Friday Open Crochet Discussion: Copyright Boundaries

by Kathryn on March 2, 2012 · 12 comments

in Crochet Discussion

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For this week’s open crochet discussion, I want to poke at a touchy subject but one that I think is really important to consider in today’s craft-driven web-driven society. That’s the issue of copyright and where we each individually feel that the boundaries are when it comes to reproducing other people’s work as well as sharing other people’s crochet.

Crochet Copyright: Where is the boundary?

I want to talk about what we each individually think crosses the boundary of copyright etiquette. We’re not talking about legal definitions here. We’re just talking about what your own personal, individual feelings are on the topic as a crochet pattern designer, crafter and / or blogger.

So let me pose some scenarios that some people would say cross the copyright line and then you can share your thoughts on these scenarios or any other aspect of this topic in the comments below:

  • Scenario 1: A crochet pattern designer publishes a pattern on Ravelry. I purchase the pattern and start selling it on Etsy, claiming that it’s mine.
  • Scenario 2: A crochet pattern designer puts out a book of patterns. I get it from the library. I copy one of the patterns and put it on my blog. I give credit to the designer but don’t get permission to publish the design.
  • Scenario 3. I see a crochet pattern that I like. I publish a photo of it on my blog along with credit for the designer and a link to the place where the pattern can be viewed or purchased.
  • Scenario 4: I use a crochet pattern to create my own items for sale. I disclose that it’s not my pattern but don’t credit the specific designer. I sell the items on Etsy and/ or at local craft fairs.
  • Scenario 5: I see something crochet-related that I like on someone else’s blog. I copy it and share it on my blog. I don’t link to the original source.
I’m not saying that I personally have done these things (although if you want to guess I’ll admit that I’ve done one, but only one, of these five scenarios). These are just hypotheticals to get the conversation rolling! Now you tell me, what are the boundaries? Where’s the etiquette? What are your true stories about feeling like your copyright has been violated or concerns about how you might have violated someone else’s copyright?

Remember that these weekly open discussions are to generate conversation in the crochet community because your voice matters here. Feel free to say what you want to say on this topic. That said, please be respectful, especially when responding to others thoughts and comments on the blog. I’ll add my two cents in the comments as the day goes on.

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12 comments
sheri710
sheri710

I write a personal blog that is a log of what I'm working on. I use mostly free patterns and always try to bookmark the item so I can credit the artist. Many times I use things I've seen as inspiration and re-work the actual pattern to fit what I need if I use their pattern at all. Even if inspired by a picture I link back and give credit where its due. I use my own pictures of my finished projects. And only post original patterns or the alterations to a pattern. Some are gifts, some are personal use, I've made a thing or two for family/friends who bought me yarn or gave me a few dollars. My blog isn't a platform to sell anything. But I've never contacted anyone to ask permission beyond perhaps a comment praising the item or their ability. I don't feel anything I've done is wrong. A greyer area would be me linking to a pattern being sold, as inspiration without my having seen their work, and a pattern for my version of the item. Would that be giving a nod to the designer and perhaps them selling another pattern from their shop/blog or am I killing 'their' sales when I could post my version without any mention of them? I've seen my blog pictures on Pintrest and I suppose they or other social sites like Facebook or Twitter are OK but if your blog/web page/shop sports others photos its infringing on another's work. That being said, I remember what a friend told me back when chat profiles became popular "Once your picture is on the internet, you may own it in local court of law, but you are never in total control of it again. As with file sharing there has to be some give if only to keep your sanity. And ultimately we are responsible for policing ourselves in regard to what is right and fair. Perhaps from now on I will send a link of my blog page to the relevant artist and if I receive a negative response I'll make some edits.

thornberry
thornberry

Interesting! Personally, I have no issue with Scenario 3. To me that is sharing information about what you have found in a way that directly links to the designer and gives others the opportunity to purchase the pattern. It's advertising! But the other scenarios? No.

undergroundcrafter
undergroundcrafter

Scenario 1 & 2 are illegal in the U.S. and I would say unethical as well. Scenario 3 is more of a grey area. Legally, you can probably use the picture as part of fair use, but there are definitely people who would be furious that you have used their pictures without permission. Scenario 4 is the one that will drive people into screaming fights, debating until they are blue in the face about whether it is illegal or not. I'm fairly risk averse, so I would recommend working with one of the many designers who allows you to sell their finished products instead :). I'm not a fan of indiscriminate content copying (Scenario 5), but from a legal standpoint it probably depends on how much you copy...

As a designer, I tend to be fairly rigid about copyright - I want to make some money in exchange for the effort, time, etc. I've put forward for a pattern. On the other hand, as a blogger, I understand that sometimes people don't reply to your requests or don't have clear contact information on their blogs or website, so you may not always be able to get permission in a timely manner.

icrochetinoh
icrochetinoh

I think if you find a pattern that is not yours and you use it and then try to resell it at a craft fair you should try to give credit to the pattern designer when you know that designers/company's name. Same if you post a pattern on a blog or a photo on a blog that is not your own. I think people should always be credited with their work. I do understand if something was made and then you cannot find the name to give credit to, but I personally have tried to remember the person's name to the best of my ability, but there are some things I have made that I could not tell you who the pattern was by, that was in the past. I am trying to do better with that now.

momwithahook
momwithahook

@thornberry I agree however if the photo is of the actual pattern or a scan of the pattern in the book than I would have to disagree.

momwithahook
momwithahook

@undergroundcrafter Yes, totally agree about #1 and #2 being illegal.Okay when I read #3 I was thinking they were taking their own picture of their finished object not of the person using the picture in the book - that being said if the photo doesn't belong to you it doesn't belong on the net.[#3]

#4As far as patterns, I give permission to sell finished object but if I actually made money from my patterns as an official designer I wouldn't do this. Pattern sharing is a real problem even when teaching crochet classes. If one person has a paid copyrighted pattern that they all want to work on Technically each person must buy that pattern - no copies of the pattern should be made. If the designer has not given permission to sell completed item you can't.

#5 I've done this and I know I should take the time to ask permission before making a screen shot [which is a whole other copyright issue] but I always link back to the source. I do try and find CC photos of the work on flickr and then make a post around that.

CrochetBlogger
CrochetBlogger moderator

@icrochetinoh I, too, have made things that I'm unsure of what the pattern was because it was from quite some time ago before I realized the importance of recognizing the designer when sharing the work. I think in most cases the mistakes are honest ones like that, not people trying to intentionally steal designs and claim them as their own (although that certainly does happen).

CrochetBlogger
CrochetBlogger moderator

@momwithahook @undergroundcrafter I think there's an interesting point going on here about blogging issues and copyright. It's a big complicated issue and I think it's getting even more complicated as the web becomes more visual and image-sharing (Pinterest-style) becomes more common.

I know that I've toed the copyright line in terms of sharing photos without permission, including screenshots, but I try to always be clear about when an image is not mine, sharing where it came from and a link to the original source where possible.

I actually don't mind at all if people share photos of my work anywhere, although I obviously prefer that they credit me and don't try to claim it as their own. But then, I'm not a photographer making a living off of those photos. I take it a little more personally when someone steals my written content (which happens on an almost weekly basis) and I think that's more akin to someone stealing a pattern.

I used to fight really hard against those violations (of my written work). These days, if I see it, I try to get it taken down, but I don't fight it as hard as I used to. I believe that the web has gotten smarter and that site readers are savvy. They know if content is stolen and repeated and usually end up getting penalized or taken down. I especially love that there's moderation by the community in many ways. For example, I know of designers who have been told when someone spots their patterns being illegally sold on Etsy, so the community helps identify these things and gets them removed.

I don't know if I've exhausted my thoughts on this but I'll leave off there for now ...

momwithahook
momwithahook

@CrochetBlogger @undergroundcrafter As far as written content I see it all the time as people will just take the rss and add it to their site for 'content'. they even have software to spin the article and by a long stretch of the imagination they call it an 'original' piece.

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