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Re: figlet fonts - GPL-ok?

On 20-Aug-01, 12:12 (CDT), Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org> wrote: 
> On Mon, Aug 20, 2001 at 11:34:08AM -0500, Steve Greenland wrote:
> > On 18-Aug-01, 22:46 (CDT), Branden Robinson <branden@debian.org> wrote: 
> > > Bitmapped fonts are not copyrightable in the United States.
> > >
> > > Hinted fonts, because they contain what could be construed as
> > > algorithmic or programmatic constructs, are copyrightable.
> > 
> > That sounds more like a distinction for a patent than a copyright.
> I don't understand your reasoning here.

Very broadly:

Copyright applies to the particular expression of an idea -- the
particular code that implements an algorithm. Patents apply more to
the idea itself -- algorithms, mechanism, etc. (Both as I'm sure you
know...) But now that I write that, I see that hinted fonts *do* fit
better into the first category, in that it's the particular hinting
code that is being copyrighted, not font hinting in general or a
particular algorithm -- I carelessly read "algorithmic" without thinking
sufficiently about what was actually going on with hinted fonts.

> > I can copyright a painting (or rather, copyright applies to paintings,
> > photography, and other visual works).
> A moment's reflection will reveal that letterforms are not quite the
> same thing as paintings, photographs, and other visual works.

And paintings are not sculpture, nor are they books, and the shape
of a SC Cobra is not the same as a photograph. Some visual works are
copyrightable, some aren't. Font designs strike me (a non-expert) as
something reasonable to copyright (apparently incorrectly).

> > Has there been a published decision that copyright doesn't apply to
> > bitmap font?
> I'll see if I can find one for you, but if I recall correctly it is
> regarding as following from legal handling of old molten-lead
> typography, wherein the engraved plates ("fonts") used for printing
> enjoyed legal protection, but their visual analogues on paper (the
> "typeface") did not.  In other words, if you were to design and cast
> your own font using your own labor after visually inspecting someone
> else's typeface, you were perfectly free to do so.

Hmmm, shades of the look-and-feel copyright argument.  Okay, don't
bother looking up the actual reference, I was just confused.


Steve Greenland <stevegr@debian.org>
(Please do not CC me on mail sent to this list; I subscribe to and read
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