[OpenFontLibrary] Font, design copyrights

Christopher Fynn cfynn at gmx.net
Fri Nov 7 08:10:09 PST 2008

Fontfreedom at aol.com wrote:

>  >Why?
>  >
>  >Most developed countries including the US offer copyright protection to
>  >foreign works under under the Berne Convention since 1989 and the
>  >Universal Copyright Convention (UCC) since 1955.
>  >
>  >The works of an author who is a national or resident of a country that
>  >is a member of these treaties, works first published in a member country
>  >or published within 30 days of first publication in a Berne Union
>  >country may claim protection under the treaties.
>  >
>  >So if something is copyright in a country where it was first published
>  >the US should recognize that too if that country is also a member of the
>  >Berne Convention.

> I don't see any reason typefaces first released in the UK or Europe 
> would enjoy any copyright protection in the U.S. All typefaces (not 
> fonts) are automatically and immediately public domain in the U.S.

Because it seems that under international copyright conventions 
countries have agreed to respect each others copyright. So if something 
is created in the UK and copyright there it should also be copyright in 
the US ~ whether or not a creation of the same sort created in the US 
would be copyright there. At least this is how the working of the 
conventions was explained to me.

>  From what I've read, the only major country which allows copyright laws 
> to apply to typefaces is the U.K.


<http://www.delorie.com/gnu/docs/fontutils/fontu_129.html> says:

     Typeface designs have been copyrightable as original works of art 
since 1981. The law passed then was not retroactive, however, German 
courts have upheld the intellectual property rights of font designers 
even for earlier cases. In one case the heirs of Paul Bauer (designer of 
Futura) sued the Bauer foundry for arbitrarily discontinuing a portion 
of their royalties, and won.

Since 1981, many (perhaps most) designs have been copyrighted in Germany.

There is an international treaty on typeface design protection known as 
the Vienna agreement signed by eleven countries. least four countries 
have to ratify before it takes effect France ratified it in 1974 or 
1975, and Germany in 1981 - not clear how many other countries have done 

[The Vienna Agreement for the Protection of Type Faces and Their 
International Deposit, reprinted in World Intellectual Property 
Organization (WIPO), Records of the Vienna Diplomatic Conference On The 
Protection Of Type Faces 1973 (1980). See also Andraee Fran(con, The 
Vienna Agreement for the Protection of Type Faces and their 
International Deposit, Copyright , May, 1976, at 129.]

According to http://www.tjc.com/copyright/typeface.html (FN FN186):
Typefaces are protected under the Italian Design Law of 1940, noted in 
J.H. Reichman, Design Protection in Domestic and Foreign Copyright Law: 
 From the Berne Revision of 1948 to the Copyright Act of 1976, 1983 Duke 
L.J. 1143, 1243 n.525 (1983)

More information about the OpenFontLibrary mailing list