History of the Lindsay Typeface by Margaret Lindsay Holton, as compiled by Luc Devroye

It is with some sadness that I feel compelled to post this story today, but truly, in the name of the illustrious history of type design throughout the centuries, this 'story' MUST be told. Many of the personal names and businesses will be VERY familiar to the current type community.

Today, April 2, 2012, I discovered, quite by accident, yet ANOTHER 'knock-off' by URW++ of my original typeface design, 'Lindsay'. This time the face has been renamed 'Lindsay Becker' and is readily available as a 'free True Type download' over the net, copyrighted to URW++ circa 1999. The matrix is the SAME as the ORIGINAL digitized font of the early 1980's, and the audacity of using my name AGAIN in the font title is - well, this, for me - is THE LAST STRAW.

Type historian & archivist, Luc Devroye now has a copy of my extensive 30 year 'History of the Lindsay Typeface' stored on his servers. The facts and documents are all there for those who wish to know WHAT happened, WHEN it happened, WHY it happened, and with WHOM it happened. You will be shocked by the antics of some of today's 'respected' players ...

I post this now as a necessary & vital contribution to those interested in the lumpy history of the digitization of type.

It all started, long long ago, at Letraset ... http://luc.devroye.org/lindsay.html


I have understood that there have been things happening like this. What role did Fontshop have in this? Obviously they had sold Lindsay in the past. They were just selling what Elsner & Flake had licensed at the time?

I wonder how often this sort of thing happens.

In this instance, transferring a pencil-drawn face to rubyliths for the dry-transfer market (as Letraset did in 1980), and then using both those same drawings & the rubylith as 'style' templates to demonstrate the capabilities of IKARUS, (as Letraset & URW did), remains, I believe somewhat unique. That the new type 'data' then mysteriously migrated beyond the boundaries of Letraset - without my knowledge or consent - remains one of the main 'unresolved' issues of this mess. Both E&F & URW++ have claimed, over the years, that they had Letraset's permission to reproduce & market this face, and yet, Letraset repeatedly denies ever giving permission to either business, specifically for the use of 'Lindsay'. Letraset insist there is not, and has never been, any written 'contract'.

Yet, and even so, E&F and URW created & marketed multiple versions of the face before I caught up to them just over two decades ago. Since then, E&F have, in the main, honored a NEW Licensing Agreement established between us. As for URW++, I am posting this today because of their apparent on-going impudence & arrogance. They seemingly released 'Lindsay Becker' very near the time when we were negotiating our initial Agreement. They certainly never told me about it, before or after, (as per their other now-known five 'knock-off' variants, also all discovered 'after the fact'.) I only discovered 'Lindsay Becker' today, copyrighted to URW++ in 1999. - - Imagine that! I just never knew.

Ergo, it really is time to - Let The Record Show

I would have to double check the catalogue & my notes to determine who Fontshop licensed from. That entire material, in bulk, is now 'in storage'. If you really must know, please do let me know, and I'll dig it up.

You don't have to dig it up, I'm just curious. I wonder what will happen to digital fonts designers released today 20 years from now. Even 40 years from now. Or more. (And in some cases, less.)

This paints a sad story of what might possibly happen for fonts, and their designers. An article by Fred Smeijers seems to also paint a somewhat similar picture, though with a bit less arrogance and impudence. (& it's fictional.) Yet all of the businesses involved in your case seem to think they are in the right.

Good article, and yes, he's got the gist of it. Typefaces come and go, and really, nothing is 'sacred'. It's just a 'business' after all .... And YET, type designers also know, that's not really true. Type, as the manifestation of thought in written form, will always be with us. Distribution and 'ease of read' will demand it.

Resurrecting old 'classic' fonts is now the mainstay of many 'boutique' type houses. Garamond, Times New Roman and/or Palatino have 'morphed' into numerous 'alternates' to many to mention. However, in my instance, the data matix is the SAME from 'knock-off' derivative to 'knock-off' derivative. Both E&F and URW++ used the SAME matrix. They weren't creating visual 'alternatives' as such. Rather, they both capitalized on the capabilities of Peter Karow's IKARUS system. URW++ more so then E&F. As example, 'Lindsay Outline' (URW++) is nothing more than an OUTLINE of the original face, yet URW was selling it as a 'stand alone' font. The proceeds of which I never saw. Rosenfeld would not 'recognize' the 'variants' as my design - which remains HOGWASH. Why then did he keep calling the faces 'Lindsay'????? He can hardly call himself 'the designer'.

Today, in my opinion, there is far more worth to an artist, long term, to retain full copyright control of their own efforts. In Canada, copyright law protects an artists' artwork up until 50 years after the life of the artist, after that it falls ' into the 'public domain'. When dealing in 'digital data', the time line is much much shorter, and also much trickier to 'govern'. As soon as 'data' is created, new legal frameworks apply, like 'patents' and 'national legislation', that no longer protect the interests or copyright of the original artist. (So, READ those CONTRACTS very very carefully. Understand what you are giving up to get ... )

In my instance, it's not so much that the businesses were 'in the right'. None were. They just USED the data, with little consideration for the original designer. If I hadn't 'called them out' about it after finding out about the numerous digital 'Lindsay' faces, they would all be merrily producing a multitudes of 'variants' and profiting from them, without a cent to me. Does that seem Fair or Right to you? As it is, the 'principals' know FULL WELL that they all side-stepped GOOD PRACTICE in the name of an opportunistic quick buck. The 'Lindsay' data had already been in the marketplace for a number of years before I found out about it. Thus, I was essentially forced into 'Agreements' with E&F and URW++ to protect my remaining interests. As it is, if the digital data hadn't been globally released, it is very unlikely that I would have established a 'business' connection with E&F and, most definitely, I'd NEVER do business with URW++. EVER.

Ergo, Let the Record Show ....

So sad... I wonder how many other designers they have screwed.

Another good question ...

I think, in the main, most designers would have 'given up' after 10 years or so ... Life just goes on.
(Much to the benefit of the 'corporations' I might add).

I didn't 'let go' until my licenses, (such that they were), came to the seeming end of the Term of our Agreements. I am only posting this now, really, for 'type history buffs' and to set the record straight about the on-going delinquent behavior of URW++.

... as in, Let the Record Show ...

Of course it's not only large companies that screw people. Dafont et alia (including even things like Font Squirrel, although to a lesser extent) are full of small (and medium-size) parasites, some of whom use misbehavior by companies as an excuse to jump on the pillaging bandwagon. Plus the cover-up of supposedly* not making money from free fonts is no excuse.

* You often still have to pay for a commercial license...