Copyright of old letterforms?

asfuller's picture

I'm reading a 1971 book (Lettering as Drawing/Nicolete Gray) which contains historical images of letter sketches and type specimens from various artists and manuscripts from 1528 to 1970. My first thought is the author and publisher do not have copyright to these older letterforms. Should I even begin to consider digitizing some of these alphabets?

Of course, some of the artists may have estates retaining rights to their works. In particular, I'm eyeing a line engraving from Lucs Materot (1608), woodcut alphabet from Champ Fleury by G. Tory (1529), and alphabet from E. Mulir's Lettres et Enseignes Art Nouveau.

hrant's picture

Publishing samples certainly doesn't give any rights to author or publisher.

I know that Dyana Weissman (FontBureau) is working on a Materot script face.

The Tory stuff is way too old/disinherited to enjoy any legal protection.


asfuller's picture

Thanks for the wisdom, Hrant.

I notice Octavo has an edition of Champ Fleury for $35, which is an essential to my library. I'm wondering how many of Tory's letterings have been made into fonts. Coincidently, the Tory sample I found in Gray's book is a sample spread on the Octavo site, so I see that typeface is called "Fantastic Letters" (sample attached). Anyone know if this font exists?

G Tory Fantastic Alphabet from Champ Fleury

If Champ Fleury is full of Tory's letterings, would a person legally be able to fonticize a few of them, or would creating a typeface fall under digital reproduction of Octavo's copyright?

asfuller's picture

oops, double-post...

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