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Typefaces are not subject to copyright, Cher’s lawyers told a New York federal judge on Monday.
The singer, along with Warner Bros. Records, Ganesh Productions, Smog Design Inc. and Ryan Corey, is facing a lawsuit from Moshik Nadav, a graphic designer who claims that his Paris Logo typography was copied for Cher’s 2013 album Closer to the Truth, which has sold about 585,000 copies since its release.
Nadav’s complaint states that he is a leading figure in the world of typography and that his Paris Logo features “artistic elements such as swashes having various thicknesses, end drops and unique lettering that provide … an aesthetic look and feel that Nadav’s clients, graphic designers and the public at large associate with Nadav and his business, Moshik Nadav Typography LLC.”
In a motion to dismiss, attorney Leonard Venger and others on Cher’s team point to the section of copyright code spelling out which material can’t be copyrighted. Along with short phrases, typeface and variations on lettering and coloring cannot be protected.
The defendants also say, “Perhaps based on the inability to rely on their typefaces as the basis for their claim, Plaintiffs also allege that the Cher Logos are substantially similar to the Paris Logo and the Paris Pro Logos, for which Plaintiffs own copyright registrations. That claim fails as a matter of law due to the profound differences between Plaintiffs’ Logos and allegedly infringing works.”
Here’s a look:
“The Paris and Paris Pro Logos share just one letter with the Cher Logos – an ‘r,’ ” states the motion to dismiss. “In addition, Plaintiffs’ attempts to rely on other letters included within the Paris typeface (but not in the Paris or Paris Pro Logos) to support their infringement claim is improper and unavailing.”
Cher isn’t the first to be hauled into court over typeface. NBCUniversal, for instance, has faced many such claims over the years, including on Harry Potter merchandise. In those cases, the plaintiffs attempted to get around the issue of non-protection for typeface by alleging a breach of copyrighted font software.
Here, Nadav’s complaint states, “Upon information and belief, Defendants Smog and Corey copied from the software on Nadav’s website or a third party website and used such copied software to copy original elements in the Paris Logos,” adding that a copyright application on the software has been filed.
In a footnote in the motion to dismiss (read here), Cher’s attorneys address this.
“The Copyright Act prohibits maintenance of a copyright infringement action without an issued copyright registration, or the rejection of a copyright application by the US Copyright Office,” they write. “Therefore, should this court grant Cher Defendants’ motion to dismiss, Plaintiffs cannot maintain this action based on their pending software copyright applications.”
UPDATE: Soon after this story appeared, Nadav voluntarily dismissed the lawsuit.
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