W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-font@w3.org > July to September 1996

RE: Re[2]: pixel fonts

From: Bill McCoy <mccoy@mv.us.adobe.com>
Date: Mon, 12 Aug 1996 11:01:27 -0700
Message-Id: <>
To: tiro@portal.ca (Tiro TypeWorks)
Cc: www-font@w3.org
I believe John Hudson has inaccurately characterized the current situation
in his example. There is nothing less open-and-shut about a case of ripping
off a font than a case of ripping off a photographic image, so I would
suggest taking his scare tactics with a large grain of salt.

Font programs are fully protected by copyright in the United States. Font
images are *not*, and derived font outlines (e.g., TrueDoc) may be
questionable, but the original font programs (i.e., the Type 1 or TrueType
outlines) *are* - that much more reason to support an outline-based
font-embedding standard for the Web. To quote from the comp.font FAQ:

  Digital (as opposed to analog) fonts may be protected by copyright of
  digital data and of computer programs. It has been established that
  computer software is copyrightable. Therefore, software that embodies a
  typeface, e.g. a digital font, is presumably also protected.  There is
  some objection to this kind of copyright, on the grounds that the
  ultimate output of the program or the result of the data (i.e. a
  typeface design) is not copyrightable. However, the current belief
  expressed by the National Commission on New Technological Use of
  Copyrighted Works is that software is copyrightable even if its function
  is to produce ultimately a non-copyrightable work.  Hence, typefaces
  produced by Metafont or PostScript(R), two computer languages which
  represent fonts as programs, are presumably copyrightable. Typefaces
  represented as bit-map data, run-length codes, spline outlines, and
  other digital data formats, may also be copyrightable.

Again, the precedent that font programs can be copyrighted is something that
Adobe, Bitstream, and others have worked hard to establish. Adobe has
successfully pursued a number of cases of font copyright infringement.

Yes, we can and should do more to improve the statutory basis of font
copyrights in the U.S and other countries... get your cards and letters in
to your legislators. But, we're in pretty good shape right now.


>Let's say that a protected photographic image is employed on a website
>devoted to, for instance, cars. Someone cruises the site, likes the image,
>and steals it for inclusion in their own website, devoted to rally racing. A
>few days later, the photographer, who is a keen racing amateur, comes across
>the second page and recognises his image. This is an open and shut case of
>copyright infringement.
>Now let's say that the original car site employs an embedded copy of Adobe
>Garamond for its text face. The person who runs the racing site not only
>likes the photo, but also the font, and has the savvy to strip it from the
>site and use it on his own. A few days later, Robert Slimbach (who, for all
>I know, hates car racing) stumbles across both pages, shrugs and says to
>himself 'Oh look, there's my typeface again, I wonder if either of them paid
>for it?'
>John Hudson, Type Director
>Tiro TypeWorks
>Vancouver, BC
Received on Monday, 12 August 1996 14:05:58 UTC

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.4.0 : Friday, 17 January 2020 22:37:29 UTC