RE: Western musical symbols font

From: Philippe Verdy (
Date: Mon Sep 17 2007 - 19:48:53 CDT

  • Next message: Peter Constable: "RE: Western musical symbols font"

    William J Poser wrote:
    > If, therefore, someone were to take a font that was in the public domain
    > and change the encoding to one he or she created, he or she would not
    > have a copyright in the resulting font and would have no legal power to
    > control its distribution and use.

    If the font is in the public domain, this means that it contains by itself
    no more IP (more precisely, that anything that had IP belongs to everybody),
    AND that the exclusive (irrevocable and untransferable) author's rights have
    ceased, including moral rights (not just the copyright that are transferable
    with exclusive licences) :

    these additional exclusive rights are not subject to licence, and do exist
    for long (are non null and protected) in many countries, notably those whose
    legal system is based on Civil Code rather than on Common Law (and these
    rights are recognized internationally under Bern Convention within most
    other countries that have not reserved this point when ratifying the treaty
    andimplementing it in their national law), at least for the lifetime of the
    author and sometimes many years after his death.

    These non transferable rights exist even, within some limits, if the author
    was employed by someone else or in an organization that payed the author to
    do the covered work, and for which the employer only got an exclusive right,
    based on copyright to use, distribute or licence the result of that work
    under his own copyright, but not under his own name: the author's name is
    preserved, the merit of his work cannot be appropriated by or given to the
    employer itself or another employee, in order to justify some benefits from
    the company).

    So when you reencode the public domain font into your own private format,
    you don't steal any IP (the IP exists but belongs to everyone that receives
    a non-exclusive right on that IP to use it without any explicit licence or
    contract). However your newly created font embeds your own proprietary
    rights about your proprietary encoding, allowing such font to be licenced,
    not because of the free glyphs it contains, but about the encoding it
    supports (which is subject to IP as long as your encoding contains other
    proprietary elements not part of the public domain).

    The case is similar to the one of database of citations: the database has
    its own IP related to the work of collecting and sorting the elements, even
    if there are separate IP or public domain citations in that database
    (remember that this was the reason why the French edition of Wikiquote was
    completely deleted last year, and restarted recently from scratch, due to
    past massive dispersed imports of citations collected by someone else into a
    copyrighted database, despite of the existing legal free right of citation
    for illustrative purpose, each citation in such database is not illustrative
    of the database itself, so this voids any other free rights that would be

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