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Busted

Friends, don't let this happen to you: "Publisher in £80,000 font raid"

A publishing firm fell foul of the law by using unlicensed typefaces worth £80,000, according to licensing lobby group the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

The publishing firm had claimed to be using just one font but in fact was found using 11,000.

There is, naturally, a maddening Slashdot discussion about this where all kinds of justifications for piracy are tossed around, but it think it comes down to a few key points for me (and I freely admit my personal bias when it comes to people doing the right thing and paying for software and typefaces):

Now, I know it's hard. I was, in the days of my youth, an unspeakably shameless software and font pirate. But I found it to be very ethically murky territory after a while, not to mention the whole "illegal" thing. I now own valid licenses for the software I use, but it's still challenging to restrict type usage to the ones I’ve actually paid for. (And that’s coming from someone who has spent a small fortune on properly licensed typefaces.) I pay for all the type I use for freelance projects (since if my business is making with them, then the foundry should get their fair share), and I’ve been weening myself off the illegal copies, slowly but surely.

It's hard, because even though there are lots of free fonts out there, most of them are shockingly craptacular. Others are sketchy copies of other fonts, which is still bad form, even if the legality technically toes the line. (The short version: you can't copyright type designs in the U.S., but individual fonts are software, which can be copyrighted.) There are some decent options out there, such as some of the ones found on here, but even with those the usage is often limited to stuff where you're not making money off of someone else's hard work.

So be a good sport and buy a typeface today. Someone, somewhere could probably use the royalty check.

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