Custom Glyph: Keeping it Legal
May 14, 2024 5:08 AM   Subscribe

I am working on a logo for commercial purposes. I have a font I want to use (and have the license to use it for a logo) however, I would like to change one letter. My googling suggests that editing a TTF font is not allowed. I know there are logos with standard fonts with a custom letter or two, so what's the best way to do this and not get sued or cease-and-desisted? Do I make a separate font with just my glyph and type two different fonts?

I am not enough of a fat cat to sue, but obviously if I got cease and desisted and had to change logo that would be a problem. I expect all displays of the logo would be rasterized. The issue is more that if I want to create the logo in different sizes or different versions of the logo I'd rather be able to make a different-sized TTF glyph letter than be constantly working with a raster of one letter and type of the rest just to make it easier to align/size etc. etc.
posted by If only I had a penguin... to Grab Bag (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Best answer: You make it in vector format (in a software such as Adobe Illustrator), outline the fonts (so they're shapes rather than text), and edit the letter to look the way you want it. That's the way it's usually done, anyway.
posted by sailoreagle at 5:32 AM on May 14


The important question is, how is the font licensed? (Whether the font is TTF is irrelevant; TTF is a technical standard describing the file format.) The license determines what you are allowed to do with the font legally. Some licenses allow for modification; some don't. Can you share the license information and/or the name of the font?
posted by mekily at 5:32 AM on May 14


Response by poster: I don't want to share the name of the font. It is not licensed for modification. However my googling tells me that letter shapes are not copyrightable only the "software" itself which i think means the ttf file? Maybe? I don't know what that means.

Sailoraeagle: yes I've done that to create the letter. Now I want to have that letter in a font file so I can type it, easily resize it, line it up with other letters from the original font etc.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 5:39 AM on May 14


Best answer: If the modified letter is in vector format, and the rest of the logo is in vector format, why do you need to "type" the font again when resizing and doing alignment?
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:42 AM on May 14 [1 favorite]


Best answer: Here's a pretty detailed tutorial for converting text to paths in Inkscape and manipulating them for custom logos that may be helpful.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 5:44 AM on May 14 [3 favorites]


Response by poster: If the modified letter is in vector format, and the rest of the logo is in vector format, why do you need to "type" the font again when resizing and doing alignment?

Right. ...ok..got it now. . Thank you
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:16 AM on May 14


Fonts are kind of in a gray zone of legal protection. Copycat typefaces exist and get away with it. In practical terms, by paying for the license you are doing the right thing. Is the font you're using a fairly generic one? or is it instantly recognizable? is the license from a big company with automated purchasing (ie no one you can easily call and ask questions)? is the designer someone you can reach out to directly?

It seems unlikely that what you are doing will be a problem, but even with very low risk, getting dinged would be a disaster in terms of having to rework everything. So if it were me I would probably either attempt to get explicit permission or rework everything now instead of later. But your appetite for risk might be different from mine.
posted by rikschell at 6:35 AM on May 14


The issue of modification is about modifying the font as a font then reselling it as a font. If you've obtained the font legally, nothing bars you from altering it once for a specific illustration.
posted by zadcat at 6:38 AM on May 14 [4 favorites]


My googling suggests that editing a TTF font is not allowed.

If you start from a font that's shared under the SIL Open Font License you're fine as long as you rename it.
posted by mhoye at 6:41 AM on May 14


The issue of modification is about modifying the font as a font then reselling it as a font. If you've obtained the font legally, nothing bars you from altering it once for a specific illustration.

This is my understanding also.

You aren't proposing to modify the font and sell a TTF file. You're an end user, creating a design that includes elements of the font. In which case, you can do whatever you want.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 4:08 PM on May 14 [1 favorite]


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