[OpenFontLibrary] Public Domain Fonts due to lack of copyright notice
Fontfreedom at aol.com
Fontfreedom at aol.com
Thu Dec 25 21:43:24 PST 2008
>On Mon, 2008-11-10 at 21:13 -0500, Fontfreedom at aol.com wrote:
>> It's my understanding that anything published in the U.S. before March
>> 1, 1989 without a valid copyright notice is in the public domain.
>> (unless the work was registered with the copyright office, fees paid
>> within a short time period.)
>Your understanding is incorrect. Please try to find some more
>reliable sources of information, and don't just paste random
>things vaguely related to fonts here...
>In more detail... :-)
I stand by my understanding of US copyright law. Insofar that (Generally)
"anything published in the U.S. before March 1, 1989 without a valid copyright
notice is in the public domain." Here is a reference:
In the document titled "Copyright Office Basics", created by the:
U.S. Copyright Office
101 Independence Avenue SE
Washington, DC 20559-6000
You can find this document by going to _www.copyright.gov_
(http://www.copyright.gov) , and clicking on "Copyright Basics".
Notice of Copyright
The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U.S. law, although
it is often beneficial. Because prior law did contain such a requirement,
however, the use of notice is still relevant to the copyright status of older
Notice was required under the 1976 Copyright Act. This requirement was
eliminated when the United States adhered to the Berne Convention, effective March
>Registration affects the sorts of damages that can be claimed in
>the case of wilful infringement, and that is still true in the US
>First, fonts in the US are not considered copyrightable works, so it
>cannot possibly make a difference whether or not they were published
>with or without a copyright notice (and you can't register them).
Fonts are copyrightable as software in the U.S. That is the primary
intellectual property law protection given to most fonts.
>Second, what does it mean to publish a font? I'd suggest possibly
>a font sample with a full showing of characters might count, but
>it's really not clear. The copyright would apply in such a case
>to the layout of the font sampler, and to any text used within it,
>but not to the font itself.
To publish a font:
Make it avalible to the public for use in it's own documents. Offer it for
download, wether or not a fee is involved. I don't really think some "sampler"
would be enough to consider a font itself published.
>Now, I am not a lawyer, and in any case what matters is what courts
>decide, so you'd have to look at case law... but the only cases I
>know of were settled out of court.
>Note also that hinting may be (and in some cases is) protected by
>patent, and font names can be (and usually are) trademarked, and
>also that fonts designed wholly in part outside the US by people
>who were not US citizens at the time are likely to be copyrighted
>by the laws of other countries, and that even for a book, where
>copyright law does apply, publication in the US is not sufficient
>to demonstrate copyright or lack of copyright -- you also have to
>show that the book was (or was not) authorized by the copyright holder.
>Even if it were legally permissible in the US to distribute pre-1989
>fonts without a copyright notice or registered copyright - do you
>believe it would be ethical do this without the designer / font creators
>agreement? Because something may be allowed under the law of a
>particular jurisdiction that does not make it morally and ethically OK.
THAT is a separate question. Is it ethical or morally right to republish
anything which is legally in the public domain, a 350 year old book might still
have heirs around somewhere wanting a royalty.
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