Apple emoji typeface: legal concern

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datwill310
Posts: 355
Joined: May 29, 2015 20:37

Apple emoji typeface: legal concern

Postby datwill310 » May 09, 2017 15:30

Hi all and thanks for putting up with my irrelevant posts (on a coding forum),

In a game me and others are making, all of our images have been drawn by us.
However, a handful of those images contain potentially problematic copyright concerns. It is to do with the use of Apple's emoji.

And before we continue, I'd like to say that we would prefer to use Apple's typeface for emoji, for numerous reasons, predominately the fact that we have already drawn some of our images with them.

I have made quick searches on Google and have established this:
1. Apple own the particular emoji typeface we are using in our images.
2. A blog post (yes, not Apple or any official legal statement like that) says,
David Lizerbram wrote:You can use those emoji to say or communicate whatever you want. What you can’t necessarily do, however, is reproduce those emoji on a product. For that, you’d need a license.

Let’s say you really love a the emoji of the poop with the eyeballs. ... Maybe you want to stick that image on a t-shirt and sell it. Well, in order to do that you’d nee a license. If you like Apple’s version of this image, you can start by contacting Apple’s legal department.

And other searches have come up with similar answers.
3. I keep on coming across situations concerning commercial products. I'm not entirely sure if the fact that our game is free makes a difference. Being open-source, under the 3-Clause BSD License, certainly might. Because of how Apple's emoji have intermingled with our work, I still think we would require a license to clear up dubiousness, regardless of how our game is licensed.
4. This has lead me to the Apple's Legal Department site. However, under which category should I make my inquiry has always become one of those confusing things when, if done wrong, could jeopardise your ultimately simple goal, such as finding out if I can use Apple's emoji or not :).
If they grant permission, then horray!
If they DON'T grant permission, then... f***... (And no, those other typefaces aren't "good enough" xD)
If they don't RESPOND because Apple aren't concerned with a few emoji in a free game anyway, then we'll never know and be crossing our fingers behind our backs when we release it, just hoping we don't run into any issues.

Ultimately, I was wondering if anybody can share experience in the field of Apple's stance on using emoji? It saves me having to give my phone number and them calling our house without my parents knowing :)
MrSwiss
Posts: 3635
Joined: Jun 02, 2013 9:27
Location: Switzerland

Re: Apple emoji typeface: legal concern

Postby MrSwiss » May 09, 2017 15:51

I think its less complex, than you seem to make it (reading the following statement):
What you can’t necessarily do, however, is reproduce those emoji on a product.
It simply says: product (no limitation, to e.g. commercial).
This then means (to me, at last): any product (commercial / free / whatever) ...

You've got 2 options, to be on the safe side:
  • clear it with their "Legal Affairs Office"
    (make certain, to have it *written down*, aka: "black on white") -- or --
  • give it a miss, and start looking for alternatives
    (not what you'd like to hear, I'm sure)
anonymous1337
Posts: 5494
Joined: Sep 12, 2005 20:06
Location: California

Re: Apple emoji typeface: legal concern

Postby anonymous1337 » May 09, 2017 21:17

EDIT: Nevermind me. I thought you were talking about the forum.

Yes, you would need to know the terms and conditions of using Apple's emojis (or the typeface containing them) for your own product - whether or not you can use them at all.

If you contact Apple's legal department, they are likely going to give you whatever response they give everyone else, which is that no you cannot use them and yes you would need to establish some type of agreement.

That being said, I am not finding any case where Apple seems to care about this, at all.
Last edited by anonymous1337 on May 09, 2017 21:24, edited 4 times in total.
thesanman112
Posts: 538
Joined: Jul 15, 2005 4:13

Re: Apple emoji typeface: legal concern

Postby thesanman112 » May 09, 2017 21:18

if your selling a product then no, if your marketing a product then no,
pretty sure your safe but you must state somewhere in the program that you are displaying copyrighted material.
datwill310
Posts: 355
Joined: May 29, 2015 20:37

Re: Apple emoji typeface: legal concern

Postby datwill310 » May 09, 2017 22:30

MrSwiss wrote:It simply says: product (no limitation, to e.g. commercial).
This then means (to me, at last): any product (commercial / free / whatever) ...

You've got 2 options, to be on the safe side:
  • clear it with their "Legal Affairs Office"
    (make certain, to have it *written down*, aka: "black on white") -- or --
  • give it a miss, and start looking for alternatives
    (not what you'd like to hear, I'm sure)


thesanman112 wrote:if your selling a product then no, if your marketing a product then no,
pretty sure your safe but you must state somewhere in the program that you are displaying copyrighted material.


LOL two very conflicting inputs xD! One thing anonymous1337 said in his post is probably true: Apple wont allow me to use their emoji. So you would think that I would not be allowed to use them?
But if I can use them with a disclaimer if my game is free, then I can?
Looks like I might have to find some lesser alternative :(...
EDIT:
from what I can tell from further research, I can still use the emoji if I use them in accordance with the license they are released under? So a summary of Apple's license would be: "you can't use our emoji off of our platform"? Can we acquire such a license, or is that what I would get as part of said agreement with Apple over their legal department?
MrSwiss
Posts: 3635
Joined: Jun 02, 2013 9:27
Location: Switzerland

Re: Apple emoji typeface: legal concern

Postby MrSwiss » May 10, 2017 10:10

datwill310 wrote:"you can't use our emoji off of our platform"?
Their "plattform" is OS-X ...
TeeEmCee
Posts: 300
Joined: Jul 22, 2006 0:54
Location: Auckland

Re: Apple emoji typeface: legal concern

Postby TeeEmCee » May 11, 2017 15:00

Here is a StackOverflow answer. The tl;dr is that the black-and-white "Apple Emoji" font, which are apparently the ones used on the Unicdoe code charts, are free to use for nearly any purpose. However, there is apparently no license at all for the Apple Color Emoji font. Which you might be referring to. I don't know, I don't have an iphone.

Also, legally speaking, to answer your question: MrSwiss is more right than thesanman112... however, if it falls under fair use or other limitation on copyright, then you can include copyrighted material without a license. Notably, it falls more strongly under fair use if your work is non-commercial. Other factors include how much of the font you used, in what way, for what purpose (eg parody or satire), whether it would have a commercial effect on Apple, etc. Note: fair use is US law; other countries have other limitations on copyright, such as the much more restrictive fair dealing rights in many commonwealth countries.

And practically speaking, nothing matters until you get in trouble. Lawyers cost money. So sending a cease-and-desist costs money. Your actions are probably not harming Apple nor will be noticed by them. So the chance of getting a C&D is 0%. Even if you did, is that a problem?
(Personally if I were going to do some blatant IP infringement for a good cause, like creating a fan remake of a commercial game, I would do it under perfect anonymity to ensure that I can ignore any C&D.)
datwill310
Posts: 355
Joined: May 29, 2015 20:37

Re: Apple emoji typeface: legal concern

Postby datwill310 » May 11, 2017 15:23

TeeEmCee wrote:Here is a StackOverflow answer. The tl;dr is that the black-and-white "Apple Emoji" font, which are apparently the ones used on the Unicdoe code charts, are free to use for nearly any purpose. However, there is apparently no license at all for the Apple Color Emoji font. Which you might be referring to. I don't know, I don't have an iphone. ...

Thanks for the advice, and your answer. Will keep this in mind.

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