Foundries Allowing Modification

Besides Adobe, Shinn Type and Monokrom, which foundries allow licensees to modify their fonts? Under what conditions?
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  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 844
    edited September 2016
    I allow it as long as the modified fonts are not distributed to users not covered by the licensee's license. I also don't offer support for the modified fonts.
  • I allow modifications. The modified fonts are subject to the same licensing terms as the original fonts (e.g., cannot be resold or redistributed, can only be installed on X number of machines). All IP rights remain mine.
  • Google fonts. Conditions vary depending on the license.
  • Similar to previous answers, House Industries allows modifications, but the modified font is subject to the same licensing terms as the original. 
  • @Hrant H. Papazian you've not seen my talk so I will forgive the mischaracterization but, just to be clear, I am not in any way launching an attempt to get people to read EULAs.  That battle was lost long ago.  My mission is to teach the people who issue the licenses how it can still be a useful tool by writing it with the expectation that it will mostly be read after the violation has taken place.  
  • (Joyce, wrong thread. But I won't flag you off-topic. :-)
  • @Hrant H. Papazian thanks for the generosity.   I did that because I thought this was the thread for continuing the conversation you started on the other one.   My apologies if I was confused.   
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 920
    edited September 2016
    Ah, OK. I'm not sure what to do about the other thread. But I'm the inclusive type so I don't mind digressions here; we had some glorious ones on Typophile. A reference might be useful however: http://typedrawers.com/discussion/comment/23090/#Comment_23090 (End of second paragraph.)

    --

    Sorry for the mischaracterization. I was thrown off by this:


    Your correction above reflects a welcome pragmatism; and I do see you alluding to it in that tweet.

  • Thanks.   Though my typo makes me cringe I think the idea is clear 
  • Add @Robin Mientjes to that list of honorable foundries.
  • When you say you allow modifications are you talking about open source fonts or commercial ones? And by modified font, do you mean an actual functioning font file or modifying the glyphs in some apps?
  • I mean modifying a commercial font you've licensed, ending up with a new font (that you cannot redistribute however). Most foundries used to allow it, now most don't. I think they followed Monotype's lead... while bashing Monotype at every opportunity of course...
  • no matter how substantially modified, the fonts belong to the original copyright holder.
    To me this goes back to being too protectionist. The potential to undermine a branding effort is actually a great example. I would say the resultant font should be co-owned; neither the original designer nor the modifier can profit from it without the other's consent.
  • Most of the fonts I use require two modifications: the addition of h+underdot (in all cases), which in the Unicode is U+1E25, and the removal from the ligature lookup table of the Th ligature. The first is a character I require for transliterated Hebrew, signifying the letter chet, to which I add a lookup that replaces the string h|.| with that character; the second is a matter of personal taste—the avoidance of revulsion, you might say, for a glyph I don't like and that has no historical basis. 

    Sometimes I ask the maker of the font for permission to make these alterations, but sometimes I don’t bother, since I’m not changing the font in a way that couldn’t be accomplished through normal means in InDesign, anyway. The fonts are never distributed and I do not consider them to be my original work or property in any way. If I am violating a EULA by doing this, I can only suggest that the offended font foundry lawyer-up and come after me. It would be interesting to see whether such restrictions in EULAs would hold up in a U.S. court. My guess is that they would not, as no aspect of commerce or intellectual property has been compromised.

    John, the situation you propose in the second paragraph of your post is an interesting one. I believe that you're right, at least in regard to U.S. law. But a rich and vindictive company can spend you to death while you prove your point.

  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,236
    edited November 17
    I would say the resultant font should be co-owned; neither the original designer nor the modifier can profit from it without the other's consent.

    That would require an explicit contract between the parties. I'm talking about what is the case under copyright law re. derivative works. A contract for co-ownership of a derivative work would most likely be, in structure, a copyright assignment agreement, since under law the original owner would be agreeing to share copyright of a derivative work. Remember, copyright is automatic. I didn't say the derivative, modified fonts should belong to the original owner: I'm pointing out that they do.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 920
    edited November 17
    That would require an explicit contract between the parties
    Couldn't the EULA cover that?

    BTW this is one case where a typeface being copyrighted because it's software is problematic.
  • So I think one of the big concerns here is how the modified font would look and then viewers (supposedly they all know the type designers by name), will judge the font designer for a lack of kerning, bad spacing,... right? But I think it will never happen like this. If someone modify a font and uses it for example in a graphic design project, 1) how people could recognize the font and the font designer if they're not into these things? I mean they don't know all the fonts and designers 2) how they figure out that it is the original font that has failed somehow or it is the result of a typographic thing that a graphic designer did to the font's glyhps? I mean there are thousands of fonts out there.

    Unless the designer specifically mentions the font and the font designer's name. 

    And do you believe in fairness as much as the EULA? If and only if the font is modified and the result isn't redistributed, how much could it hurt the designer? 
  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,236
    I think the assumption that concerns about quality are concerns — or primarily concerns — with reputation are mistaken. It isn't that I think that someone will see a poorly modified font and associate it with me, but that I don't like to see things created with care and attention to detail being messed up. For me, the concern about quality is concern about the thing itself.

    This is not to suggest, of course, that all modifications result in a diminishment of quality, but it does mean that if one has a blanket permission for modification in a license, then one is surrendering any kind of quality control. It's extra work, but I think requiring a licensee to contact you and ask for permission to modify a font is a reasonable requirement. It allows one to ask some questions, offer some advice, or even propose to make the modifications oneself.

    _____

    re. co-ownership of derivative works:
    Couldn't the EULA cover that?

    No, I don't think so. Or, rather, I don't think any lawyer would advise that. The EULA is a license for use agreement, not a copyright assignment agreement. It would be very unwise to include in the license agreement any kind of upfront copyright assignment for derivative works that have not yet been created, without any knowledge of the nature of those derivative works, who will be making them, under what circumstances, in ways that put restrictions on one's own rights.

  • I think the assumption that concerns about quality are concerns — or primarily concerns — with reputation are mistaken. It isn't that I think that someone will see a poorly modified font and associate it with me, but that I don't like to see things created with care and attention to detail being messed up. For me, the concern about quality is concern about the thing itself.

    This is not to suggest, of course, that all modifications result in a diminishment of quality, but it does mean that if one has a blanket permission for modification in a license, then one is surrendering any kind of quality control. It's extra work, but I think requiring a licensee to contact you and ask for permission to modify a font is a reasonable requirement. It allows one to ask some questions, offer some advice, or even propose to make the modifications oneself.


    Please help me understand this: If the concern is about the quality, so how about the time that there isn't a modified font and instead the designer did the modifications to the text written by the font (as in a typographic poster)? Are we going to be concerned about that as well? I mean I'm a graphic designer and it is safe to say that I never use a font without doing some changes to the text.

    One can't possibly prevent a designer to do changes to the text, right? So what's the difference here?
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 920
    edited November 17
    I don't like to see things created with care and attention to detail being messed up.
    I feel that myself; it's probably what makes us strive to create quality ourselves. But in the end there are more important things than such emotions, because Design is about other people. What you're surrendering is a control you never really had, at least not without harming cultural progress.
    requiring a licensee to contact you and ask for permission to modify a font is a reasonable requirement.
    Requiring a heads-up "allows one to ask some questions, offer some advice, or even propose to make the modifications oneself" just fine; requiring permission is too gollum.

  • John HudsonJohn Hudson Posts: 1,236
    Shahab,

    Please help me understand this: If the concern is about the quality, so how about the time that there isn't a modified font and instead the designer did the modifications to the text written by the font (as in a typographic poster)? Are we going to be concerned about that as well? I mean I'm a graphic designer and it is safe to say that I never use a font without doing some changes to the text.

    You understand that there's a difference between doing typography and font manufacture?

    I'm not sure what kind of 'changes to the text' you are talking about here. If you mean, e.g. tracking or other adjustments to default spacing, or applying different colours, then you're simply doing the kind of things with fonts that fonts are designed to enable, you're doing typography. I might not like your typographic choices, but that's what the existence and the licensing of the font are created for.

    If you're talking about converting text to outlines and modifying the appearance of the text by editing those outlines, then you're creating a piece of modified text, not a modified font. Again, I might not like what you do to the text, but unless I'm going to explicitly prohibit such a use in the license agreement, I accept that when you convert the text to outlines you are no longer dealing with my font — indeed no longer deatling with text — but with an image of text.

    If, on the other hand, you decompile my font in an editing tool, make modifications to some glyphs, maybe add some glyphs, and adjust some spacing, there are a lot of things in that process that can affect the quality not only of the things you are consciously modifying but elsewhere in the functionality of the font, as unintended consequences. When decompiling a font and making a new, derivative font, you're not editing text or an image of text that you made, but are changing the thing that I made. So I think I have a right to be concerned about the quality of that thing, for its own sake.

    [Note that this is not to say that we're going to disallow modification. As I wrote above, this is something we're considering as we draft our commercial EULA. But my inclination is that I'd like to know who is doing what to the things that I make, so that I can have some input of making modified, derivative fonts as good as they can be.]
  • AbiRasheedAbiRasheed Posts: 114
    I have done this in the past and still do where I've taken an existing font and modified a few letters for my own use case. However, I feel it's only fair to get permission first before modifying it but more importantly getting some sort of feedback or including the the original type designer if you're going to modify it. This way you don't end up turning  their work into something that looks amateur, just wouldn't do any justice. One's gotta maintain the same quality like the original design if you're gonna modify things. If one isn't in a position to do so then there must be some sort of a condition I guess. But I think there's no way to stop this from happening unless one understands the effort that goes into making a typeface and above all respecting the original designer's work, it's an etiquette thing that some may get it and not others. 
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 920
    edited November 17
    If you're talking about ....
    Assuming the modified font doesn't get redistributed, the difference between changing the font and changing the image is essentially academic.
    John Hudson said:
    I'd like to know who is doing what to the things that I make, so that I can have some input of making modified, derivative fonts as good as they can be.
    Definitely. No need to require permission for that; require only being informed. You can't make the modified font better than the intentions of your customer...
    I feel it's only fair to get permission first before modifying it but more importantly getting some sort of feedback or including the the original type designer
    The problem is being stuck with an unscrupulous or arrogant foundry. And once you alert them they have their hooks in you. So what I think usually ends up happening is people modify anyway, and to stay under the foundry's radar never get the valuable feedback... Foundries with a no-mod clause don't realize how often this happens, for obvious reasons.

    If in this way you scare your customers off of asking for your advice, you usually end up with your fonts looking worse anyway, plus no chance to possibly sell your expertise. Unless you like suing people, which means you're doing less type design...
  • One can't possibly prevent a designer to do changes to the text, right? So what's the difference here?
    Product and service standards – Bruno gave a great talk on this. 

    The fonts are never distributed and I do not consider them to be my original work or property in any way. If I am violating a EULA by doing this, I can only suggest that the offended font foundry lawyer-up and come after me.

    Unless there's a clause for personal use, it's violating the EULA. Not distributing the fonts is your risk management. There's a difficulty when third parties request that a modified font is scaled, for a client who cannot manage that risk so easily. That's unfair on the client.
    …requiring permission is too gollum.
    This could be argued for any IP permission, but that would be unfair to the original owner. Some software is permissive, and some is restrictive. There are markets for both.
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 920
    edited November 17
    @Tiffany Wardle So how's about a revival of your erstwhile Typographica article with that nice table showing where foundries stand with their EULAs these days?  :-)
  • Hrant H. PapazianHrant H. Papazian Posts: 920
    edited November 17
    Katy Mawhood said:
    This could be argued for any IP permission, but that would be unfair to the original owner. Some software is permissive, and some is restrictive. There are markets for both.
    Here again positioning typefaces as essentially software is misleading. We stand on the shoulders of too many dead and living fellow craftspeople to act like we own our work 100%. How much does yet another digital Garamond really belong to the guy who mostly wrapped outlines around existing ideas?
  • So I think it is more of a legal concern if I put it right into words than the quality.

    I understand that a modified font is different from modifying an outline text, but since you said: "I don't like to see things created with care and attention to detail being messed up" I thought you don't like people to mess up with the texts created with your fonts too.

    Because the way I see it, the final result could be the same. I change the outlines of a text created with your font and mess up your creation or I change the font and then the text would be a messed up thing based on your creation.

    Maybe I'm playing with words here, but I think at the end both could be equally "derivative", just the process is different. Since they can't redistribute the font, a messed up modified font only speeds up the process for mass production!

    But my inclination is that I'd like to know who is doing what to the things that I make, so that I can have some input of making modified, derivative fonts as good as they can be.

    And of course I'm not saying it's restrictive or anything. Your intentions are good and helpful. All I'm saying that this is not a prevention factor. If you don't allow modifying the font, they modify the outlines and there is no real way to find out which one of them they did.

    I do design typefaces too. I'm not saying it's not important to protect the thing we do. I have seen a couple of times that the exact unique thing one of my typefaces had had been distorted. But I realized I couldn't do anything about that. At that moment I didn't think of the fact that it was a modified font or a change to the outlines, because to me at the end it is the same. Regardless of what EULA says what you created and intended to be preserved is changed and you somehow don't like it.

    @Tiffany Wardle Thanks for the link. I'll watch that.

  • Tiffany WardleTiffany Wardle Posts: 161
    edited November 17
    @Hrant H. Papazian Google is your friend. ;) And it wasn't Typographica. It was part of SOTA's Interrobang 2. http://www.typecon.com/download/interrobang_2.pdf

    Edit: This is OLD so data is probably not trustworthy.
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