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LUC DEVROYE


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Gary Munch's writings on copyright

Gary Munch (Stamford, CT) writes frequently on copyright on alt.binaries.fonts. Here are some statements as a reaction to someone who posted a font on that newsgroup. The discussion turned to the presence of a copyright notice in the font. Gary writes "The lack of a copyright notice does not make an image or artwork public domain. " Agreed, but this is at least a very confusing situation. Surely, consumers cannot be assumed to be expert enough to know who owns copyright to what if there are no notices. And how can they distinguish freeware from payware? Forgetting to place a copyright notice in a font is just unforgivable sloppiness on the part of a font producer. Even Paul King's SSi fonts have copyright notices. He goes on: "It is the heart of copyright that only the artist or the heirs or assignees of the artist can determine the disposition of the images in the artwork. The first person who makes an unauthorized copy and distributes it infringes that copyright. Each subsequent copying, by whoever copies the image, still represents an infringement." The first problem with this is the application to fonts. In many countries, fonts are not considered art, and in the USA, font shapes (the arts contents) cannot be copyrighted. So, assume that we are in a country where such font copyright protection exists. Then no one can use any font downloaded from anywhere because the copyright notice may be fake or may have been deleted by someone else. Indeed, where should a consumer turn to for help? Even if you buy a 1000 dollar CD, you may be infringing on someone's copyright. No ordinary consumer can reasonably be expected to know the font world well enough to figure out who owns the copyright on his/her own. Gary goes on: " Copyright holders -have the right- to protest the wrongful posting of their work. The diminishing of the effectiveness of one copyright holder's rights diminishes that of all copyright holders. "

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Luc Devroye ⦿ School of Computer Science ⦿ McGill University Montreal, Canada H3A 2K6 ⦿ lucdevroye@gmail.com ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org ⦿ http://luc.devroye.org/fonts.html