Retro style 70s font...opinions please

I'm working on a 70's style one weight chunky retro font inspired by old scifi type book covers , I would love to add alternates reminiscent of the original Marvin Photo Typeface ( and know I know what a photo typeface is thanks to George Thomas - thanks George!) Particularly a curved leaning A, V and N and M.

Having not really ever ventured into historical font styles - I'm not all to familiar with the ins and outs of what is permitted in terms of not stepping on toes of anyone else who has derived inspiration/developed characters from a particular original style? I know that the original in this case, was 'Marvin' Photo type created in 1969 by London-based Face Photosetting, then In the early 1990s, Thomas E. Harvey did a gigitization named 'Marbold'. The in 2017 'Lodestone' was created by Red Rooster Fonts. And Finally 'Marvin Visions' was created later that same year by  Mathieu Triay.

My question is - given that a few renditions ot it have already been made, particularily using a very similar letters in both shape and weight, is it safe to make my own also, without being sued for copyright infringment or the like by one of the latest rendition owners?

Sorry if it's a silly question - but literally very new to all this in terms of deriving inspiration from the past fashions in type and don't want to get into any hot water anywhere along the way. Any advice will be most welcome! 
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Comments

  • K PeaseK Pease Posts: 120
    The fact that there are already so many at the same time and they aren't going after each other should be a clue. In short, you will be fine.
    For good or bad, the legal precedent was set a long time ago that typeface design is not an art worthy of copyright. So, instead, modern fonts are protected by copyright only because they are "software". This means that infringement consists of copying and/or modifying the actual mathematically-defined outlines from a font file. Stealing ideas or even tracing a design from a physical piece of paper is fair game as long as it's "just the alphabet" in the eyes of the law. In the eyes of type designers, the culture permits revivals like these; you won't get a bad reputation unless you're actively ripping off current designers, and even then we don't worry very much about ripoffs because so much more goes into making a font out of a typeface that if it's missing, it shows.
  • K Pease said:
    The fact that there are already so many at the same time and they aren't going after each other should be a clue. In short, you will be fine.
    For good or bad, the legal precedent was set a long time ago that typeface design is not an art worthy of copyright. So, instead, modern fonts are protected by copyright only because they are "software". This means that infringement consists of copying and/or modifying the actual mathematically-defined outlines from a font file. Stealing ideas or even tracing a design from a physical piece of paper is fair game as long as it's "just the alphabet" in the eyes of the law. In the eyes of type designers, the culture permits revivals like these; you won't get a bad reputation unless you're actively ripping off current designers, and even then we don't worry very much about ripoffs because so much more goes into making a font out of a typeface that if it's missing, it shows.
    Gosh - thanks for putting it together so well for me:) I totally get what you mean, and yes making a font from a old typeface is always the challenge isn't it - and the main goal here, certainly not to rip anyone off :) I'm glad to hear your take on it -it makes me feel much more confident going forward! Thanks K!!
  • I wish you luck with this. Marvin is a font that I recall using occasionally in the 1970s. Marvin Visions seems to have perfomed a great 'cleaning up' job on this distinctive face and it is difficult to see what potential for improvement remains. Having said that, there is always room for improvement, somehow, somewhere. Often it is the simplest concepts are the most difficult to refine, so I look forward to seeing your interpretation.

    When it comes to copyright and digital rights I let my conscience sort this out. I would feel deeply emabarrassed to present a font that was recognisable as a simple copy and have abandoned many projects for this reason. You have to add something (or take something away) as I am sure you will.
  • Indeed I do agree Nicholas....I have no interest in producing something that is so similar that it directly competes in anyway - but as you say to add in and take out to fit what I am wanting to accomplish as my interpretation and aim for the end font/typeface . Just so in-love with the concept of those curved leaning A's and the accompanying curve in the N, truly a beautiful letterform concept in my eyes.
  • The phototype era is not that long ago. Mick Chave, the original designer of Marvin, is still around. When Mathieu embarked on his revival, I advised him to try and get in touch with Chave. He managed to do so, and it led to a fruitful exchange, some of which is documented on the Marvin Visions page.
    Legal aspects aside, if you want to revive or interpret someone else’s work, asking or at least notifying the original creator is a nice thing to do.
  • Brilliant advice :) - thanks Florian! Anyone here know how I could reach Mick Chave? I'll start googling see if I can find his contact info...
  • Florian HardwigFlorian Hardwig Posts: 215
    edited November 19
    This was meant as general advice – sorry if I wasn’t clear.
    Considering that Marvin has been revived already, more than once, recently, and also successfully, I recommend to look elsewhere. Sure, legally you could probably do another interpretation, but why? It will make you look like you don’t have any ideas on your own, and probably not sit right with those who issued their revivals just a few years ago.*
    Take what you’re thrilled about – the concept of curved leaning A’s and the accompanying curve in the N – and start drawing and exploring, without direct reference to existing designs.
    *) The Lodestone and Marvin Visions versions were started simultaneously, without knowledge of each other, and released in 2017 within a few months. While Mathieu Triay reached out to the original designer to get his blessing, Steve Jackaman is a former staff member of the original publisher, Face Photosetting.
  • Thanks Florian, you ask why I would want to do yet another interpretation.

    Firstly, I'm hesitant to even call it an interpretation, as the font was halfway developed before deciding that a similar shape of the A letterform from Marvin would be a touch of retro that it needs. It was already very very far away from Marvin in all other respects, and still is. 

    Simply put, I began by feeling the need for a typeface that has nuances of this awesome retro era, but essentially, built with a much more modern feel.

    Honestly, I do feel that while Marvin itself was beyond awesome as a whole Typeface , to remake it too closely, would not only be pointless as you mention, it would be also be too retro for the application/usage I’m going for.

    I also know it would have different applications, compared to what you would use the current Lodestone and Marvin Visions - those are both very close to Marvin in their final feel - I would want to step much further away from Marvin than they did.

    I've just read the Marvin Visions web page -While he does pay tribute to Michael Chave,  it seems that Michael Tray didn't have any success in speaking or getting blessings from him, so I'm not sure I'd have much more success in that department. I would like to persevere though.





  • Florian HardwigFlorian Hardwig Posts: 215
    edited November 19
    It was already very very far away from Marvin in all other respects, and still is.
    Fontfruits, that sounds great, and I have no peeve with that then! If all you want is to infuse your design with some retro flavor by means of a curved A or N, you then don’t need to bother Mr. Chave with that. You can find lots of typefaces that have this feature, especially such from the Art Nouveau period, see Quaint AKA Desdemona for one example. Mr. Chave certainly didn’t invent it. For other faces from the same period as Marvin, see e.g. ITC Busorama and Pinto.
    it seems that [Mathieu Triay] didn't have any success in speaking or getting blessings from him
    Granted, it’s a long article. See the chapter titled “Marvin Meets His Maker” at the end.
  • K PeaseK Pease Posts: 120
    I may have contributed to the misunderstanding with the focus of my explanation. I think people got the impression that you were doing an actual Marvin revival because they are so experienced with this knowledge that they couldn't imagine why else you would be concerned about the rights. In all likelihood, if you contacted Chave or Triay for their approval, they may jump to the same conclusion because they can't see why else would you be bothering them. I for one understood that you already have an original design, you are only taking inspiration for a particular element, and your worry was that someone could have staked a sweeping trademark claim on the general concept of quarter-circles and that you wouldn't be able to deny where you got the idea. There are fields in which this kind of thing happens, but this is not one of them.
  • it seems that [Mathieu Triay] didn't have any success in speaking or getting blessings from him
    Granted, it’s a long article. See the chapter titled “Marvin Meets His Maker” at the end.
    Oh my goodness!!! ....that's what I get for not being thorough!!  :D  But I'm glad you pointed it out - those emails certainly sucked me in - fascinating to read how things were back then! Thank you for all the valuable info Florian!
  • FontfruitsFontfruits Posts: 12
    edited November 19
    Thanks K! Sorry for the misconception from the start on my part actually! - indeed I was worried about using the quarter circles - Its the first time in typeface design that I'm using a shape concept ( from the A/N etc)  that is very much unique and distinct and certianly not my invention, and I was worried about theimplications/ramifications of it. I'm just so glad to have such a wealth of knowledgeable people here!
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