Andrew C. Greenberg werdna at
Mon Sep 4 16:58:27 UTC 2000

>We need serifed fonts as good as Palatino, and we need sans serif 
>fonts as good as Helvetica. I would definitely like the definitive 
>word on the use of bitmap fonts. My supposition from various 
>conversations is that bitmap fonts can't be copywrited and should be 
>universally usable if they have non-copywritten names. This is the 
>first task that has to be done.

Fonts, qua fonts, are not copyrightable at all.  Eltra Corp. v. 
Ringer, 579 F.2d 294, 298 (4th Cir. 1978).  New, ornamental and 
unobvious patterns can be the subject of design patents.  Names of 
fonts, to the extent they are short phrases, are not copyrightable, 
but, to the extent not generic, may be subject to trademark 
protection.  However, as with most things legal, things get pretty 
tricky when you try to apply these basic principles to things like 
"font files," and more recently, "font programs," whatever they are.

In its 1988 "Policy Decision on the Copyrightability of Digitized 
Typefaces," 53 Fed. Reg. 38110-38113 (September 29, 1998), the 
Copyright Office determined that digitized typefaces were not 
copyrightable, because they were not computer programs and required 
little selection or arrangement beyond that dictated by the 
uncopyrightable typeface design. However, in its 1992 final 
regulation on "Registrability of Computer Programs that Generate 
Typefaces," 57 Fed. Reg. 35 at 6201-02 (February 12, 1992), the 
Copyright Office concluded that "computer programs designed for 
generating typeface in conjunction with low resolution and other 
printing devices may involve original computer instructions entitled 
to protection under the Copyright Act."

Bitmaps, depending how they were constructed (for example, by 
digitizing a print version of a font), are probably mere digitized 
typefaces and not "font programs," and TTF files (including hints) 
probably are, but hey, what do I know?  I am unaware whether the 
courts have addressed the obvious question, for example, of whether 
one can produce a bitmap derived from, say, the Adobe fonts, and use 
it with impunity.

I found a Ronald Whyte opinion in Adobe v. Southern Software to 
contain a useful survey of the law, with some references:
Andrew C. Greenberg		acg at
V.P. Eng., R&D, 		813.885.2779 (office)
NetWolves Corporation		813.885.2380 (facsimile)

Please use werdna at instead of werdna at

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