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Question on "Infringement of Font Rights"

  Hitachi Printing Solutions, Ltd.
  Business Planning Dept., Business Strategy Division
  Shinagawa Intercity Tower A, 21st floor, 1501 Konan 2-chome,
  Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-6020 Japan
  Tel: +81-3-5783-0698 Fax: +81-3-5783-0320
  Email: yuji-koami@hitachi-ps.co.jp

 Dear Mr. Yuji Koami,

It came to my attention that your claim[1] to "Infringement of Font
Rights" is likely[2] to cause deletion of several fonts from one of the
leading GNU/Linux distribution, Debian[3].

 [1] http://www.hitachi-printingsolutions.com/topics/release/030929.html
 [2] http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2003/debian-legal-200310/msg00142.html
 [3] http://www.debian.org

I am not here to discuss righteousness of your claim nor facts behind
your claim at this moment.  I have specific questions for the
clarification of ambiguity in your statement below.

>   (1) Right of Hitachi-TB 32 dots Mincho Font
>   The above font has been co-developed by Hitachi and TB; thus, the font
>   belongs to Hitachi and TB. Therefore, Hitachi-TB 32 dots Mincho font
>   may not be created, disclosed or distributed without the consent of
>   both companies.

To me, following issues are unclear:

 1) What kind of legal ground guarantees the developer of the font set to
    claim "ownership" as stated above?

 2) What kind of legal ground guarantees the "owner" of the font set with
    such exclusive controlling rights over distribution, modification,
    and use of the font set?

Since there are many laws in the world, please clarify the following

 a) Japan
 b) U.S.A.
 c) EU (If difficult, for Germany, France and England)

Please do not just simply state "Intellectual property law".  Please be
specific.  I am very keen to know whether these legal grounds are either
"copyright law" or "patent law".  As you understand, without clarifying
these critical issues, your claim has no convincing legal grounds to
force others to follow your wish.

Your response and clarification on this matter is most appreciated.

Thank you for your attention and best regards,

Osamu Aoki, Ph. D. (osamu@debian.org)
Brussels, Belgium

PS: Although I am a member of Debian project, this question was sent as
my personal question.  I CCed several mailing lists to make this known
to the people interested hoping to reduce many people asking the same
question. (I did not consult anyone for this mail.)

PS2: I personally think that copying a carefully created font data
without consent is not a nice thing to do in terms of moral. I trust
your claim on the history behind these fonts too.  At the same time,
acting on your claim without checking legal ground of the claim in a
friendly and open environment seemed bad precedence for non-profit
volunteer organization such as Debian.

PS3: I was the user of some of the fonts in question as an innocent third
party.  I will avoid using these for commercial purpose considering the
risk may not be worth.  Thus I owe nothing to Hitachi Printing
Solutions, Ltd..

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