Use of illegally uploaded fonts

Laurentius's picture

Is it illegal to download illegally uploaded fonts? And is it illegal to use them?

hrant's picture

> posting messages to me...

You might enjoy thinking it's to you, but it's important to remember that it's public. In fact my own participation here is somewhat parallel to public flogging; it's very useful to have threads like this to point out when yet another public nuisance decides to drop by. So thank you.

hhp

bowerbird's picture

> public nuisance

i guess that's why they call it "hranting", eh? :+)

like i said elsewhere, thanks for making me feel at home...

-bowerbird

bowerbird's picture

> public nuisance

i guess that's why they call it "hranting", eh? :+)

like i said elsewhere, thanks for making me feel at home...

-bowerbird

Quincunx's picture

I'm _feeling_ like "typing like this"_all_the_time. Underscores and _quotes_ for the "win". :)

Uli's picture

It should be mentioned that Professor Jacqueline D. Lipton's treatise

"To (C) or Not to (C)?
Copyright and Innovation in the Digital Typeface Industry"

was revised and republished recently and is downloadable here

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1311402

Jack B. Nimblest Jr.'s picture

Yaaa, but she still hasn't revised the fundamentally flawed view that:

> This industry has recently digitized.

LOL.

Cheers!

Thomas Phinney's picture

I guess it depends on your definition of "recent," but I'm inclined to agree with you. Yet it appears that much of the other content is revised, and substantially improved. Certainly she has taken feedback seriously.

If you're going to take the time to read it all through, you should take the time to write her with feedback to improve the thing. As what looks to be the sole scholarly paper in this area, I think it's important that it be as well-informed as possible by knowledgeable folks. That's why I put time into it, at least.

Cheers,

T

onemandub's picture

Despite the fact that more than one of the contributors on this subject has criticised me on another, here are the facts;

Type designers akin to Nick Shinn & David Berlow didn't wake up one morning magically able to create phenomenal fonts for nothing. These guys studied this over years and different continents in order that WE end up with finely developed typefaces. Downloading gigabytes of foundries over at ISOHUNT or PIRATEBAY and ultimately not paying for anything is clearly unacceptable. Two large corporations here in Scotland have been reprimanded for using unlicensed typefaces while a well known art school now allows their students ONLY to use the typeface collection provided and paid for BY the school. If you want free fonts for non commercial use then go to DAFONT and check the fonts you download aren't simply renamed versions of existing work - i haven't been there for a while but that WAS the case several times previously.

The fact that both Shinn & Berlow's typefaces (entire foundries almost) are appearing on P2P networks (alongside many others) must be sickening for them and i would suggest that anyone who uses that system for acquiring their fonts think carefully in future - when their clients congratulate their typeface choices they should be ready to pay for them.

William Berkson's picture

I have just been reading the new version of Prof. Lipton's essay, and it is hugely strengthened. I do appreciate that after I drew her attention to this thread, Prof. Lipton has been eager to learn more from those in the type community, and to deepen her discussion of the legal issues based on the new information.

Prof. Lipton has it seems has taken full advantage of Thomas's input--thank you Thomas!--with acknowledgments. The happy result is I think a very interesting essay.

Thomas Phinney's picture

It's not perfect, but it's a lot better.

Cheers,

T

Richard Fink's picture

Hello bb, Thomas, David - I'm coming in very late to this thread, sorry.
The initial question was:
"Is it illegal to download illegally uploaded fonts? And is it illegal to use them?"
Because of my interest in readability and font-linking on the web, I've been following this topic very closely - to the extreme of actually reading court opinions like Napster, Grokster, etc...
Just some obvious points - How can anyone know that a font was illegally uploaded until they download it and take a look at it? What if your intent is to download it, analyze it, and then, if it looks like it was uploaded in violation of the EULA, report the situation to the foundry so they can issue a DMCA take-down notice? That's gotta be kosher, right?
The whole idea of that being in some way "illegal" is, to me, preposterous.

The second part of the question is trickier and depends on what the font is then used for. I don't even want to touch that one.
But I would like to re-iterate a comment I made on A List Apart in reaction to publisher Jeffrey Zeldman's interview with David Berlow:
"Font creation is both labor and knowledge intensive. And the pool of people who are really good at it is small. If ever there was an example of copyright protection acting – as the framers of the Constitution intended – to promote a useful art (in other words, to encourage font-makers and keep new fonts coming) this would be such an example."

Jack B. Nimblest Jr.'s picture

>It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better.

I'll set aside another pro bono publico day or two soon. But I can tell you from a brief scan, and due to my utter reluctance to ever print anything I don't have to, the Social Science Research Network Electronic Paper Collection is not. This is a document designed, formatted and published for print.

>... this would be such an example.

I appreciate your support on that part for sure. But I think it helps to reframe, for reconsideration at least, the issue from one of 'our' useful art, to the more generally useful art of document creation, a labor and knowledge intensive art, and a one whose desired rights to protection on the web includes typefaces, or is it fonts, I get confused now ;)

And because of my interest in readability and font-linking on the web, a lot has changed since this thread started.

Cheers!

Vinnie_Candie's picture

The remark on Andy Warhol and "What is Art" is the exact reason that there is a question as to this subject, I think what we have here is the "Artist" not realizing the chains that the change of this new distribution method breaks. It is the artists responsibility to adapt to the new market. Which at this time unfortunately is a sort of hip hop generation of "sampling" on piece of art and making it a new piece of art. This is why I cling so tightly to the open source software and belief. There will be a time, if you and I are not careful in the next decade we will find ourselves strictly behind cloud software where we lease our time on the software we are using and give it proceeds for it benefiting our product. Free is the new business model and you should be able to get behind it and leverage it if you are worth your salt in whatever you do. There is a correct way to go about "Licensing" products, but you would notice if you did not charge every person who "tries" to make a project work but only those that have made it work you will notice more people "sampling" your art or work, and the better they get at working with it. What is art, if art is mimicking life, and life is mimicking art, we need to make room for art to mimic art, and except the reality that cd's were never worth $17.00 some bands many one hit wonders would have actually made money with I-tunes today, isn't it amazing that a software company not a music company, utilizing the market and the new means of distribution comes out with the next generation "Walkman" and then corners the market on how to distribute this new "Product". My main point is when people are standing there saying "give me, give me.... mine!!! Mine!!!" Other people are standing there saying Hmmmm.... how can I make money on this??? Please use these words or this Idea freely as I am FULL OF IT....(dah dah dah dah dah) I will not and can not subscribe to a capitalist idea that pits neighbor vs neighbor, We are in a Global Market and most Americans are trying to make there fortune in the Court room. Wake up!!!

Thomas Phinney's picture

"Free is the new business model"

Free is not a business model. The part that "monetizes" the free, that's the business model. Whether it's paid advertising, or folks paying for something else, I don't know.

For fonts, the only convincing business model I've seen that's built on top of free in any sense is this: some companies or organizations will find it in their interest to pay people to develop fonts that will then be open source. I don't think this will be sufficiently large scale to be a very large amount of type design, compared to what happens today. So, if nobody is willing to pay for fonts, I expect most folks who currently design type will have to find something else to do.

I agree with Richard that the protections of copyright are quite appropriate for fonts. However, I recognize that in today's world of easy data transfer, such protections are rather thin.

BTW, don't assume that I think that US copyright laws are reasonable. I think that the length of copyright protection in the USA is not merely excessive but completely insane. Life of the author plus 70 years? For work for hire, 120 years from creation or 95 from first publication, whichever comes first? That's Goofy.

Sorry, couldn't resist the Disney reference.

Cheers,

T

Richard Fink's picture

Oy, much dredging of threads lately....

TP>BTW, don't assume that I think that US copyright laws are reasonable.

You radical, you!

TP>So, if nobody is willing to pay for fonts, I expect most folks
TP>who currently design type will have to find something else to do.

I've yet to meet a type designer who isn't talented beyond type design. I've yet to meet a type designer who isn't intelligent.
People with talent and intelligence are going to find a way to roll with the punches.

The move to digital distribution requires an incredible leap of faith. There are so many questions unanswered. It's hard to see who profits besides Google and Amazon and Apple and the service providers.
Lately, I've been thinking about what initially drove the first Europeans to migrate to America. Most stayed put, so it couldn't have been *that* bad.
What went through the minds of those who pioneered the American West? These people knew they were venturing into unknown, dangerous country. Death could await just as easily as a new life. What gave them the guts or the optimism to face that? Don't know.
Anyway, in this case, the open prairie is coming to us - no need to travel!

towolf's picture

I like Uli. Hope he’s still around.

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