Some of the smaller type foundries have got back to me about their feelings on the copyright issue:
Thanks for your email.
I suppose the simple answer is that I'm not at all sure what the law is regarding the copyright of typeface designs. From reading stuff on Typophile and other websites, it seems that the only thing you can copyright in the US is the NAME of a typeface. I don't think that's quite the case here, but what the case is I don't really know.
I'm not overly concerned about the protection of the law regarding my designs, many K-Types are freely available for personal use anyway, and the payfonts are inexpensive. I might feel different if I was trying to pay a mortgage on my earnings from type design but I don't expect font sales to be a huge earner and I enjoy the freedom of following my interests with K-Type without regard to what sells well. I don't want to make endless weights of book fonts and that's probably where the money is.
Yes, people appropriate typefaces without the artist/designer's permission, but people increasingly seem to regard paying for fonts as normal and accept that it's the right thing to do. Buying a font is buying a licence to use it, so people involved in industry, especially big businesses, are often willing to pay to avoid any legal beastliness.
I think making fonts affordable and easily available is important. You sell Photoshop for £600 and people try to find a cracked version, you sell an iPad painting app for £5.99 and what's the point of trying to steal it?
The Northern Block
Thanks for your recent enquiry regarding copyright law.
I've worked as a designer for 15 years and specialised as a
typographer in the last 5 years yet have had no relevant
experience of the copyright law to completely answer your
Most independent designers are very naive when it comes to
protecting their designs and would generally not be prepared
to invest money in copyright protection.
I work alone as a self employed business and simply do not
have the budget to pay for legal copyright protection on each
You could compare your first question to protecting yourself
as a driver. If you have full insurance cover you will be well
protected, if you have no insurance then you take the risk.
I trust the typography industry as it is practised by very highly
skilled and professional crafts people. Yes there are diluted
typefaces out there that have been appropriated but generally are
of such low quality that they have no direct impact on my business.
I don't really see plagiarism in typography as a major problem to my
business because my product is aimed at the professional user.
I would say the major issue to The Northern Block is piracy.
Your questions are really aimed at the larger corporations who
have a much higher level of investment.
Try contacting Linotype, Monotype, T-26, MyFonts for more
Also post your questions out on Typophile.com, Your sure to get
some interesting feedback.
I took the suggestions from the guy from the northern block. I emailed those companies and put a question on the typophile design forum. A general issue of uncertainty about the copyright law is present in both emails, so thats something to consider when delivering my piece, educating people on what the law actually is and what it's implications are. The Northern Block's response is much more interesting to my study, suggesting piracy to be the real issue rather than plagiarism, so that's something to consider in my delivery also; a manifesto to avoid piracy, to ensure that all designers treat typefaces with the respect they deserve and their integrity by ensuring everyone pays for it.
To do this is difficult without seeming preachy and I need to be aware of this as I am designing in the word choices I use.