Introducing the Chomsky Font
The Chomsky font is a unique Blackletter typeface designed by Frederick Brennan, inspired by the letterhead style of the New York Times. Unlike the Times’ masthead, the Chomsky font is designed to be suitable for running text, utilizing a larger stem size. While the font pays tribute to the Times, it is not an exact copy of the masthead.
The first-of-its-kind font was a surprise to Brennan himself, as he believed he was the first person to undertake such a project. While many well-known brands, including CNN, Sega, and Coca-Cola, have fonts that pay homage to them, most of these fonts were created before the era of Unicode, and no longer exist in terms of metadata. While the CNN Copycat font is 20 years old, it is still the only other font that pays tribute to a brand in the way that Chomsky does.
The difficulty in creating extra letters in black fonts, as well as a lack of understanding of the law in this area, may have discouraged font authors from creating such tributary fonts. Brennan, however, believed he had found a way to create a unique font that would stand out in the world of typography.
The legality of creating a font from a scanned image may raise questions for some designers. However, in the United States and most other countries/regions, the design of a letter is not protected by copyright, and only the software used to create the letter is copyrighted. This means that the Chomsky font is 100% legal, as it does not use any copyrighted font software. Brennan tracked every character in the scanned image, using many of his own character sources for the font. All numbers except 5, most punctuation marks, pilcrow ¶, and almost all characters after the Unicode code point U+00A1 are included in the Chomsky font.
The Chomsky font is released under the S.I.L. Open Font License, version 1.1. This means that the font can be used for personal or commercial projects without any legal issues. It is important to note, however, that using the font to make trademarks may be a gray area, especially if it contains the words “New York Times.” It is advisable to consult a lawyer if you plan to use the Chomsky font in the masthead of your newspaper or any other project that involves the use of the words “New York Times.”