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As initially reported by TMZ, recording artist Cher has landed into some legal troubles for the type design used on the cover of her 2013 album Closer to the Truth.

Type designer Moshik Nadev created his work Paris Logo back in 2011 and claims that the design used on her album cover is a rip-off of his. They do seem to be quite similar, it’s pretty plain to see.

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Now, does this warrant a $5 million dollar lawsuit? That’s an interesting question.

While I’m not a lawyer, from what I understand, typefaces themselves can’t be copyrighted, but the software used to deliver then can.

So, did the person who drew Cher’s logo draw everything for themselves? Or did they take the “shortcut” and digitally copy Nadev’s work?

Most of us know that you can’t copy, share or rename a font file and sell it as your own. Maybe this type of use falls into a gray area. It depends upon how the final artwork was created.

Designers are apt to be inspired by each other, and have even been told to “stealat times.

Of course, I would not recommend that you pirate, steal or illegally download any creative work that you don’t have rights to use. As creative professionals, we do ourselves a disservice if we choose to ignore the right that others have to fair compensation for their creative work.

If you need help keeping your team on the legal straight and narrow when it comes to fonts, take a moment to check out Universal Type Server. It’s built from the ground up to help you manage font distribution and keep your team’s legal worries at bay.

Note: This story was also reported by The Daily Mail and International Business Times.


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survyereport

Recently we surveyed thousands of creative professionals to learn how they used fonts in their workflow.

I recently compiled the results into a report that summarizes the findings. These include:

  • More than 50% of designers have had their toe in the font piracy waters – 59% of designers have traded fonts with others and 50% of designers have brought outside fonts into the office.
  • One third of designers “locate” copies of fonts online without the appropriate licensing.
  • More than 80% of designers don’t regularly read font licenses, and 78% of designers who do read find them confusing.
  • More than 60% of designers don’t have a clear understanding of what they can do with the fonts they license.
  • 57% of designers are not clear on their organization’s font licensing policies.

Most of all, designers just want to get their job done, and do it in the fastest, best way possible. So, while not all of these stats are surprising, not all of them are necessarily the designers who are at fault.

Read the full report to see all of the stats, and learn how your team can take steps to avoid running afoul of font licensing.

Download the report.


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Recently in the District Court of Lod, Israel, a lawsuit for NIS 5 Million ($1.4 US Dollar) was filed against Microsoft Corporation for intellectual property infringement of copyright for the font “Hadassah.”

The suit alleges that Microsoft copied the font when it was creating Hadassah monotype, and Hadassah Guttmann, which are included with the Microsoft Windows operating system and Microsoft Office.

A hefty sum, this case highlights the fact that copyright laws vary from country to country. Fonts are protected like computer software in the United States, with the software itself being the copyrighted material. In other countries, Israel included, the graphic forms themselves can be copyrighted, and thus this lawsuit.

As a creative professional, keeping yourself safe from lawsuits over creative material is important to understand how and where your work will be created and used. Understanding the copyright laws of the country where you work is critical. What you can do with a specific font is most often covered by your end user license agreement, yet cases like this extend beyond any license. Be wary of copying existing creative work when developing new creative works, as even though the physical shapes can’t be copyrighted in the US, that isn’t always the case in other countries.


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The Romney/Ryan presidential campaign is the most recent group to get caught up in the mires of font licensing.

Last week, James T. Edmonson, creator of Wisdom Script found his typeface used on a Romney campaign t-shirt. The unfortunate rub? He has no record of anyone from the Romney campaign purchasing a commercial use license of the font.

When contacted, the Romney campaign responded appropriately, and took down the t-shirt in question. Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul responded, “We take licensing matters seriously. We are looking into the matter.” An encouraging response.

Design work can be an exhilarating experience, especially if you’re creating political work that could be seen by thousands, even millions of people. You want to have the best tools to get the job done, and this includes a wide variety of fonts.

With projects like this, it is essential that you ensure that you’ve purchased the proper licensing of the fonts used in the project.

You can get yourself in trouble by:

  1. Using a non-commercial free font in a commercial project without purchasing the commercial license.
  2. Using standard desktop fonts as web fonts without purchasing a web license.
  3. Not reading and understanding the licensing of fonts in your collection.

Previous presidential campaigns have also gotten themselves into trouble as well. Republican candidate Rick Santorum was also caught up when his design agency, Raise Digital, converted a desktop font for use on the web, resulting in a lawsuit for $2 million.

Best thing that you can do for you and your team is:

  1. Get your fonts organized using a font manager. For teams, a server-based font management solution is critical.
  2. Purchase enough licenses for your entire team
  3. Fully understand the terms of your font licenses
  4. If you’re not sure if your font is licensed, remove it from your workflow until licensed copies are obtained.

Learn more about font management on the Extensis website. If you have a few minutes why not check out our previous post on finding fonts online. We detail some great resources on finding the best fonts for a variety of applications.