Damage done

15 May 2002

For many of you, just knowing who Apostrophe really is will be enough. But that is not nearly half the story here. The fact is no one really cares who Apostrophe/Fred Nader is, that his fantasy of anonymity was exposed is just a by-product of this whole case. What really matters is the cost of the damage done by Nader and the repercussions that has for the foundries concerned and other internet users thinking that the internet offers them some kind of excuse for anarchy against the rule of law.

The statutory damages for this case, in a civil court, are CAD:6,000,000 (EUR:4,295,000). This figure alone perhaps points to the scale of the rights infringement that Nader took part in. While the financial damage done to the foundries concerned is difficult, if not impossible, to measure (though the statutory damages must have some factual basis, over the longer term) the impact on the businesses, in personal terms, must be apparent to those directly affected.


‘It's difficult to guess the number of people who downloaded the fonts’

Jonathan Hoefler, of the Hoefler Type Foundry (HTF), had some interesting insight into the uploading of HTF’s entire type library by Nader. ‘It's difficult to guess the number of people who downloaded the fonts that Apostrophe stole and distributed’, says Hoefler, when trying to guess at the possible financial consequences. ‘But I’ve got a much better handle on another loss, which is the number of hours that have gone into prosecuting this case… I can tell you that The Hoefler Type Foundry didn’t get as many fonts done last year as we'd hoped to. And the ‘litigation’ folder on my computer, which contains documentary evidence for this case, is several times the size of my studio’s entire font library.’

Here the inference seems clear, for a business that has just four employees (despite having a world wide reputation), the time and money that must be put into a case of this kind isn’t something to be entered into lightly.

This view on the burden piracy has put on the foundries concerned, all of them small businesses, was echoed by Joe Treacy of Treacyfaces. ‘In the time I was forced by the thief to waste being distracted by the requirements of the case, I wasted creative time that I’ll never get back. Time where I could have finished other fonts that are now further back in the queue. Software thieves, who claim to love fonts, actually have no appreciation for how they throw off the creative design process. A process that otherwise requires large blocks of contiguous time and quite a lot of nurturing. The lost income is bad enough. But consider the lost creative time and what could have otherwise come of that.’

Rudy VanderLans addressed the financial loss to individuals directly, ‘Typeface design is our livelihood. Most of the foundries involved in this lawsuit, even though some have the designation of ‘Inc.’ behind their company name, are one or two person operations. Even the larger companies involved in the suit, such as FontShop, represent individual type designers who make a living from royalties from the sales of their typefaces. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand that when these fonts are being given away for free and traded online, which is exactly what Apostrophe was doing, such actions hurt us badly.’

VanderLans touches here on the thirty or so ‘impleaded third parties’ who are mentioned in this case, individual designers like Jonathan Barnbrook, John Downer, Mario Feliciano, Laurie Makela (the widow of Scott Makela) and Erik Spiekermann who have their work distributed by the larger foundries involved in this law suit.

Clearly the level of illegal distribution involved in this case must undermine the motivation of all the designers involved, and probably those whose work was not the subject matter of this suit.

It is also important to remember that those affected are not just those named in the law suit, dozens of individuals and foundries had their work distributed by these acts of piracy, but did not take part in the case.

Read the rest of this article:

Just who is that masked man? 15/05/2002
Internet heroes and villains hide behind pseudonyms, but is there any real anonymity involved?

Damage done 15/05/2002
What is the affect of having your main, or in some cases only, source of income uploaded to the internet for anyone to download freely?

Crime and punishment 15/05/2002
Are there direct ways to help resolve conflicts of this sort, can the law be changed or is copy protection an answer?

Why did Apostrophe do it? 15/05/2002
What motivates a person to expose themselves to what could become a devastating legal investigation?

What’s the conclusion? 15/05/2002
The case is settled, everyone goes home, but is there a lasting legacy?


Clive Bruton e:clive@indx.co.uk w:http://www.indx.co.uk

Related sites

Hoefler & Frere-Jones w:http://www.typography.com

Treacyfaces w:http://www.treacyfaces.com

Emigre e:info@emigre.com w:http://www.emigre.com

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