Hypatia sans - extract to single fonts

i read some time ago that it is possible (and legal) to extract special opentype features from a licensed adobe font and create a (ttf?)-font that could be used in applications that do not support opentype (like office word).

to make things more practical: i would need for a client three weights of hypatia sans (e.g. light, regular, bold) in the stylistic set 1 (no serifs) both itallic and normal and additionally in the stylistic set 13 (unicase).

any ideas if this would work, who could do this and what costs i would have to face?

gerhard donauer

Nick Cooke's picture

Why not ask Thomas Phinney:


Thomas Phinney's picture

It could be done, sure. And unlike most foundries, Adobe's license allows such modifications, as long as they are not redistributed and are used by folks who are legitimately licensed for the fonts in question.

I'll note that Office 2010 does in fact support OpenType layout features, including even stylistic sets, with the caveat that one can only turn on one stylistic set at a time (IIRC). Then again, even if your customer/client is on Office 2010, it may still make more sense to customize the fonts to get the desired result consistently.

I think something like this is best accomplished with automation in terms of how the change is done. One could script it in FontLab with Python, or even using TTX and Python. I suggest that offering some small bounty and letting the script be open source would be ideal, as it would be useful to others as well, on other fonts. Maybe Tal Leming, Adam Twardoch or Just van Rossum would be available....

Heck, I'd kick in a few bucks toward paying somebody to do that script. :)



charles ellertson's picture

Sorry to go a bit off topic, but:

. . . unlike most foundries, Adobe's license allows such modifications, as long as they are not redistributed and are used by folks who are legitimately licensed for the fonts in question.

I know you're not a lawyer, but here goes. I modify most of the Adobe fonts we use for setting scholarly books for publishers. Here's the problem: we have customers that do have a license for the unmodified fonts, and want us to include the fonts we actually used, along with the .indd files, as part of finishing off a project. To date we have refused, partly on the basis of the licensing.

They argue that the practice of publishers REQUIRING the typesetter to include the fonts is so common as to make our concerns unwarranted. And in case the type design community didn't know it, that practice *is* common, as is the one of allowing (interior) book designers to use only Adobe fonts because of the licensing situation. (Don't get down on me, I'm only reporting, not arguing for this position.)

Tying this in to the original question then, is "no distribution" to be taking only as prohibiting reselling the type itself, or does it include prohibiting passing on the modified fonts to a customer who also holds a license for the unmodified font?

If the latter, it would seem that Gerhard Donauer is still in need of a solution.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Yeah, that is getting into a slightly less clear area. My understanding is that would be okay, but I'm no lawyer, and I don't even talk to Adobe's font lawyer (Donna) on a regular basis any more.



charles ellertson's picture

To try and stay relevant to Mr. Donauer's post, I think he faces some of the same issues.

I'd be happy to talk to someone at Adobe, but it is a large company, and to anyone but a very few in the type design side of things, I'd just be an annoyance to ignore (well, maybe there too, but hopefully sometimes an *interesting* annoyance . . .).

The use of type has gone well beyond what anyone envisioned when the EULAs were written to protect the foundries while maintaining a useful product. I can show you numerous contracts from State-run university presses which require the typesetter to include the fonts with each job as a part the contract. This isn't for printing the book, but for the *file,* now the principle product of publishing.

For example, one of the things I've been told is that when a publisher contracts with an outside agency (usually in India) to take the InDesign files and make an ebook, the Indian company will give them a significant discount for this work if the fonts are included. It isn't that the fonts are being used for the ebook itself (usually Kindle or EPUB format), but the people doing the work find it easier if the fonts are included.

Or, one I got just today. A publisher discovered that there are no hamzas or ayns in Arno (surprise), which the designer has chosen for the text. They have asked us to set it, so I'll make up and kern the characters. Likely there are a few dot-below Latin characters needed as well.

BUT the designer wants those fonts so she can do the cover. Of course, they already have a license for Arno; they can't see a licensing problem. And this is one of the publishers who makes sure they have a license to cover the number of platforms the type is used on. They are trying to stay legitimate. Number of total copies of a font, or restrictions on modified fonts are not on their radar.

AFAIK, everybody in the publishing world ignores the "number of copies" part of the EULA, feeling, I suppose, that they just couldn't do their work otherwise. I can't imagine they have a site license for number of copies of the fonts they use, not if every book generates two or three copies. If the foundries say "tough," the press directors will say fine, all our books will be set in a couple of typefaces. And Open Source fonts will gain a lot of new converts. Type designers can forget about any sales to publishers.

If anyone thinks this is only done by small publishers, two I know of who require the typesetter to include all fonts are Oxford University Press and Columbia University Press -- and both do hold licenses for the fonts they allow the designers to specify.

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture


DTY's picture

Assuming it's legit for the client to pay me to modify their Adobe licensed font, I've been working on the basis of giving them my modified version and telling them to replace an unmodified copy with it, and then billing them for whatever fraction of my modification time seems appropriate based on whether I did the modification just for them or if it was something I had already done for general use with many clients. This seems to work so far, but admittedly I've only done small changes like adding a few glyphs that can live without in-font kerning if necessary (nothing like re-kerning all of Arno Pro), so I've never tried to bill them for enough time to cause anguished screams.

charles ellertson's picture

David, I'd say you "may not" be in accordance with the license.



You are allowed to use font manipulation software to modify the font software to produce “derivatives” of fonts licensed from Adobe, as long as you use the derivatives in accordance with the same licensing terms that accompany the original fonts. For example, you can use Macromedia Fontographer or Pyrus FontLab to customize an Adobe Font for individual usage, but you are not permitted to distribute, sell, or give away, the derivative work, and the derivative work counts as one of the permitted number of uses.


A consultant may solicit their services to companies who have legitimately licensed copies of Adobe font software. The work product of the consultant must remain with the company. The consultant cannot (i) take or keep a copy of the company’s original, localized, or customized version of the font software, or (ii) distribute any original, localized or customized versions of the font software.

I don't see the font police everywhere. What seems to be going on is the lawyers are trying to protect their clients from font piracy, but have no understanding as to how fonts are actually used in today's environment. From that perspective, everything given with one hand is taken away with the other.

gege04's picture

thanks for all your inputs on licensing and the practical advice on how to achieve what i need so far.

i will follow this thread with deep interest - this is eyeopening to somebody who never touched the field of fontlicensing.

i'm curious whether there will be a practical way to do it in the end.


blank's picture

i'm curious whether there will be a practical way to do it in the end.

Given that your needs fall pretty far from the needs most designers the practical solution would be for your company to just contact Adobe and work this out with them.

gege04's picture

> thomas
your suggestion of initiating such a script sounds great. as a complete newbe to such things i just wondered what "a small bounty" and "a few bucks" could mean in figures?

Khaled Hosny's picture

Following Phinney's idea, I wrote a small Python and FontForge script that would take an OpenType font, a feature to activate and optionally a script and language tags. The script and language can be useful to activate script and language sensitive features. Only single substitution features are supported (it checks the actual metatada of the feature regardless of its name).

It can be found here, obviously you need FontForge with Python support. It is still rough at edges (tags must be exact and are case sensitive) but I think it does what it ought to do.

Christopher Slye's picture

Adobe is interested in helping people "stay legal", and anyone who is making an effort to do so should not worry about contacting Adobe to ask questions about it.

Just to be clear: Adobe's EULA allows for the kinds of modifications discussed here, but the modified font counts toward permitted uses. An end user that has a one-seat license cannot modify the font and keep/use both the unmodified and modified font. Luckily, the most common font EULA from Adobe is a 5-seat license, so many users have the leeway to modify a font and still keep the original.

One reason Adobe is somewhat permissive about sending copies of fonts along with jobs is because we recognize that small variations between font versions can exist, and it's sometimes important for a job to be output with the exact same font that it was created with. Still, the service bureau must have their own legitimate license.

Obviously, a contract requiring a designer to hand over a font to a publisher with a job does not supersede the user's existing EULA. An appropriate response in the face of such a demand would be, "I will be happy to include all fonts, but you must first ensure that you purchase your own license."

Charles (or anyone), feel free to contact me offline and I'd be happy to get your legal questions answered definitively.

Thomas Phinney's picture

Thanks for commenting and clarifying, Christopher.

As for the original question, I am going to be really busy for about the next 2-3 days, but I could follow up on it more after that. I've been contracting somebody to do some font processing scripting recently, and I'll ask what he'd charge for this task (and whether it would be cheaper if the result is open source).



gege04's picture

thanks christopher, that sounds really encouraging.

and thanks thomas, i am looking forward to hearing more details on prices.


DTY's picture

Thanks, Christopher, for the clarifications. And I appreciate the way Adobe tries to make its EULA compatible with the way fonts realistically need to be used in many cases.

charles ellertson's picture

Just to be clear: As I understand it, a license is for a certain number of copies of the software. The usual thinking I run into from publishers is "We bought the font. Therefore, it is OK for you to sent me a copy of it."

Well, no. The publisher bought, say, a license to have five separate copies of the software (usually) installed on their computers. If I send them a copy of our fonts with job, that would be a sixth copy. Either I (as a vendor with X-number licensed copies) need to give up one of my licensed copies, or *somebody* has to buy a new license.

It is the number of copies the license permits that no one seems to understand.

All this is separate from the muddy modification rules (cited above). As I read them, I can't "send a copy" even if a new license is purchased; modified fonts can't leave the building. Further, it looks like I'm supposed to trot over to their building & modify the newly licensed copy there. And I'm not supposed to take any "fonts" with me, or leave with any "fonts." Please tell me I'm wrong on this, my trotting days are long past.

As I've said before, this doesn't fit the modern workflow. Maybe a per-use license, or a cheaper "license to archive" for copies of the font software where there is no anticipated use; they are a backup in case a particular job, for some reason (second printing with three corrections, maybe?) needs them.


butterick's picture

Font EULAs are in very sad shape. I would like to see foundries use a common license.

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