Friday, December 14, 2012

Does Computer Calligraphy Have Copyright?

Dear Rich: I am a minister and I have copyrighted some poems. One in particular I have framed and a friend did it in calligraphy as a gift. I don't question selling this, but I do question selling my other copyrighted poems from a computer program in calligraphy. Can I sell my words in a calligraphy style from a calligraphy program? If you're asking whether there is a separate copyright in the appearance of the calligraphy -- that is, the typeface -- we're going to say, "No." Typefaces don't get copyright protection. However, there are two caveats: (1) a software program (sometimes referred to as a "font") that generates typefaces can be protected (so you want to avoid copying typeface programs or violating the terms of their license), and (2) arguably a hand drawn calligraphy that is sufficiently unique or transcends the typeface in some innovative artistic manner, may be copyrightable as a visual arts work. These exceptions don't appear to apply in your case.