14 August 2007

 

Why isn't the Clearview typeface free?

Highway Gothic font vs. Clearview fontVia John Gruber, here's a neat article about Clearview, a font designed specifically to make highway signage more readable, and now being put to use in many jurisdictions, including here in British Columbia, as old road signs are replaced.

I was a bit surprised to see that if you want to get the font yourself, you need to spend at least $175 USD. If Clearview really is that much more legible and useful than its predecessors such as Highway Gothic, and therefore leads to safer driving, it would seem reasonable for the U.S. federal government or some other agency to pay the designers (who worked on the font for a long time) a decent fee to make it freely licensable to anyone. Then anyone could use it for any kind of signage anywhere, presumably even saving some lives in the process.

Given how many billions of dollars it costs to build roads, the tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of dollars it would take to set up such a free licensing arrangement would seem like money well spent.

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Comments:

This is fairly close:
http://www.abstractfonts.com/font/10896
 
I love font geeks...

Seen any good font-loving t-shirts lately?
 
You actually do have a place called Hell Town, or Heller Town, or Lucifer Town, or whatever, and it is near a one called Bethlehem !

Christ !

What a country !

If you drive a few miles, I guess you can get to Mount Olympus !
 
The "clearwiew font" strangely looks like the "univers font" designaed in the late fifties by the swiss graphist Adrian Frutiger and used by the parisian subway authority, and then by airports and higways to improve the signalisation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adrian_Frutiger
 
While Clearview Highway is sold commercially by Terminal Design, to be fair it should be said that previous FHWA Series Gothic fonts have also been sold commercially as well. They are not freely available. URW America makes the authentic FHWA Series 2000 Gothic fonts featured in the 2003 MUTCD manuals. They cost $500 for a 1 computer license.

Clearview Highway is pretty expensive. The entire family of 13 fonts (both "B" and "W" series) costs nearly $800. The similar ClearviewOne family for print graphics use costs a lot too, around $1200 for all of the weights in that "super font." There's a new ClearviewADA family made for ADA sign purposes.

As for making a freeware version, there's already a "Roadgeek 2005" series of Clearview imitation fonts one can download for free. They're not as cleanly drawn as the commercial fonts however.

Oddly, type companies can only copyright a typeface's name and not the actual letter shapes. There's really nothing out there to prevent others from making Clearview clones and distributing them freely or commercially.
 
While Clearview Highway is sold commercially by Terminal Design, to be fair it should be said that previous FHWA Series Gothic fonts have also been sold commercially as well. They are not freely available. URW America makes the authentic FHWA Series 2000 Gothic fonts featured in the 2003 MUTCD manuals. They cost $500 for a 1 computer license.

Clearview Highway is pretty expensive. The entire family of 13 fonts (both "B" and "W" series) costs nearly $800. The similar ClearviewOne family for print graphics use costs a lot too, around $1200 for all of the weights in that "super font." There's a new ClearviewADA family made for ADA sign purposes.

As for making a freeware version, there's already a "Roadgeek 2005" series of Clearview imitation fonts one can download for free. They're not as cleanly drawn as the commercial fonts however.

Oddly, type companies can only copyright a typeface's name and not the actual letter shapes. There's really nothing out there to prevent others from making Clearview clones and distributing them freely or commercially.
 
I have the fonts if anyone wants them… but you have to give me the FHWA series fonts in return. Send them to "jellyfish DOT cory AT gmail DOT com" (replace the words with the correct symbols) and you shall receive (a ZIP).
 
Laurence: That sign is actually in Pennsylvania, in Berks County

PA-412