February 22, 2008 9:54 AM PST

Publisher purges thousands of unlicensed fonts

Publishing giant Faber & Faber is wiping away the chance of costly lawsuits by using software to purge unlicensed fonts.

The London publishing house, which has printed classic authors from T.S. Eliot to W.H. Auden, found hundreds of thousands of unlicensed fonts on their machines using software from Monotype Imaging.

The haul could have cost hundreds of thousands if left unaddressed--a recent Business Software Alliance enquiry valued 11,000 unlicensed typefaces at another London publishing house as being worth 80,000 pounds ($156,000).

Faber said it was shocked at the number of unlicensed fonts it uncovered on 21 Apple Macs by Montotype's Fontwise software, nearly three times the initial estimate.

The company has now cleansed nearly all unlicensed fonts from 19 of the computers and has purchased the remaining licenses.

Work is continuing to flush unauthorized fonts off the remaining two computers.

Roy Smith, information systems manager at Faber, said rogue fonts had built up over time as demand grew for a wide range of fonts within the design department.

He said: "Alarm bells started ringing when we saw other publishers punished for breaching copyright. We were totally shocked to see a six-figure number of fonts across the 21 machines. But we now have the tools and the knowledge required to maintain legality indefinitely.

"We know how important our own intellectual property is for our business, so ethically there really isn't any other option. It wasn't the case that staff didn't care about font licensing. The problem was a general lack of awareness of the copyright laws surrounding fonts and the concept of fonts as intellectual property."

Fontwise gives a snapshot of which font is in which directory or drive across the company.

It also allows Faber to stop unlicensed fonts from creeping back onto systems by tracking any new additions and giving designers the option of buying the license if necessary.

Faber has also introduced policies restricting designers from freely downloading new fonts.

Technical problems in Faber's systems have dropped following the purge of rogue fonts.

Nick Heath of Silicon.com reported from London.

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7 comments

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This makes no sense
Fonts should be free, what other purpose do you create a font for than to have people use it? Fonts aren't the intelectual property of one person, they are the collective property of society. This is liscensing gone crazy. Free the fonts and you will find that the best fonts are the most prolific. Heck you could even have a download page for teh font with ads on it, ads that might even use that font, if it is good enough. Make money the smart way, we are moving mroe and more to an ad supported world, where the end user finally benefits with the use of free things supported monetarily by the advertising companies that want to reach him.

Anything that isn't physically tangible and can be reproduced without any cost should be free.

Advertising companies who work for companies that want to sell physical things to the people using these intangible good and services should be the ones footing the bill.

Google, please continue taking over the intangible world.
Posted by rich966 (40 comments )
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Cell phones
Cell phone service should be the next arena in which Google obliterates the competition with this "novel" approach.
Posted by rich966 (40 comments )
Link Flag
Tangibility is irrelevant
Just because you can't physically touch something doesn't mean that no work went into creating it.

Music is just one example. Music isn't tangible, but a lot of work goes into creating it. If no one's willing to pay for the creation of music, it's not going to be made.

Of course, this isn't necessarily a BAD thing in the cases of rap and hip-hop. :)
Posted by Jim Harmon (329 comments )
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Makes total sense unless you steal content
What "everything is free" shouters forget is that a real person has to create art, fiction, film, photos, music or other works... and this is often done in personal time, but when it's done in lieu of a "day job" - it is the artist's sole form of payment for that time spent and the originality of the work created which is the innate personality of that person... it's what makes one person different from everyone else. If everything is free, and every flavor is the same because nobody wants to create anything, then it's a loss to us all as a culture. Speaking as somebody who has created an original font or three, where each letter was lovingly hand drawn large then scanned, then cleaned, then tweaked for paths, then expertly kerned, you're looking at sometimes hours per letter, per version. Meaning, a true italic vs oblique/slanted is a whole additional different drawing. So do the math, one standard medium/book font times 80 letters time five hours each, then add an italic, a bold, and perhaps a bold italic. 1,500 hours for a high-end professional font is not out of the realm of possibility. Divide that for a 40 hour work week, and then by any practical hourly wage and there is no logical claim that somebody should make for a pro level font being "free." Only the clueless and pir8s don't "get it" and think they should be able to steal whatever they want. Piracy takes away from artists, period.
Posted by Neotrope (74 comments )
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Partially Right
Consider: What copyrighted font did they orginally use to publish the orginal Copyright law?

Somewhere between today and the invention of the printed word copyrighs crept into the mix. I'm glad that we at least got to read and write before it became an issue on fonts.
Posted by Renegade Knight (13748 comments )
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i don't want to accidentally steal so
i have no wish to accidentally steal the fonts which you worked so hard on. but how am i supposed to know that you own a font by looking at it. i or anyone else might 'steal' (as the copyright nazis say) it without knowing. the only way that you can protect yourself from being defrauded and your enemy, the public, from accidental 'piracy' (as the copyright nazis call it) is to keep your useless 'intellectual' 'property' to yourself. keep in on your own computer. don't preinstall it on mine. don't release it to the world to be used just keep it completely to yourself and don't even tell anyone that you have it on your hd. then the evil pirate public will only use the fonts which were designed for mankind to use.
Posted by galacticgufus (44 comments )
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