Results from TTC information requests

I filed an access-to-information request with the TTC in August 2007 to receive certain information about signage. Here are some of the findings.

Licence for TTC’s fake Helvetica

The TTC has elsewhere claimed that the fake Helvetica they use, “Swiss 721 Medium Bold Text,”

is a licensed font, with more neutral and contemporary characteristics. It was selected as the base font for reasons of clarity and legibility, and is intended for use in all wayfinding-, information- and safety-signage applications.

I’ve been saying all along that they’re only using it because it came free with CorelDraw. So I asked for the licence for the font family Swiss 721.

They couldn’t come up with one.

When you file an information request with a government agency, they have to give you the records you ask for, although there are numerous exemptions. But they don’t have to custom-write an answer to your questions. That is nonetheless exactly what they did. I guess someone’s feeling defensive.

With regard to copyright, the licensing of fonts and use of software, Corel Legal Information states:

Fonts – While Corel has developed some fonts in-house, most of the fonts found in Corel products have been licensed from independent font vendors. If you wish to license a particular font, you should contact Bitstream, not Corel. Corel does not make fonts developed by it available for licensing.

With regard to use of the fonts, licensed by Corel and distributed with their software, the End User Licence Agreement states:

1.4 YOU MAY NOT: (v) redistribute the fonts included with the Product;

Confirmation of this information, in an E-mail from Rick Cochrane, Account Manager of State Government/Local Government/Education Team, for Corel Corporation, states:

If the customer needs to know if they may use the fonts, the answer is yes. The only restriction regarding the use of fonts in the EULA states that “you may not redistribute the fonts found within the software.” If the customer wishes to redistribute the fonts? Corel cannot grant that type of permission since we cannot license any of our third party fonts (possibly they could contact Bitstream if this is what they are after).

A verbal summary with Rick Cochrane concluded that the fonts distributed with the software are licensed for use. A separate licensing purchase (through Bitstream) would only be required if the end user did not already have a licensed version of the fonts to be utilized.

This is consistent with Bitstream’s Licensing Agreement, which states (in part):

Third Parties: You may send a copy of any Bitstream font along with your documents to a commercial printer or other service bureau to enable the editing or printing of your document, provided that such party has informed you that it owns a valid license to use that particular font software. You may also “embed” PC TrueType format fonts within your documents for the viewing and printing of those documents.

The TTC does not redistribute fonts in the manufacturing of signs through an outside Contractor. Contract specifications stipulate, under the Design Requirements, that the Contractor must use CorelDraw software in a version compatible with Commission-supplied artwork. The Contractor would, therefore, own a licensed version of the fonts. As a matter of practice, all artwork supplied to a Contractor is converted to curves, in order to avoid any problems with font substitutions, should the fonts in question not be properly installed.

All right: They aren’t committing copyright infringement. But they’re also too cheap to buy a real font. Again: A billion-dollar corporation uses as a signage font a cloned typeface they got for free.

While the TTC went out of its way to answer a question I didn’t ask, a question that remains unresolved is “Why do you have such bad taste?”

Claimed retrofit costs for new signage

An E-mail dated 2007.04.23 09:58 by the dramatically-named HARRISON to Carla Basso stated:

David Lawson and I had a discussion on the projected retrofit costs identified, and concluded that they are sufficient for the report [and] they may even be running a little higher now.

I asked for documentation of that claim. It seemed to refer to retrofitting the entire system for $500,000.

And this was the response (I’m going to leave capitalization and abbreviations sic):

This OME is for signage revision of Pape Station for Station Modernization in 2007$

Excludes Signage for EA Elements, 2nd Exit & Platform Edge Sign Band & Supports

Construction Cost Only (excludes COs & engineering)
Street Level ~$100K
Concourse Level ~$50K
Platform Level ~$150K
Total (2007$) $300K

It appears they were only talking about signage at Pape Station. And they want to spend 300 grand throwing out 50 years of heritage and replacing it with fake Helvetica on plastic panels. Your tax dollars at work.

(Again: “Why do you have such bad taste?”)

Results from a previous information request

I had previously filed a request for all records dealing with me and my initial signage presentation to the TTC and anything else regarding me and signage.

I got a few dozen pages back, mostly in the form of top-posted E-mails. There was almost no new or useful information. There was no real content. Essentially, I had had no significant impact on the TTC at all.

Some details: