This subject has come up before, but a quick search indicates that it's been a while.
I built a font for a client who hired an attorney to look into copyrighting the typeface, which, of course, isn't doable in the United States. My client and his attorney are unfamiliar with some of the terminology related to fonts, so they asked me to get involved.
To make a long story short, it's possible to register a copyright on computer source code in the U.S. if the code meets the following criteria from the copyright office. This makes it possible to theoretically copyright the code in the font file even though the typeface isn't copyrighted.
However, the U.S. federal copyright office says they will only register the copyright on source code, which they define as follows:
Source code: Source code is a set of statements and instructions written by a human being using a particular programming language, such as Java, LISP, LOGO, PASCAL, Programming Inquiry Learning or Teaching, Programming in Logic, Assembly Language, or other programming languages. Typically, these statements are comprehensible to a person who is familiar with the relevant programming language, but they are not comprehensible to a computer or other electronic device. In order to convey these statements and instructions to a machine, the source code must be converted into object code.
With the copyright office's definition in mind, they won't accept OTF or TTF files because they're not source code files. This TypeDrawers thread ( https://typedrawers.com/discussion/743/us-copyright-application-filing-for-font-software
) indicates some of you have had success by submitting .ttx (XML) files, so I supplied my client with a .ttx file. The attorney says the copyright office rejected the .ttx file's XML as not being source code. Presumably, they would say the same about a UFO file.
In addition, the definition of source code specifies that the code must be written by "a human being," which rules out any code written by the font creation software. Arguably, values entered by hand and simply transcribed into the source code by the program could be copyrightable, such as hand-entered sidebearing and kerning pair values. However, as I mentioned, they're rejecting XML files that show those values because XML is marked-up source code, not the original source code.
The attorney thinks they might accept the original Glyphs or Fontlab files as containing source code. But I know of no way to peek inside those files to see what might be considered source code.
The arguments for squeezing through the U.S. copyright office loopholes seem to be getting thin and convoluted. Even so, my client wants to try.
Can anyone shed any additional light on this subject, and does anyone know if it's possible to extract what might be considered raw source code from a Glyphs or Fontlab file?