever started making a font you'll see that type design requires a whole lot of skill and patience. Duplicating software, fonts or music means that consumers aren't paying for the licence so the creators of that software, fonts or music lose money. Aren't they entitled to some payback for their creations?

nlx's picture
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Joined: 19 Mar 2006 - 6:22am
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How is it possible to check a font to verifiy its not an extract ?

Blank's picture
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If the font has kerning tables, it probably was not extracted.

Otherwise, you could email it to the foundry and ask them to look. Then again, if it’s a legit font, it should have come from them to begin with…

Jens Kutílek's picture
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If the font has kerning tables, it probably was not extracted.

I'm not sure that this is a good indicator ... most PDF-extracted fonts I've seen had been run through some kind of automatic kerning software. Some have OT features. Heck, some people even seem to draw additional glyphs that were missing in the PDF. Their time must be really worth nothing.

I think a digital signature may be the most reliable sign that a font is in its original state. But not everybody signs their fonts.

Tom Hodgins's picture
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I know there are ways to pull embedded goodies out of any sort of file, but the question is, if you only desired the typeface to make an adjustment, or you really want a font for a few words, why not just open the pages in illustrator, grab the glyph outlines and play around with those.

I mean, we might think it's barbaric to deal with a pageful of outlines glyphs and have to move them around manually…but wasn't that what typesetting was anyways?

It's saved me in the past (where I didn't have a font available, or the means to get it because I was in a different town and only had the PDF)

It's not pretty, but it can be done successfully!

nlx's picture
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Sometime you just use the font of your client/agency… but anyway i'm not here to talk about legal issue and the forum don't work for the police.

What i would like to know is : what software can be used to look at kerning (i don't use/have font software like FontLab. etc.). Can i see this with FontExplorer or something like this ?

Simon Daniels's picture
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Free trial of one of the FontLab tools might be your best bet? Or maybe TTX?

Blank's picture
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Just check for negative kerning between A and V in Indesign. Just about everybody ends up kerning those.

Karsten Luecke's picture
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.

Kent Lew's picture
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Say you have a name that your parents gave you, and an address where you live, and a social security number issued to you by the government, and a couple of credit card number that you have been lent by the credit card companies. Say I copy them. You still have them. You are still you. What did I steal?

Eben Sorkin's picture
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Yes, the idea that you were forced to pirate is nonsense. All the bravado you worked up along the way is likewise.

Darrel, you make some good points about one-off rendering...

TG's picture
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It's really not my fault I stole that Porsche the other day. I only wanted to drive it for a week, but they said I would have to buy the whole(!) thing for 50.000 bucks! Can you believe that? They forced my to steal it!

Jackie Frant's picture
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There’s no way that a single weight of any display font ever cost $480, much less $580.

It sounds to me like Gravis found House Industries and wanted one font from a "package." House Industries only sells it by the package.... hence the hefty price.

Gravis, many times when I've helped folks ID a typeface (that they only need for a few words) and they can't afford the type - they've asked me to set the type and send them a jpg. They are stealing and I'm still typesetting. It works. I'm sure there are others out there that have never minded giving a word or two or three out in graphic form to help someone. I've received many thank yous, a wedding invitation to a big to-do in Utah and folks that have now tried to help others.

The world still goes round.

Nick Cooke's picture
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Yes, Gravis - I'm sure if you'd spent hundreds of hours creating something you'd be quite happy to sell it for $5. That makes good commercial sense, especially if it isn't popular. Who wouldn't want to work for 1 cent an hour?

Nick Cooke

Jason Campbell's picture
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>>
Yes, Gravis - I’m sure if you’d spent hundreds of hours creating something you’d be quite happy to sell it for $5. That makes good commercial sense, especially if it isn’t popular. Who wouldn’t want to work for 1 cent an hour?

Nick Cooke
<<

Yes, Gravis has convinced me!
My new rate for Custom Truetype hinting is $0.25 / hour!

Jason C

(just kidding, BTW)

darrel's picture
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"Because it is entirely possible to pull fonts from pdfs (granted, without kerning pairs and other important features) it is causing more and more foundries to forbid us designers from embedding fonts"

Paranoia is causing that. If I want a font without paying for it, I'm not going to spend time extracting it from a PDF...I'll just download it off the internet somewhere.

Nick: It's software. Therefore, yes, it can be done. Pretty much any software can be cracked/reversed engineered by those willing to figure it out.

Michael Albright's picture
Joined: 27 Nov 2005 - 1:52pm
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Hi folks,
No harm meant, nor did I mean to imply that anyone here was actually going to steal a font by ripping it from a PDF.

aluminum, I happen to agree that it's kind of a desperate and self-delusional act to think that EULAs that forbid font embedding do any good. For a lively discussion on this subject, check out the lengthy thread here about Letterhead Fonts copy protection scheme. Then go to Letterhead Fonts and see what Chuck, the proprietor, has to say on the issue. He's written a rather good explanation for his thinking, and one can just feel his pain.

Dennis Hill's picture
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There is a certain breed (I know, I used to be one), somewhat like the Elvis obsessed meter maid recently busted in England, that has a font addiction. They have to have every font that exists. Right and wrong can be rationalized with only a little effort.

The fonts I have seen extracted, were missing so much, I wasn't really attracted. But what I would worry about if I were a fontmaker is that these files aren't always labeled, and there are stripped copies of commercial fonts floating around that might make people question the work quality of a designer.

But a person can get a pristine version of almost any font that has been out for a while through normal addict channels, if one is dedicated. So I think the main issue with the .pdf extracts is the quality reflection on the artist.

Simon Daniels's picture
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>I happen to agree that it’s kind of a desperate and self-delusional act to think that EULAs that forbid font embedding do any good.

Well, there are also embedding permissions in the fonts that most reputable applications will abide by - Acrobat, Powerpoint, Word etc., (not sure about Flash) - so it's not just a EULA issue. Bad people would need to go to some effort to flip the bits to their liking.

I agree there's some paranoia out there, probably based on actual reported font crimes, but also some vendors see offering extended embedding rights as a way of making a few extra $'s and to that I say best of luck to them.

Also I think LH fonts are on the fringe, and until others follow their lead (I don't see a line forming) I don't think they are really part of the equation.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
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The bottom line is that for people who would pay for fonts anyway
the effort/cost of reconstructing anything remotely usable from a
PDF just doesn't make sense. If some guy in a shack is turned on by
doing it, who cares.

> some vendors see offering extended embedding rights

What's typically the premium one has to pay for that?

hhp