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I'm trying to understand the legal issues in using fonts in logo designs and in other ways. I tried searching the forums (and Google) but can't seem to find anything definitive about this.
I read that "fonts cannot be copyrighted" (meaning the letterforms themselves) but that the "programs" (the actual font files) used to control them can. I also read that if you convert a font to outlines, there are no copyright issues at all and the outlines can be used freely since the actual letterforms can't be copyrighted. This sounds a bit bizarre to me. Is it true?
If this is the case, does that mean the paradigm is that you (as a designer) purchase a font so that you can legally use it to create a document (a newsletter for example), then render the letterforms (by printing the document, converting the letters to outlines, rasterizing the document, etc.) so the document doesn't contain the actual font "program" itself so you can freely distribute the document without paying the font's owner any licensing fees?
From what I've read of the court rulings on this issue, it seems the intention was to avoid a situation where a fontmaker could require that a reader purchase a font themselves and own a license to it before they can legally obtain a copy of a document set in it, since that would mean for example that anyone who wanted to read a magazine would have to buy licenses to all the fonts used in it first. That makes sense - if a font owner could do that, it would be like Berol "copyrighting" their colored pencils and saying that anyone who wanted to buy a drawing made with them would have to buy a license to the pencils themselves first. So the letterforms in a font would be like the pigmented "lead" and the font file would be like the wood tube that it comes in. (Hopefully that makes sense.)
So, is this actually true? If it is, does it extend to using fonts in logo designs as well? And if the situation doesn't work this way, how does it work? There seems to be a lot of confusion on this based on the message threads I've been reading.