Free Knitting Patterns: What Does Free Really Mean?

Okay I know this might appear on the surface to be somewhat obvious, but I have my reasons to bring it up. I talked about Ravelry not too long ago, and it is proving to be a fabulous community for those who like to knit (and crochet).

One of the things I mentioned was having to take with a grain of salt what you might read in reviews, however. One person was having all kinds of problems with one of my patterns for example. At the end of her talking of all her woes she ‘fessed up that she had drastically altered the pattern. At least she mentioned it.

Today on one of my knitting lists for designers that I belong to, there is some discussion regarding Ravelry and the free patterns that abound…as well as the shopping cart that is to come. I have nothing against free patterns, there are many on both sides of that coin. Knitters who won’t knit a pattern they have to purchase (some don’t have the money and others won’t spend the money on a pattern “why would I pay for a pattern when I can get one for free?”, knitters who won’t knit from a free pattern, knitters who knit from both. Designers who feel they are good marketing tools, designers who don’t, and everyone in between.

One of the designers had a free pattern on her website (free for charity use). She was contacted recently by a knitter who told the designer that she had put the design on her blog (without permission from the copyright holder). This might not seem logical, but the pattern being free to use does not mean it is free to distribute unless it says so. I don’t know what kind ruckus ensued, but I gathered from the post that it was not pretty.

You know, I don’t know that any of that will change either. There will always be those who don’t understand what a free pattern entails. I would hope that at some point that in this day and age when we expect diversity and tolerance that we start to practice what we preach. I don’t know the situation with this particular designer, but I do believe that when a designer feels that their copyright has been violated, that a neutral contact requesting the violation cease is appropriate. Charges of stealing at that point are not. There are just as many who don’t understand, as there are who do.

I know there are people who frankly don’t care if they take advantage, but you do have to give the benefit of the doubt. that benefit of the doubt needs to work both ways though. Instead of being offended that someone is defending their work, a little understanding on the part of the knitter is a good thing too.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace


2 Responses to “Free Knitting Patterns: What Does Free Really Mean?”

  1. Ginger aka Beethoven Says:

    Interesting. What about putting a link to the pattern, which we always do on our posts when we are referring to Mum’s knitting project, ie so they know which one (sometimes Mum’s work can be rather, erm… you know, so sometimes it may be better to look at the real thing… won’t say more in case she reads this).

  2. jolenetreace Says:

    Ginger, I know I replied via email but thought I would post here as well. Links are always a good thing. You are breaking no copyright laws with posting a link…you are not distributing the pattern, you are saying where it can be had.

    It gets so confusing, the whole copyright issue. But it essentially boils down to profiting in some manner off of someone’s work. In the case of posting a free pattern that someone else made up, your every day blogger is not profiting in cold hard cash, but in content. Content is king, and even with free patterns they are still covered by copyright laws. In this case, it is the distribution of the pattern that would be infringed on.

    If I were to post a free pattern on my blog that was the work of someone else, I would make sure that I had permission to post it, and I would state that permission clearly at the beginning and end of the pattern. Not because it is required, but because I want to make sure it is completely obvious that the pattern is not my work, and that I have the full knowledge and consent of the designer to post it.

    Armed with that knowledge and consent (and the documentation to back you up, such as the email saying sure, you can put it on your site) then you are good to go and are breaking no copyright laws. The reason being that the originator of the copyrighted item (the designer) has given you the right to put it on your site when they told you that you may.

    If the pattern already states on it that people may put it on their blogs as long as the pattern is unaltered and you have their name on it, you do not need to get permission as it has already been given.

    One thing to note, web crawlers love links. You can increase your web traffic by having links to designers sites that have free patterns, particularly if you use phrases in the opening of your web post that have key phrases people use when searching.

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