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Crafters urged to get educated about copyrights

September 14, 2011

I found this article in the Worthington (MN) Globe, 9/14/11 edition, and thought it would be some good info to share:




NEW YORK – As a crafter, you  put time, talent and care into each creation.  Experts say you should also spend a few moments making sure you’re not violating any copyrights and protecting your own original work.

“We all love to crete, but very few of us know what the rules are,” said Tammy Browning-Smith, an Amherst, Ohio-based attorney who concentrates on intellectual property law in creative industries, including arts and crafts.

She says crafters’ most common mistake when it comes to copyrights is assuming they can use another person’s work, whether it’s photocopying a pattern or making a replica of an item seen online.  Her recommendation:  Always check the designer’s, manufacturer’s or publisher’s instructions.  Often, it takes only seconds of research to make sure you’re not infringing on someone else’s idea, she said.

“Crafting is meant to be fun, and it’s just a very small thing to follow basic respect of others and enjoy it even more,” Browning-Smith said.

So what’s the harm in photocopying a pattern for a friend, or sewing a handmade Mickey Mouse or Strawberry Shortcake onto a child’s T-shirt?

If the copyright owner hasn’t given you permission to use the material and would see your use as infringement, then it’s illegal.  Some companies have bought the rights to make patterns based on TV and movie characters.  Even if you buy an approved pattern to make an item featuring a copyrighted character, you can’t put it up for resale without the copyright owner’s direct permission.

At her website, Craft Designs for You, Cherie Marie Leck reminds crafters that other artists make a living designing patterns and instruction books.  Every time you copy an idea without paying, she said, you are taking money from them, the shop owners who sell the patterns and the publishers who print them.

“Designers make very little money, and it hurts them deeply both financially and emotionally when the source of income is stolen from them by the very customers and crafters who want to stitch their patterns,” she writes.


I would like to add to this by saying that there are MANY pattern designers out there who design for crafters who intend to sell their finished product.  If you are in doubt as to whether or not you can make an item for resale, and permission is not given on the pattern, I would definitely like to recommend that you call or email that designer or publisher.  Better safe than sorry!  Have a crafty day!



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