Copyright Issues: Pattern Sharing

One of the things I love about needle art enthusiasts is their wonderful sharing nature. Unfortunately, in this day and age, there are ugly things that crop up like people wanting to get paid for the work that they do.

I can say that I have never had a copyright issue to my knowledge of my own patterns, but as a designer each time I see it crop up it makes me sick in the pit of my stomach. And there can be such acrimony on both sides. Designers who are tired of having to fight to have their work respected and not given away begin to get somewhat jaded. It ceases to become innocent sharing among friends, no harm meant, when people see their work scanned and posted on blogs for the world to have. Mass distribution, without the right to distribute.

For designers who have had to fight this battle it feels to them more deliberate and calculated. Let’s face it, there are those out there who are are cold, calculating, and don’t care who they rip off, even among needle art enthusiasts. Then the occasional individual who is truly innocent and doesn’t mean any harm can get into a real mess.

I have said it before and I’ll say it again: don’t put anything on your blogs that you did not make or create yourself. A scan of a pattern in a book is not something you made yourself. There is a lot of work and a lot of investment on the parts of a lot of people that goes into these publications. They deserve to be paid.

When you are offered a copy of a pattern, it would do my heart good to see needle art enthusiasts say “No, thanks, I want my own pattern. I want that designer to be able to keep putting out designs!”

Yes, that does happen. Many designers get very tired of this issue and ask themselves why they continue doing this.

Yikes.

I have been either fortunate or blissfully ignorant.

It isn’t that I don’t want to share with all of you, but here is the breakdown of my cost in a design: I have about 2 weeks of work in the pattern drafting, pattern writing, and graphics work (charts and schematics, photography and photo editing, pattern layout). I have around $200 in the test knitting, and about $150 in the tech editing. Now, you know I love you. But love just doesn’t demand that kind of price. It isn’t like we are married or nursed at the bosom of the same mother.

Guess how many pattern leaflets I have to sell to reach my break even point? Not including the cost of mailing yarn and garments back and forth or the cost of printing, or the cost of electricity and so on to power my computers and overhead of the office in my home? 750 patterns. For one design. As a designer, you know you have to have more than one pattern come out each year too. That is quite an investment. And as you might guess, it is a labor of love. Now if my designs were less complicated that amount would be less. There are designers who don’t factor in their time in working on the design as a cost of doing business, but that is a mistake. I don’t work for free, even for myself.

What is really unfortunate is that many independent designers, such as myself, should their copyright be infringed on, cannot afford legal expenses to defend their copyright. They have to weigh the cost of the loss of the design with the cost of an attorney’s fees.

Great independent designers exist because of the many knitters out there that want their own pattern, not one that is a photocopy given to them by a generous and well intentioned friend who doesn’t understand the economic impact to that designer.

My daily rant, I guess. Please feel free to distribute it. Let’s educate our sisters and brothers and keep designers able to produce more designs.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

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