- Outline glyphs from existing fonts in Illustrator
Note that with most commercial fonts reusing their shapes to make a new or customized font is breaking their end user license agreement, and potentially can get you into legal and financial, trouble. That aside, it is also unethical to simply chop away at another designer’s work.
And even many "free" fonts with the SIL license (almost all of Google Fonts) require you to make the modified version available. In fact, the Lato Sans you chopped up in your article is licensed under exactly that SIL license which requires you to redistribute the original copyright notice and license.
Lastly still, calling this ‘making a custom font’ is somewhat misleading altogether.
Hi Johannes, thanks for your comments. I'm sorry the post didn't live up to your expectations. When coming up with the title, I hoped that those who know the difference between font and typeface would know what it would be about and those who don't would be pleasantly surprised it wasn't about creating whole new typefaces but about something they can apply themselves.
The SIL License you're referring to could be quite problematic to many designers:
Original Version" refers to the collection of Font Software components as distributed by the Copyright Holder(s).
"Modified Version" refers to any derivative made by adding to, deleting, or substituting — in part or in whole — any of the components of the Original Version, by changing formats or by porting the Font Software to a new environment.
2) Original or Modified Versions of the Font Software may be bundled, redistributed and/or sold with any software, provided that each copy contains the above copyright notice and this license.
That could even apply to the practice of outlining a document before sending it to a print shop. Which is actually what some DRM protected fonts require and is recommended by their publishers! How do you see that?
Please be advised that even just copying parts of a typeface is oftentimes violating the EULA and does in fact constitute copyright violation. As you correctly researched, in the US typefaces are treated like software in regards to copyright. Your example, however, would be akin to saying you don’t clone all the code of Photoshop, only the code of some filters. I am sure in many cases the designers of typeface are more than happy to help you out with modifications or might even grant to explicit permission to make modifications if you approach them with your problem.
Making a logo from a typeface, and even modifying the shapes of letters decomposed to vectors from a typeface, is different from modifying a typeface. I understand what you are going after with ease of use or efficiency of of distribution, but it still does not grant the right to turn modified font parts into a new font.
In regard to SIL the requirement is if you redistribute the modified version it must be under the same license, and not using the Lato name. It does not, however, mean that your app would have to be distributed under that license, or that you need to make the modified version available, only that if you make it available, it needs to be under SIL (I wrote that too generally in my first answer). Indeed your app, or more precisely, the modified font in your app, would need to list the SIL in some way or form as per §2.
Outlining a document before sending to print avoids exactly that: Having to provide the printer with the font. To my mind any reasonable font EULA will grant you the right to have a PDF with the font embedded printed, but opinion and practices on that vary.