Thursday, 14 May 2015

(Copy) Right or Wrong


As a quilt designer/pattern writer, copyright is a subject I've spent quite a bit of time looking into and thinking about. To try to make it clear what I expect with regard to my patterns, I wrote a page on copyright which you can access by the Copyright tab at the top of this blog (or click here).

Since writing that page, I've been thinking more and more about it. Everything there holds true, but lately I've been wondering... what is important to me? Why do I write patterns? Why do I want people to buy my patterns? There's the obvious answer (income!) but there is a bit more to it than that.

I want you to buy my pattern because you want to make a quilt from the design. I want to show you how I do things and for you to feel confident trying them for yourself. I want you to enjoy the process, to love your quilt, and to feel like it is exactly that - your quilt.

Yes, your quilt. So that means you can do what you like with it. Sell it, give it, auction it, exhibit it, donate it... it's up to you. You made it, you put all that time, thought, money, effort and love into it, who am I to dictate what you do with it next?

You know what else I want? I want you to share. If you like the pattern, if you think a friend would enjoy making it, then please tell them about the pattern. Show them your quilt, show them the pattern. What the hell, even give them a copy of the pattern.

I know! That's a bit of no-no, right? Your friend should buy their own copy, really. But you know what? I'm not going to jump on you and call you nasty names if you share with a friend. Please, please, please tell them how they can buy their own pattern, suggest that they do so (it's what I'd prefer, obviously), but don't feel guilty if they choose not to. I understand.

For me, making a quilt is about doing something I love. Writing patterns is about sharing what I love, and selling patterns is about doing that in a way that helps buy food and pay the mortgage. I hate that there should be guilt associated with quilting in any way, shape or form. I know that if you give someone a copy of my pattern you're not trying to deprive me of income, you're not being mean or nasty. You're not a bad person. You just want to share, right? And that you want to share my design, my pattern? That is a compliment to me, for which I thank you.

Having said all that though, do keep scale in mind. One or two friends is very different to a whole quilting group or guild, and different to a class of students. No mass distribution, please! Also keep in mind that what I have said relates to my patterns, not quilt patterns in general. If in doubt, ask. That's the safest and most respectful way to do most things, I think.

What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear them. :)

Hope x


8 comments:

  1. I think your attitude towards you patterns is very generous and very rare. Copyright is such a confusing and touchy subject. I think there are a few overly litigious designers out in blog land. Their attitude towards "copyright" over age-old blocks and ideas really turns me off their patterns. I buy quilt patterns for two reasons - I don't want to figure the math out myself and to support the wonderful person who did.

    On another note---I loved your Zig Zag Love pattern. I still need to make the proper size so that the lovely zig zag shows up, but I really appreciated all of the extra information in your pattern for customizing the shapes. I needed a table runner and your pattern was perfect for the recipient and the design was easy to adjust to the size I needed. Thank you!

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    1. Thank you Colleen. It is indeed a touchy and confusing subject in quilting and many other creative fields, and I think about it often. (So is originality, another thing I think about often!) I buy patterns for the same reasons as you. I like to support the pattern writers and, even if I do enjoy it, sometimes it's nice not to have to do the maths!

      Thank you too for your feedback on ZigZag Love, I'm so glad you liked it. I enjoyed what you did with the table runner, it was very effective and a great way to use the hearts. :)

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  2. Great post Hope! I love the spirit of this post and I wish others were like this. I know that my attitude towards certain pattern designers has soured a little when I've seen them go over the top (IMHO) in relation to pattern sharing, but I completely understand why they're like that. I guess I'm just more likely to support someone who understands that sometimes you just want to share with someone so they can get the same enjoyment from the pattern as you did. I kind of take the approach that if you're cool then people will be more likely to support you in whatever way they can. Great post!

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    1. Thank you so much Angie, I really appreciate your thoughts. I guess that because design often comes from such a personal place, some of us feel possessive and very protective of what we create. Copyright is definitely a personal issue, as well as a legal and financial one.

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  3. It is a very touchy issue with some people but I agree if you share a pattern of mine with a friend it is ok but sharing it with a large group is another issue altogether. I would prefer if they want to use one of my patterns for a workshop/class they contact me and I have happy to do a special price for the group and then everyone will have their own original copy.

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    1. Hi Cynthia, thanks for your comment. Yes, sharing for a class or workshop is definitely a different thing to sharing with a friend. I'm more than happy for people to teach my patterns, but definitely prefer they get in touch so that we can work out the best way to provide students with the pattern. I'm also willing to offer special prices for such groups. :)

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  4. I personally think it is ok to make the items to give to people or to sell, but I don't think the pattern should be shared. It's ok to show them the pattern but let them know how to obtain their own copy by purchasing one of their own. You are to kind to feel it's ok to share with a couple people but than they share with a couple and so on and before you know it the sharing has grown to 50 or so people.

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    1. Hi Virginia, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. You're very right that one share could turn into many, and it is something I have considered. I like to think that some people will go ahead and buy the pattern anyway, wanting to support designers, though many won't. As I said, I would prefer that each person buy the patterns, but in reality I know there will be sharing and I am ok with that. :)

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