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From Mike Brodbelt <m.brodb...@acu.ac.uk>
Subject Re: Where to download high-quality fonts
Date Tue, 01 Jun 2004 17:04:32 GMT
Paul Tremblay wrote:
> On Wed, May 26, 2004 at 04:46:20AM +0200, Andreas L. Delmelle wrote:
>>Sure! Happens all the time... Concerning Chris' question about the legal
>>issues, that's a whole different story (--the details of which I'm not too
>>familiar with)
> I been doing a lot of googling. It turns out that you can't copyright a
> font. The US gov't is too afraid that such a copyright would lead to someone
> copyrighting the alphabet itself. What you can copyright is anything that
> creates a font, which in this case is a Bookman.pfm or Bookman.pfb file.

I don't know the details for PostScript fonts, but TrueType fonts are
considered as small programs which, when executed with the correct font
"engine", draw the correct glyphs on the screen. While the glyph shapes
themselves can't be copyrighted, the "program" that is a ttf file (or
other type of font) can be, and the hinting alogrigthms are subject to
some patents in the US - see http://www.freetype.org/patents.html. As
PostScript is a language, I suspect the "program" is copyrighted, but
you may not have patent problems there.

> However, I could open up some high quality software, scan in the shape of
> all the Bookman fonts, twiddle with the shapes until they are exactly right,
> and realease my fonts with no copyright restrictions.

Yes, you can do this. You may still have to avoid infringing the
offending patents though :-(.

> It turns out that
> doing this is pretty difficult. Still, it is a worthwhile endeavor for
> someone who is skilled at creating fonts to create knockoffs of the
> high-quality fonts and realese them under GNU. After all, many of the
> really nice fonts, such as Garamond, were invented by people 500 years
> ago, so why should Adobe get copyright fees?

To be fair to Adobe, they took those 500 year old glyph shapes, and
turned them into a program that reproduces them on your screen.  As you
point out yourself, this takes a fair amount of time, effort and skill,
so I think claiming copyright over their implementation is perfectly
reasonable. I find the people who patent incremental improvements to a
system, that use those patents as a roadblock to prevent the development
of competing implementations to be far more unpleasant. This is however
not a commentary on Apple - I do not know how they have behaved with
regard to these patents, nor do I know how significant the things they
have patents on are.

> MS itself has realeased the standard web fonts under a pretty
> non-restrictive (though by no means open source) liscence. You can
> download these fonts from
> http://corefonts.sourceforge.net/
> I don't know if the same non-restrictive MS lisence also applies to
> fonts beyond these web fonts.  

AFAIK, it doesn't - that license applied only to that set of fonts. The
fact that they were enthusiastically adopted by Linux users, and now are
no longer available from Microsoft's own website suggests that MS rather
wish they hadn't let them out. I doubt we'll see any more with that license.

> I also discovered a webpage that has all the truetype versions of
> virtually every professional font out there (I'm talking about fonts for
> laying out a publication, not decorative fonts):
> http://www.clipserver.de/Fonts/C.htm

There's no indication of license at that site, but it looks a bit
suspect to me....


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