A teacher with dangerous advice!

Mark Typo's picture

I am a recent grad and in my final class I had a teacher who I and many of the students butted heads. I don't believe her to be a great designer and she consistently tried to force the students to produce work to her own taste as oppose to developing their own voice. This is all beside the point, I am posting here for she gave me and the students advice that I would think to be career ending. She said to find type faces by any means necessary and use them in our work, I think this is fine as long as it is just for student purposes and the work never goes to print. How ever she also stated that in all the years of her own career she has payed for only two or three fonts herself. When asked about the legal ramifications of this practice she simply stated "who is going to check." I know this is absolutely wrong and would never do this myself not only because it is immoral but what would happen if someone did find out. What are the penalties for doing such a thing and how do people like her get away with it for so long?
-Thanks

blank's picture

Pro-piracy attitudes from design teachers are pretty common in my experience, albeit not this blatantly.

As for the penalties, well, a good IP litigator will run you at least $300 an hour, if he likes you. One who can deal with the law surrounding fonts is probably even more. And the bad press that comes from suing (perceived) customers can be really nasty, so going after individual fonts pirates is sort of a lost cause.

russ_mcmullin's picture

Font piracy aside, I question the ethics of a person who pursues a personal vendetta in a public forum. Posting her site was in very poor taste in my opinion.

T Bones's picture

[Edit]
I'm with Russ on this. Your embittered gripe and allegations should be addressed to your tutor and the educational establishment concerned first, not publicly vilify her on an web forum. You gave us her website and have in that way named her (which I think is really spiteful). At least let her know what you've done, so that she might have the opportunity to respond to your claims.

Mark Typo's picture

I agree that was in poor taste and have remove the site. But certainly she should at least provide proper advice in the future.

billtroop's picture

Type design wouldn't be a good career move even if the piracy situation weren't as bad as it is. I can deal with designers who pirate for pre-publication use but who license the font for publication. I know pirates who make their clients buy a font each time they use it, which is good for the designers, since they are actually overpaying. People like [Edited by moderator] who allegedly steal as a way of life and encourage others to do so annoy me. But how annoyed can you get at someone who is such a bad artist? It's painful to have to consider persons so poorly favoured. Leave the poor creature alone!

Mark Typo's picture

billtroop,
please remove her name from your post I agree that is was wrong of me to post the site. so I would appreciate it if you would not use her name. Though I do have my problems with this person a did graduate with a good portfolio. Posting her information was a mistake, one which I had not thought through.

Dan Gayle's picture

If push comes to shove, just report her to your school's technology services. Those guys, in my experience, are just itching to bust people for piracy in any form on any school owned computers.

In fact, they tend to go way overboard, and force people to use only the fonts originally supplied by the system admin, which in a way could be a good thing.

Having a teacher emphasize the use of many typefaces indicates to me that she is covering up a general typographic weakness. A good designer/typographer should be able to "make do" with only a handful of fonts.

Jackie Frant's picture

MarkTypo--

Dan Gayle has an excellent suggestion for you and I would like to add one more thing. I neither know the people involved nor the school attended. My suggestion therefore is for you to write to the administration and let them know the information you've been taught, and what you should have been taught when it comes to legal matters. That way, they have the opportunity to address this situation with their entire faculty, and not misguide the students there.

BTW - if you do, keep it upbeat. Thank them for the wonderful education, the fine teachers, etc. but let them know that the teachers are given poor advice to students and you would like them to address the matter. You are not asking for them to fire anyone, just educate them so they can educate the next generation of designers.

Good luck out in the real world...

billtroop's picture

>A good designer/typographer should be able to “make do” with only a handful of fonts.

Truer words were never spoken -- though why place make do in scare quotes?

I think Mark's original impulse was good. If you want to steal/not steal/delude yourself into thinking you're the reincarnation of Robin Hood, that's a personal decision, a very personal decision. When it becomes institutionalized, taught, it's in a different category and I see no reason why this person shouldn't be named and shamed by everyone who henceforth ever googles her. She, and nobody else, has chosen to make her behaviour public by teaching it. You don't get more public than that. I don't think she has any presumption of privacy on this issue. How sleazy it all is!

Don McCahill's picture

As an educator, this just ticks me off (the teacher, not the student). My suggestion would be for Mark to publish online all the course outlines, lecture notes, tutorials, and any other work that the teacher had put together over the course, and then tell her that since she is in favor of sharing other peoples work without compensation, you felt it was fair to share her work.

Many teachers I know feel no pang of guilt at using the work of others, but are adament that they will not share their work without compensation. I am constantly trying to convince teachers that the Internet is not a buffet placed for them to pick and choose illustrations for their lectures without asking permission.

(And of course, after the point has been made to the teacher, Mark should then remove the materials, since two wrongs have never equalled a right ... although three lefts do.)

Florian Hardwig's picture

Come on Bill, don’t turn typophile into a pillory. As far as I can tell, all we got is an unconfirmed accusal by an anonymous who just created an account to tell us this story.
(That doesn’t mean it has to be wrong, but, well you know … witch-hunt, anyone?)
I think this issue can be debated without the name.

Nick Shinn's picture

A good designer/typographer should be able to “make do” with only a handful of fonts.

Yes, you can always cook with the ingredients at hand if needs be, but shopping around makes the meal more interesting.

aluminum's picture

These days, copyright infringement is punishable by firing squad, I believe.

Ehague's picture

>>I think this issue can be debated without the name.

It's an issue I've always had with ratemyprofessors.com. Oftentimes people use the anonymity as a license to attack a professor's reputation, and none of is necessarily qualified. It's interesting that what gets shot down on Typophile, even in the context of what is perhaps Unforgivable Type Crime #1, flies like crazy elsewhere on the internet.

Jackie Frant's picture

These days, copyright infringement is punishable by firing squad, I believe.

I heard a rumor about this - but I just thought it was 'cause I'm now in the South...

So "it's true... it's true!" (—Madeleine Kahn)

Chris Rugen's picture

Mark Typo,

All of the name her/don't name her stuff aside, the fact that her students marked her as a hack and a thief is a good indication that she's reaping the rewards of her attitude already. There is very little penalty enacted for this behavior. Penalties do exist, but I have never been ticketed for jaywalking, in spite of the penalties for that, and it's much the same with typeface piracy. It's too hard for the people who have a stake in type to go hunting down the 'pedigree' of every design piece out there, if not impossible. I've only ever heard of large companies being taken to task for being stupid (UPS with the Dax rip-off).

I'm sure that Linotype or whoever could start auditing people, but that's also a bit of PR nightmare, because there are few designers/firms without a few licensing skeletons in their closets, either by mistake or by design. Additionally, it can be due to the attitudes of higher-ups that lead to this sort of behavior: who's going to risk their neck at work by threatening their boss with exposure to legal action? That would be suicide, frankly. And then there's the flip side: the designers bring in their fonts and slip them into projects without proper licensing. When it's 2 AM and the deadline's tomorrow, who will scrutinize that stuff?

That being said, it's not impossible. Sometimes simply taking responsibility for the often tiring and pedantic job of managing font licenses is enough to encourage compliance. I've seen instances where it is simply left undone becaues it can be a bit onerous. I've found success in taking this stance, as well as simply making it known that I don't tolerate it.

Just an FYI, here's Linotype's offical word on penalties from their License Agreement:

-------
Article 4
Termination of License Agreement

4.1 The license and usage right guaranteed under subsection 1.2 shall become immediately null and void in the event of a breach of this contract.

4.2 If the licensee or one of the licensee's employees breaches the agreed-upon license and right of use and/or property rights of Linotype GmbH, Linotype GmbH has the right to terminate the license and right of use, with termination taking immediate effect. Linotype GmbH reserves the explicit right to assert any further claims (specifically information, compensation for damages, etc.).

4.3 In the event of termination, the licensee is obligated to delete and return to Linotype GmbH the original Font Software affected by and pertaining to the termination, including documentation and all copies.
At the request of Linotype GmbH, the licensee is obligated to provide written assurance that said deletion has occurred.
------

I'm not sure how standard this is, but I'd bet most EULAs specify the right to pursue damages in court.

Mark Typo's picture

I too have a problem with site such as ratemyprofessor for you can't tell if a poster is being truthful or not, and realizing that I was doing something much like that I decided to remove her site. I am certainly telling the truth, but I have know way of proving it and perhaps she herself was exaggerating when she made the comments, though having gotten to know her a bit, I don't think she was. As for a witch-hunt, I am very bitter. I work very hard for three years to become certified and the culmination of all my hard work was this class, where she was able to go though all of my past projects and put her grubby little prints all over them. She still gave me a good grade, though, and I will be able to fix the things she has changed. I was going to chalk it up to experience when I read another person on another board complaining about his type work being used without compensation. This reminded me of her advice and how mad it made me, for she wasn't simply stating what her practices are but encouraging the students to do the same. I don't care if she destroys her career but her advice could destroy the career's of her students.

Am I Bitter, Yes.
Do I really want to be the one to crucify her, not really.
Would I shed a tear if she lost her professorship, not at all.

pattyfab's picture

I think you have a right to complain but outing her here isn't the proper way - I'd talk to her superior at the school. Before doing so you should know your school's policy on fonts for students - do they have group licenses, etc. or do you each buy your own?

Thomas Phinney's picture

You should notify both her academic superior AND the school's information technology department. Be clear that it's not only that she pirates the fonts herself, but she *also* encourages her students to do so.

Cheers,

T

Don McCahill's picture

> Penalties do exist, but I have never been ticketed for jaywalking, in spite of the penalties for that, and it’s much the same with typeface piracy.

Except that for jaywalking, you are not depriving someone of their livelihood.

Jackie Frant's picture

Penalties do exist, but I have never been ticketed for jaywalking, in spite of the penalties for that, and it’s much the same with typeface piracy.

Except that for jaywalking, you are not depriving someone of their livelihood

And though my mother has been dead for 25 years, I can still remember the day she came home with a ticket for jaywalking. To add insult to injury - she was only one foot away from the crosswalk.

People do get tickets - but a policeman has to be around to give it.

One problem manufacturers do have is the policing...it can get very expensive going after one person for one font - much better to go for a healthy company with lots of bucks...

aluminum's picture

"Except that for jaywalking, you are not depriving someone of their livelihood."

Of course, you're not usually depriving anyone of their livelihood when you infringe upon a copyright, either.

At worse, you're depriving someone of a 'potential and theoretical unit sale' but that's typically just a small fraction of the total amount of infringement instances.

I'm certainly not advocating copyright infringement...especially in the manner this professor is, but let's not go spreading FUD about it either.

pattyfab's picture

It's the equivalent of your teacher walking into class and saying - hey, I shoplifted my entire outfit from Filene's Basement. You kids should know that their security isn't that good. Believe me if a prof was walking around saying that it would have made its way up the food chain by now. Part of a teacher's job is to set an example.

Jackie Frant's picture

Part of a teacher’s job is to set an example.

So true Patty.

It is unfortunate that we are now living in an age of "without responsibility" to bartenders getting fined for getting you drunk, and the victim having to pay the robber till their death...

Really, what has happened to society?

pattyfab's picture

When the president is a war criminal, the attorney general lies under oath, POWs are being tortured, and anaesthetized Americans care more about what dog Paris Hilton just got, what do you expect?

aluminum's picture

Paris Hilton just got a new dog!?

cooper design's picture

If you are interested in protecting and advancing your career, at the very very very least you don't make admissions against self-interest. Once you admit to knowingly breaking a rule or law, you are unprotected against the opportunists and enemies you may have in your classroom, workplace, family, etc. Maintaining the image of propriety is as basic as brushing your teeth.

Whatever other errors in judgment this teacher may make in her life, she is certain to one day be fully hoisted on her own petard if she still has no mastery over this most basic rule. This student, however, has demonstrated an impatient willingness to exploit her admission, a noble inclination to hold other people accountable to the law, an indignant and surprised righteousness, a false modesty, and a knowledge that social orders can be realigned. He is sure to enjoy a nice career irrespective of his merits or abilities. I give him an A+. In fact, when I read the original post again—the badmouthing her talents, the supposed solidarity of opinion among the students, the handwringing over how her advise is putting others in danger, the professions of purity (I would never do this!)—it makes me pretty nauseated. A++

Rob O. Font's picture

"in all the years of her own career she has payed for only two or three fonts herself"

There is not enough information here to determine whether that is a good thing or a bad thing.

Beside that, "All the years of her own career..." could be four, and her clients could have paid for all but 3 or 4 fonts, leaving enough for her own corporate identity and personal use forever. So, I wouldn't call her boss.

Cheers!

pattyfab's picture

She's a university professor, she has to have more experience than that.

Point is, she's making the students feel like only suckers pay for fonts and that's not cool. She can do whatever she wants and probably won't get caught but she ought to keep her mouth shut.

Chris Rugen's picture

Except that for jaywalking, you are not depriving someone of their livelihood

Oh, absolutely. I was simply drawing an example based on what first came to mind. Of course, piracy is a crime that becomes truly problematic when its institutional or cultural, because it usually involves small bites by an individual (one album out of thousands sold, one font license out of hundreds) at which point combatting it becomes a nightmare. If I steal a font (I don't, by the way), it's dollars not making it to a designer and their distributor; if everyone in my office does, it's paychecks. Digital distribution is a double-edged sword.

And David makes a good point. The devil's in the details. (Not that I need to tell a bunch of typophiles that, I suppose.)

TBiddy's picture

In this You Tube age, I think it is a bit disheartening that an individual can't make a verbal mistake without being assaulted. This doesn't mean that people don't make terrible mistakes, but it also doesn't mean that people should be ostracized for being human. We seem to expect people to be above human which is simply not fair.

This is not a put down of You Tube by the way. When issues like this come up I often think of Jeff Goldblum's line in Jurassic Park: "Just because you could, doesn't mean you should."

Mark Typo's picture

The professor has a large number of pieces in her portfolio dating back to 1997, most of which use a different font. You may consider her a kind of font glutton. Her comment in class was not an explanation of how to get other people to pay for your fonts or make do with the ones you have, but more, the fonts are out there, take them and no one will ever know.

billtroop's picture

"Come on Bill, don’t turn typophile into a pillory. As far as I can tell, all we got is an unconfirmed accusal by an anonymous who just created an account to tell us this story.
(That doesn’t mean it has to be wrong, but, well you know … witch-hunt, anyone?)
I think this issue can be debated without the name."

I agree with this. But I dislike the idea of editable posts; I dislike censorship in this kind of discussion, even self-censorship. Certainly what's her name should have a chance to respond to this thread ... has anyone told her what's going on?

I agree with Thomas that "Be clear that it’s not only that she pirates the fonts herself, but she *also* encourages her students to do so" is a crucial distinguishing factor here.

Nobody would be debating this incredibly tiresome issue yet again if her name wasn't there, or hadn't been there. That provides the frisson which draws us. But it is surely dreadfully unfair to name and shame someone without letting them know or respond. That for me is the outstanding issue right now. As for my responsibility for deleting the name, all I can say is that of the thousands of dreadfully tactless posts I have made, I have never retracted a syllable even though I would be delighted to unsay a million things. But .... it just seems to pretend, so inauthentic, so unconvincing, so --- I just don't know how to handle it.

Mark Typo's picture

Bill,
I used poor judgment by posting her site and that is why I chose to censor myself. You on the other hand had to have made a conscious decision to uncensor me. For as soon as I made my edit, you posted her name in your remarks in a way that I believe not to be part of the natural flow of conversation, but forced. Much like a politician who talks about something egregious and inserts his targets identity. I do agree this would not have been discussed at such length if it were totally anonymous., but I would like you to remove your post anyway. To be perfectly honest and at risk of supporting Cooper's opinion of me, I do not want her evolved for I am not as of yet out of the clutches of the School and hence her own as well. I realize that I am serving my own interests and perhaps I deserve it for letting my emotion (spite) to get the better of me, but I'd rather not have to fight her on another front right now.

pattyfab's picture

A cautionary tale: I once posted on this forum a story about an unpleasant design experience I had a few years back. I used the name of the client because the name was germane to the story. Unfortunately, she googled her company name and found the link (even tho it was buried deep). The good news is that I had only nice things to say about her product; the bad news was I called her a "nightmare client" and "her own worst enemy" and "dreadful taste" and she read about it. OOPS! I'll be more careful next time...

So this stuff does get back to you. Bill, you should really remove the name from your post as requested, even if it goes against your "anti-censorship" stance. [I edited my post here to add the 'r' at the end of 'your' for grammatical reasons]

And IMHO Mark your prof should be teaching painting, not design. Her abstracts are lovely.

Mark Typo's picture

Agreed,
Her paintings are nice but she should be a painter, not a teacher at all. Which I believe is the way she is heading anyway. By the way I edit my posts for spelling and grammar all the time, though not very well. The dang spell check can only do so much.

TBiddy's picture

Her paintings are gorgeous—and it seems that Mr. Typo you have gotten your wish, courtesy of a moderator.

billtroop's picture

This is so pathetic. You take away her name and then all you can do is talk about her paintings -- to those of us who know her name. So now there's the in-crowd -- the moderators and the people who got here soon enough -- and there's the out-crowd -- who don't know whose 'gorgeous' paintings are being discussed. (I must say I think they are amongst the most tiresome pieces of provincial dreck I have ever seen, moreover that they are perfectly consistent with the personality profile of someone who would want to teach her students to be digital pickpockets.)

Mark, you write,

>I used poor judgment by posting her site and that is why I chose to censor myself. You on the other hand had to have made a conscious decision to uncensor me. For as soon as I made my edit, you posted her name in your remarks in a way that I believe not to be part of the natural flow of conversation, but forced.<

Mark, you are establishing for youself the profile of a rather overhasty overreacter. "As soon as I made my edit, you posted her name" you claim.

What if I didn't see your edit? What if I was responding from a refresh of a couple of hours before or even the day before? If this is your standard of trial and judgement, I think my sympathies may revert to old what's her name with that Persian cat. As chronic ringworm is endemic in American Persian cats, there's another reason to sympathize with Riva or Rita or whatever her ill-omened name was.

"Much like a politician who talks about something egregious and inserts his targets identity."

Mark, has anyone ever suggested you might be projecting?

"To be perfectly honest and at risk of supporting Cooper’s opinion of me, I do not want her evolved for I am not as of yet out of the clutches of the School and hence her own as well."

From what I've heard off list you've made so many enemies over this that you might just as well pack up and start going to law school or something. But change your name first.

"I realize that I am serving my own interests"

Not until you stop posting.

dan_reynolds's picture

Bill writes:
>From what I’ve heard off list you’ve made so many enemies over this that you
>might just as well pack up and start going to law school or something.

Huh??? Can this readly happen to an anonymous poster writing (mostly) anonymously about a professor and her said school?

billtroop's picture

Impossible to answer this as written: do you mean readily or really? What is 'mostly anonymously'? Is that like being 'mostly' pregnant? And do you mean 'said' school as in the quaint old legal usage (which implies that the school has been explicitly named in a previous clause) or do you mean 'sad'? Or do you mean something else quite different, Dan? In a way, it's rather thrilling to see so much ambiguity in one simple sentence. Fond Greetings, Bill

PS: Re the censorship thing, I don't like this Puritanical way of doing things. I prefer the Wikipedia model, where you can't actually erase anything -- it's all in the history where anyone with enough patience can find it. I really feel strongly about this.

pattyfab's picture

I really don't understand why editing your own post is considered censorship.

And Bill if you don't like it, then goodbye and don't let the door hit you on the way out.

dan_reynolds's picture

Well, the writer was anonymous, and he named the professor, but then cut that part out, anonymousing her in the process, which was for the best, in my opinion. But while it was still possible to know the professor's name, I guess that it would have been possible to link her to the school, which wasn't ever explicitly named in the discussion, as far as I know. Sorry for not being clearer, and for my obtuse run-on sentences. I have a tendency to do that. I just wanted to ask you to elaborate on your statement, the one I quoted in my post above. I find it difficult to believe that a thread without a lot of details or clear statements could make someone have a lot of new enemies :-(

billtroop's picture

"I really don’t understand why editing your own post is considered censorship."

It's worse. It's lying. It's pretending you didn't say something, in public, that you did say in public. It is totally, 100 percent, dishonest. It is a kind of mendacity which I find utterly despicable.

"And Bill if you don’t like it, then goodbye and don’t let the door hit you on the way out."

Same to you but with fraises des bois and whipped cream on the side.

"I find it difficult to believe that a thread without a lot of details or clear statements could make someone have a lot of new enemies :-("

Well I've just made at least one new enemy, Patty, without even trying. But as for what you were talking about, Dan, don't you think there's a small possibility I might have been pulling someone's leg? Just a possibility, mind you.

Mark's bound to have at least one new enemy when R-word finds out what he's been posting about her. Plus, faculty will probably stand behind her, and administration, and if not, well, at least her cat will, so that's two enemies, one of them with pretty sharp claws. Oh God, the things one will do not to work on a typeface!

Don McCahill's picture

Ooh, now the enemies list is starting to build. (Oh no, am I going to be on it for posting this?)

Bill, Patti is a well respected member of the group, for longer than I have been here. I don't think you are going to gain points with the rest of us by claiming she is your "enemy".

Paul Cutler's picture

I basically agree with Bill on one subject - once a post is responded to it should become uneditable. That is the only reasonable way to have coherent threads.

pbc

billtroop's picture

And you won't gain any points with me if your sense of humour doesn't improve. So this is the new aristocracy in type? Those who have been on typophile for x years? Patti sailed over on the Mayflower, as it were? An august founding mother of type? Defending the gates against the notorious Barbarian, Bill?

Mark Typo's picture

It is impossible to tell what is really meant by any of the statements. As we read these post we assign an internal narrator that defines the tone of what we are reading. Bill maybe joking while writing his post but as we read we don't have his voice to give us the cues we need to decipher his emotion, so we insert a substitute. Bill says that I am a "overhasty overreacter", I believe myself to be an over analyzer, yes, but overreacter, I am probably the farthest from it. My previous comments to you Bill was my interpretation of the situation based on the fact that you have an apparent problem with censorship, and my Belief that the way you used the name of he professor in tour post not to be natural. I was not angry when writing the post nor did I mean to attack you. I read your comments as an attack on me however, though you your next post will probably be something to the sound of "I was just poking fun, toughen up kid, you need to have thick skin to work in this business." I really don't care either way. I am here for information, amusement and perhaps to make some friends. I don't believe I am making a lot of enemies, sure some group members will probably always see me in poor light for my original lack of judgment, but I have done all that I can to remedy that. As for profiles I think your profile, Bill, may be suffering more then my own due to this thread.

billtroop's picture

Taking Paul's point: that's absolutely true. There's no chance of coherence if anyone can edit at will. I look at it from a different perspective. I've been on type listserves and newsgroups since the early 90s, when they were just coming out. There was no way to edit once you had said something. You had to take responsibility for saying whatever you said. Is there something wrong with that?

One difference with a listserve is that it _can_ be private, theoretically -- if the list isn't made public. This is what happened, for example, to the ATypI list, a few years ago. Hrant Papazian said some things about John Downer that his publisher Zuzana Licko didn't like. She contacted Cynthia Hollandsworth and threatened to sue if the offensive posts were not removed. Instead, ATypI chose to take the list private.

At that time, both parties to the dispute decided _not_ to tell Hrant that it was his actions that led to the ATypI list being closed, on the sensible grounds that if he found out, he'd make a very great deal of noise about it. I'm being a little naughty, revealing it here for the first time .... so I might as well add the quaint detail that amused me the most, which was that Cynthia had no idea who Licko was or of the high esteem in which she then was held by some. She referred to her as 'some woman'.

I know I'm going to regret posting this. It's bound to make me new and influential enemies .... yet somehow, in spite of my dreadful history of 15 years of dreadful public indiscretions in type, the people who really matter still talk to me, perhaps because they know I love their work, and sometimes come close to understanding it.

When I was first on the Type Design List and to a very limited extent Typo-L, they were not available to non-subscribers on the net but I think they now are. Very embarrassing in some cases.

The lists have largely been taken over by blogs such as typophile and typographica. I don't think posts should be editable. You want to make a public pronouncement? Then take the responsibility for doing so.

Taking it a level further, what about the case of the internet AA group where someone confessed to a murder? I know the girl who outed him to the police. Want to bet he wished he hadn't posted? Yet that is a case where there was a far greater presumption of privacy ....

billtroop's picture

I don't think my profile -- whatever that is -- can get any worse. Such considerations have never moved me.

Uli's picture

avicaptor
Is that an attestable Latin word?<
I don’t know, Uli, to the best of my knowledge it was invented last night

"avicaptor" is a perfect Latin neologism. Horace would have used it :-)

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