Wednesday, March 23, 2011


Ok, subject to the changes I mentioned in an earlier post, I've decided to drop back the Kubrick brief for a bit and begin work on something that I see as a potentially substantial brief that will be going out into the real world. I think it's something that will really summarise my design practice too. The issue at hand is to try and address the sense of community we as designers must operate with in regards to the proper use of typefaces and the respect we must show to typeface designers by going through the proper channels to acquire typefaces.

With that in mind, I think it's really important that I get to grips with the actual copyright law regarding typefaces and where the issues come from.

Here is an array of research from different sources on the matter, the most relevant parts will be highlighted by italicising them:

"About all that's clear is that font designers put a huge amount of work into their creations, yet their products are probably, in the creative world at least, 'borrowed' even more than MP3 music tracks. Companies do need to take this seriously, as this is both unfair to font creators and also leaves organisations with unlicensed fonts in a fairly bad legal position."

I guess this shows a similar problem to mp3's, so going in a direction that promotes respect, but not in a preachy way would be good. Something that makes the people I send this to feel like they're the good guys, the ones that are doing it right, but need to promote diligence on a wider scale.

"Although there is an international convention governing the law applying to typefaces, it is not designed to protect the most pervasive forms of typefaces: electronic fonts. The Vienna Agreement for the Protection of Type Faces and their International Deposit, 12 June 1973 is designed to protect typefaces produced in industry by a mechanical process. UK law allows for the registration of these typefaces as designs, however registered designs law as it applies to the online industry is in our view largely ineffective.
Designs law in the UK is designed to protect industrially prepared typefaces for use in a manufacturing process. Individual characters forming part of a typeface are protected as graphic works, sculpture or engravings.
Where letters, numerals and special characters in a font begin their life as drawings, the drawings of each character are protected individually by copyright as artistic works.
In extreme cases, characters may be considered works of artistic craftsmanship, however in most cases the typeface need not be characterised as a work of artistic craftsmanship for intellectual property protection in the UK.
Protection by registration is required for each character, and the characters must be made and sold separately. Given the industry practice and commercial realities in the vast majority of instances, protection will not economically worthwhile.
A single design registration in the UK alone attracts a fee from the Designs Registry of the Patent Office of £60 per registration."

This says a similar thing, the problem is a little unmanageable, practically, so in terms of enforcing it, it's perhaps about promoting respect for typeface designers. Perhaps it's best to come up with a mail-shot that is sent to designers and one with a slightly different message is used to target businesses.

A typeface is a font made up of letters of the alphabet, numbers, symbols and ornamental motifs which is artistically designed and used in printing (section 178, Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988).

Typefaces can have restricted copyright protection as artistic work as they are graphic or ornamental in nature.

Under section 54(1)(a)(b) and (c), CDPA, there is no protection where the design of the typeface is used in the ordinary course of typing, composing text, typesetting or printing, or if someone possesses an item for the purpose of any of the above uses, or where someone does something in relation to material produced by the above acts.

Under section 55(1) and (2), CDPA, articles specifically designed or adapted for producing material in a typeface design which have been marketed by the copyright owner or with the licence of the copyright owner, have 25 years protection after which the typeface can be copied and anything may also be done in relation to any items made, without infringing copyright in the typeface.

Under section 54(2), CDPA, a person who makes, imports or deals with items which are made for the purpose of producing a typeface can be liable for secondary infringement.

However, there is no copyright infringement for simply applying a typeface to an item for printing purposes.

This one has actual references to the copyright law and establishes just how little protection typeface designers seem to get. Again, I think this reaffirms my conclusion that I need to promote typeface design as an artform that demands respect.

-Re-evaluating my deliverables, I think it's worth making a mail-shot that goes out to designers that is live, and then a mail-shot that goes out to businesses that is manufactured, at least one copy is manufactured anyway, but it isn't sent out. This allows me to change the tone of voice slightly, whilst keeping a similar design direction, it also makes the brief a bit more expansive. There's also the possibility of a mock website, so this brief is starting to look quite substantial.

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