Get those fonts copyrighted!

Primary tabs

29 posts / 0 new
Last post
Blank's picture
Offline
Joined: 25 Sep 2006 - 2:15pm
Get those fonts copyrighted!
0

The US government now has a copyright czar position in the cabinet. Sounds like a good person to harass about the policy of typefaces not be copyrightable in the US.

Thomas Phinney's picture
Offline
Joined: 3 Sep 2002 - 11:00am
0

Well, digital outline fonts are copyrightable in the USA - the Type 1, TrueType or OpenType files, that is.

It woudl be nice to have copyright on the design, rather than only the more limited (and more difficult) design patent.

Regards,

T

Kent Lew's picture
Offline
Joined: 21 Apr 2002 - 11:00am
0

At one point not, too long ago, there was some work being done on proposed legislation to include some measure of copyright protection for typeface designs. The draft that I saw seemed to be drawing on the model of the boat hull design inclusion to find an angle for typeface protection. But I don't know whether it's still actively in process.

-- K.

darrel's picture
Offline
Joined: 4 Feb 2003 - 6:03pm
0

"a copyright czar, a position on par with the nation's drug czar Congress created in 1982 to wage the war on drugs"

Of course! The war on drugs has been such a success! ;)

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
0

Boats, huh? Maybe all of us should get on board (pun intended) with
crediting Burgess for Times to reinforce the hul..., I mean the case.

hhp

Charles Ellertson's picture
Joined: 3 Nov 2004 - 11:00am
0

Be careful what you ask for.

"Oh, that's just another Egyptian. XXXX holds the copyright for Egyptians."

Well, it would cut down on the number of new fonts, and enrich the lawyers.

Bill Troop's picture
Offline
Joined: 20 Jun 2004 - 12:32am
0

Charles raises an interesting point. You have to wonder, sometimes, if this industry deserves better copyright protection, and it did, whether it would be beneficial. The present design patent system is practically useless as the examiner seems to take the case as presented, regardless of merit. But had we a system such as the German one that found Segoe was virtually identical to Frutiger, then Myriad would probably also be considered identical to Frutiger. No less an authority than Frutiger himself considered it so.

As for Burgess - - has a shred of independent evidence emerged to support the theory that this man, never hitherto associated with type - - was capable of designing TNR or any other typeface? Has a single page of a single book in Times printed before 1932 emerged? Where are the secret 'bonds' between the corporations that Mike Parker talks about? I retain my belief that Mike Parker has perpetrated a marvellous prank. There is not a single piece of verifiable evidence to support it as history.

The Burgess case only illustrates how shallow a case we have to make for type copyright.

Blank's picture
Offline
Joined: 25 Sep 2006 - 2:15pm
0

…then Myriad would probably also be considered identical to Frutiger.

Didn’t they change Myriad becaused it was considered identical? Between you and Uli I can’t keep the details straight.

Where are the secret ’bonds’ between the corporations that Mike Parker talks about?

Why don’t you call him up and ask? Mike’s a very friendly guy and loves to talk about type history.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
0

Or just FINALLY READ THE ARTICLE, Bill.

hhp

Bill Troop's picture
Offline
Joined: 20 Jun 2004 - 12:32am
0

>Didn’t they change Myriad becaused it was considered identical? Between you and Uli I can’t keep the details straight.

No, it didn't start out that way. Adobe had what seemed like a good idea: Myriad was supposed to be a completely characterless sans serif -- that's why two designers, Robert Slimbach and Carol Twombly, were assigned to it. The reasoning was that the two designers would cancel out each others' egos.

Very good reasoning, but it didn't take sufficient account either of Robert's ego or his vampyrism. As the project moved on, Carol had less and less input on the design and, as she has remarked, the design grew more and more to look like Frutiger. (Amusingly enough Frutiger and even Segoe are cited in the most recent patent applications for Myriad.)

It's an astonishing thing but for years very few people, other than Frutiger, noticed that Myriad was so close to Frutiger that it had to have been traced over it. You couldn't come that close without tracing. Frutiger complained vehemently, and was rewarded by the famous seven-page letter from Fred Brady of Adobe, explaining all the various ways in which Myriad was not a copy of Frutiger.

Who to believe? Brady or Frutiger? Well, of all the non-entities in 20th century type history, Fred Brady is one of the non-est. And of all the masters of 20th century type, Adrian Frutiger is one of the greatest. That's a clue.

In justice to Twombly, it is clear that she was not a willing participant. Carol is not a bad person, unless you think it is bad to choose to remain silent when something bad is unfolding.

The same thing happened, a few years later with Cronos, a knockoff of Volker Kuester's Today Sans Serif. I know that Fred knew about this in advance, but precisely when? I'll never forget the phone call when I suggested to Fred that Adobe should take on Today Sans Serif. Hmmmm, he said. 'Scangraphic? Let me have a look at their specimen book. (Rustle of pages.) Today Sans Serif? Very nice. Well Bill, if you like Today Sans Serif, you're gonna love Robert's new Cronos.'

I have subsequently wondered: was that the moment when he, who I think was technically Robert's manager, discovered that Today and Cronos were one and the same? Or was it a put-on for my benefit.

One thing I'm surer of. When, some time later, I was talking to Carol and pointed out the near identity of Today and Cronos, the way she said, 'Not again!' seemed spontaneous. Carol did not know, until that moment, what had happened.

So there we are. No company has been more active in seeking copyright protection than Adobe. But Adobe's record is so tarnished that I find myself unable to take much interest in font copyright.

Was there another way for Adobe? There was, and they could have taken it, had the font group been possessed of sufficient mettle.

There is the Font Bureau model. Font Bureau has produced numberless superb knock-offs. Each one is impeccably researched and executed, and each one is impeccably sourced.

Font Bureau never stoops to assert that its knockoffs are original, much less worthy of patent. But it makes a superb case, which happens to be largely true, that its knockoffs are substantial improvements, technically, aesthetically, and functionally.

I have been thinking about Font Bureau's model for years, and the more I think about it, the better I think it is. Type cannot and should not be over-protected. The key, as in all else, is honesty.

Bill Troop's picture
Offline
Joined: 20 Jun 2004 - 12:32am
0

>>Where are the secret ’bonds’ between the corporations that Mike Parker talks about?

>Why don’t you call him up and ask? Mike’s a very friendly guy and loves to talk about type history.<

Because I don't think Mike is ready to come clean.

If anything were more decisive than another, it would be Jim Rimmer's unimpeachable statement that the italic attributed to 'Burgess' was in fact designed by him. That's OK. We know Jim Rimmer is a type designer and a very, very good one. We know little of Starling Burgess except that he was never a type designer.

Nobody has ever shown an original drawing. Everything we have been allowed to see has been digitized. And all the 'secret agreements' from 1960 which Mike Parker speaks of - - where are they? Why has nobody managed to photograph or scan one of them?

And why has nobody, a hundred years later, been able to discover a single page printed in TNR before 1932?

What we do know is that Gerald Giampa needed his skin saved in his legal skirmishes with Monotype, and that Mike Parker was the knight to come to the poor fellow's rescue. And we also know that the level of philistinism at Monotype was so incalculably high that ... it was almost a pushover.

I'm still waiting for original documents, original drawings, original anything.

There still isn't any.

Charles Ellertson's picture
Joined: 3 Nov 2004 - 11:00am
0

Bill,

In some ways, all you're saying is that major corporations are acting like major corporations. I remember the head of General Motors saying that the reason GM built all those SUVs was because that's what the public demanded -- never mind the ad campaigns that created the demand, the lobbying dollars to keep the fleet standard gas mileage from including SUVs, etc.

* * *

Adobe got a patent on the paragraph optimization routine used in InDesign. As I remember, Donald Knuth's remark was, essentially, he didn't see the basis for it. On the other hand, you can't really expect Adobe to sink all that development money into InDesign without some protection.

As for Mike Parker & Font Bureau, their license prohibits a couple of things vital in my line of work, things which Adobe allows. When we did some testing on FB Julianna, the documents we had to sign (& which I objected to) apparently addressed concerns of Parker -- that somebody was apt to steal the font if embedding in a PFD was allowed.

To paraphrase a remark about the deity & armies, governments enlist on the side of the most (expensive) lawyers.

darrel's picture
Offline
Joined: 4 Feb 2003 - 6:03pm
0

"To paraphrase a remark about the deity & armies, governments enlist on the side of the most (expensive) lawyers."

I was going to type a long winded reply but you summed it up perfectly in that one sentence.

Hrant H Papazian's picture
Joined: 3 May 2000 - 11:00am
0

Bill, something for your consideration: Matthew Carter once made an experimental font (for FUSE, I believe) called Secrets, where each glyph was actually an off-center, sort of hazily rendered name. All the names were of undisputed type designers. And Carter included "Starling Burgess" among them. Now, I'm not saying Carter is omniscient or infallible, but I do know that you trust him, and I do know that you can get in touch with him, so you might like to ask him what he really thinks.

hhp

Ch's picture
Ch
Offline
Joined: 4 Feb 2007 - 7:48pm
0

font design copyrights will have the following results:

1) all existing activities will continue.
2) countless students will be criminalized.
3) font foundries will add more legal fees to their expenses and then to their prices.
4) numerous design ideas will become off limits due to vague accusations of similarity.
5) the definition of inspiration and interpretation will be left to lawyers and judges.
6) numerous existing fonts will become evidence in labyrinthine legal arguments, setting confusing and contradictory precedents.

it's a terrible idea, sure to be a nightmare for everyone.

i understand and appreciate the hard work that goes into font design. i buy my fonts legally. but they are TOOLS afterall. they are not the creative end product. restrictive EULA's are offensive enough. this would tip the balance into destructive chaos, with only lawyers reaping any benefits.

Bill Troop's picture
Offline
Joined: 20 Jun 2004 - 12:32am
0

>what he really thinks

I asked a few years ago. 'Oh, I don't think I can comment on that,' he cheerfully said.

Re what Chris Harvey has written, it is painful for me to say this but everything he says makes sense.

But what are we to do? There is an unprecedented problem with type design and protection today, for the simple reason that there are hundreds of designers and tens of thousands of designs. In the entire history of printing there has never been anything like this number of designers and fonts.

Paradoxically, more people were working on perfectly optically scaled type 80 years ago than seem to be working on it now.

John Hudson's picture
Offline
Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
0

...somebody was apt to steal the font if embedding in a PFD was allowed.

Personal Floatation Device? I understand the Burgess was a boat designer, but surely this is one embedding worry that should not concern us. :)

Charles Ellertson's picture
Joined: 3 Nov 2004 - 11:00am
0

Well, Mike's not the roundest apple in the basket. Maybe he needs a personal flotation device.

John Hudson's picture
Offline
Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
0

Bill, re. Burgess and Times:

There are two separate questions here:

1. Does the typeface we know as Times New Roman significantly pre-date the 1931 British provenance?
2. Was this typeface in fact designed by Starling Burgess?

Obviously a positive answer to the second question relies upon a positive answer to the first question, but other than that they are quite separate questions.

I don't think the link to Burgess has been proven. Proof would require physical evidence that unambiguously links the design to Burgess (letters, signed drawings, etc.), and so far as I am aware such evidence has not been found.

But the material evidence of the two-part patterns and their numbering -- if they are genuine --, suggests very strongly a design that significantly pre-dates 1931. The attribution to Burgess, the background of corporate rivalry and distrust, etc. are interesting, but ultimately matters of interpretation rather than fact. The patterns are either deliberate hoax or they are historical artefacts, and if the latter then they raise serious questions about the date of the design of Times New Roman, because such patterns are associated with an manufacturing process.

[By the way, whatever else may come of this issue, Mike's work documenting the series numbering of Lanston types, their italic set systems, and other aspects of the manufactuing of Monotype faces, as recorded in the appendices to his Printing History represent a significant work of historical investigation that deserves to be acknowledged in its own right.]
___

Re. the Rimmer italic. I think the confusion over this is due to the fact that Giampa was never clear about the provenance of the italic drawing. He wasn't when he showed it to me, more than a decade ago, at his workshop in Vancouver. It was identified only as trial drawings for the Burgess italic, which Gerald was planning to release as a digital type. He didn't specify that it was designed by Jim as a companion for the Roman, and left the interpretation open that it was in some way connected with Burgess or with the original design. Disingenuous to say the least.

Eran Kaplinsky's picture
Offline
Joined: 24 Jul 2007 - 4:07pm
0

You will regret it.

Bill Troop's picture
Offline
Joined: 20 Jun 2004 - 12:32am
0

Who will regret what ? ?

>Re. the Rimmer italic.

Come on, John, nobody is confused about whether Jim Rimmer has designed an italic for them or not. This is something that one knows.

Not even poor little Gerald Giampa (who I think went a little too far when he asked the OpenType list to contribute funds to his household as he was having to burn his furniture in the stove for it was so very cold) is capable of being confused about such a thing.

And to suppose that Mike Parker, that canny businessman and entrepreneur, could be confused about any of this, defies credibility.

There is not a single piece of independently verifiable evidence to connect Starling Burgess to the Times typeface.

I would be the first to applaud if there were. I would be thrilled.

But this is just an amusing hoax that doesn't even rise to the level of the pranks that are occasionally inserted into the august Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. However, it has served its purpose, which was to distentangle Giampa from Monotype's legal eagles. Now that Gerald's Lanston/Monotype establishment doesn't seem to exist anymore, why doesn't everyone just come clean? Even Trever-Roper admitted he had been had. It doesn't seem to have done irreparable harm, long-term, to his reputation.

John Hudson's picture
Offline
Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
0

Bill, I didn't say anyone was confused *now* about Rimmer's italic. I was referring to the confusion before Rimmer's article.

Read what I wrote again, and read it carefully. I agree that there is no proof of a link between Burgess and the Times face. But the nature of the Series 54 patterns suggests something very much earlier than 1931. Unless someone made those patterns, complete with patina, in order to perpetrate a bizarre hoax, I think they do leave a question about the provenance of this design.

Bill Troop's picture
Offline
Joined: 20 Jun 2004 - 12:32am
0

Remind me John of the nature of these patina'd patterns? Who has seen them? Are these the things that were reproduced after Giampa's 'digitization'? ?

Now about Burgess. In 1911, he's trying to sell the US government an airplane, but unfortunately it crashes with him in it. He apparently isn't badly hurt. Let's go back to 1909. He's a leading figure in Boston society; when his wife opens a shop, she gets a paragraph in the New York Times.

And let's go back to 1902, before the so-called typeface is designed. He's working on boats for the Americas Cup; he's making several boats a year.

When does he have time to design Times New Roman? And if he did, wouldn't he say something about it? He was obviously one of the great self-publicists.

And for heaven's sake, why doesn't he complain, in 1932, when he sees his typeface being ripped off? Or did he, too, have to sign a 'secret bond' to use Mike Parker's marvellously schoolboyish words . . . .

Josh's picture
Offline
Joined: 10 Nov 2005 - 1:46am
0

I can't wait until judges are also giving design critiques, deciding on the originality of typefaces. Or even better, a jury, assumably one with no design background since they would be biased.

John Hudson's picture
Offline
Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
0

Bill, I'm not very interested in the Burgess side of things. There is evidence of his involvement in private publishing in the relevant period, but since there isn't a definitive link to the design I don't think there is much to be gained in the debate either way. Burgess is Mike's thing, not mine.

The patterns to which I refer are the two-part brass patterns in which letters have been cut from one sheet of brass which has then been affixed to a backing sheet. It is this process, along with the stamped series number 54, that suggest an early initial manufacturing, because this process was no longer in use in 1932. By that time, patterns were being cut in relief on a single piece of brass. These patterns have been photographed, and appear on the front cover of the issue of Printing History that contained Mike's initial article on the subject. I held one of the patterns in my hand when I visited Gerald in the early '90s.

The patterns have two sets of series numbers on them: 54 and 362, the latter being the Times series number. The style of numbers used in the stamps is consistent with the two periods. Nicholas Barker suggested that the displacement of metal caused by the stamping might indicate that the 54 was stamped after ther 362 -- a point that I raised from the audience in challenge to Mike's recent TypeCon lecture --, but Mike counters that this would only be the case if a punch with a tapered shank we used to stamp the numbers, whereas a punch on a flat face would flatten the area around the numbers as consistent with the patterns. This doesn't prove that either set of numbers was stamped before the other, but leaves the question open.

It is the kind of pattern that continues to leave me unconvinced that this is a hoax. The two-part pattern is not something that there is any reason to have made in the 1930s; indeed, the contemporary equipment and processes in both the UK and USA were tailored to single piece patterns. But if these were forgeries, why would they be stamped with the 362 Times series number?

It is a while since I've paid anything like significant attention to this issue: I decided long ago that it was unlikely to be definitively resolved. But I do think the question is still open and not, as you suggest, a foregone conclusion. There is also material evidence in terms of drawings at the Smithsonian, about which I don't remember the details, and early trials of a remarkably Times-like type for Time magazine that precede 1932.

Re. the 'bond of confidentiality': so far as I am aware, Monotype have never disputed the existence of such a document, nor have Linotype or the Times newspapers who, according to Mike, were the other signatories.

darrel's picture
Offline
Joined: 4 Feb 2003 - 6:03pm
0

We need a separate forum on Typophile: Discussions that veered off into the debate over historic faces purported to be copies.

;o)

Bill Troop's picture
Offline
Joined: 20 Jun 2004 - 12:32am
0

>Re. the ’bond of confidentiality’: so far as I am aware, Monotype have never disputed the existence of such a document, nor have Linotype or the Times newspapers who, according to Mike, were the other signatories.

You could just as well assume that they thought it was too childish (or too churlish) to respond to.

Regardless of all that precedes this, one must ask oneself how on earth it is that a complete newcomer to type design could possibly have designed a typeface of such innate quality (let the naysayers to that assertion remember that it is Robert Slimbach's favourite typeface) without a very near model? I am inclined to accept the traditional assertion that it was closely based on Plantin, a typeface of remarkable quality in metal form that still awaits a passable digital reawakening.

One must also ask, what, of the available evidence, could have been forged on lonely nights at Prince Edwards Island or whererever Giampa was conducting his business? What alternative explanations are there? And why are there so many schoolboy holes in it all?

Finally, I must admit that I do have a nagging doubt about the transformation of Plantin into Times. Plantin, in metal, is a typeface of phenomenal refinement, much more so than Times. Surely, a successor would have been even more refined. I can't quite put it into words, but if you asked me to consider the dating of Times and Plantin quite independently, I think I would have to guess that Times preceded it. Times does, indeed, have something intangible that seems to place it firmly in an earlier period.

John Hudson's picture
Offline
Joined: 21 Dec 2002 - 11:00am
0

Once again, I am not signed up to the Burgess hypothesis, so I'm not inclined to ponder 'how on earth it is that a complete newcomer etc.'.

The only point I want to make is that the material evidence of the two-part patterns suggests an original manufacture significantly prior to 1932. Everything else is conjecture.

Thomas Phinney's picture
Offline
Joined: 3 Sep 2002 - 11:00am
0

I chatted with some top Monotype folks a few years after Parker published the two-part Burgess article. My recollection is that they said quite explicitly that they had never heard of this "bond of confidentiality" and suggested that if it existed, Giampa could show it to them.

In a similar vein, Rich and Carima at P22 purchased the Lanston Monotype assets, and they have said since that they have seen no trace of the bond of confidentiality nor of anything else relating to Times/Burgess, and believe it to have been a hoax.

Regards,

T