Chomsky: New York Times masthead, reimagined as a full font
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This is Chomsky, a newspaper masthead font in the style of the New York Times masthead. This font is released under the S.I.L. Open Font License, version 1.1.
This font is not an exact copy of the New York Times masthead. Rather, it aims to be suitable for running text as well, so I used a larger stem size. The difference between some of the characters are shown below; the N.Y.T. logo is above, and Chomsky below... :
I was quite surprised, that to my knowledge, I am the first to have undertaken this project. Many other famous brands, for example that of CNN, Sega, and Coca Cola have fonts in homage to them; indeed, most of these fonts were made in the pre-Unicode era and are branded in terms of metadata with the name of the defunct, but once prominent, Macromedia Fontographer; the CNN copy cat font is itself going on twenty years old.
Perhaps it was the difficulty of creating the extra letters in a blackletter face that scared away would be font authors. Perhaps it was lack of knowledge about the law in this area. Either way, I do believe that I am the first.
In case you wonder whether or not it is legal for me to have cread this font, given I created it from scanned images, I assure you that it is. In the United States and most other countries, the design of a letter is not copyrightable, only the software used to produce it is. (Eltra Corp vs. Ringer, 1978; Adobe Systems, Inc. v. Southern Software, Inc., 1998) This font uses no copyrighted font software whatsoever, I traced every character from scanned images, and included many of my own characters not found in the source materials (all the numbers except 5, most of the punctuation, the pilcrow ¶, almost all of the characters after Unicode codepoint U+00A1).
While it is 100% legal to use this font to typeset your own documents or make, for example, a graduation certificate, making a trademark with this font may be a grey area, especially if it contains the words ``New York Times''. Of course, as a lay person, I cannot give you legal advice, so if you wish to use this font in your newspaper's masthead, especially if it will contain those words, consult an attorney.
Notice of confusability (2021-09-05)
When I gave this typeface its name, I did what I thought to be thorough research to make sure the name was unique. Unfortunately, it was not. This font shares a name with Chomsky, by T.26 Digital Type Foundry, designed by Jimmy Ofisia.
Because the existing font is from 2009 and proprietary, I am keeping this font's name the same. I believe that it is very unlikely users will try to install both as the other font is not free so by default has a much smaller installed user base. Furthermore, changing my font's name many years after its release will break too many user documents and cause extreme confusion downstream.
Users should be aware that it may not be possible to install both fonts at the same time. Users should be aware that documents may confuse the two fonts. In the extremely unlikely event a user wishes to use both fonts in a single document, they are encouraged to use software that allows them to specify fonts by filename.