Disabling fonts

Is there a way to cripple a font so it will look fine on screen, but will not export, save, print, etc? Asking for a friend who might want to upload something to a pirate site

How do you mean, look fine on screen? Will it need to be able to be tested on-screen? Otherwise I would simply suggest switching glyphs around, you can even add multiple letter outlines to one glyph…

If you need the font to display a specific string, you can chop up the string characters among each other, so that typing these characters will, in exactly this combination, yield the expected result, but the glyphs are unusable in any other context.

I mean it looks like a legit font on screen when in use in Indesign etc, but will not work further.

To be clear: when Limewire and Napster were the thing, bands uploaded files that looked like the real thing but weren’t. Similar principle.

How can music “look” like the real thing?

Bear in mind that, even if something exists to make font files unprintable or similar, the very least one can do is simply convert it to outlines and then print. Nothing you can do about that.

I don’t have a definite answer on whether this level of trickery is possible or not, so I will leave that to somebody else to answer, but I very strongly doubt it.

the music FILE looked like the real thing when you downloaded it, but then didn’t play, or was something else entirely.

…so it wasn’t usable at any point. Meaning, it only looked like a music file, but at no point was it usable to any degree.

You want something completely different: a file that is usable in a certain context but not in others, this is very difficult (and impossible, I would think).

I never tried it, but you can try the export custom parameter " Webfont Only"

If activated, it removes some of the information stored in the font file necessary for desktop use. This makes it harder to convert the webfont into a different format or to install it locally in an operating system like Windows or macOS. Careful: Technically, this option produces a damaged font, which, however, still works as webfont in browsers.

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This will make the font useless on desktop, but Rian wants to somehow have it be fully usable in InDesign, but make it prevent saving the InDesign file and printing the document.

Do you want it to prevent screenshots as well?

Thanks, SCarewe - yes, the file is functional only to a certain point – ideally it would only need to look legit on the pirate site. It may be that if you could download and install it, but then not output (say) a PDF, the user may think something other than the font is at fault. What we want here is for people to give up on fonts from pirate sites and buy the legitimate versions because it’s just too much hassle otherwise.
Not sure it’s possible to disable screenshots, as it’s a function of the OS.

I think for pirate sites, you just need aptly named zip files.

Would any of these options do the job? I am however not aware on how to export a font with them activated.

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There is also the fstype custom parameter. But I’m not sure if that simply informs a user of how they should use a font or if software actually follows it.

If a font works on the preview of a piracy website, it probably works (with some limitations) in the apps where users want to use the font. If the pirated font does not work, users might blame the font, not the piracy website. Why would a user be confident that purchasing a font license would yield higher quality than the supposedly real font they got from a piracy website?

Good point, Florian - my guess would be that many who look for free fonts are looking for a specific font that they’ve seen in use elsewhere, so would assume that the font works, and the free version or the site is to blame.

How about adding a very annoying bug to the font, which is not very obvious at first sight, e. g. switching the outlines of two characters. Or omitting a semi-frequently used character’s outlines. Or moving an anchor to an ugly position for one single character. Or making the space extraordinarily wide. Or some side bearings.

Perhaps create more than one buggy version and distribute them across different pirate websites. So if the culprit figures out the first bug and looks for another resource, explicitly looking for that flaw, he finds another version with another flaw and so on, until he’d complety disgruntledly gave up …

Of course that wouldn’t help if the culprit knows how to fix it :face_with_monocle:

Some printers are known to not like “bad” outlines, so maybe you can mess with those. Make multiple copies of outlines on top of each other, remove nodes, add overlaps, add hidden paths inside paths. I guess you can also make a minor change into a frequently used letter for those “free” versions to track illegal uses.

That’s an interesting thought experiment, but not sure this will help to fight piracy in any way. Also, think what if somebody passes a pirated version on to a whole team while working on a design, and buys a license when it’s all done and approved. Guess who’ll end up being the bad guy :slight_smile:

Let me assure you that they do. There are some quite talented people who like to pirate fonts.

I recommend not doing anything to cripple your fonts. Doing so leaves open the possibility of a legitimate customer passing on buying if they encounter the crippled font or even just hear about it.

Quit worrying about piracy because you cannot stop it. Past experience has proven that fighting piracy won’t produce good results. If you end up having to hire an attorney it is going to be very expensive. It just isn’t worth the cost to you.

The truth is that 99.9% of the pirates are nothing more than collectors who would not buy the fonts in the first place. That tiny percentage who might use the font for commercial work aren’t worth going after because they don’t have any assets worth the cost of an attorney.

Spend your time constructively by making more fonts and let the collectors worry about who has the biggest collection of fonts.