I was passed a link to your website by a colleague - and was a little bit
disturbed by the comments you have made about me. (Regarding a 'Sprint Software'
fonts cd released in 1994/95).
Firstly however - I should mention that this is the first time I have ever heard
any mention of this matter (publishing of copyrighted fonts) - and comes as a
complete surprise to me. If what you allege is true - at this point (some 10
years later) - I can only offer my apologies to anyone who had been
inadvertently affected by this - and assure that there was no intention (or
benefit) whatsoever to have done this. If anyone had of actually contacted us at
the time about this - I am sure we could have sorted it and made any amendments
or compensation necessary.
Personally, I have not had any association with the company 'Sprint Software'
for some time now (since 1996) - and as far as I know - the product in question
has not been available for sale to the public for almost this long as well (and
would probably not function correctly using anything newer then the old version
of Windows95 - unless they went to additional lengths using specialist software
to extract them as you have done). I of course can't answer for anything that
may or may not have taken place after the time I was there (and sold my 50%
ownership at this point).
The products in question were created by downloading/collating available files
from various websites / online archives - which we believed to be a reputable
source for 'shareware' and 'freeware' products. (these well known sites - like
'simtel' had a lot of notices up about this - and appeared to also actively
monitor the site for illegitimate files). We also sourced other shareware cd's
(which had similar 'reputable' claims) - as well as receiving a lot of products
directly from the authors themselves (who used our cd's as a way of distributing
their products to the wider public).
With these 'shareware' cd's - we didn't at any time attempt to offer any
'exclusive' products - or anything different to what we thought was already
publicly available online.
To give you an idea of what we were actually about - our main selling points
were instead :
(for the true 'context' of these - please rewind back to 1995 where internet had
not yet reached the mainstream and general computer knowledge was mostly in the
realm of 'experts') :
-          Providing a very Easy to Use Graphical Interface that did everything
they needed - and didn't require the user to know how to do things like 'unzip'
or know how to copy files and install fonts. Our competitor's products did not
have this 'ease of use' and ours were in some cases the only way users could
access such software (as they had to be an expert to use the others - which were
generally supplied without any frontend).
-          Eliminating the need for someone to have to find and download the
content they wanted. (and in most cases - people didn't have internet access -
or if they did - had a very slow connection and paid huge fees for the timed
-          Providing the product at a very cheap price (ie I think this CD was
sold for something like AUD$10 - which is about US$7)...
Our products in most cases provided a win-win scenario for both the developers
and the public. The developers were given a vehicle to reach a wide audience
that would never have otherwise tried their products (which in turn increased
sales of their full products) - and the public were able to access and evaluate
these products in a much cheaper and easier way.
I can appreciate however that with the fonts cd the concept of shareware was a
bit different (as the font creators had not bundled in readme files or anything
we could visibly/knowingly access to determine their origin). None of us were
fontographers - or graphic designers - so if the font had a particular name or
some embedded copyright or similarities to another font - we would not have
known about it. (and we didn't own or use any specific font tools/converters etc
that could have told us about any potential breaches of copyright). Like with
out other products - we assumed our sources had not provided copyrighted
material (and went by this basis).
When we put together these cd's - it normally involved one of the guy's sifting
through several thousand files in a short space of time (ie they may have spent
2 days putting the product together). If we had to spend anymore time then this
(ie doing some of things you suggested - like reverse engineering fonts or
creating them from commercial products using font converters) - we wouldn't have
released the product. (as the amount we made off them was so little - it just
wouldn't have even been a viable proposition to spend all that extra effort
making 'forgeries'). Our effort instead went into the User Interface and making
everything accessible to the end user.
As we didn't promote the individual inclusions on the cd (unless it was some
really well known game) - it didn't really matter to us at the end of the day
whether we had say 2000 fonts or 3000 fonts available (and would have happily
omitted any suspect fonts without there being any effect on the product's
sales). We were selling the user experience (the ability to preview fonts and
install them at a click of a button) - and an alternative to spending a lot of
money downloading files - not the actual fonts themselves.
I have no doubt that while this cd may have been bought by some graphics artists
(who would have also most likely already owned products from Adobe, Corel etc
and already had copyrights to use most of it anyhow) - most of the customers
were mum's and dad's or school kids who might have used them for a school
project or Christmas (which is hardly a threat to the copyright owners market
who again would probably already have them as a customer) and would have happily
used an alternative font.
I will admit that we unfortunately had a couple of occasions were developers
would inform us we had breached some redistribution agreement terms of theirs
(for example - the shareware developer might have assigned 'exclusive' rights
for cd only distribution to another company after we obtained the file). On
these occasions - and when we were actually made aware of it - each time amends
were made with the developer (which sometimes included removing the product in
question and/or paying some small compensation or even better helping them
promote their product) - and not once was anything taken to court. (or not
settled to their satisfaction).
I am happy to answer any questions that you may have - or clarifications that
you require on the above.
You are also more then welcome to quote this email (along with your original
material) - so readers can get a more 'complete' picture on this issue.
I also do hope you will at least contact me in future if you feel the need to
publish anything about me (and what to check it for 'fact' first).
Yours Sincerely,
Niall Ginsbourg