3 thoughts on “Fonts”

  1. Thanks for the update! I think it would be interesting to know some of the legal issues surrounding using a font: for instance, if I wanted to self-publish a magazine or book, would I run into legal issues for using a particular font? And what about open license fonts vs. commercially purchased fonts? Thanks!

  2. This is a wonderful question. I’ve asked Kevin Smith, our Scholarly Communications Officer and an attorney specializing in intellectual property rights, whether he has any insight into these issues. One of us will pass along any information we can gather.

    1. The answer to Dan’s question seems to be that the courts and the Copyright Office have always refused to grant copyright in type face as such. In the House Report that accompanied the 1976 Copyright Act, Congress was very clear that it did not consider fonts proper subject matter for copyright protection, in part to prevent the possibility of legal liability for any printed material that was printed with a copyrighted typeface. It is possible to apply for design patent protection for a font, but that is an expensive and time-consuming process (unlike copyright). So in general fonts are not subject to intellectual property protection (unless they are patent). Computer programs that create digital fonts, however, are subject to copyright protection, but that protection does not extend to the actual typographic representations.

      Kevin L. Smith, J.D.
      Scholarly Communications Officer
      Perkins Library, Duke University

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