Monday, April 5, 2021

Font Licenses. Typeface vs. Font

Typefaces are not subject to copyright (in the US, not Germany or the UK), however fonts *are* subject to copyright, and software licenses are contracts. You could rasterize each glyph in a font and auto-digitize those glyphs to make your own font. This could be done in a couple seconds purely in software. However, depending on the original license you could have sworn away your rights to use a reverse engineered font. EULAs could also exclude reverse-engineering as a licensed use. You could also *maybe* create large images of each glyph and have the font auto-digitization done by a 3rd party, arguing that you performed a licensed use and they were sent non-copyrighted data and they created a program that could *also* render the same typeface as the original program. You would be only be using your agreed upon right "create images on a surface where the the image has a fixed size".

The actual font glyphs in vector form are protected but in raster form are not. However, licenses are contracts and the EULA could demand you not make large raster images to be auto-digitized, attempt to reverse engineer, or use something that was reverse engineered or substantially similar to the originally licensed font. The "bezier curve control point choice" which was the intellectual property recognized in Adobe Systems v. Southern Software, and the reason "fonts are programs and programs are subject to copyright" could be stripped through rasterization and auto-digitization, but the actual contract agreed to by the customer with legal access to the font could actively say "you are not allowed to do or facilitate that" and breaching that contract could result in considerable liability. However, if it lacked such language, one could perform Southern Software's process of mass ripping off fonts is a less dubious manner. Font licensing is basically a method of using contracts to try to protect intellectual property not protected by intellectual property law.

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