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A lawyer's guide While our fonts are protected by New Zealand copyright, we believe our American colleagues are getting a raw deal. The US Copyright Office still officially refuses to accord protection for font designs. Below are our legal arguments for copyright protection.


Section A: The inapplicability of precedent


B. Argument for recognition of moral rights for typefaces under the American Copyright Act

Link to TypeRight
- the organization set up to educate and to lobby the Copyright Office for design copyright. Visit their Features section for more articles on font copyright.

Connect to Émigré's excellent font FAQ

Connect to Three Islands Press' commentary on ethics

10 Traditionally, American law has relied on a property base for analysing copyright. But sometimes the property base is not appropriate. The Curies or Einstein did not make their discoveries for personal benefit. However, the majority of cases show that the courts are really only willing to allow a property-based inquiry. This is particularly so in the common law nations where the moral right is accorded less strength than the economic right. The result of La Cinq v. Huston was that John Huston could waive his moral right, even though such waiver would have been inoperable under French law. The Cour d'Appel in Paris allowed this on the basis of private international law, American law, and French public policy, although the lower court had preserved Huston's right.

11 It was held that the ATypI moral code and a doctrine of contractual good faith were ineffective under New York state law in the 1994 case of Monotype Corp. plc v. International Typeface Corp., and that Monotype were allowed to manufacture versions of ITC typefaces, despite ITC's investment in their development. The court interpreted the contract between ITC and Monotype strictly, saying that good faith was never bargained for, and that only economic rights could be protected.

12 Monotype v. ITC has shown that plaintiffs are at a disadvantage when the work does not fit into "traditional" categories, even though the effort in their works had been great.

13 It is submitted that recognition of moral rights should take place ahead of an economic analysis. It has worked in European jurisdictions, and should be adopted in the common law. Bona fide and fair dealing with P's work should go without saying. This offers type designers an extra avenue of protection, although the argument adopted in Section A should be of primary concern to the United States' lawmakers and courts.

14 Further, the United States, being a signatory to the Berne Convention, has to protect typeface designs produced abroad, yet fails to do so for typefaces created in the US. The position must be rectified, and protection offered to typeface designs created within the United States.

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