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Copyright question re:reworked fonts

edited April 2016 in General
[EDIT}  Please disregard this post, it was foolish of me to ask a question of law in this forum.  My apologies.

I have a commercial, non-free, font that I would like to use on eggbot.  I would like to do a manual tracing/interpretation of the font to make it an engraving font.

I have no problem deciding that I can use this for my own non-commercial purposes.  But I wonder if anybody has knowledge of how copyright law would apply in the event that I wanted to make the engraving script freely available to the eggbot community??

A brief web search leads me to a very tentative conclusion that my work would be"transformative" (a term of art) and thus be fair use.

I know this subject is more properly a legal question, but just wonder if anybody has some considered opinions on the subject?


  • Ignoring the question.

    An interesting thing to think about is what would it take to be able to take an outline font, and draw it with a marker, such that it represented the intended outline as well as possible. Perhaps a path-inset type operation, aware of the pen width (a "tool offset") could be designed to do that.
  • edited April 2016
    I've been pondering this topic a bunch.  My inclination for the moment is to not attempt what is by all accounts the hugely complicated task of automating the process.

    Nonetheless, to try to educate myself about the snags involved, I tried manually converting a few free fonts to vector format.  I have evolved a system that, while far from perfect, is perhaps useful.  It enables me to convert an appropriate font to single-vector style in just a few hours.  The strokes are completely manually performed in Inkscape, then the resulting .svg files are put through the wringer in a Visual Basic 6(!) program I wrote.

    The output of the VB6 program is a line of text defining the font face in hershey vector format as used in a completely stock  The text line can then be copied into a stock

    The image below is of three different fonts I've vectorized, along with the stock Sans 1-stroke, and the picture comes from the attached .svg [whoops, I don't see how to attach an svg, so we'll ignore that for the moment.]

    I feel that the manually transcribed vectors yield a perhaps more "supple" text effect than the standard Hershey fonts.  Oh, I should mention that I took the liberty of pushing the Hershey envelope by going to higher precision.  I think it's this higher precision which gives the new text a less "pedantic" feel.  I think the century has come when we can throw off some of the constraints Hershey worked within a half century ago.

    I did _not_, however, change anything in - so the new schema is as far as I know completely compatible.

    What do you think - is this method interesting enough to pursue?  Or should I just keep it for my in-house use.

    Oh, rats, I see I can't paste an image here without exceeding the allowed character count.  I guess I'll have to finally open a flickr account or something.
    OK, let's see if I've flickrized it:
  • Yes, it's a good idea. 

    I've often thought about trying to create more fonts in the Hershey format... and there are precedents for creating font derivatives on your own computer (for your personal use).  Having an editor that would let you create new Hershey Fonts would be pretty awesome indeed. :)
  • edited April 2016
    Well, are there any particular fonts you have been hankering for? I'd be glad to take a hack at it - my results would only be mediocre-to-fairly good, but I'd be happy for the practice.  Up to a small handful of fonts?  (There are plenty of free-to-use-for-any-purposes out there.)

    On the editor idea...If you felt strongly enough about it to create a github issue, I would be glad to at least consider undertaking creation of an Inkscape extension to accomplish this.  Nothing fancy, and probably a bit complicated to use, but maybe with the kind of back-and-forth we did on the hatch extension we could get it done.
  • edited April 2016
    I can't make my image show up inline.  I click the "Insert Image" icon, and fill in the URL - I've tried flickr and imgur, and all I get inline is an icon for no image.  I must be doing something really stupid, but I don't know what it is!!??

  • edited April 2016
    After some digging.... Looks like the img tag works OK, if the URL is the actual image., not

  • Oh, silly me!  I shoulda been able to figure that out.  Thanks much for the digging!!  8^)
  • I added two more fonts since earlier post.

  • These look really great! If we start with fonts that are covered under the SIL Open Font License -- Architect's Daughter, Sacramento, and Allura are -- then it should be acceptable to create and publish derivative fonts of those, so long as we comply with the license terms. One asterisk is that the font designer can require that the name of derivatives is changed... and it may be kinder to do so whether or not it is required.
  • edited April 2016
    Glad you like them!  8^)

    1.  Perhaps we could acknowledge the designer while making it clear that the designer is not responsible for this incarnation, by doing something like:  prepending "Like " or "Derived from " or "Not " or "Based on " or "Eggbot-", rather than simply making up descriptive names???

    1a. For what it's worth, at the author is quoted as:
    Note of the author
    A casual handwritten font, handmade with care by yours truly. Includes numbers and punctuation.

    Free for personal AND commercial use. That's right, FREE. 100% Free, no need to ask permission!
    And the license.txt file that accompanied the download said:
    Free for personal or commercial use. That's right, FREE. 100% Free, for any project. No need to ask permission... just use it! Enjoy :)
    Jenna Sue
    2.  I'll review and touch-up if necessary the three fonts you have mentioned.  What would you like me to submit to you - just the text lines to be inserted into and hershey.inx, or new and hershey.inx?
    And where should they be sent?, or someplace else?  Or maybe you want to open an issue at github and I'll send them there?

    3. Would you also like the .svg files I generated where I hand-traced each glyph, and which are the input files to the Visual Basic 6 svg-to-hershey program?

    4. I would be glad to give you the VB6 program, but it is very very creaky and windows only.  Would you like me to rewrite the VB6 program in python?  It would be a good python learning experience for me.

    5. If you wish me to give the same treatment to additional fonts, please let me know, I'd be happy to - this is kinda fun!  8^)

  • Added another cuppla fonts - am running out of styles...could use some suggestions.  or not.

  • These attribution type questions -- especially the names -- are a little tricky.  With the Jenna Sue example, "free for commercial or personal use" does not necessarily include derivatives, whereas the OFL fonts do explicitly allow derivatives. However, they also allow the license to require a name change (etc.). That kind of information *should* be packaged with the font somewhere-- perhaps in the font file itself... and it would be good to figure that out before publishing any derivatives. (I haven't looked inside the font files themselves.) If there is not any obvious location where that can be found, we're likely in the clear to publish these.

    I particularly do like the Sacramento. Bilbo, too. A fantastic source of these SIL OFL fonts (not sure if this is where you're getting them) is Google Fonts, when you filter by "Handwriting". Clicking through that list, I thought that the following (in addition to the ones that you already created) might be good candidates: Mrs Saint Delafield, League Script, Bad Script, Tangerine, Alex Brush, Parisienne, Delius, Qwigley, and Felipa

    Probably the best way to move forward would be to add these directly to the Hershey text extension... a possible path forward _from there_ would be that we could get this updated into a future version of Inkscape itself. :) (And for that reason, we probably don't want to label any of them as EggBot specific.)

    One other consideration, which you're probably thinking about: When possible, it is best to try and match the locations where cursive-type letters begin and end. I have an experimental optimization that I've been trying out, which skips the pen raise-and-lower if the pen travel distance is zero (really, below a fixed, small threshold). This makes much neater characters when the pen doesn't have to lift between them.

    It's a tricky call what the best way to move forward on that software is-- a Hershey-style font editor is a really neat idea, but I'm not sure that it's best in Inkscape, or elsewhere-- perhaps as a processing sketch that can run within a browser? There are font editing capabilities built into Inkscape now; it might be worth looking at how that process works.

  • edited May 2016
    I've been fontifying quite a bit, as you can see.  I wish I had been more consistent in a number of my design decisions, but overall I'm pretty pleased.  Not really professional quality, but definitely usable for eggbot I would venture.  Your pointing me to google was a "goodo"  8^) , though I think they do not have all of the SIL OFL faces.

    I have checked the metadata in all the exemplars, and all state that they are licensed with SIL OFL (except Tangerine has nothing in the metadata, though both fontsquirrel and google claim the SIL OFL license applies.  I have an email request in with fontsquirrel requesting the source of their licensing info.)

    Yeah, I see what you mean about the naming problem.  If I had designed one of those fonts, I for sure would not want to see it hacked up by somebody like me without changing the name.

    I find that annoyingly has two casts to integer in draw_svg_text.  For use here I've changed the casts to float.  The only difference is that the cast to integer forces character location to integer values, which leaves an ambiguity of up to 1 step in character position.  Once the character is positioned, allows my more-precise values for the character shape.  A possible workaround would be for me to do the conversion to hershey at a larger size.  This would presumably cause user to scale it down, so the character position ambiguity would be reduce to less than one step.

    Thus, your experimental skip-pen-up-down ("SPUD"?) would perhaps only marginally work on the integer text.  Dunno, you'd have to try it.  With the two casts changed to float, I get beautiful joinage of joinable cursive characters.  I was not, however, thinking of your SPUD algorithm when I did the fonts, so the beginning and end of cursive characters is not readily identifiable.  This could be fixed by my reworking the fonts if it proves desirable.

  • Once again, these look really great!

    I think that I'd be OK with extending the format to allow floats directly-- seems that there shouldn't be any technical reason why we shouldn't do that.

    Glad you found the SPUD. :)
  • I'm thinking that with all the font choices, user may need some help choosing the "perfect" one.  So...I've suggested a bit of an expansion to the action dropdown in hershey.inx.  Below is an image to illustrate:

  • I like the idea of creating a font table like this, but I would recommend having only a single line in the drop-down menu to select it. Perhaps that should be something like "Generate font table from this text."
  • edited May 2016
    imageSomething like this?  (I chose the word "sample" rather than "table", because I thought that perhaps to a non-technical person generating a "table" might sound more intimidating than generating a "sample".  No biggy.)

    I hope you had a good time at the Maker Faire!  8^)
  • Yup!  That looks fine (and huge)!
  • edited May 2016
    In case you would like the new hershey-related files, I have zipped them and put them in  This is my first time using dropbox, so I'm not 100% confident that I've "got the hang of it".  8^)

    Yes, it is huge isn't it (and my own personal copy is "huger", as I've included for my own personal use some additional fonts which are free but not covered under SIL OFL).

    [EDIT: See following post for these files with two more fonts added.]

  • edited May 2016
    Here's the files but with two additional fonts compared with May 26 version:

    [EDIT: Ho hum, added yet another, see next message for the link]

  • edited May 2016
    [EDIT: Hopefully the last of these, but see next message]
  • edited June 2016
    [EDIT: Please stand by - I've found a very odd problem with the Cocoa Bird face, but I'm in the middle of switching to Windows 10, so may be off-the-air for ??? period of time.

    In this latest version I've kept the font shapes all the same, but have regularized, as much as possible, their sizes.  This makes a visual difference when the font samples are being displayed, and thus perhaps makes it slightly easier for user to compare faces.

    This is just the file, you'll need the previous zip for and hershey.inx

    Here is the font names crossreference to original names:

    Cocoa Allure            <= Allura                    SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Bird                <= Bilbo                    SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Bird Swash Caps    <= Bilbo Swash Caps            SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Brush                <= Alex Brush                SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Capitol            <= Sacramento                SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Casual Hand        <= Covered By Your Grace    SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Delight            <= Delius                    SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Delight Swash Caps<= Delius Swash Caps        SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Elfin                <= Mountains of Christmas    SIL OFL per metadata, though google cites Apache License, version 2.0
    Cocoa Felix                <= Felipa                    SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Herculean            <= Poiret One                SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Invite            <= Tangerine                metadata silent, but SIL OFL per google and fontsquirrel
    Cocoa League            <= League Script            SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Misty Night        <= Foglihten No03            SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Neato                <= Bad Script                SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Osmotron            <= Orbitron Regular            SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Pepita            <= Pecita                    SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Qwandry            <= Qwigley                    SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Society            <= Mrs Saint Delafield        SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Swiss                <= Italianno                SIL OFL per metadata
    Cocoa Tech                <= Architects Daughter        metadata silent, but SIL OFL per google

  • Whew!  Dodged that bullet after much handwringing.  Dunno when I'll try Win 10 again, if ever.

    Anyway, here's a zip with the Cocoa Bird problem fixed, and - no big surprise - two additional fonts, both licensed under SIL OFL.  Cocoa Little Princess based on Princess Sofia, and Cocoa Pancakes based on Short Stack.

  • Can I ask why "cocoa"? That is also the name of one of the major MacOS frameworks ( ), and I'm concerned that it could lead to confusion.

    If the name is just because it's evocative of the name Hershey, we might consider a few alternatives, for example cacao, choco, etc. However, I would instead suggest the prefix "HT" -- for Hershey Text. Many font families have similar name conventions, where a 2-3 letter prefix or suffix designates the origin (font foundry), as in "Trebuchet MS" or "URW Venus (see and ). I think that "MT Bird," "MT Pancakes", and "MT Little Princess" would be compact, easy to read, and clear that they represent a family (or shared origin, at least). Thoughts?
  • Yup, the association with the chocolate manufacturer was the only reason - and now that you have showed me the light, it was surely a poor choice.  I just wanted something to replace the asterisk I had been using.

    The idea of designating the origin in the traditional way is perfect - I was clueless in that regard.  I assume when you used "MT" in your suggestions that was a neural echo of the "HT" you initially suggested - your first link shows "MT" as the Monotype designator.

    [Whoops - note added in proof: "HT" is already in use by Huerta Tipográphica
    I also searched for HM font foundry, HS... (for Hershey Modified, Hershey Style) and got too many hits for comfort.  Even "EB" is in use as a prefix.  What about "EG"?   What do you think? ]  8^)

    So, I take it you would like to use the files?  If so, I'll make the Cocoa => xx changes in the next day or two, and upload them here?
  • Ha!  HT is in use... how about that? Where did you find a list of those?

    (Yes, sorry for the HT -> MT substitution.)

    Some more suggestions:
    SS, for single-stroke
    1S, for single stroke (surely this isn't taken?)

  • I see-- this was a google result. Roger that.  SS is taken, as is HTS.

  • edited June 2016
    HT1 is fine by me, though perhaps there is less precedent for numerals in the prefix - dunno, and it's not by any means a big deal to me.  If we're going with three characters with the nod to Hershey text, how about HTE for Hershey Text Extended, or Enhanced, or [gasp] Eggbot or [double gasp] Evil?.  (It is extended, after all, because we've gone to a floating point representation from an integer.)

    Additional question: are there any of the font names for which you have alternate suggestions?  As you can guess, the names were completely off-the-cuff creations for which I have no great partisanship.
  • H.T.E. looks OK, although I cannot type it -- it is literally the only thing in my autocorrect dictionary! 

    More suggestions: EMS (for Evil Mad Scientist)
    NH: For New Hershey
    HSS: For Hershey Single Stroke (Also sounds like High Speed Steel, which is good for those of us that use the Hershey Text fonts for engraving things!)

    I don't have any other particular suggestions about names, but I expect that some of those do collide with other known font names.

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