The Dog Ate My Homework…er, Pattern: Send Me a New Copy Please!

The topic of customer service crops up from time to time on the lists for knitting designers, with stories of different kinds of requests and designers weighing in with different opinions on how to handle things.

The topic has cropped up again, and while I don’t remember the original request, it was something along the lines of someone lost their pattern or did something to the pattern, and they want the pattern replaced.

I have to be honest, this kind of bugs me, although I can see how we as a culture might come to expect this. As Erin (Hi Sweetie!) commented in a response to one of my posts, the mentality that the customer is always right is not, well, always right.

And there are some very kind hearted souls out there who will make a copy of a design from one of their books if someone emails them that their pattern is now ruined.

I think my biggest issue with that is that the folks who you really want to help are not likely to make that request, and folks who think nothing of taking advantage of someone’s generosity would boldly ask.

Not to mention, if the book is published through a publisher, they are asking the designer to violate the copyright of the publisher. We have the rights to our original work, which means that the original files – our wording, layout, charts, etc, are what we have rights to (depending on the rights sold to the publisher in the contract). We do not have the right to make copies from the book and send it to someone to replace something the dog ate. Why? Because what is covered under the copyright is not the design, it is what you see on the printed page. The layout, wording, charts, photography. Part of copyright law is the right to distribute. We as individual designers don’t have the right to distribute copies of a publisher’s work, anymore than knitters making a pdf and sharing with the world at large on the internet. When we make a copy from a book from a publisher, whether we are the original designer or not, we are reproducing and distributing without the right to do so.

Now, if the designer sent their original file to the person who lost their pattern, they would not be violating any copyright. The only bad part about it would be if there was a no compete clause or if they had sold all rights to their pattern. Ouch. They could get in some serious doo doo with their publisher.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

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