Home > Uncategorized > Fonts, how their history is a sign of things to come…

Fonts, how their history is a sign of things to come…

Last night I was tired and not really into answering a certain question with the complete attention I should have.  But it was in part a question I have experience with.

For my hacking projects I prefer to make a font (yeah a whole complete one at least one) for that particular project.  Now this isn’t really that complicated as image editing on the ds kinda requires a font that has no extra bells or whistles and is in fact the bare bones.

This morning as I was about to respond again in that same thread where I really slacked off,  somebody peeked over my shoulder and was watching me make a font for that particular answer.  It was going to take me maybe another 10 minutes.   But I got sidetracked.  They had a problem due to the font I was making looking like a font they had already patented (copyright).  So I had to explain what I was doing this for, the use and such.  Due to how much of a dick they were being I ended up scrapping the work I had been doing and pointedly telling them look if you have that much trouble with this you should take it up with the company that I got the basics of this font from – ie the makers of that game.  As that is where the bitmaps I was using for this were coming from.  They got even more nasty but calmed down.  I know copyright.  (at least in canada).  All it took was asking them one question…turns out there is a free less bells and whistles version of their font out there that matches the one in game.  In this case size and codepage restricted.   Which got us to talking about the whole who owns what and their trouble patenting their font.

which to be honest I don’t give crap about.   But…..

In the font industry you have to be careful its not just the font in its entirety, its the parts of the font that are copyrighted.  That chunk of that particular letter and the width of this part here and the exact curve of that part there that are copyrighted.  What does this mean for other font makers… RESEARCH.   Lots and lots of research.  So what should be a quick and easy thing for someone that just appreciates the typographic look can involve at least one lawyer, and one researcher.  Those two people being paid for anywhere from 1day up to years…

Why am I going on about this.  Well that is what the whole digital age is coming to.  the methodology and ownership of virtual information.   Every tiny thing that someone thinks they can make money off of owning – that ownership being fought over.  That how much you gonna pay to use this thing…. thing.

I’ll give you an example that was used in both my business school and in my conservation (museum) studies.  Company A has decided to have a sign made for the front of its building.  They have decided on the look and materials.  They have even sent their order out.  They get it delivered and are about to install it.  Now pure chance has it that the person who designed and owns the font they used for their sign walks by.  The only reason the company used this font is that a friend of this person liked his work.  The person who made that font has just gone to a great deal of trouble patenting that font as it is a fairly detailed engravers font.  Since he was never asked if they could use his font for their sign he walks in and inquires about it.  Now he only has trouble because this company is themselves patenting their company name but with his font.  Since he already owns those patents he is owed money (at least from his perspective) for their use of his work.   Now company A is completely unaware of his previous patenting of said font.  As they are growing company and their legal team is also a little new, they did not see this a being a potential issue.  As their patent for their company name and logo has already been approved the legal team mistakenly tells him its too late its already gone through.  Now legally they are wrong.  He is entitled to compensation for his work after all he does own the patent on the font they used as he has filed his before theirs .  He wants to be compensated.  They refuse as it is easier at this point to re-do the company logo and patent that new logo then it is to pay this guy the money he wants (and will probably will get) for using his work.  They in fact they show him the numbers that its going to cost them about an 8th of what he wants for his work to just do it over.  Now this man has already gone to some length of trouble for this.  His lawyer has already given them a cease and desist on using his “font”.   So company A says okay thats fine.  Now company A has to make it part of every future deal that anyone they do business with doesn’t use his font.  Every potential customer (if its a business) has to be researched and further to be sure that those clients don’t cause them legal trouble have built into their contracts that they can’t use that “font” either.

And so on and so on….

How does this apply to non for profits.  well non for profits need by essence to avoid any and all potential legal trouble.  They can only use free for use intellectual works.  As they cannot afford the lawyer much less the lawsuit from this type of trouble.  So any donations of a corporate nature that involve this type of trouble get heavily documented and shared with other non for profits.  Further the non for profits have a list that denotes potential legal trouble that is shared commonly.


The person who patented that font will from that point forward never have his work featured or used by any non for profit who sees him on that list.  PERIOD.   As none of them wants to deal with that trouble.  His artistic career in the non for profit world is over.  All he will get now is business work.  As no non for profit wants to deal with that potential mess of legality.

oy…. I explained this to them this morning.  They got this look on their face like I just explained something they could never figure out.  “that must…” A deeply depressed look comes over them.   “10 years I have been trying to get my work into certain galleries they never explained why.   I… ”

They decided it would be a good idea to change career paths…


Now for the digital age and virtual data.  For those who don’t read the the general stuff when they sign up for email.  The company you have your email with owns everything sent through them.  Be it in the main body of the text or an attachment.  Just by using that company to send it they own it.  So that book you just wrote… you know how you sent it chapter by chapter through yahoo… yahoo owns that book now.   NOT YOU.  Yahoo rarely makes an issue out of this though, but they could.  Every picture you send, any digital works sent through them is technically theirs.  just like your cell phone company any text or pictures you send through their service is theirs not yours.  they even have it built into your contract when you sign up that you agree that even though you are sending through yahoo on this device that because you send it through them as the internet provider your contract with them as the internet provider supersedes the previous one with the email company.   Even if you already filed patents or copyrights on the material being sent.  (this applies to both the internet provider and the email company).  Doesn’t matter if you own it your contract signs over that ownership once you send it in that form over that medium.

with the advent of tighter controls over digital ownership….   all this is is just a money grab for the lawyers and owners of such material involved.   the question of who is the real owner… though… is just money in the pocket for the lawyer/researcher hired by you to go through your contracts….

for the end user its just headache.  I don’t want to pay again to use stuff that once already has  been used to make money off it.  If you already are getting paid once, getting paid twice and thrice for the same thing is just ridiculous.  worse 2nd and 3rd parties getting paid… c’mon.  (what I am talking about is I am already paying for cable, on that cable is a channel that has that show.  the cable company is paying the channel itself to have them in their channel line up.  That channel is paying to have the show to be made or paying the company that makes that show.   how many degrees of seperation do you have here? at least two.  )

when television/radio first came out it was widely accepted that the only way to make money off of this was with an audience.  If you have no audience then any marketing / sales of products based off of the aired product cannot be made.  This applies to the internet as well.  REMEMBER WHO YOUR AUDIENCE IS.   You had a good show, if the show was good enough then people would buy merchandise based off of the show or of the commercials shown with that show.   They didn’t care about who owned the right to the show.  Heck just buying the television/or radio was expensive.  so when cable came out what you were getting for the end user was a guarantee that you would have said channels / access to the shows you wanted to watch.

Adding more convoluted legal trouble to something (the internet) that was designed to be easy to use (by the end user) and just another way to deliver media to a consumer is just going to come back and bite not the end user in the keister but you.  As we the end user can fairly easily entertain ourselves some other way.   Better for cheaper and more than likely free.

Would it have been better for that font maker in the example to just keep his mouth shut and realize that any company displaying his work is just free advertising for him?  I believe yes.

As with all artistic works any advertising is good advertising even its bad criticism.

(kinda like this)

before you click on the next contract, before you watch that video on the internet think about what is involved first.  I had to decline using a specific software because the contract for using it gave away all right to all media made with it before I even had used it.  further tried take away all rights to other media I had created that was on the same computer even if it was never going to be used with said software.  its in the contract… I would have been screwed and screwed royally.

the site that hosts the video… click here to signify that you have read the terms of use… the terms of use include charging you an undefined amount of money at an undefined time that may or may not be increased at the sites discretion and more than once.  further may not even be applied to the sites fines for the illegal hosting of material you viewed on said site.  (so not only could you still get fined for watching that video by the goverment/legal agencies but the site itself could legally get money from you for it as well – more than once).    that not even mentioning the company who owns said material suing you as well.

now add the fee from the lawyer for just looking at the contract for that site, add the fee for  viewing the video, add the fine for illegally viewing that material, add the fee for the lawyer for defending you against the company who is suing you (as they own said material), add the fee from the site for their lawyer fees, add the fee from the site that they are now suing you for after they were sued, etc…. sound like somewhere someone took this way too seriously and forgot what they originally made the show that you just wanted to watch for…(to sell the merchandise based off of the show, or a copy of the show itself – hopefully a hard copy).


Don’t support idiots in your government who want to give their lawyers more money.  Tighter controls or more stringent controls of copyrighted material is only going to give the lawyers money.   Not the copyright holder.  We already have systems in place for that.

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