TypeSnitch Project Update

Hello Fellow Font Designers,

I have some very exciting news about TypeSnitch that I'm delighted to share with you!

Since July of 2012 when I first announced the TypeSnitch effort, I was overwhelmed with support from the type community and the 37 donors that helped us raise almost $6.4k USD to turn TypeSnitch into a reality.

As years went past and deadlines blew by, it was easy to lose faith in the effort knowing that we were getting nowhere quickly and our lead project developer had little to show leaving many of us frustrated and feeling as if our hard earned money had been flushed away.

Simultaneous to our development efforts, our good friend, fellow type lover and technologist Lars Schwarz (http://blog.larsschwarz.com/) was also in development on a similar suite of font reporting tools. As his tools grew in sophistication and ability, it became clear he was building something far better and more comprehensive than anything we had prepared to release.

Ultimately, we decided to join forces and combine our efforts to create something better than the sum of its parts and we're pleased to announce that day is today when we can finally start to share the fruits of our labor with the folks who deserve it!

All current TypeSnitch project backers can expect to receive an e-mail from us in the coming weeks that explain how the new system works and how we're rolling out this new service.

Beyond that, all interested foundry owners who'd like to sign-up, please contact Lars or I directly via TypeDrawers and we'll be in touch!

Team TypeSnitch


  • kupferskupfers Posts: 246
    What happened?
  • I know. Weird timing, eh? There was an announcement from Mark Fox. He said it was cancelled and money would be refunded eventually.
  • No reasons given?
  • Not specifically, no.
  • Has the money been refunded by now?
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,202
    I think some have gotten the refund already, but I haven't seen it yet.
  • I want to take a moment to clear up any confusion if my post was ambiguous in any way . . . TypeSnitch is 100% live and working!

    When we started the project three years ago, Mark Fox lead the development effort solely and during that time, Lars unbeknownst to me built something on his own that ended up being far superior.

    In response to the pressure from the donors and the excessive development delays, I made the decision to part company with Mark and work with Lars and what he had built since it was in effect already working.

    Mark on his own decided to refund the money to all donors which was very generous of him to do so and is appreciated even as Lars and I had discussed how to compensate donors for their donations using his service.
  • That's good to know. Mark's recent message implied that the plug was being pulled.
  • Did anyone get a refund? Did the new site launch? 
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,214
    Not a cent.
  • Haven't gotten a refund yet. The new thing hasn't launched yet, but I've seen an early version. Seems like it works pretty well.
  • I'm happy with the early version of the new thing. It's essentially what was promised; no refund required from me.
  • Not refunded, but can't access the new tool either. Will love to
  • No email, no refund no nutin'
  • What happened to TypeSnitch?
  • It turned into something that worked in late 2015. Then it stopped getting updated. They said they were working on it, it went offline in late 2016 and they stopped answering emails. Pretty safe to say it's gone for good. It's too bad, it was working at one point. I could flag pirate sites and auto-submit DMCA notices and that part stopped working. 

    It did some other stuff that wasn't useful to me. There was all this stuff that scanned sited for hosted fonts and check them against fonts in your library and it was interesting and looks like it was a lot of work to implement but not really what I was looking for.

    Ideally, what I would want is a way to flag specific pages or sites. The tool would check the font on the page to see if it matches a font in my collection that's not supposed to be distributed and auto-send a DMCA. But what they ended up with was something different...impressive but not really what I was looking for. And it's too bad because that part of the site seemed to work for a short time.
  • Is it for lack of funding? I'm wondering whether a big distributor could be convinced to chip in.
  • I'll try to answer ... before Stuart and I joint forces my existing service was focused on managing web fonts and app fonts license infringements and not "pirate sites".
    When Stuart joined we made a few changes to the existing tool/service and invited a few people to a very small beta test.

    At that time we expected Mark would refund the money, but noticed it probably might not happen, because it seems nobody heard back from him. Stuart and I discussed options to give the people that donated a free or at least special-discounted account (depending on the functionality, as we planned to have various service levels). 

    You can imagine that it feels awkward to ask people to pay for a service or tool they somehow (at least indirectly) already paid. Later on we decided on adding more functions like "pirated sites monitoring" and reporting/DMCA on a semi-automated level, but I had to focus on paid work at some time. Besides I told my existing clients about the coming changes and a transition and did not ask for a monthly fee from that time on (yeah, my fault, I know). 

    We have something nearly finished that does what Ray for example is looking for, but I had to stop paying for hosting, traffic and stuff with my own money at some point. Since it seems that nobody received a refund from Mark by now (which for sure means it'll never happen) for me it still feels awkward to ask people to donate for a service they already supported, but on the other hand I cannot spent more of my own money for hosting/traffic/domains to cover the monthly costs.

    I guess that's the story. I normally don't talk about money or say the other people did not refund money in public forums, but afaik we do not even have a complete list of all people that donated (because Mark took down that other forum/group where everyone was registered? Not sure this is 100% correct, but this is what I have heard), so this is probably the only way to reach everyone that donated to the previous project/service.

  • And to be clear because I always find it instructive to recap the project, EVERY dime that was solicited and donated to this effort went directly to the developer only (Mark). Lars nor I ever saw a penny of that money.

    After a 2-3 year wait and many broken promises, it became clear to me that not a single line of code had even been written and while fielding inquiries from so many very patient and understanding people who had lost faith in the project, I fired the developer.

    The developer on his own offered to refund 100% of the money to all the backers and in fact only one backer received his investment back in full. To my knowledge that was the only backer who received anything back.

    Around the same time I fired the original developer, Lars had already successfully developed a similar set of functionality and we agreed to join forces to develop the TypeSnitch service together and expand his service to include the DCMA feature which we did get mostly working and shared it with a few select beta testers.

    After that time, life got busy again and unbeknownst to me Lars had been paying for the hosting fees related to the DCMA portion of the service and we never quite launched. At a certain point he simply shut off the hosting since it became nothing more to him than an ongoing expense.

    So here's where we're at . . . In order to get this effort running again, we need funding. . . It's a hard ask especially since those who have already donated haven't seen squat and it's unlikely they ever will see that initial donation again. It simply went to the wrong person.

    I'm certain if folks could see the power of this tool, they would be inclined to pay an ongoing $25 a month subscription fee and we only need about 8 subscribers to make this happen.

    I'm 100% committed to being the first paying subscriber, can I ask seven more folks to commit as well? I can assure you that this is a real product, it actually works and it will aid you in removing illegally posted fonts as Ray has already explained.
  • Mark SimonsonMark Simonson Posts: 1,202
    edited February 2017
    I don't know what to suggest, but I'd be willing to chip in to keep it going. I was one of the beta testers and it looked very promising. The functionality that was there worked well.
  • fool me once...
  • Not to hijack the thread, but would a service that crawls websites and indexes fonts not be valuable to most of you, as @Ray Larabie suggests? For owners, it could provide a list of websites using their fonts. I admit that it's kinda like searching for a needle in a haystack, but then again: the searching is done by automated microcomputer robots, so if needles do show up, wouldn't that be useful?
  • Chris LozosChris Lozos Posts: 1,214
    An honest service that proceeds with integrity and accepts responsibility with due diligence would be valuable.
  • I'm certain if folks could see the power of this tool, they would be inclined to pay an ongoing $25 a month subscription fee and we only need about 8 subscribers to make this happen.
    I would be interested, but can you set up a demo, even if nothing more than a video? Do you need more development funds at this point? More specifics about the subscription service would be good too. For instance, is there more than one subscription level?

  • I'm very interested, but it would be great to see some kind of demo video or screenshots beforehand. How would subscription payments take place? Paypal, or on ongoing direct billing? Any discounting for annual payment? Glad to see this project may have some life again.
  • Thank you all for your thoughtful insight and support! Lars and I are discussing options to make this finally happen and I'll post once we have more to share.
  • I'm still interested but only in the the pirate site DMCA submission aspect.

    I don't want to use a system like this harass legitimate pirate sites. Pirate sites have always been and will always be and I'm dubious that they have much effect on sales. I think if every font torrent link were removed, font sales wouldn't change much. When people download a torrent, they know it's piracy, they know it's not properly licensed. Since all my fonts have free demo versions anyway, there's little point in anyone going after torrents unless they're interested in older versions.

    I'm interested in reigning in the shady free font sites that don't look like pirate sites. They post pay fonts with no license agreement while indicating to visitors that they're free fonts. Those sites often rank pretty high on Google.

    And then there are those awful free font sites where I contact them and politely request that they take my font down. They politely respond and comply. Wonderful. Then the same font shows up a few weeks later. So frustrating!

    If I didn't have so many fonts, I'd submit them manually but there are too many fonts and too many sites. It's just not practical. There are about 40 somewhat popular offending free font sites and hundreds of my fonts on each...and they're just going to repost them later anyway. It's a wasted effort.

    And now there's a very popular site that rips all the new My Fonts releases right off the web specimens (I assume) along with the promotional artwork and ad copy. It's slick so people who find it might think it's legitimate. It ranks very high on Google so people must be using it quite a bit. Search for Refuel font on Google and you'll see it. Use a Chrome incognito window and/or ad blockers before accessing.

    A few weeks ago I had a few fonts where the pirate version ranked higher on Google than the MyFonts link. That web font ripping site has dropped down one notch but still: it sucks. I assume Monotype is putting at least some effort into shutting these sites down but whatever they're doing, isn't working. It's not just a matter of losing sales, it's embarrassing when MyFonts gets outranked by a pirate site. Embarrassing for me, and I assume it doesn't look great for MyFonts. They must lose significant money from these sites. And Monotype must have SEO experts and lawyers or whatever on staff. How are they getting spanked on Google rankings by pirate sites?

    I want Fontsnitch to work and I think a monthly fee is okay but I'm not going to be the very first to get on board this time around. When it's up to 20 subscribers at $10 a month, I'll hop on.
  • U R all Delusional
  • @James Montalbano Can you elaborate on your statement?

  • ...fool me twice...
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