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  • Busted! Watch Genius typographic evidence in its case against Google

    Music lyrics website Genius says it has proof Google is copying its lyrics, displaying them in search results, and driving down traffic to reports PC Magazine and its evidence is pure typography. Genius has watermarked lyrics displayed on its website with patterns of apostrophes, which can alternate between the straight and curly single-quote, to make the punctuation marks spell the word “Red-handed” when translated into Morse code. Eventually, the Genius watermarked lyrics edition surfaced on Google's “information panels.”

    “Google knowingly displays lyrics that are copied from Genius in search results in order to keep users from leaving Google to go to other sites. They have known about this for two years and it's clearly unfair and anticompetitive,” Genius told PCMag in a statement. According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported the story it all started back in 2016 when a Genius software engineer noticed that Google search results were displaying lyrics submitted by artists to Genius only. Genius began watermarking its song lyrics and has since found more than 100 examples of Google's search engine taking its lyrics. Reportedly, Genius notified Google about the lyrics copying in 2017 and told Google it was violating Genius's terms of service, not to mention antitrust law, the Journal says.

    “The lyrics displayed in information boxes on Google Search are licensed from a variety of sources and are not scraped from sites on the web,” Google said in a statement. “We take data quality and creator rights very seriously, and hold our licensing partners accountable to the terms of our agreement. We're investigating this issue with our data partners and if we find that partners are not upholding good practices, we will end our agreements,” the company added.

    The outcome in this “fractal plagiarism” as Kevin Marks, a well respected open source guy and someone who has been working at Google and other companies for years notes, is that Google will eventually be showing in the search results where they license (pay for) the lyrics by adding an attribution to the lyrics box. “To help make it clearer where the lyrics come from, we’ll soon include attribution to the third party providing the digital lyrics text” Google stated per Seroundtable.

    Watch how Genius invested in typography to prove the case against Google below.

  • Dots instead of lines: listen to the amazing story of a 12yo blind genius by the name Louis Braille

    This is our new favorite podcast of the week. Produced by Andrew Leland for 99% Invisible, episode 360 of the Universal Page podcast is a magnificent narration to the world of Braille system and the War of the Dots that happened almost a century ago. “I’m going blind really, really slowly. Right now it’s like I’ve got a foot in both worlds, blind and sighted. I have a degenerative retinal disease that’s given me severe tunnel vision, so basically no peripheral vision. It’s like I’m peering at the world through a toilet paper tube. One that gets a little narrower every few months” says Andrew Leland in the introduction to his episode on the revolutionary Braille system that changed humanity for the good. 

    The story starts in 1771 when the skilled linguist Valentin Haüy decided to help the blind “when he saw a group of blind people being mocked during a street festival in Paris.”

    From Haüy's first known school for the blind, The Royal Institute in Paris through Napoleon's captain who had invented what he called “nocturnal writing” to the 12-year-old blind student named Louis Braille who adapted that military code for blind people as an alternative to raised print or the decisive battle in the War of the Dots which took place in 1909 when the New York Board of Education decided to adapt Braille making it the official tactile writing system used by people who are visually impaired in the rapidly growing USA, this is an insightful podcast on how a genius blind student made the world a better and humane place through type. 

    The young Louis Braille substituted the 12 dot system developed by Napoleon's captain into a six-dot system and maximized its efficiency allowing blind people to read and write, eventually to take control of their lives at last. Do yourself a favor, listen to the podcast here and remember, always read the plaque!

    Cover image credit: Flickr user Rolanddme via CC


  • Next Nature: Qiang John Wang creates a lively typeface with organic forms for UCLA

    Geared specifically for high school students, the Department of Design Media Arts (DMA) at UCLA provides students with a rare opportunity to experience the design realm. DMA's two-week summer program aims to introduce high schoolers to design practices for print, web, video, and game and this year's Next Nature theme challenges the students to think about what DMA's collective Next Nature could be.

    “The identity centers around a lively typeface featuring cogwheels and organic forms, eluding to an optimistic though speculative future characterized by an interdependent relationship and a balance between technology and nature” notes the Chinese communication designer Qiang John Wang on the visual identity of the program he created. 

    “The cogwheel as an industrial object representing technology is in motion with the organic lines and curvatures representing nature. These graphic elements of the letterform communicate a sense of tension but also harmony. The typeface is animated and applied to section titles associated with the program” adds Wang.

    See the typeface coming to life here.


  • IKEA's Soffa Sans is definitely the world's comfiest free modular font

    Earlier this year IKEA appealed to lovers of pop culture by creating famous fictional living rooms entirely from its own products - including the apartment from Friends, and the iconic Simpsons lounge. Now the company -which was recently rebranded for the digital age- has revealed Soffa Sans aka the “world's comfiest font”. 

    It all started when IKEA launched an online tool allowing customers to play around with configurations of sofas using the Vallentuna planner. Leaving restrictions up to the user, it led to many ambitious creations, including words and phrases. In reaction to this, IKEA engaged Proximity London to help it create Soffa Sans, which uses solely sofa units to map out the letters of the alphabet.

    If ordered as a real product using the planner, it would cost 118 244 euros as well as taking 1,434 individual products to create notes The Drum.

    “We’ve been really enjoying seeing the fun that people are having with our sofas, and the innovative solutions they are creating. Inspired by their creativity, we’ve launched Soffa Sans: the world’s comfiest font. Its modular form and relaxed letter-spacing makes it one of the most versatile fonts out there and we’re looking forward to seeing where it’s used” said Marcos Tejedor, Living Rooms Sales Leader at IKEA UK & Ireland.



  • Debate: an Olympics logo that wasn't and the ongoing drama of Tokyo 2020's emblems

    When Darren Newman posted his concept logo for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Instagram his design went viral. Eventually designers from around the world entered the debate game for the conceptual idea of Newman which morphs the Olympic rings to read '2020' reports Creative Bloq.

    For some the designer's creative take on the branding of Tokyo 2020 is “a masterclass in design”. For others the Tokyo 2020 logo that wasn't “is really terrible – it would look awful next to the actual Olympic rings logo (which it would appear alongside 99% of the time, so double-boring) and would never be authorised because the IOC is NUTS about protecting the rings branding.”

    “There has been a lot of positive response to it which is great. There have also been a fair few negative responses, which I’m more than willing to accept – I’m just overwhelmed with the response to it” said Newman of the massive reaction which takes place on several Reddit forums.


    A post shared by Daren Newman (@daren_newman) on

    Well, designers, this viral post and the reaction it followed is nothing compared to the very official Tokyo 2020 logo plagiarism drama which took place four years ago.

    The initial design for the official emblems of the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics were unveiled on 24 July 2015.

    The logo resembled a stylized 'T': a red circle in the top-right corner representing a beating heart, the flag of Japan, and an “inclusive world in which everyone accepts each other”; and a dark grey column in the centre representing diversity. The Paralympic emblem was an inverted version of the pattern made to resemble an equal sign.

    Shortly after the unveiling, Belgian graphic designer Olivier Debie accused the organizing committee of plagiarizing a logo he had designed for the Théâtre de Liège, which aside from the circle, consisted of nearly identical shapes. Tokyo's organizing committee denied that the emblem design was plagiarized, arguing that the design had gone through “long, extensive and international” intellectual property examinations before it was cleared for use.

    Debie filed a lawsuit against the IOC to prevent use of the infringing logo. 

    The emblem's designer, Kenjirō Sano, defended the design, stating that he had never seen the Liège logo, while TOCOG released an early sketch of the design that emphasized a stylized 'T' and did not resemble the Liège logo. However, Sano was found to have had a history of plagiarism, with others alleging his early design plagiarized work of Jan Tschichold, that he used a photo without permission in promotional materials for the emblem, along with other past cases. 

    On 1 September 2015, following an emergency meeting of TOCOG, Governor of Tokyo Yōichi Masuzoe announced that they had decided to scrap Sano's two logos. The committee met on 2 September 2015 to decide how to approach another new logo design.

    Eventually, on 24 November 2015, an Emblems Selection Committee was established to organize an open call for design proposals, open to Japanese residents over the age of 18, with a deadline set for 7 December 2015. The winner would receive ¥1 million and tickets to the opening ceremonies of both the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

    On 8 April 2016, a new shortlist of four pairs of designs for the Olympics and Paralympics were unveiled by the Emblems Selection Committee; the Committee's selection—with influence from a public poll—was presented to TOCOG on 25 April 2016 for final approval.

    The new emblems for the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics were unveiled on 25 April 2016; designed by Asao Tokolo, who won a nationwide design contest, the emblem takes the form of a ring in an indigo-coloured checkerboard pattern. The design is meant to “express a refined elegance and sophistication that exemplifies Japan.”

    Note to oneself: this logo drama of Olympic proportions is still going strong.