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ebooks and font

Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 1:00 pm
by DakarH
I am creating a historical based website to display a number of papers I have written on Medieval families over the years. These will take the form of PDF documents and written in a Tahoma font and Times New Roman. During this time I have accumulated a quantity of PDF ebooks that I downloaded to refer to at will. These books are all well out of copyright, most having been published during the 19th century. The donors for these books were mainly Google and a number of US/Canadian Universities. As an aid to anyone reading my papers I have it in mind to have these PDF versions of the ebooks available on the website. To this end I have endeavoured to contact Google on the subject to gain permission (if required) but I have had no response. I also contacted Toronto University as a guide to the Universities reaction, and they gave me a favourable reply.
I am approaching yourselves hoping for your clarification on two counts.
a) What are the general copyright legalities on giving access to ebooks that have been made available for general viewing on the net. I must highlight that there is no intention to use these books for commercial reward, they are to be available purely to aid others. And again, I must emphasise that these books are well out of copyright. All these books will have their origins ie University stamps and Google notifications left intact.
b) In the use of Tahoma and in some places Times New Roman text in my papers, I have been led to believe these may require a license for public consumption. In fact, I am now concerned that I may need a license for the use of Times New Roman font on this website a point I had not even considered. Although I have endeavoured to find a definitive answer for the uses above, I am as yet falling short on clarification, and therefore would be appreciate your view on this area of copyright.

Re: ebooks and font

Posted: Wed Feb 28, 2018 4:23 pm
by AndyJ
Hi Dakar,

Let's deal with the easy part first: fonts. Assuming that you are based in the UK and therefore UK law will apply to your website, there is no problem with using either of the fonts you identify. Although the design of these and most other modern fonts is protected by copyright, using the font in the normal course of printing does not infringe that copyright. This goes back to the days when most printing used the lettertprees method of movable types. This involved a printer buying largel quantities of metal type of a particular font from an authorised source, which was then made up into pages of type ready for printing. As such since no 'new' copies of the actual type pieces were created, no infringement of the typographer's copyright occurred. This principle has transferred over to so-called soft-fonts used in most digital applications today. The law permitting this sort of use can be found in section 54(1) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988.

The other point in your question may need a bit more explanation. We need to differentiate between the original 19th century or earlier works which you wish to refer to, and their modern day digital versions. The former are almost certainly going to be out of copyright which is why the Google Book Project and others have been able to make copies of them in digital form without permission. However to see whether any copyright is claimed in the digital versions (which are, in some ways, analogous to foreign language translations) you would need to refer to the actual digital versions themselves to see if any copyright notice appears there. You mention that Toronto University did get back to you, but you didn't mention whether they were claiming copyright or not. With several of the more altruistic digitization projects (Hathi Trust and the Gutenberg Project for instance) the material is released under various open source licences meaning that you can freely re-use their versions. Google's project is less public spirited and their policies are somewhat opaque. This is in part because they also include books which are in copyright and they therefore have to abide by certain licence terms which have been agreed with authors and publishers. Therefore you should persist in trying to get an answer from Google over the conditions under which you can use their digitized material.

One way round the problem of gaining clarification/permission is not to copy and store on your server pdfs of the various works you are interested in, but merely to link to the relevant documents on the Google or University website etc. There is the obvious disadvantage that such links may not remain the same over time and so your readers may get 404 responses after a while, but it obviates the need for direct permission, unless the works you wish to use are behind either a paywall or some sort of login requirement. In my experience University websites are frequently subject to re-organisation leading to dead links, so perhaps a hybrid approach may be required. The legality of linking in this way can be found in a number of recent judgments by the Court of Justice of the European Union. I won't list all the details here but I can supply them if you would like them.

I hope this answers your questions.

Re: ebooks and font

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:29 pm
by DakarH
Hi AndyJ
Your knowledgeable reply is much appreciated and thank you. However, I am still not totally clear on my position. And would welcome your patience in further assisting me.
In reference to font usage; It would seem from what you say that I am not infringing any copyright law in using either ‘Times New Roman’ or ‘Tahoma’ in my papers. Which is excellent news. To be honest section 54(1) was not clear to me in this regard. Mainly because I was struggling with the legal jargon of explanation. Though my interpretation of subsection (2) would seem to signify that I am unable to use the font ‘Times New Roman’ as the main body of my text for my website as it is in ‘public display’. Your confirmation/comments would be welcome.

As for the pdf versions of the eBooks I understand your explanation better, and take on board suggestion of persisting with making contact with Google. The preamble to many of their books I have downloaded does state –‘…..We ask that you make non-commercial use of the files. We designed Google Book Search for use by individuals, and we request that you use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.’ It is in the interpretation of this paragraph that I am seeking clarification from Google. As the books I have used are from personal use and even on the website surely cannot be said to be used for a commercial purpose?
The last paragraph of the mail from the University of Toronto said ‘As we are not the copyright holder, we cannot grant permission, but it does appear that the work is in the public domain. You are free to do what you wish with the material - this would include downloading and sharing.
Even if I am not able to extract a response from Google I will venture to contact a few of the other Universities and if they all respond favourably will then make a decision with regard to Google.
Again I thank you for your assistance.

Re: ebooks and font

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:19 pm
by AndyJ
Hi again Dakar,

When I said that the font part of your question was the easy part, I really meant it! Sub-section (2) of section 54 is concerned with "articles specifically designed or adapted for producing material in a particular typeface" ie in today's use of fonts, the software which creates the appearance of the font on the screen or on paper. So since you are not copying this software but relying on the font engines in people's browsers or programs like Adobe Reader to produce the visual representation of the font, neither sub-sections (2) or (3) apply to your use. In sub-section (3) the reference to "exhibiting in public" etc is to the articles .. for producing .. a typeface, and not use of the typeface in the normal course of printing as mentioned in sub-section (1). In other words it refers to selling or exhibiting at trade shows or in advertisements, the specific articles which produce the typeface.

So moving on to the second issue, even if Google don't get back to you, you are probably not going to run into any serious issues over copyright in the digitized books you want to use, even if Google and some universities do claim some copyright exists. At worst you may be asked to cease supplying the pdfs, and nothing more. Google's comments about using these files for personal use only indicate to me that they are more worried about their position vis à vis their agreements with the various libraries and archives with whom they have contracts to digitize their collections, rather than any full-blooded claim to copyright. If you have seen how Google and others go about the digitization task (this video from Yale's digitization department for instance) you can see that the process is entirely mechanical with any human intervention limited to making a few optical character recognition (OCR) corrections, all of which falls way short of the sort of human creative input required to make a work subject to copyright. I suspect that no-one would want to take the chance of asking a court to decide whether copyright exists in these digital versions of out-of-copyright works, and especially not in the USA where in a case involving far more human skill and creativity, the court found no copyright existed in photographs of art works (Bridgeman Art Library v Corel Corp).

Re: ebooks and font

Posted: Tue Mar 06, 2018 6:24 am
by DakarH
Hi AndyJ
I must admit I was beginning to wonder that my creation of a website to share my interests and the exchange of knowledge with others was a step to far for such as myself. In that the legislative side would make the whole exercise more trouble than it was worth. But your assistance with the photographic plates and now the above has encouraged me to continue. I raise my hat to you and your colleagues. Keep up the good work, it is I assure you much appreciated.