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legalfnt.txt

Found at: 0x1bi.net:70/textfiles/file?law/legalfnt.txt


Msg#: 3684 *VENTURA*
11-30-89 19:14:00
From: SID ROGERS
  To: ALL
Subj: SOFT FONT FREEDOM PART 1
Mark Schallow, sysop of FONTASY BBS, Alexandria, VA, passed along this file 
which I'd like to share with you

=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

   US COPYRIGHT OFFICE RULES FONT SOFTWARE NOT COPYRIGHTABLE

      A Victory for American Freedom of the Press

BELOW IS THE OFFICIAL SUMMARY of the US Copyright Office's September
1988 determination that font software is not copyrightable (For 
6 pages of full text, see the Federal Register reference).  This 
decision extended to font software the long-standing Copyright Office
policy and clear intent of Congress that letterforms in general are 
not copyrightable.  The implication is that font software in the form 
of bit maps, metric files, parametric outline descriptions, and so on 
may be freely copied; and that any copyright asserted by the 
originator is nonsense and in fact may endanger the copyright on 
associated software.  The Copyright Office upholds the decision as 
necessary to freedom of the press, since if fonts were protected by 
copyright, virtually nothing could be copied since most documents use 
licensed fonts.  It appears to me that computer users are not widely 
taking advantage of the benefits of this decision, probably because 
it has not gotten much publicity.  OF COURSE THE FONT PUBLISHERS 
CHARGING AS MUCH AS HUNDREDS OF DOLLARS FOR A SINGLE FONT DO NOT WANT 
YOU TO KNOW ABOUT THE STATE OF AFFAIRS.  While fonts may be freely 
copied, some restrictions do apply to ancillary items.  Computer 
programs to generate fonts ARE copyrightable like any ordinary 
software, except to the extent that they contain data for the fonts.
Thus a font scaling program is copyrightable, but the font outlines 
used by such a program would not be, nor would the bit map or metrics 
output from the program.  Another restriction arises when using 
trademarks like "Helvetica" without permission of the owner.  For 
example, you can copy the Helvetica font but you cannot call it 
Helvetica, because that name happens to be a trademark. Perhaps users
could standardize on some public-domain "code names" for the trademark
names of popular fonts.  I have seen some software publishers using
their own names for "clone" font software with a note like, "similar 
to Helvetica" and a fine-print trademark acknowledgement.  That is, 
they hint that you are getting Helvetica, while skirting the trademark
issue with the "similarity" language.  Or, they use a synonymous name 
(like "Swiss" for "Helvetica").  Whether these tricks would really 
protect you against trademark infringement if you tried to peddle 
third-party fonts is an unsettled matter.  Still other restrictions 
on your copying font software apply if you have signed a license or 
other contract with the font publisher whereby you agreed to limit 
your copying of the fonts.  Such a license might conceivably prevent 
you from copying or selling font software sold to you by given 
publisher.  But anyone else whe has not signed such a contract and has
gotten possession of a font could copy it freely, even if that 
publisher only distributes its fonts to licensees.  The same would 
apply to attempts at trade secret protection, although it is hard to 
see how a font could be protected as a trade secrect since to use it 
is to disclose it.  Bulletin board sysops probably should check the 
truth of what I am saying with a "competent legal advisor" before 
they start a bonanza of font uploading.  Standard disclaimer: I am 
not a lawyer.  However, when you read the summary below and look up 
the full text in the Federal Register, I am confident you will agree 
that the decision is clear and direct to the effect that fonts may be
freely copied.  I hope that this will permit us as users to start 
sharing fonts through all convenient means.  Richard Kinch, Kinch 
Computer Company, 501 S Meadow St, Ithaca, NY 14850, Telephone (607) 
273-0222 FAX (607) 273-0484

                         *** more ***

--- ConfMail V4.00
 * Origin: (c)1989 Rogers & Blake (508)352-7603 (1:324/120)




Msg#: 3913 *VENTURA*
12-01-89 10:27:00
From: JOHN LULL
  To: SID ROGERS
Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 3684 (SOFT FONT FREEDOM PART 1)
 SR> Mark Schallow, sysop of FONTASY BBS, Alexandria, VA, passed along this 
 SR> file which I'd like to share with you
 SR> 
 SR> =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
 SR> 
 SR>    US COPYRIGHT OFFICE RULES FONT SOFTWARE NOT COPYRIGHTABLE
 SR> 
 SR>       A Victory for American Freedom of the Press
 SR> 
 SR> BELOW IS THE OFFICIAL SUMMARY of the US Copyright Office's September
 SR> 1988 determination that font software is not copyrightable (For 

*Very* interesting.

I notice this was published before ratification of the Berne convention.  Do 
you know if the situation has changed as a result of ratification?

--- msged 1.99S ZTC
 * Origin: "Aether Forge" -- the Windsmith BBS  (1:103/322.4)




Msg#: 4615 *VENTURA*
12-03-89 12:47:00
From: SID ROGERS
  To: JOHN LULL
Subj: REPLY TO MSG# 3913 (SOFT FONT FREEDOM PART 1)
 >  SR> 
 >  SR>    US COPYRIGHT OFFICE RULES FONT SOFTWARE NOT COPYRIGHTABLE
 >  SR> 
 > *Very* interesting.
 > 
 > I notice this was published before ratification of the Berne convention.  
 > Do you know if the situation has changed as a result of ratification?
John,
 
I've been trying to find any current info I can get my hands on RE: Berne 
Convention and cannot seem to find anything current. I've looked at or bought, 
sight unseen, new books dealing with copyrights and none I've found so far have
dealt with the changes or explored the implications.

I haven't yet checked my local library to see if the Federal Register is 
available. If so, I'll scan in the full 6 pages and make it available here for 
FREQ. 

If any one has an update to this ruling please share it with us all :)

       --- Sid ---

--- ConfMail V4.00
 * Origin: (c)1989 Rogers & Blake (508)352-7603 (1:324/120)




Msg#: 3685 *VENTURA*
11-30-89 19:18:00
From: SID ROGERS
  To: ALL
Subj: SOFT FONT FREEDOM PART 2
=---------------------------------------------------------------------- 
From the Federal Register, Vol 53, No 189, Thursday, September 29,1988
=---------------------------------------------------------------------- 
Copyright Office (Docket No. 86-4)
Policy Decision on the Copyrightability of Digitized Typefaces.

Agency: Copyright Office, Library of Congress.

Action: Notice of policy decision.

SUMMARY: The purpose of this notice is to inform the public that the 
Copyright Office has decided that digitized representations of 
typeface designs are not registrable under the Copyright Act because 
they do not constitute original works of authorship.  The digitized 
representations of typefaces are neither original computer programs 
(as defined in 17 USC 101), nor original databases, nor any other 
original work of authorship.  Registration will be made for original 
computer programs written to control the generic digitization process,
but registration will not be made for the data that merely represents
an electronic depiction of a particular typeface or individual 
letterforms.  If this master computer program includes data that fixes
or depicts a particular typeface, typefont, or letterform, the 
registration application must disclaim copyright in that uncopyright-
able data. 

EFFECTIVE DATE: September 28, 1988.

--- ConfMail V4.00
 * Origin: (c)1989 Rogers & Blake (508)352-7603 (1:324/120)




Msg#: 3686 *VENTURA*
11-30-89 21:09:00
From: SID ROGERS
  To: ALL
Subj: SOFT FONT FREEDOM PART 3
(Oops ...... part of part 2 was truncated)

=--------------------------------------------------------------------- 
[Excerpts from the full text:]
=--------------------------------------------------------------------- 
...Variations of typographic ornamentation [or] "mere lettering" are 
not copyrightable.... "It is patent that typeface is an industrial 
design in which the design cannot exist independently and separately 
as a work of art." [Eltra Corp v. Ringer, 579 F.2d 294 (4th Cir. 
1978)].  The decision in Eltra Corp. v. Ringer clearly comports with 
the intention of the Congress.  Whether typeface designs should be 
protected by copyright was considered and specifically rejected by 
Congress in passing the Copyright Act of 1978.

...Before the advent of digitized typeface technology, arguments were
made that, in creating new typeface designs, artists expended 
thousands of hours of effort in preparing by hand the drawings of 
letters and characters that ultimately would lead to the creation of 
an original type face design.  After several years of consideration 
and a public hearing, the Copyright Office found that this effort did 
not result in a work of authorship.

... There are fewer authorship choices involved in transforming an 
existing analog typeface to an electronic font than in using the 
digitization process to create a new typeface design.  Yet clearly 
the typeface design and the process of creating it are uncopyrightable
whether the process is digital or analog.

... Typeface users ... in accordance with a congressional decision 
not to protect typefaces, are entitled to copy this uncopyrightable 
subject matter. 

... The congressional decision ... reflects a concern about 
inappropriate protection of the vehicles for reproducing the printed 
word.

The previous provided courtesy of Mark Schallow, Sysop, Fontasy BBS,
Alexandria, VA (703)683-7981.

--- ConfMail V4.00
 * Origin: (c)1989 Rogers & Blake (508)352-7603 (1:324/120)



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