An informative discussion of the legal type situation in the United States. A must read. Here is the start of that piece: It is impossible to discuss free fonts or type licensing on the internet without a few uncomfortable facts getting trotted out:
- Under United States copyright law, it is impossible to copyright the set of letter designs that together comprise a typeface. This is not an accident, but an explicit decision on the part of Congress.
- There is quite a bit of argument as to whether fonts are data or software. Proponents of the former tend to also be proponents of free software. The large foundries tend to believe the latter, not least because software is clearly protected by copyright law. The US Congress seems to think that even if fonts are programs, they are still not covered by copyright, although this position has never been validated in court.
- In fact, pretty much the only way you can protect a font from being copied is by trademarking its name, which helps explain Linotype's recent rush to patent as many font names as possible.
- Several respected foundries, including Bitstream, which now runs MyFonts, the most widely-used font store on the Internet, got their starts by pirating other foundries' designs. Linotype has Helvetica. Bitstream has Swiss 721. Linotype has Univers. Bitstream has Zürich Linotype has Palatino. Bitstream has Zapf Calligraphic 801.
David and Goliath ⦿