Its interesting to see a group of students producing a video about font piracy in design schools. Conducting interviews of various people from students — who actually use illegal fonts — to typeface designers, teachers and so on. Its a good topic about something that many people doing everyday (& not only students), without speaking and saying anything about it. Based on what I have understand from this nice video, is that learning more about the value of typefaces1 will help a lot. A step to the right direction.

Students asking for more affordable prices for typefaces/fonts: Its a good question, but what it really mean? What kind of target font price? Which percentage level? Impossible to answer to this, its contextual to “buyer” income and his love for typefaces.

On the other hand, some teachers saying that the pressure for good high level portfolios, push students and the schools to allow piracy in order to reach a level that seems professional. There is a big problem here to my opinion as longtime teacher of typography, typeface design. I’m not convinced at all by this assumption that a good portfolio should be full of the last trendy typefaces illegally used. I don’t think it’s a good implying message to deliver to students: The need to act illegally to be at the right professional level. Teachers should teach the ethics first before anything else. A good practice can help to build a good future for new generation of graphic designers. Do you know any school in others areas who actually learn how to not respecting rules to succeeded on their career? Looks a very strange method to me.

One basic example: using very well the few variants of Futura available on Mac OS mixed with Didot Italic also available is not the worst thing to learn. Clients always have budget limits allowed for production, printing and so on. Font licenses belong to such budget limits too. Graphic designers should adapt to certain limits… It is an integral part of their daily knowhow. A good, beautiful, trendy typeface will never make any badly unprofessional portfolio looks professional.

The reality is also that a lot of good fonts are already available through your OS license, and any design application. A lot of good open source typefaces exist too. Search for new fonts on such areas is much fun and interesting than spending nights on any illegal websites. Curiosity is always better rewarded than shortcuts.

By Jean François Porchez, January 2013. All rights reserved.

Links

Young Type Lovers Anonymous posted by Danielle Hall. Via Ralf Herrmann’s blog.
The value of Type, by Erik van Blokland.
Licensing on the Help section.

1 And people behind them, aka the typefaces designers who are mere humans, typefaces are not just digital bits created automatically on the Mars planet.