I have small issue, I have found some hand painted characters that I wish to rearrange, create an extra couple letters, by cutting bits off and pasting bits on making a logo for a range of clothing for a high street store. I can not find out who the author is and the image was found on pinterest. If I rearrange letters and create a vector is this cool?

  • 2
    No, not being able to find authors of copyrights is not a excuse in the eyes of law. Otherwise i could always claim to have not found any holder.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 15:26
  • @joojaa that should be an answer.
    – Scott
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 16:35

2 Answers 2


No, not being able to find authors of copyrights is not a excuse in the eyes of law. Otherwise everybody would use this excuse all the time, claiming they couldn't find the copyright holder.


Since you say 'high street', I assume you are in the UK?

Legally, you're probably fine...mainly due to the bizarre status of typeface design protection. I am not a lawyer, and protections do seem a bit better in the UK than the US, but there's likely no actual copyright infringement here:


After all, many typefaces are based off of existing signage and art.

Ethically, though, it's pretty lazy. If you like the style, why not adopt the style, but come up with your own lettering based off of it? Benefits are that it's then truly original.

  • No, the new typeface is a derivative work and infringes copyright. Font licensing is slightly different in the UK, because the law explicitly allows using a font without infringing copyright. But that's the only concession: you still have to be permitted to have a copy of the TTF/OTF/whatever font file. Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 22:07
  • @AndrewLeach yes and no. Many, many typefaces are designed on existing works...be it hand painted lettering, or actual manufactured signage. It's admittedly a gray area. If the person borrowed the exact composition...or elements other than the letterforms, then that would be a much more cut-and-dry case of derivative works.
    – DA01
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 22:42
  • And yes, font licensing is a different topic than what we're discussing.
    – DA01
    Commented Jul 20, 2017 at 22:43
  • @DA01 I agree that there are many caveats in copyright law and its very varied by location.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jul 21, 2017 at 8:25

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