Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The final chapter on copyright and the needlebook

Before I go any further, I would like to say a huge and heartfelt thank you to the hundreds of ladies who have emailed, left comments on my last blog post, and responded to my newsletter. Not a single one was mean – every one was filled with support, encouragement and concern.
In the midst of some rather nasty internet stuff, the true spirit of caring craftswomen rose to the fore, and on behalf of Annie and myself we are humbled beyond words.
Bless each and every one of you.

Now to the final chapter on the needlebook saga.
I was blessed all night and day with emails from people who owned such a needlebook, had purchased a pattern for the needelbook design, knew of places to purchase the same design, and even a published book title with the design featured.

It’s not new. It is as Annie claimed – a vintage needlebook design. It actually dates back to the 1930’s, but I wonder if that was a copy of one even older? We may never know the absolute origin, but we do know that it’s a popular design that has been around for at least 80 years.

Online you can purchase the same simple design at Nordic Needle
 …or buy the cross-stitch version by La-d-da designs
 …or track down the gorgeous pattern by Jackie du Plessis. This photo is from the Starry Eyed Stitcher blog.

The question of design ownership and copyright has been a big part of this dilemma, so I would like to address this. A talented designer, Angie, has sent me a copy of the International Copyright Laws, and in a nutshell, this is what is says –
"What is the distinction between a protected work and a mere idea?
The distinction between protected works and ideas lies at the very heart of copyright law. The protection of a given work applies to the expressions of ideas that are contained therein. Mere ideas found in a work cannot be protected by copyright and may be used freely. Accordingly, in order for copyright in a work to be infringed or violated, one has to copy the form in which the ideas are expressed. The mere use of the ideas found in a work does not represent a copyright violation."
Download the document HERE for further reading.

What this means is that those who have seen an original version of the needlebook, and then drawn up their own copy of the design and written their own instructions, are not violating copyright.
If you cut and paste what someone else has done, or you photocopy the design to use and call it your own, you are in violation of the law. If you write down their instructions you are in violation.
To be free from violation you must do all the drawing and writing yourself, making sure you write the pattern in your own words and not repeat the original author. I also believe that if you know the name of the original designer it is courtesy to give them credit for the inspiration. Even if you just saw the needlebook in someone else’s possession and were inspired to write your own copy, state that when you do your pattern.
This is exactly what Annie did in the pattern she sent me for proof-reading, and it’s what my subscribers would have read when it appeared in the magazine.

So, Annie did not violate copyright, nor did others who have made a tutorial or a pattern after seeing one the same – as long as they wrote the pattern in their own words and drew up their own template.

I hope this clears all misunderstandings. I can now safely publish Annie’s needlebook pattern (in its entirety) in Elefantz HOME as she openly states in the pattern that she saw the design, then went home and drew it up and wrote the instructions. 

I was reminded by a friend yesterday that this duplicating of a common design can occur in so many ways. My friend Dawn made me the prettiest strawberry pincushion as a scissor keep last year....
 ...and I thought I’d like to make some for gifts so I went to google to find a pattern or tutorial – I found so many! Just type in ‘tutorial strawberry pincushion’ and make your choice from a long list.
But where did the design originate? I have no idea. I look at this needlebook design in the same way now.

You can use any of the links above to purchase the pattern in simple form, beautiful cross-stitch, or buy the Lark book to grab 100 great sewing ideas -  or visit these sites to make one from a tutorial or pattern:

(for a whole bunch of free needlebook designs go HERE to tipnut)
Copyright is a very tricky one these days, and sadly many people who really are the first to write something or make something get burned by less scrupulous people.
Visit Kerryanne’s blog to read of her experience. I was deeply saddened for her, but also very impressed with how she handled it.

The most important thing for us all is to respect anybody's original intellectual and creative work. If you use their tutorial, say so on your blog, and if you use a book or an item for inspiration to make a design, tell others that as well. I have been accused of copying another, but it turned out my designs pre-dated hers by two years. I could have said she copied me, but I do not believe she did. There were similarities, but really? There is nothing new under the sun….

God bless you all.
I am closing comments for this blog post as I am needing time to stop and stitch, to quiet my mind for a while, and to make scones for my husband.
But feel free to visit Annie HERE and give her a hug.