COPYRIGHT THEFT HURTS!
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It hurts the designer/copyright holder:
Every time a pattern is copied and shared, the pattern designer is prevented from earning money from their pattern. It may not seem like a big deal, but look at the numbers: Take the
example of just one pattern that is copied and posted to an online group that has 100 members. Each member takes that pattern and shares it with other online groups and friends, who then share it with their friends and on and on. The amount of people who now have that pattern illegally, who will not need to buy that pattern from the designer is unlimited. Even if the original copied pattern is removed from the first online group, with all those 100ís and 1000ís of people who have it and keep sharing it, the theft continues indefinitely. The amount of money lost is staggering Ė and if you think that doesnít hurt the designer in a big way, you are seriously mistaken. What you need to understand, is that each designer is a person, like you, who loves to craft and wants to share their love of crafts with others. Designers make very little money, and it hurts them deeply both financially and emotionally when their source of income is stolen from them by the very customers and crafters who want to stitch their patterns!
It hurts the violator:
If you copy or scan a copyrighted pattern and share it with anyone, by posting the pattern online, sending it by email or instant message, or even giving a paper copy to someone else, you are engaging in criminal behavior: THEFT! You are stealing money from the designer who made the pattern, the publisher who published the pattern, the shop that sells the pattern and everyone who worked hard to create the pattern for you to enjoy. You may think you are being generous by sharing a copied pattern with someone who perhaps canít afford to buy it, but you are really sharing someone elseís property that you donít have the right to share. It would be like you taking money from a bank and handing it out to others Ė you may feel generous and others may praise you for your kindness, but you are giving them what you donít own, and you have stolen it to give to others. Just as every movie has a warning that copying it is a punishable criminal federal offence, copyright theft of craft patterns shares the same punishment! You could end up in court, paying damages and stiff fines and even spend time in jail. - Think about it - Is it really worth it for you to break the law and risk the possible consequences?
It hurts the person who accepts the stolen pattern:
In many currently won court cases, not only the person distributing a copied/stolen pattern has been punished, but also the person who bought or received a copied/stolen pattern has been punished! If you are a member of an online group who shares copies of copyrighted patterns, you are an accomplice to the crime, even if you donít copy and share patterns yourself but are only receiving them. Ignorance of the law is no defense in court! It is your responsibility to know the law and obey it!
It hurts every crafter:
Designers have stopped designing their patterns, discouraged by the knowledge that no one respects them enough or cares about them enough to stop stealing from them. Ironically, these designerís patterns are in demand, or else no one would want them in the first place. Individual designers, publishing companies and craft stores are going out of business Ė they canít sell what has already been stolen and circulated for free. Eventually, there will be no more jobs for craft designers, craft companies and craft pattern shops Ė and all the patterns that you love to make will stop being designed, and there will be no new patterns. The rate of stolen patterns being distributed is quickly exceeding the rate that new patterns can be made Ė and sadly, the crafting companies, shops and designers will continue to go out of business very quickly.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP: It starts with you!
First of all, understand the law:
Fair use of a copyrighted pattern NEVER means that you have the right to photocopy the entire pattern and then share it with anyone! When you purchase a copyrighted craft pattern, you only have the right to use that original pattern to make the craft yourself. You can lend that original pattern to a friend as long as only one person has it at a time, or you can sell it or give it away when you are done with it. You can NEVER photocopy or scan a pattern and then share, give, or sell that copy to anyone. That is illegal, and itís against the law! Copyright laws are protected by the FBI, and it is a federal crime when you copy and share a pattern. Anytime you do this you are risking stiff fines and imprisonment.
Second, now that you understand the law, choose to obey the law!
If you have accepted copies of patterns, destroy them or remove the files from your computer. You essentially have stolen goods, and if you donít want to be caught with them, get rid of them! If you are a member of an online group that shares copied patterns, leave that group and let them know why you are leaving. If that group is brought to court, and you have documented proof that you left the group after stating that you will no longer participate in criminal activity, the judge may be more lenient with you. You may still owe money on the copied patterns that you shared or received, and you may still be liable for monetary damages, but you will be showing a good faith intention to stop breaking the law. The FBI collects evidence on every reported case of copyright violation, including craft pattern copyright violations Ė donít make the mistake of thinking that since so many people ďget awayĒ with breaking the law, that you arenít risking being caught and punished if you do it, too!
Third, tell others what you have learned.
If you truly care about your friends, tell them when they are breaking the law and how it can hurt them if they are caught or brought to court. Again, illegally sharing copyrighted patterns is a federal criminal offense which is a very serious crime, involving the FBI. Help to educate others about how they can obey the law. If you enjoy making crafts, support the designers, publishers and shop owners who have worked so hard to bring you these patterns. You can support them by not only buying a pattern instead of stealing it, but by also refusing to share or accept copied and stolen patterns.
Itís truly up to you!
You have a decision to make each time you want a craft pattern Ė will you buy it from the designer/publisher/shop, or will you steal it from them? If you chose to steal, you are choosing to hurt yourself and many other people. I encourage you to be honest and to help be part of the solution!
For more information on copyright laws pertaining specifically to craft patterns, visit:
Basics of Copyrights and Crafts
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
Online Pattern Piracy Article
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