Important question regarding ethics

Curioustype's picture

Several months ago I think I downloaded a font from either an open-source or free-font site for reasons I don't even remember anymore. In fact I can't remember where it came from but I know it began as something I wouldn't have used a whole lot if at all.

After downloading the font I immediately opened it in FontLab and before I knew it, I had gone off on my own zoned-out brain hike and started messing around in every glyph like I was rearranging furniture. I eventually snapped out of it and saved the file, not to open it again for months.

Recently after running across it again in one of my desktop folders, the file name didn't ring a bell so I opened it again and was like, "Oh yeah ... wow, check this out." I immediately began messing around with it some more and liked its progress so much I spent the next three or four weeks essentially rebuilding the entire font. As of this moment it's still nothing I'd ever use, but in my eyes it clearly has some definite potential.

Now the rub: In all honesty, I cannot remember where I got the font, its name, or anything else for that matter other than it was definitely a serif face of some sort, likely for text. However, now it's a nice-looking sans serif and considering the amount of work put into it and alterations made to it, couldn't even slightly resemble what it was when I first administered the anesthesia and opened it up. I also know that for sure because if was similar I'd probably remember what it began as.

So in simple terms what I've done here is created an entirely unique font, after starting the process with an entire set of previously created character forms. And the difference is so great, it was akin to taking a script font and turning it into a monospace for DOS.

The question now is, what if anything could I do with this font? Would I be breaching ethical goodness if I ended up selling this font or giving it to a friend for exclusive use in his/her business? YES, I realize I didn't start it from scratch but I also know the end result is completely unique. So where does that leave me? If someone takes, say, Helvetica for example and turns it into a gorgeous display script - and somehow benefits from it - should he or she start saying Hail Marys?

Curioustype's picture

"That discussion is, of course, an abstract, generalised one - at the start of the thread it seemed like the OP was asking for practical advice on a specific instance."

As I mentioned earlier, this was my fault. I accept full responsibility for that poor choice in approach. My original intent WAS to discuss these issues in a generalized way and, for reasons I'm still attempting to identify/correct, chose to inject irrelevant personal experiences that muddled everything.

"If you react to troll-feeding, then I’m sorry mate, but you’re probably a troll." I can't say I know what a "troll" is ... but I can say this: I both accept and encourage anyone who chooses to disagree with anything I say, 24/7. In fact I could not grow without it. However, I do draw the line when subjected to challenges against integrity, sanity or worthiness to post here, all of which I've faced in this thread. Especially considering I have never nor will ever initiate such dialogue against anyone here or anywhere else. Perhaps my striking back twice as hard is just as ... trollish(?). I just think this board more than anything else suffers from an utter lack of respect shown by some here.

As for the existence of a "scale," here, that's another spot-on analysis in my view. Perfect in fact, because it provides a form of quantification in a subject that needs one ... informally, of course. This possibly could even lead to some kind of numeric minimum by which designers could silently abide. If that happened, it would seem these kinds of situations have a chance of largely being resolved. But alas, that makes WAY too much sense which upon application of human nature means it will never, ever happen.

genericboy's picture

"As for the existence of a “scale,” here, that’s another spot-on analysis in my view. Perfect in fact, because it provides a form of quantification in a subject that needs one ... informally, of course. This possibly could even lead to some kind of numeric minimum by which designers could silently abide."

I would actually say the opposite is true - the grey area of the scale, like most real-world grey areas, needs to be handled on a case by case basis. What could a numeric minimum possibly represent? Percentage of points which were the same as the original? I'm not sure how that would work, or what it would achieve. Looking for a black and white answer to a grey problem is ignoring the entire point - and it's unfortunately something that humans have a natural predisposition for.

Take care,

Andi

[semibad]

Bert Vanderveen's picture

I read the OP and a few of the first responses. Seeing the mile of text after that I decided not to bother reading that and just go with my first thought:

Most o’s and i’ are made with 8 bezierponts, most w’s with 13 — who cares how these nodes came to be where they are to form the representation of an idea.

. . .
Bert Vanderveen BNO

Miss Tiffany's picture

Would I be breaching ethical goodness if I ended up selling this font or giving it to a friend for exclusive use in his/her business?

Yes. You would. Unless it was a font from a foundry that allows modifications and/or derivations of their fonts. The only way to avoid a moral dilemma is to simply not use it. But, as someone suggested, posting a sample image might help us ID it for you.

The best way to operate in life is zero gray areas. Not that I can manage this all the time.

typerror's picture

"Most o’s and i’ are made with 8 bezierponts, most w’s with 13 — who cares how these nodes came to be where they are to form the representation of an idea."

I have never heard anyone define Sans so succinctly : )

Michael

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