Friday, November 13, 2009

Wide and Shallow: Fonts and Typography

There are so many other blogs out there doing IP breaking news and current-events; I try to frame my posts here as more narrow but also perhaps deeper.

But it's my blog and I can do what I please (within legal limits and all that.) So, herewith a wider ranging and less deeply probing set of links and ideas.

Somehow or another I found my way to Twenty Tweetable Truths about Magazines, which was elegant and wonderful made me think about magazines and the fact that I still subscribe to one or two and that I use them differently from the way I use the internet and other media sources.

Because I found it (I remember now) through a design e-newsletter I receive, which pointed to the font used, it also made me think of the Pulp Fiction Kinetic Typology videos -- (the one linked is the one I like most, but there's lots out there.) (Be advised, of course, it's not exactly safe-for-work, language wise. Depends on where you work, I guess.)

That got me thinking about the copyright issues in those kinds of presentations. My instinct is that it's a fair use -- transformative use made of a published (but fictional) work, taking only a small-ish portion of only the audio track, with very low likelihood of market substitution. A different, slightly more subtle question might look at the trademark implications. I want this use to be acceptable under that rubric, because the results are so wonderful, but I'm going to have to think about it a bit before I commit (post) either way.

Of course, it never hurts to actually get permission - as is claimed by the makers of the best one I saw when surfing around yesterday - the Who's on First kinetic typography presentation.

One of my pet interests is the protectability of design elements - particularly fonts - which is, rightly, the subject of one of the "deeper" posts I claim above. But my explorations yesterday led me to a font called Liza Pro, which has (claims) over 4000 "contextual ligatures and alternates," and "advanced OpenType programming" (see the slideshow, which is so cool!) that made me think of fonts in a way that I hadn't before - as a computer program or even a straight-up "method" for contextually reimaging letters. So that'll have to go into the hopper when I think about IP protection of fonts.

(Also in that vein, when is a font not a font? When it's clearly just art: Steampunk, Erte. Although I'm vacillating on that point even as I type these words.)


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