Copyrights, the Law, and Use of Patterns
By msusanvaughn on November 10, 2010
In all my years, I have never had my dander fly so high as in recent days given that a pattern designer emailed me in a rather obnoxious and accusatory tone, and told me that I had infringed on her copyright by posting a tutorial on my blog using her quilt pattern. So, given that I know a bit about copyright law and know when I am stepping over the line with regard to patterns, I made sure that I was not breaking any laws before I let her railroad me into deleting some 7 posts that were a recent tutorial on my blog.
As it turns out, I was correct. I have not plagarized her instructions or her work, or her drawings. I have not copied her pattern in any way, shape, or form from the envelope. I simply purchased her pattern, took pictures while making the quilted table runner, and explained my process for putting it all together. You should note:
"There is no such thing in U.S. Copyright Law concerning "moral rights" of a copyright holder. Selling an item relinquishes future control over that item unless BOTH parties agree otherwise or unless otherwise specifically stated by law. And, there is no protection under the so-called "common law copyright" for things that are defined as being eligible for federal copyright nor is there "common law copyright" protection for things defined as being ineligible for federal copyright protection."
If I have done something wrong, then I will be the first to admit my error and I will swiftly delete the posts, but from what I understand today about the copyright laws governing patterns, she does not have the right to tell me what I can and cannot post on my blog regarding her pattern, nor can she tell me that I cannot post a tutorial on how to make this item using her pattern that I purchased, just as long as I am not plagarizing her instructions or physically copying the pattern. I even changed the dimensions throughout the pattern. In other words, you can't copyright a quilt block unless it is truly an original and unique design. You can't copyright a triangle or a circle. You can't throw a quilt together using traditional quilt blocks and claim you are the designer of a new copyrighted design!! I've seen quilt pattern after quilt pattern using the same quilt blocks and technically the same design - the only difference being the fabric used. The quilter photographs the quilt, makes up her own pattern, and wa-lah, publishes it and sells it as if she is someone with an original creative thought.
In my posts, I had originally shown an image of the pattern I had purchased and even told my readers to purchase the pattern for the sew-a-long. A number of patterns were purchased across the country that I know about to sew-a-long with me. Most of these readers are beginning to learn how to sew and appreciated the extra explanations, instructions, and images of the process. That is the purpose of my sew-a-long: to teach my readers from my experience as a quilter and seamster - not to give away patterns or infringe on someone's copyright.
The designer claimed that I was telling my readers how to make her table runner. Well - uh - yes. I was teaching them how to sew and quilt and simply using her pattern as a guided tour you might say by which they could sew-a-long with me.
Well, to make this long story short, I've taken a rack of crap from this lady. I won't be buying any more of her patterns. I won't be offering to post her banner in my sidebar. I won't promote her patterns even if she said I could scream them from the rooftop. I'm not even going to tell you who she is in this post because God Forbid I should ever breathe her name. She might actually make a sale!! She should have been thanking me for promoting her patterns and linking to her site from my blog, instead she blew a gasket of dimensional proportions.
So, I have published a page "Copyright - Know the Law!" in hopes that sewing, quilting, crafting, and creative bloggers like myself won't hit a wall of legal mumbo-jumbo every time they make a blouse, or sock monkey, or use a commercial pattern to show readers how to sew and quilt or craft or knit or cook!!!
And, I hope that those of you who have designed your own patterns will know that we are not out to "get" you or steal from you, and we are not out to take anything away from your creative patterns. If you are so enraged by anyone who would actually use your pattern to teach another how to sew or quilt, then for goodness sakes, stop publishing your patterns, lock them in a vault, and shut up about it! We are simply proud to be a part of the creative community and want to share and teach with others. I hope you will begin to realize that if you had to qualify every person who, over the last 70 years, inspired a quilt pattern or quilt block, or quilt in general, the world would be a colder place - because there certainly would be no more quilts, quilt tutorials, quilt patterns (inspired by other quilters and quilt blocks and quilt patterns), sewing instructions, or the like.
Every time a meatloaf recipe is posted, does the cooking blogger have to identify the first person who ever made a meatloaf? or risk being dragged through court for copyright infringement? If you post a recipe, it's out there folks. Like Julia Child, expect some blogger to come along, pick up your recipe book, and start a blog by making and posting pictures and telling stories of how he or she made every recipe in your book in a year. Change it up a little if you like, but a recipe, just like a pattern is protected only so far. As for patterns, they are protected from being copied and sold off as someone elses creative work, or copied and illegally distributed. But just as Ford cannot tell it's purchaser how and where they can drive their vehicles, pattern designers cannot tell seamsters and quilters how and where they can use their patterns after they have been purchased.
Yes, there is such a thing as copyright infringement, but this is not it. However, if the facts, as I know them, are incorrect, then please let me know so that I don't continue to make a fool of myself. But show me some "evidence." Good, solid, hard evidence and legal proof - court cases and federal law, that back up your claims. Just telling me that I am wrong is NOT enough. I have my legal proof, where's yours?
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