(formerly TW Designworks)
Only by obtaining permission, in writing, from the copyright holder will you be in compliance with copyright law. If a pattern has been in existence for longer than 70 years, and no one has filed for an extension of ownership, then it may be "in the public domain". But never assume! Other ownership rights may be in place that exceed the life of the copyright... like 'trademarks', for example.
patterns often contain a statement by the copyright holder that a
"working copy" may be made for the stitcher's personal use only. To
be in compliance with copyright law, this copy must be destroyed when
you are finished with it.
These are some of the most commonly asked questions about copyright and needlework:
I'm not selling the copy of the pattern; I'm just making it for a
friend. I'm not making any money from it, so that's OK, right?
I want to sell my finished stitching on eBay (or where ever). Is that
This is one of those "tricky" scenarios: when people make *multiple* stitched pieces from the same pattern, and then sell them for profit. If this is what a stitcher is doing, a new pattern should be purchased each time the design is stitched.
creates an uproar every time a designer says it but before you get
all up in arms, please read on...
Look at it this way: If you are planning to create several stitched pieces from the same pattern with the express intention of selling them: You are manufacturing a product. A pattern would be considered 'raw material' in the manufacturing process: something you would need to buy in order to make a finished product (unless of course, you own the rights to use it). So, it would be considered to be on par with fabric, floss, etc. You must purchase those, correct? They don't just magically re-appear; you must replace them each time you wish to start another project. In this context, the same applies to a pattern used over and over.
When designers receive royalties on sales of their designs, what is happening is the publisher is paying (actually the consumer is paying, the publisher does the accounting and writes the checks) the designer for the use of that design, and every time the design is sold (or used), the designer is compensated for it. Or broken down further, if a designer self-publishes, what you are doing is paying a designer directly for use of that design when you purchase it. Of course, once you purchase a leaflet, it is yours *physically* to do with what you wish (burn it, trade it, use it to paper the parrot's cage)...but that use ends when you use the pattern to make money for yourself *repeatedly*.
(To be honest, I can't imagine anyone seriously considering trying to make much money this way: there are many much easier and less time-consuming ways to generate $... but that's just me...)
If someone is stitching the same pattern numerous times, but not selling the finished design (therefore not making money from it), then there's not a problem with a design being stitched as many times as you'd like without purchasing a new pattern. It's much like reading a favorite book several times for your own enjoyment. The issue becomes clouded a bit when the multiple stitched items are used to make $, even though the $ is funneled elsewhere, as is the case when giving it to charity. There is still $ being made, so permission from the copyright holder should be sought.
Rule of thumb: If you're making money (or planning to make money and then give it away!) from something someone else owns the copyrights to, there are strings attached! Protect yourself and find out what they are! Copyright infringement (a felony) carries very harsh penalties should you be convicted...please don't jeopardize yourself (a conviction will stay on your record forever) or what you own (you could lose everything) through willful infringement.
What if a pattern is out of print? Surely I can make a copy then?
What if I can't find the owner of the copyright of a pattern?
Some people say they are copying and sharing patterns because under
the "Fair Use" clause of the Copyright Statute, it's OK to do so.
Is this true?
Once again, please contact an intellectual property lawyer if you need legal advice about copyrights!
is no reason for ignorance of copyright law: if you have access to
the Internet, you have access to the information you need to educate
© 2000-2013, Teresa Wentzler. All images and information on this website owned and copyrighted by Teresa Wentzler, PO Box 176, Montoursville, PA 17754, USA. All rights reserved.