A copyright is used to protect a form of “Intellectual Property”. In other words, it is a way of protecting the time, effort, creativity and cost that has been invested in designing and/or building something: something physical and not an idea. By its very nature anything made or written has an inherent copyright. However, some people want to protect their creations because they make their living by creating. They do that by placing “copyright” or the symbol [© or ( C )] on their product. Sometimes they simply put their name and date on the item. They can also file a copyright with the government, which correctly implies that copyright laws vary from country to country.
You may believe that some quilters do not care to protect their creativity as they look upon it as a hobby, gift, or something to share. Beware that they may not agree with your opinion, or they may change their mind when they discover how special their creations are. Do not be the one they take legal action against to protect their creations.
Which Type Of Copyright Is Better?
If something has a copyright, a symbol, the date, or no notation on the item, they all are treated the same. In the event of a conflict the resolution depends upon the date of its proven creation. This can be done by any number of ways: copyright date, government copyright filing date, awards, newspaper articles, pictures, and the like.
Why Copyright Quilt Patterns
Contrary to my first impression, not all quilters can match fabric, envision combinations, calculate requirements, create pleasing geometric patterns, make patterns, sew beautifully, make quilts etc. My wife can, and I certainly cannot.
Often quilters look at an $8.00 pattern as if it took only a few minutes to prepare. I can guarantee you that even the ones scribbled by pencil on paper took much, much longer. If you want beautiful quilts, then support those who have the creativity to give us what we want. Support those who design them. I realize this goes against the desire to get something as cheaply as possible. You must realize, however, that misusing copyrighted material does not border on theft, it IS theft and you are being tempted to become the thief.
The Result of Copyrights
- When you buy a pattern from a shop, then you have the right to use the pattern.
- When you buy a pattern from a shop, then you have NOT purchased the rights to copy it [the “copyright”].
- You alone have the right to make quilts from it.
- Your friends do not have the right to make quilts from it.
- Your club or guild does not have the right to make quilts from it.
- Your class does not have the right to make quilts from it.
- You may have the right to sell the pattern, but those who buy that pattern from you do not have the right to make quilts from it, even if you give the pattern to them.
- You do not have the right to swap your patterns or trade them in any way.
- You cannot photograph a quilt and make a copy of that quilt.
- You cannot download illustrations, patterns, or pictures of a quilt and make copies of those quilts, unless specifically authorized in writing [which can be on the web] by the copyright owner.
- When you receive a quilt pattern free of charge, it does not give you the right to distribute it to others. It is the copyright owner’s choice as to how it is distributed, not yours. Free patterns have their economic payment in that you have been rewarded for visited their web-site, store, meeting, class, or any number of things.
- You must read the copyright wording. Some copyrights: Limit how many quilts can be made from it. Require labels to be put on the quilt. Require that the quilt is only for your use and cannot be sold.
Photographic Implication of Copyrighting
Photography is prohibited at many quilt shows and in our shop. The reason being is that many photograph the quilts so that they can make the quilt without the pattern. Even if the intention is otherwise often later the person who took the photo, or a friend, uses the photo to make a copy of the quilt of the item.Ask before “shooting”. Often people buying a pattern want a picture of the sample quilt to help guide them in their assembly of the quilt.
Buying a copyrighted item, for example, provides you with a “use license” to use the item in an intended way [e.g. you buy a pattern to make a quilt].
Often the copyright has wording is more specific [e.g. as to the number of quilts that you can make or quilt labeling requirements]. This further restricts you in the use of the item. The very fact that you have opened the packaging indicates that you have agreed to the terms of the license agreement, whether you have read it or understood it.
A copyright holder can issue different types of licenses. For example, Disney may license their designs/logos for home embroidery sewing machines and clearly state that items made with that design cannot be sold. Disney can then sell the same design for manufactured T-shirts, pencils, stickers, and so on. The reason is simple, they have sold the same design to others for inclusion on specific items for resale.
Likewise, some quilt books are very particular about the number of items that can be made with a design, whether or not they are sold or donated, and what the label on the quilt must say. In a similar manner, you may be offered a "free" copyrighted pattern for providing a service such as visiting a web-site or attending a class, or going to a given quilt shop. Just because you have possession of the pattern does not transfer ownership of the copyright to you and you cannot copy it or pass it around to your friends.
Want To Use A Copyrighted Item Of Have Questions About a Copyrighted Item?
If you have questions about the limitations on a copyright, then contact the copyright holder and ask for written permission [emails are usually acceptable]. For example, quilt patterns often limit the number of quilts that can be made as the remuneration to the designer should be quite different if you buy 1 $8.00 patter to make one quilt for your child, as compared to your quilt club using the pattern to make 100 quilts regardless of whether they are to be used for charity or not.
Trademarks are methods of name recognition by companies in addition to their legal name. These are also intellectual property and are protected from misuse.
Raggedy Ruth Designs, Perfect Corner Ruler, Perfect Corner Method, and the Sister's Choice block in the color scheme used on this page are trademarks of Forever In Stitches, LLC.
Want To Know More
If you desire more detailed information, contact a qualified copyright, intellectual property, or similar attorney.