~ Some Basic of Copyrights and Crafts ~
Craft Patterns are PROTECTED by copyrights - as with any work of art.
A pattern does NOT need to have a copyright symbol or words to that effect on it to be copyrighted. As soon as an original work is completed, the law says that the author or artist AUTOMATICALLY owns the rights to it, regardless of displaying those rights or not.
Copyrights are upheld for the entire life of the artist or author plus an additional 70 years after their death!
The person who owns the copyright is the ONLY one who can:
Copyrights do NOT need to be registered with the US Copyright office in order to be official or upheld by law. As explained above, that protection is automatic.
- Reproduce/make copies of the design/pattern
- Display the design/pattern publicly and
- Distribute the design/pattern by sale or lending
Copyrights are upheld and protected by US Federal Law.
As far as US copyrights extending to other countries, there are over 100 countries that agree to honor each other's copyrights.
Can I make photocopies of craft patterns/instructions/graphs that I bought?
If I buy a craft pattern, I have the right to sell the finished product such as at craft shows or bazaars, don't I?
- The answer is NO - ONLY the owner of the copyright has these rights!
What about craft patterns that are given away for free by the owner of the copyright?
- The answer is NO! Again, ONLY the copyright holder can do this. That's why it's important to get permission from the owner before doing this! A craft pattern is designed for you to make for your own personal use or as a gift only - not for resale.
Can I photocopy patterns/graphs/instructions and share them with my friends as long as I don't charge money for them?
- An artist offering a pattern for free does not invalidate their copyright! The same laws apply to free patterns as to purchased patterns - they cannot be reproduced, made for sale, or distributed without the author or artist's permission.
Remember that copyright infringements can be brought to Federal court as civil and criminal lawsuits.
- No, ONLY the copyright owner can do this.
WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN FOR CRAFTERS?
The implications of copyrights for crafters means many things. Some of the things you may have been doing without knowing it - such as making crafts for sale and photocopying patterns and sharing them with friends (or posting the scanned patterns on websites and sharing them that way) are illegal.
Making one photocopy of a pattern for yourself as a way to follow your pattern more easily is most likely acceptable to most artists. But sharing patterns by photocopies or scans is just not right - and in some cases, you could even face jail time and heavy fines! There is no difference between a craft pattern copyright or a music copyright or a book copyright - all are equal in US law.
The other thing to remember is that a lot of popular characters - such as Winnie the Pooh, Scooby Doo, Pokemon, etc - are all copyrighted - which means that they cannot be made into craft patterns of their likeness without permission from their owners. A lot of websites are being shut down after posting such copyrighted patterns. The website companies themselves often warn in their terms of agreement that posting copyrighted material is illegal and not allowed.
Permission is sometimes granted to companies to make craft patterns based on popular characters - an example is Leisure Arts publishes some craft leaflets with Winnie the Pooh characters - but this is because Leisure Arts has a contract and legal permission from both Disney and the A A Milne estate. You may even notice on these Leisure Arts Disney leaflets a large warning that you cannot make these items for resale. Even though this isn't posted on every leaflet, it still applies to every pattern.
What if the leaflet or pattern book is specifically made for bazaar crafts? I know of some titles called "Bazaar Bestsellers" for example. In this case the publisher is probably giving permission for you to sell these finished patterns - but it is always best to check first!
Artists work hard to make beautiful patterns that you will enjoy stitching and displaying for years to come. Many artists generously share free samples of their work - so please respect them and don't infringe on their copyrights.
Copyright Information in the Needlecraft Industry
DRG Network Copyright Bulletin
Embroidery Software Protection Coalition
Court Cases of Copyright Infringement
Craft Designs and Copyright Infringement on the Internet
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