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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 32 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: Tell me about fonts  (Read 2636 times)
David_Olshanski
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Posts: 3


« on: April 27, 2008, 07:52:08 PM »

I am considering publishing my game via PDF. Nominal fee or perhaps free.

I thought I had all of my T's dotted and I's crossed, but I've just seen some posts about fonts requiring a license, or not available for commercial products... even though I have several fonts bundled with my word processing software.

I have Adobe Acrobat Professional 8 and Microsoft Publisher 2007. I was planning on just doing my own layout and creating a PDF with my meager resources. I've heard though that I may have to pay for a license to use specific fonts.

I am unclear about whether this is necessary, and if so, what are some very inexpensive options? My goal is not to make money, but to lose as little as possible.

Any advice would be appreciated.

My real name is David Olshanski, if you don't want to use my alias.
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iago
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« Reply #1 on: April 28, 2008, 07:25:03 AM »

Be very, very careful about using fonts that are for "display" and "headers" rather than "body copy", regardless of what you do.  I've seen too many publishers use a font for their body text that does NOT work in large quantities (comic book fonts, decorative fonts, etc). 

There are a number of good free font sites out there that you can find via google.  Look for the fonts that say they're actually free for use, not just free for personal use.  Make sure early on to do a test with the fonts you select to determine if they are "embeddable" -- if you get deep into layout and discover that they aren't, it can be a real pain.  If you're looking to go outside the fonts you already have on your computer, definitely look to find ones that have a full set of weights and styles: Regular, Bold, Italic, and Bold Italic -- as well as a fairly full character set (left and right-handed quotation marks, all the shift-number symbols, all the numbers, all punctuation, etc).
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Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2008, 10:54:52 AM »

Fred nailed the main points, listen to him. Also: ask more questions if you need to, especially about choosing the right fonts and such. Folks sometimes have some weird notions about that.

Generally speaking, intellectual property concerning fonts works the same as any other IP (especially computer programs), so if you have any experience with other kinds, you know what to look for in font copyright statements. It should also be noted that a font copyright claim is pretty easy to remove, but if the name of the font is the same, you can also find out easily whether any major font foundry claims copyright to whatever font you found in the internet. Remember when researching, though, that many foundries have fonts with the same names as a font from another (potentially free) source; sometimes the only way to figure out whether some piratic-looking free font is a stripped commercial stuff is to research the history of the font in question and to compare the cut with the commercial alternative. (For an example, check out the umpteen different fonts named "Garamond", as well as the near-identical copies going under other names such as "Granjon"; I just worked on a layout from hell that used Garamond fonts from three different foundries all mixed up.)
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Blogging at Game Design is about Structure.
Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
Peter Nordstrand
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« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2008, 12:17:15 PM »

Fred and Eero,

David is asking if the fonts bundled with his word processing software requires a special license for publishing commercially.
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Any sufficiently advanced incompetence is indistinguishable from malice.
     —Grey’s Law
iago
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Posts: 863


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« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2008, 12:27:21 PM »

Fred and Eero,

David is asking if the fonts bundled with his word processing software requires a special license for publishing commercially.

The answer with that is almost always no.
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David_Olshanski
Member

Posts: 3


« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2008, 01:13:25 PM »

Peter is correct.

I am having a devil of a time trying to figure out which I can use and which I cannot. I never would have suspected that I needed a special license to use the fonts that came with my system. Since I want the PDF to be user-friendly, I want the text to be selectable by the end-user. This means seems to require the most lenient license available.

I mean, if Microsoft gives me a product "Publisher 2007", and it creates PDFs for publication, you think they'd tell me somewhere that I need to get a special licese to use Times New Roman in my PDF. If that is the case (as many people assert), it is certainly not very easy to find.
http://www.bestprintingonline.com/help_resources/File/Tips%20for%20MS%20Publisher.PDF

It appears that Adobe comes with several "OpenType" fonts that do not have embedding restrictions.
http://blogs.adobe.com/acrolaw/2007/11/pdf_creation_and_font_embedding.html

And for Adobe, after extended searching I've found a list of which fonts I can embed in a document.
http://www.adobe.com/type/browser/legal/embeddingeula.html
This list was not at all easy to find.

So my plan is to pick some of these OpenType fonts and use them.
If I were to really want to use a Microsoft font like Times New Roman (and the subsidiary Bold, Italic, and Bold Italic fonts), how would I even go about it?
This is a totally unexpected hiccup, and something that I haven't seen discussed.  I think I've read all of the Forge articles. I've also searched the Forums for "FONT" and "EMBEDDING" and the only hit was the following:
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=25552.msg246119

I think I am teaching myself with the above links, but if anyone with experience wants to pipe up and provide some guidance, it would be appreciated. I understand that I will not be taking any guidance as bona-fide "Legal Advice", but it may help guide me toward proper resources for making my own informed decision.

I do not need advice on whether Times is better than Garamond, or whether Comic Sans is worse than Helvetica...I'll trust my eyes and my gut when it comes to my final font picks.
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greyorm
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« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2008, 02:30:52 PM »

The fonts that came with your system and some software packages can usually be used both privately and commercially because they are licensed by virtue of being licensed by ownership of the system; many of them are also in the public domain (times new roman, arial, etc). Here is Wikipedia's entry on public domain fonts and copyright.
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Rev. Ravenscrye Grey Daegmorgan
Wild Hunt Studio
Eero Tuovinen
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2008, 04:53:49 PM »

The licencing thing is, indeed, a bit tricky in that there is no reason per se for any individual font to be licenced for commercial use, particularly, unless you find a piece of statement from the publisher, directed towards yourself or anybody in general, saying that you can use it. In the case of the fonts that come with the operating system and professional programs it's almost a matter of convention that they're considered usable for anything you want - it's a legal toss-up whether the end-user has the right to just consider a font like Times New Roman to be licensed to him under the same conditions as all the other parts of the operating system (which license you'll probably find somewhere), if there is no licensing text indicating it either way; certainly it's a common understanding that a program like "Notepad", which also comes with the operating system, does not have and does not need a separate license, and the matter should be the same with fonts, little pieces of programming as they are. Legally, of course, nothing prevents Microsoft from bundling whatever it wants on those disks, and everything might have different licencing, as long as they write their main licenses to not commit copyright fraud. It's pretty typical for cheap font collections to include fonts that have very disparate licensing terms, and it's not at all obvious that the fly-by-night collection publisher would have even included each individual licensing agreement on the disk. Microsoft is perhaps legally in the same boat with these, but it's a bit improbable that they'd distribute fonts with incomplete licenses like that.

However, whatever the actual legal situation, the de facto practice in this matter at least here in Finland is to simply assume that a basically legal operation like, say, Microsoft, is not in the business of selling us pre-licensed packages of stuff hidden within their own product. Thus I've never heard of publication and layout professionals hereabouts having hesitated to use the fonts they get with Microsoft, Adobe and other major publishing software. So at least here in Finland the common practice deals with this class of font materials as if they were licensed, without ever actually having a license at hand that spells it out. So, for example, I would myself not hesitate to use those default fonts for anything I wanted - it would be absolutely ridiculous to fear litigation for it when hundreds of other publication houses in Finland and thousands in the world do so daily.

You probably already know this, but I'll also say that font embedding restrictions do not by themselves imply anything about the license of the font itself. It seems obvious that a company that knows what it's doing wouldn't leave a font embeddable if it didn't want it to be used that way, but legally it's possible, and an amateur font-wright might well make that practical mistake. The technological limitations currently available for work-flow, intended to create new licensing conditions, do not by themselves define the whole space of possible license types.
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Publishing Zombie Cinema and Solar System at Arkenstone Publishing.
OnnoTasler
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Posts: 11


« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2008, 12:04:59 PM »

Almost always, fonts shipped with professional word processors and publishing software can be used for commercial publication - but your printer has to own them too, as you are sometimes not allowed to send them along with the document (and this is usually not mentioned explicitly). Whether or not you are allowed to embed the fonts and send them along that way depends a lot on the terms the font has been licenced for by the software vendor and is often not stated obviously.

In case you want to be completely safe, search for fonts under the GPL or the OFL (Open Font Licence), like  Liberation, Libertine, DejaVu (these three are complete font families) and Gentium.
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iago
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« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2008, 02:35:34 PM »

Almost always, fonts shipped with professional word processors and publishing software can be used for commercial publication - but your printer has to own them too, as you are sometimes not allowed to send them along with the document (and this is usually not mentioned explicitly). Whether or not you are allowed to embed the fonts and send them along that way depends a lot on the terms the font has been licenced for by the software vendor and is often not stated obviously.

In case you want to be completely safe, search for fonts under the GPL or the OFL (Open Font Licence), like  Liberation, Libertine, DejaVu (these three are complete font families) and Gentium.

Holy crap! Gentium finally has all four weight/italic combos!  I've soooo been waiting for that.

Thanks for the links!
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David_Olshanski
Member

Posts: 3


« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2008, 02:04:01 PM »

Thank you all for your help.
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