Gameloft used a fan copy/mod of existing copyrighted/commercial font in an upcoming game

That's right. Gameloft is using Celestia Medium Redux, a fan modification of copyrighted Generation B. Someone needs to stop them.

Generation B, made by Harold's Fonts, is inspired by film logos and posters between 1950s and 1960s. It is one of the official fonts of Hasbro's current My Little Pony line up of toys, media franchise and official merchandises. It's also in the subtitle part of the logo of the current generation's well-known cartoon show, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

With the rise of the cartoon's fandom, some fans tried to create their version of Generation B. One user created a thing called Celestia Medium, but soon gave up after some concerns. Then, another user came up with small letters and Greek/Cyrillic letters, and named it Celestia Medium Redux, the font in question.

Apparently, Gameloft is using Celestia Medium Redux in their upcoming official My Little Pony mobile game, instead of Generation B.




We can't blame some individuals using knock off fonts on their unofficial, personal fan works because counting all of every single person who used it is impossible and suing them is technically a waste of time and money (unless you are from Disney). But this is a different matter. It's the official merchandise. Gameloft is using a fan-made font that (technically) infringed copyrighted font design (or, in the U.S. terms, a digital font file that might have altered from the original file) in an official game, instead of the original and official one! It's more like the developers involved didn't know anything about the font (If it's not, this is more serious problem!).

Now, someone needs to stop Gameloft from using Celestia Medium Redux before they officially release the game on 8 November, and put them on the pressure to change the font. But honestly, I don't know what should I start with as a third person.

Before you go, here is opinion from a professional-skilled artist who likes Friendship is Magic:

hrant's picture

Agreed.

Harold's Fonts should hire Frank Martinez - he specializes in font protection.
http://www.martinezgroup.com/

BTW, may I ask what your interest in this is? Your only other post to Typophile also involved reporting possible font plagiarism.

hhp

Zuhair Albazi's picture

Spam, should be removed, just advertising the game.

hrant's picture

I'm pretty sure it's not.

hhp

cerulean's picture

It's kind of a terrible lazy design to be using anyway. Gen B works in its limited role as part of the logo, but its herky-jerky style is not suited to slapping on every darn thing that needs text. At the least, they ought to use Woodrow, the nice readable face in the show's titles and credits.

whoiam989's picture

BTW, may I ask what your interest in this is? Your only other post to Typophile also involved reporting possible font plagiarism.

Well, back then, I meant to find some Latin fonts with exact design because those Hangul fonts had good-shaped Latin characters (unusual in Korean fonts).

Spam, should be removed, just advertising the game.

I put those pictures because I wanted to show the evidence right there. If it looked like some sort of game adverts to you, I'm sorry.

It's kind of a terrible lazy design to be using anyway. Gen B works in its limited role as part of the logo, but its herky-jerky style is not suited to slapping on every darn thing that needs text. At the least, they ought to use Woodrow, the nice readable face in the show's titles and credits.

You know something! At least Woodrow is more legible than Generation B. But from what I know, it has no Greek and Cyrillic letters so I think it may cause a little trouble for internationalisation.

Chris G's picture

@Zuhair
I'm not sure that the members of Typophile are an untapped market for this sort of game...

Diner's picture

Thanks for your post on this and Harold and the Font Bros are well aware of this situation . . .

At the end of the day, legally there's really nothing we can do . . . A close comparison would be that a client specified Futura for their App and rather than buy Linotypes, they bought URW++s or Paratype's . . .

We know the folks from Hasbro have properly licensed the font and specify it in all the styles guides for the MLP product line but do not provide it to vendors.

Oddly, Gameloft DID contact us and we negotiated a license for them for this use, but then radio silence until we received word about their new game using a knock-off version of Harold's original font.

Again, legally they haven't done anything wrong but of course we're disappointed they chose the course of action they did.

whoiam989's picture

Thanks for your answer. Seriously, why Gameloft choose that way? Nevertheless, we should keep spreading this news everywhere and put Gameloft folks on the pressure until they entirely change that font to a proper one. Remember, for economic reason, not everyone can count and sue every person using knock-off fonts in their personal fan works. But big and well-established company like Gameloft using it in that officially licensed game? This is more than a serious problem.

Remember the Hadopi logo incident? Although that would be a slightly different case from this because it was about logo designers using a legal font intended for exclusive corporate use in a logo of another, unrelated French government agency for copyright protection, people have noticed the infringement and soon, after lots of complaints and pushing, the agency had to change the font to a properly licensed one, before making another change in years later.

hrant's picture

Public pressure is indeed a key weapon. And even if it doesn't work in a given case you get some exposure as a future deterrent.

hhp

Thomas Phinney's picture

Who: "Remember, for economic reason, not everyone can count and sue every person using knock-off fonts in their personal fan works."

But the relevant parties are saying that this particular case of knock-off is NOT illegal and they have no basis to sue.

This is often true. Knock-offs can be unethical, or just poorly done, without being illegal. In these cases, absent a violated contract or the like, there is usually no basis to sue the offending party.

kentlew's picture

On the other hand, “Celestia,” used in the context of typefaces and fonts, is a registered trademark of Mark von Bronkhurst. So, he might have a legitimate case to pursue against the maker of Celestia Medium Redux, if he cared to — at least to change the name, if not to cease distribution.

whoiam989's picture

But the relevant parties are saying that this particular case of knock-off is NOT illegal and they have no basis to sue.

This is often true. Knock-offs can be unethical, or just poorly done, without being illegal. In these cases, absent a violated contract or the like, there is usually no basis to sue the offending party.

Hmm... This is becoming a bit more complex problem than I thought. What should be the attitude to the knock-off/fake/unlicensed fonts, especially when major company making an officially licensed product?

Simply getting a license will cause no problem, and it will bring original and quality fonts. But it costs so much if it's too expensive, and in major cases, using the font for different purposes may require to buy another licenses.

On the other hand, knock-offs are technically not illegal, only a little different from the original, and it will help reducing costs if it is free. But someone will notice it anyway, and even if there is no basis to sue, some will still tackle and complain. Besides, some of them has inferior quality than original.

This is getting more puzzled...

Anyway, despite not being illegal, it still shows how terrible Gameloft is at choosing fonts. And still, the people at Font Bros. are disappointed with what Gameloft have done.

I think that, normally, big major companies with such scale as Gameloft would just end up buying a proper license. Why did they act like... Um... 'Hey, I have no money for this.'? (Just my shallow idea, though.)

On the other hand, “Celestia,” used in the context of typefaces and fonts, is a registered trademark of Mark von[sic] Bronkhurst.[sic] So, he might have a legitimate case to pursue against the maker of Celestia Medium Redux, if he cared to — at least to change the name, if not to cease distribution.

This is kinda interesting. In the universe of the current line up, Princess Celestia is the co-ruler of the "magical land of Equestria" who raises the sun, along with Princess Luna who raises the moon. That is where the name of the original Celestia Medium knock-off font came from, and I guess the maker of that font may have not know anything about it. (And yes, it has absolutely nothing to do with Mark van Bronkhorst's Celestia Antiqua)

JamesM's picture

> would just end up buying a proper license. Why did
> they [Gameloft] act like... Um... 'Hey, I have no money...

A quick Google search finds that Gameloft has been criticized for copying other games, and that some employees have complained of 100-hour work weeks.

Many game companies are under a lot of economic stress because the rise of small game apps for smart phones and tablets. Used be that computer games routinely sold for fairly high prices; now people go app stores and buy games for a few bucks each. So companies may feel the need to cut corners to keep prices down.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

I find it interesting that everybody thinks this is so horrible, but yet nobody except the original poster has disscussed the fact that Gen B was pretty much a straight copy of someone else's ( T. Hee, Bill Justice and Xavier Atencio) work to begin with.

So, copying someone elses work to make an "original" font - A.O.K.!
Copying the copy? Bad bad bad!
Really?

hrant's picture

Many game companies are under a lot of economic stress because the rise of small game apps for smart phones and tablets.

The good ones are under a lot of economic stress because crappy ones like Gameloft cut corners...

Gen B was pretty much a straight copy of someone else's

Links?

hhp

Khaled Hosny's picture

Plagiarism, yes! We all know that type designers invented the alphabet, they didn’t plagiarise it from the Romans.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

The link is the first one in this thread. The designer admits to it himself.

"Plagiarism, yes! We all know that type designers invented the alphabet, they didn’t plagiarise it from the Romans."

Yes I've brought this up before. The whole idea of plagiarism needs to be looked at differently in an area where everyone's work is 90% identical anyway. However this seems to make most around here very uncomfortable.

hrant's picture

Do you mean the "inspired by film logos and posters between 1950s and 1960s" part? That's not good enough. Do you have actual fonts in mind that Generation B is copied from, to the same extent that the Gameloft font is copied from Generation B?

And you guys can't be serious that making a font implies plagiarizing a writing system. You can only do that with another writing system, and even that's stretching the definition of "plagiarism".

As for "90% identical": that's a very shallow way of looking at it.

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Inspired by the animated opening titles of the classic live-action Disney film, The Parent Trap (1961), designed by T. Hee, Bill Justice and Xavier Atencio

hrant's picture

Can you post some images of said titles so we can see how close it is? But if even Disney isn't suing it's probably not close enough. :-)

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Yawn... Seems like a lot of work considering the designer admits on his own site where he got the "inspiration" from. How about you go out and rent the movie, take the screen grabs, and then tell me how they are different? Or you can just not believe me, I don't really have a dog in this fight anyway. I just think I smell a bit of hypocrisy in this thread, that's all.

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

OK, funk it, here's a youtube video of the beginning of the movie.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWy2HpQpKCM

JamesM's picture

The title cards of most movies can be found using Google Images.

hrant's picture

Ryan, why put "inspiration" in quotes? Do you think it necessarily equates to plagiarism?

And when you make a claim, you're the one who needs to show evidence. "whoiam989" has shown his.

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Did you even watch the Youtube video? I have zero reason to make anything up here.

hrant's picture

It's not about dishonesty; it's about interpretation, but also rigor.

Can you really compare an individual's font openly based on lettering from 50 years ago to a corporation's font covertly derived from a recent actual font?

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

I don't condone what Gameloft is doing, not at all, they can go F themselves. I just wonder why Harold's Fonts isn't also guilty of the same crime.

I also don't think just openly admitting to doing something makes it all OK. I mean if someone goes out and beats someone up, is it really all OK as long as they admit to doing it?

hrant's picture

No, not the same at all.

hhp

Ryan Maelhorn's picture

Wow, not at all, huh? Wow.

Khaled Hosny's picture

Either all type designers are plagiarists by extension, or there is no such a thing as plagiarism in type design, anything else is just hypocrisy.

Thomas Phinney's picture

No, anything else implies that the real world is more complicated than some sort of absolutist there-are-only-two-colors-in-the-universe POV.

But I agree with Hrant that there is a big difference between making a typeface inspired by a small sample of hand-lettering used in a film, and making a typeface that is “trying to ape an existing commercial font” (that's a quote from the designer of Celestia Medium, when he pulled the font from distribution because he became convinced doing a knockoff of Generation B was wrong: see http://purpletinker.deviantart.com/art/Celestia-Medium-pony-font-1-5-204...).

Khaled Hosny's picture

She pulled the font after someone started a crusade of FUD campaigns on her, if she thought it was wrong she wouldn’t have done it in the first place.

Type designers just like to think they are special, every thing they do is a creation, unique, something the world have never seen and will never see, may be with some little, very little and insignificant inspirations, but plagiarists, those infidels how dare they imitate the creations of gods, lets FUD them to death.

hrant's picture

Khaled, you really think what the designer of Generation B did was as bad as what the designer of Celestia Medium did? And do you really think Gameloft and Hasbro are innocent? BTW personally I would attack the companies before I would attack the designer because that could change things on a much larger scale.

Lumping inspiration and plagiarism together seems like an excuse to feel better about the latter, which usually happens by people who suck at the former.

hhp

oldnick's picture

Well, Hasbro treated me pretty well. They commissioned a special version of Boyz R Gross NF, with Turkish and Greek characters—the latter of which were a trip, since I had never done it before…

BTW, any thoughts on this?

http://www.typophile.com/node/98032

cerulean's picture

"Type designers just like to think" that their time, effort and expertise has value with which they should be able to make some of their living, which is perfectly reasonable and does not deserve such obnoxious hyperbole. Everything is a remix, but time and respect make worlds of difference. When Todd Goldman traces the work of relatively obscure living cartoonists and sells uncredited, unlicensed T-shirts of it at Hot Topic, we should not pretend that this is equivalent to John Williams echoing Gustav Holst in his score for Star Wars. There is a continuum between homage and ripoff, and the dividing line of what's acceptable is fuzzy but not extremely so.

oldnick's picture

the dividing line of what's acceptable is fuzzy but not extremely so

Have you considered one of those Lint Removers? IMHO, they work pretty well…

BTW, any fuzzy thoughts on this?

http://www.typophile.com/node/98032

hrant's picture

Nick, Hasbro probably has no clue what went on, and they'd rather not care. The higher up you go the less they [want to] know about details but the more power they have to change them.

Kevin, well stated.

hhp

oldnick's picture

Hrant—

The “higher up” thing is indubitably true. Evidently, my local sheriff would rather not know about the Independent Contractors working in his department. Either that, or he would prefer that the voters of this county not know…

Just sayin’…

JamesM's picture

Inspiration is different from plagiarism. All artists and designers are influenced by the work of others. But inspiration becomes plagiarism when you simply make a copy of someone else's work.

Khaled Hosny's picture

Khaled, you really think what the designer of Generation B did was as bad as what the designer of Celestia Medium did?

No, I think they are as fine.

Lumping inspiration and plagiarism together seems like an excuse to feel better about the latter

So when inspiration ends and palgirism starts, when it it is 50%, 60%, less than 50 years old, less than 40?

But inspiration becomes plagiarism when you simply make a copy of someone else's work.

That is called copyright infringement, which is not the case here.

Fonts are not forms of art, type design is not an art, it is a craft, if type designers think they are artists they can go paint something.

hrant's picture

Those are very shallow questions and views.

hhp

aluminum's picture

"Many game companies are under a lot of economic stress because the rise of small game apps for smart phones and tablets"

True, but it's also true that game companies have a long track record of being a) cheap in general and b) really bad people to work for.

whoiam989's picture

Sorry for late response, but I was busy with school works and other factors.

Apparently, there are ongoing criticisms about this game regarding its economy system. But that's another problem.

I saw someone intervened in this thread with debate on originality, inspiration and plagiarism. At first, I couldn't decide which side I should take. Now, at least one thing is clear: We can tell whether it is a rip-off, knock-off, plagiarism, copyright infringement, parody or homage by looking closely at it and finding its background and context.

I may have missed a chance to comment, but I think Diner, oldnick, hrant, cerulean, Thomas Phinney and JamesM can get together to think about how to convince Hasbro and Gameloft to solve this problem. I'm going to send Diner's (official?) complaint to major fan news blogs, but how can I publicise this issue months after the games release? Please give me some advice.

Happy New Year, everyone!

quadibloc's picture

Given the description of the situation in the initial post, I'm surprised to learn in a later post that Gameloft did not do anything actionable.

That implies, at the very least, that the font they are using is not a mod of the font from Harold's fonts in question; that it's freshly drawn, even if it closely resembles the other font. Font software is well protected by copyright law, even if font designs are only weakly protected in the U.S. (as opposed to not protected at all: there were changes in the law recently).

However, on re-reading the thread, it appears that Gameloft ought to be in deep trouble with Hasbro, because they've licensed the My Little Pony product, and they're not appropriately protecting its brand identity; by not using the official font specified, they're making a licensed product that is not, in this one respect, however minor, differentiated from what a knock-off counterfeiter could do.

And that would remain true even if Celestia Medium Redux is an entirely legitimate typeface in the same genre as Generation B, and not a rip-off or plagiarism.

Now, there's also the question of violating the trademark of the original Celestia Medium, as it may not have been withdrawn long enough ago for it to be inactive...

JamesM's picture

> it appears that Gameloft ought to be in deep trouble with
> Hasbro, because they've ... not using the official font specified

The licensing agreement undoubtedly gave Hasbro opportunities to view the game at certain milestones during development and during beta testing, to protect their interests. If the knock-off font was close enough that Hasbro didn't notice and object before the game's release, they'd have a hard time making the case that consumers (mostly children) would notice it.

HVB's picture

Where does Neale Davidson's "Equestria" fit into all this?

charles ellertson's picture

Those are very shallow questions and views.

Really hhp? Try Googling

museum exhibits of typefaces

Very few hits. I get more with my name, or your name. Not at all like Googling "American Impressionist art exhibitions."

In fact, I got more hits with

museum exhibits of roller skates

Khaled is not being shallow, he's giving the truth, as upsetting as you may find it.

hrant's picture

What makes you think I like museums? MoMA can stuff it.

If you'd been paying attention you'd realize that I've railed against "artiste" type designers more than anybody else here.

Khaled I suspect tries to find a Hosni Mubarak in every corner (nevermind that democracy is for peons). You probably have a bugbear (or three) as well since you read into what Khaled wrote whatever you needed to attack me. Go read it again after you tame your emotions. Upset, he says. I'm feeling virtually nothing.

hhp

5star's picture

These days my favorite word that I read type designers use with impunity is ... revival.

And these same type designers have the nerve to attach a EULA to their ... revival.

:)

Democracy rulz!!!

n.

charles ellertson's picture

If you'd been paying attention you'd realize that I've railed against "artiste" type designers more than anybody else here

Well, as a small dig, I can't read ALL your posts. Gotta work sometimes.

But what did I miss? I thought you were saying type design is a work of art, I thought Khaled was saying it is a craft -- tool building, in my words.

Where'd I go wrong?

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