What is an original Hebrew type design?

gohebrew's picture

What constitutes originality in a typeface?

For example, say a typeface has a basic look and feel, but its side-bearings (the spaces between the letters) are adjusted so the letters fit together better, the vowel and diacritic marks are better aligned to the letters, and their distance from the letters is improved.

Is that creative originality to render the Hebrew typeface to become a person's intellectual property?

gohebrew's picture

For example, much ado is made about a typeface design claimed to be the sole property of a deceased designer.

His estate has sold these "intellectual property rights", if there are any, to a different entity, located at a different facility, to be used in a different technology.

Another type foundry in a different country, subject to a different set of US Copyright laws, higher than those in the first party's country, creates a different font, with a different name, with subtle design differences, with improved side-bearings, better alignment of nikkud and diacriticals, and even intelligent built-in programming features, due to its advanced font format technology.

Is the second party infringing upon the font rights of the first party?
Does the second party need to seek permission from the first party to sell its font offering?
Does the second party owe the first party money?


Remember, according to laws in the United States, the first party has no rights whatsoever.

brianskywalker's picture

It's a tough call, in the example of your second post. I would say that the second party should owe the first party money. It's really a matter of conscience for the second party, because even though they are not technically breaking any laws, they are using something that should have been, for the most part, someone else's.

I think originality in a typeface depends upon it being significantly different enough from other designs. But just measuring the cap-height, extenders lengths, and x-height and having them the same could still have an original design, since there's a lot in structure a typeface could change. The same is true for Hebrew. The difference has to be significant, but even that is a bit ambiguous.

gohebrew's picture

In your fist paragraph, you seem to assert that this is a case of non-legal infringement upon the first party's rights, while in the second paragraph you see to allude to the most difficult and gray area of US Copyright law, called a derivative work.

For example, I look upon Van Gogh's Starry Starry Night, and am inspired. I create Palatino, as my interpretation of Van Gogh's classic work of art.

This is deemed a derivative work.

In the first paragraph, you claim that I owe money, morally but not legally.

I counter that I am willing to pay money, but that act implies the first party has a right, which I think was stolen. I'll give him money, but not acknowledge his rights (which I feel that he does not have).

brianskywalker's picture

You seem to have caught me; I may not have thought that first paragraph through. This would mean everyone who made an interpretation or revival of Garamond would have to pay Garamond's estate...

Well, I am too tired to think about it now.

gohebrew's picture

This is why derivative works are a gray issue in the USA.

Would we promote it, define it etc., creative work would be hindered or destroyed. Hence, we prefer to limit design rights to making a design patent etc. to sort the true defenders of their rights from the greedy. And allow a creative form of derivative works. Let each judge decide, says American law.

For this reason and others, I feel our legal system, though not perfect is superior to laws in Israel. American laws are closely derived from Talmudic law, while Israeli, ironically Jewish, is not.

Hence, American creativity excels where Israeli creativity is stifled by ridiculous laws, like the suit now against Microsoft. The Israelis are biting the hand that feeds them. I hope that these folks lose their battle against Microsoft on the grounds that the State of Israel acknowledged that US Copyright law overrides Israeli law when Israel signed the Berne Convention in 1988.

quadibloc's picture

I don't recall the Berne Convention ever setting limits to what countries can do in the way of protecting copyrights. Instead, it requires countries to come up to a minimum standard of respecting copyright. So I doubt that the suit against Microsoft will be lost on those grounds.

John Hudson's picture

Israel: I hope that these folks lose their battle against Microsoft on the grounds that the State of Israel acknowledged that US Copyright law overrides Israeli law when Israel signed the Berne Convention in 1988.

You misunderstand, badly, what the nature of the Berne Convention is. No country acknowledges that the laws of another country override its own. Under the Berne Convention, countries agree to grant, within their jurisdictions, the citizens or corporate entities of other countries the same intellectual property rights and protections that they grant to their own citizens and corporate entities. In other words, under US law an Israeli citizen or corporation would have the same rights and protections as US citizens or corporations, and under Israeli law a US citizen or corporation would have the same rights and protections as Israeli citizens or corporations.

Also, it was the USA who only acceded to the Berne Convention in 1988. Israel ratified the Convention in 1969.

Hence, American creativity excels where Israeli creativity is stifled...

I don't see any stifling of Hebrew type design or font development in Israel. It appears to be thriving.

gohebrew's picture

So, Microsoft should countersue in the US, like they did against Digital Research to stop the GEM desktop (better than Windows in 1989 or so).

MS could claim that KP is infringing on their sales, and win big. Americans like to back Americans.

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