Font based on existing writing

emilie's picture

I am thinking of drawing a script font based on someone's handwriting. The writing comes from an old document, it's a registry that was maintained by a general store owner, a long time ago, to see who bought what and how much they owed him, etc. I have access to photocopies of this document. All rights on it were donated by the family of the owner to a historical society in my area. I was thinking of naming the font after his name.

I have a lot of questions regarding this type of project.

What are the standard guidelines regarding copyrights or commercial royalties on these types of fonts?

When someone is dead, are there any types of rights on their writing? (Or are there even rights when they are alive?) If there are, would they belong to the family or to whoever is the owner of the source inspiration for the font?

Has anyone done this and gotten in trouble before? If so, what kind? :-)

Thanks!
Em

emilie's picture

I forgot to write that I am in Canada. How do laws work on that matter? Do laws apply where the font is designed, where it's distributed, where it's sold..etc?

Thanks!
Emilie

hrant's picture

Canada? Doesn't Mexican law apply to you? ;->

hhp

emilie's picture

Haha.. Is it me or do I note a hint of sarcasm in your reply? ;)

Em

hrant's picture

There's a hint of sarcasm to my existence.
But that one had a bushel-load not a hint.

hhp

emilie's picture

I had guessed that much...

Constructive replies anyone? ^.^

Em

linusans's picture

Emilie, I did something similar to that for a Uni project. Except in my case all I had to work off was the TO: address on the envelope. However, the idiosyncracies in the handwriting intrigued me... I will post in the critiques section sooner or later, so we'll see what kind of legal issues this brings up then.

P.S. This letter was not personal, and was sent from a company in New Zealand, so it's simply called Kiwi Casual, but I'm not final on that name.

alfabet's picture

Emilie, first thing I would do is contact the historical society in question. Explain exactly what your intentions are, and make clear that you want to make a commercial font for sale. This is very important, especially because you'd like to use the person's name as well. Definitely keep a paper trail of all correspondence.

One other thing about doing it together with the historical society is that they may be willing and able to provide some form of promotion/exposure for your endeavour.

BTW, how did you obtain the copies? If they are available to the public, there's a chance they may be in the public domain (i.e. copyright-free).

I designed a typeface based on a person's handwriting, after we signed a contract to split the proceeds from the sale. Now that font is going to be released by Bitstream (hopefully, this summer).

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