My Take on Copyright Wank


I’ve been reading about copyright wank on Ravelry a lot lately, and I wanted to weigh in on it.

Here’s my take on selling FOs:

Contrary to popular belief, the designer’s copyright only goes as far as the pattern. Doesn’t matter what kind of disclaimers they may post to the contrary. If I bust my ass making a lace shawl and wanna sell it for $100, there isn’t a damn thing a designer can do about it—whether the pattern is free or paid.

I’m a designer too… I don’t give a shit what people do with the FOs they make from my patterns. Credit would be nice, but at the end of the day if someone feels like making 100 of my crochet nail polishes, sells them all, and never mentions my pattern—more power to them. As long as no one is claiming my pattern is their original creation, IDGAF what you do with YOUR finished object. Go crazy 😛

Designers that get all defensive about this issue confuse the shit out of me.

Aren’t you happy people are using your patterns? If you’re so concerned about people selling their FOs, why did you bother to release the pattern to the general public? If I made some (say…) super duper awesome mittens and I was afraid of people making a profit off of it I would keep it to myself.

Plain and simple.

Most designers don’t have the time to mass produce or sell one-by-one the objects they make themselves, so why should it matter if someone takes their own time to do it? It boggles the mind, it does.

Now, I understand if someone mass produced a designer’s pattern and claimed it was their original work—that would piss me off too and would probably be more of a legal issue then. But again, once you release your pattern out in the world, beyond your basic copyright protections, you don’t have much recourse.

According to Wikipedia, copyright law grants the copyright owner a number of exclusive rights with respect to a copyrighted work:

  • to produce copies or reproductions of the work and to sell those copies (including, typically, electronic copies) 
  • to import or export the work 
  • to create derivative works (works that adapt the original work) 
  • to perform or display the work publicly 
  • to sell or assign these rights to others 
  • to transmit or display by radio or video. 

Notice there is nothing about items made from instructions or anything else pertaining to our topic. It makes me laugh whenever I see a “copyright” notice that says “only for personal or gift use”. Fuck that! I know my rights.

From Knitting Daily’s Copyright 101 For Knitters (all emphasis mine):

In the United States, copyright protections do not extend to the utilitarian aspects of “useful articles,” such as clothing or other functional items. This means that only the artful authorship that can be identified separately from the functional aspects of such articles may be copyrightable: the specific ornamentation, for example, on a dress, sweater, or quilt, and not design constrained by the item’s function as a dress, sweater, or quilt. In general, designs for items that have any intrinsic utilitarian aspects are very difficult to copyright, and copyright infringement claims over similar-looking or even clearly derivative works are not likely to succeed. Be aware, however, that original artwork incorporated into useful articles may be protected, and it may be infringing to reproduce that original artwork for commercial purposes.

You can download a free copy of this eBook here.

Funny how Interweave rushed in after this passage to say they ask you to respect their intended usage blah blah they put in their publications. Notice they’re asking you to respect it, not giving any sort of demand or threatening you if you don’t choose to respect their heed.

Knitty had this to say (emphasis mine again):

When you follow a knitting pattern, you’re reproducing the knitted item. Well, obviously, that’s what you’re meant to do. The question is, did the owner of copyright in the knitted widget [and this presupposes that copyright protects the widget] mean for you to make widgets for sale, or just for yourself and for others as gifts?

It’s not always easy to determine the intention of the designer. Some designers, when they sell a pattern, make it pretty clear that their designs may not be knitted for resale.

Tell me… if I just finished making an item from a pattern and decide to sell it, how am I reselling the item? I am not selling the pattern, but the output of my sweat and hours of hard work. SO what the hell, Knitty???

Maybe Merriam-Webster can help me out here….

Definition of RESALE

1: the act of selling again usually to a new party

2 a: a secondhand sale

b: an additional sale to the same buyer

Hmm, so selling a FO does NOT qualify as a resale; who knew?
/sarcasm

Both Interweave and Knitty (no doubt) have designers howling after them to say these things in designers’ favor. After all, it’s their priority to keep designers happy so they can keep putting out stuff in their publications. At least Interweave had the balls (har har) to tell the truth and ask nicely if the patterns can be used as they asked.

So what can you take away from the culmination of my few hours of reading and research? (TL;DR Version)

  1. That you can make and sell items from patterns without fear of legal retaliation and not only that… 
  2. Selling FOs are perfectly legal. 
  3. When a designer says that you cannot make stuff to resell, you can safely say that you’re not… even if you make 1000 and sell them to a store. Applying such a stipulation to items that don’t exist at the time you get/purchase a pattern is ludicrous. 
  4. Designers who post such notices are ridiculous and are outside of their copyright protections. 
  5. If you decide to sell items from a pattern, don’t claim you made the actual pattern. It’s not cool and it’s bad karma. 
  6. If you make a pattern so super duper awesome and don’t want its’ FOs sold, don’t publish it. 

Did I miss anything? I might have… I’m tired 😛 

Also, please note that all the legal mumbo jumbo I quoted in this post applies to US Copyright laws; if you’re outside of the US, YMMV.
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One thought on “My Take on Copyright Wank

  1. Jeri says:

    You get it. You really get it.
    Some designers try to make up extra meaning to what a copyright is, and basically, they just tick people off. They make me think “who do you think you are?” And they make me mark them off of my list.

    Like

Thanks for the love <3

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