Feeds

Linotype gets heavy over free ATM font downloads

That'll be DM30k please...

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

German company Linotype Library GmbH is flexing its ATM font copyright muscles via 'cease and desist' letters with potential $30,000 legal tabs attached. The fonts in question do seem to be owned by Linotype (or to be strictly accurate, its parent company Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG), but are probably part of a batch that accidentally wandered into the shareware sector in the early 90s.

The fonts are frequently found for download on OS/2 sites, and have tended to propagate via mirrors, with the assumption that they're shareware propagating along with them. This was the case for Ian Manners, who runs www.os2site.com, and who contacted The Register after receiving his letter from Linotype.

The letter names the fonts, demands they be removed from the site immediately (Ian has done this), and that a written undertaking be sent to Linotype saying that he will "cease and desist from offering, selling and distributing" them. Ian however bridles at the last paragraph of the pre-prepared form Linotype has helpfully sent him:

"For any case of future violation, we herewith commit ourselves to pay to Linotype Library GmbH, Du-Pont-Str. 1, D-61352 Bad Homburg/Germany a penalty of DM 30,000.-- (Thirtythousand German Marks), plus 16 % VAT."

The "cease and desist" letter itself further complicates matters.

"Should you, however, fail to cede this undertaking you must expect our Australian lawyers [Ian is in Australia] to get in touch with you in order to legally enforce this statement. All expenses arising from this procedure will be for your account.

"At this stage we resist from charging you with expenses arising from indemnification, which are normally asserted by our company. However, we reserve the right to claim the costs involved in all legal proceedings against you. These costs come up to US $30,000. We ask you to send us a signed and valid crossed-check to settle this issue."

From this little lot it's not entirely clear whether committing to the DM30,000 if you sin again will be enough, whether Linotype is already claiming costs of $30,000, and what they mean by send us a cheque. And while it might seem easy enough to make the DM30,000 commitment, in reality it's perfectly possible to host copyright material in good faith without knowing you're infringing, so by doing so small enthusiast sites could be laying themselves open to massive bills they couldn't possibly pay.

What does seem clear is thatLintype is making heavy legal noises in order to clear the fonts off download sites. And strangely enough, the fonts themselves (Cascade, Flora, Frutiger, Helvetica, Isadora, Linotext, Linoscript, Optima, Palatino, Peignot, Present, Shelley and Univers), are currently on sale at Linotype Library's site.

The fonts Ian was hosting complicate matters further, in that internally they have an Adobe copyright stamp in them. Adobe itself sells the fonts in question, and labels them as Linotype's trademark on its site. It seems fairly clear that the fonts are Linotype's property, and that even people offering cloned versions under the same names are going to be vulnerable to legal threats. From the Linotype letter, however, it doesn't seem to be the case that they're universally trademarked throughout the world, which could make actual legal action complicated.

Ian is currently awaiting their next move (the stated deadline is this Thursday). "They're heavy handed, against a little known website, when there are so many other sites hosting these fonts," he told The Register, and it's "not very diplomatic for a first contact." The Register is asking around to see if there's anybody else who's had a heavy letter - let us know if you have. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
Microsoft: We're making ONE TRUE WINDOWS to rule us all
Enterprise, Windows still power firm's shaky money-maker
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.