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T O P I C    R E V I E W
ikkivan Posted - 05/25/2011 : 08:45:27 AM
I realize this subject has been discussed in several places, but here goes: I am using a free but copyrighted pattern for a hand towel printed from a web site. The information states, "You may not sell, post or share this pattern, or any parts of this pattern. This includes any derivative works based on this pattern, such as incorporating the motif into other works."

Now, I have just realized that this pattern, which I am making for personal use, is the same pattern as for one of the blankets in the Plymouth Encore book for 8-hour baby blankets. Except for different yarn (used two strands together in one) and differences in size and perhaps number of garter stitches on the edges, it's the same pattern. Who is to say I didn't make one of these blankets and say to myself, wow, this would make a great hand towel if I just changed the yarn and size, etc., or vice versa ...???

And for something as basic as a blanket or towel or throw or dishcloth, I just don't "get" this copyright business at all.

Donna, with intentions always bigger than her available time. (OkieDokieKnitter on Ravelry)
20   L A T E S T    R E P L I E S    (Newest First)
agnesgooch Posted - 07/16/2011 : 07:16:45 AM
Originally posted by pqpatch

I have seen circular baby afghans for sale on Etsy that I know are from a Herschnners pattern book. How do they get away with this?

I saw a seller on Etsy that was selling items made from Drops patterns. S/he did not have the actual finished product on her site, but said s/he would make them to order. I wondered how she could do that. I looked on the Drops site and it did indeed say that one could sell items from their patterns. Here's what it says:

"The sale of garments based on DROPS DESIGN is permitted as long as they are sold as single items or per order. Further commercial use of the patterns is not permitted. It has to be clearly stated that the garment is made based on a design from DROPS DESIGN. The use of DROPS photos for marketing purposes/sales is only permitted when only DROPS yarns have been used. The photo may not be cut or edited and the logo should be clearly visible. The use of clothes labels of which DROPS DESIGN forms part is conditioned by the inclusion of the following text: A DROPS DESIGN made by ...
We reserve the right to withdraw the permission for use at any time, notwithstanding the reason."
Kade1301 Posted - 07/16/2011 : 05:32:14 AM
Because it's perfectly legal to do so!
pqpatch Posted - 07/15/2011 : 5:11:44 PM
I have seen circular baby afghans for sale on Etsy that I know are from a Herschnners pattern book. How do they get away with this?
Kade1301 Posted - 06/24/2011 : 04:55:59 AM
Actually, you are probably right in that "fine art" is not supposed to have any practical purpose. In French there's three categories, which I once (only half jokingly) defined as: "art" (= painting, sculpture, music etc.) - beautiful but useless, "artisanat d'art" (= pottery, knitting, glass blowing etc.) - beautiful and useful, "artisanat" (welding, masonry work, carpentry etc.)- useful and ugly. Obviously that's oversimpplifying it (the grilles in front of my shop entrance and window are certainly beautiful, but nobody would put them into the "artisanat d'art" category).

But as for useful articles not being copyrighteable, I believe it's simply because the design of the article is generally at least partly determined by its intended use. The vast majority of pullover sweaters have a hole for the head and two sleeves, as well as fabric to cover the body. Now where would we be if somebody claimed copyright protection for their sweater and stopped the rest of the world from knitting items with the same basic shape?

Bye, Klara
mathiemom Posted - 06/23/2011 : 10:18:25 AM
The legal distinction between "useful articles" and "fine art" is very interesting, and IMO mirrors our culture's inclination to label knitting and other fiber arts as "craft" rather than "art", thereby assigning those who participate in knitting to lower status as crafters vs. artists. I've wondered whether this was a gender issue, i.e. creating useful articles has historically (at least for the last few hundred years) been considered "women's work", while the more cerebral and valuable fine art was, until recently, created mostly by men. But now I'm wondering whether this idea is rooted in a slightly different cultural construct, namely, that for an object to be considered "fine art" it can't serve any useful function (except to be viewed, admired, pondered, reacted to, etc.). I would argue that there is a lot of knitting out there, including wearable knitting, that truly is fine art.

I'm not necessarily advocating for a change in the US copyright laws - just wondering about this. Sorry to roam so far OT!

Kade1301 Posted - 06/21/2011 : 05:24:08 AM
The important difference between Koinonia's experience and knitting is that the mural is a work of "fine art", whereas knitters generally produce "useful articles" which are expressly EXcluded from U. S. copyright protection.

Bye, Klara
Chayah Posted - 06/20/2011 : 10:21:08 AM
This is all very helpful to me. I make lots of hats, and started giving some to my synagogue to sell at their winter sale, the money goes to help the school. I don't take any money myself. I began to wonder if I was violating any rules. Most of the hats are the kind one makes easily because we've been knitting a long time, but some come from patterns, so the information about clothing patterns is very useful. Many thanks, Chayah

"Each breath really is a new beginning of the rest of our lives." Jon Kabat-Zinn
Koinonia Posted - 06/20/2011 : 10:14:57 AM
Hello, Robin
I did sign the work and others signed it as well. Maybe thats where the rub was taken.
Guess if I wanted to be "pill" about it I could have taken my design layout to place in the Portfolio...but then again, I wanted to pass!
robinstephanie Posted - 06/20/2011 : 06:14:31 AM
Hi Koinonia--How odd that they would not let you use your own work, even if it was a work completed in concert with others. Did they ever discuss credit lines with you? I don't know if you use them in graphic arts, but I'm in publishing, and we use them all the time. We solicit permission from the person who owns the rights to the work and place a credit line in the book, something like, "Copyright XYZ 2010. Used with permission." In creating a piece of art, artists frequently borrow or cooperate. Copyright law has to have some kind of flexibility to account for this, and the credit line is one method I know of, though I'm not sure how that would apply to knitting, patterns, etc.


Different is good. ~Matthew Hoover
Koinonia Posted - 06/20/2011 : 05:33:16 AM
Copyrights are so confusing...but as they say, There's nothing new under the sun".
I went back to school for a Graphic Designer Certificate and of course the issues of copyright laws were introduced. I believe the teacher was also confused on the issues as many of the students confronted him with "circumstances" of coming up with this idea or that idea without seeing it in print. If the "idea" was register and confirmed, it is forbidden...and that includes using the idea in any project, whether a blanket or hand towel pattern even the re-arrangement of one's still the original designers idea.
The school went to extremes on this issue. Perhaps rightly they did not want anyone to get into trouble. For example: One class had a contest to do a mural on the hallway of the Graphic Dept. My group selected my idea to present. It was selected by the dean of graphics. All helped paint it on the wall...including me. When the time came for compiling a Portfolio, I wanted to use the mural and take a photo of it...I was forbidden as others worked on it and he claimed it would be infringing upon their rights. I thought that was taking the copyright issue too far, especially when it was my design, it was not registered and I helped in painting the mural as well. OKay, so I left it alone.
In conclusion, I believe if it is in print and registered it is forbidden to claim it as your own idea. The individual that has the original design can pursue the issue and win...and I mean win big!
I maybe off the mark on this confusing subject and many have better understanding than I do on take my "Opinion" with a grain of salt.
There! now I have two posts added. :)
Kade1301 Posted - 06/11/2011 : 02:32:36 AM
I'm pretty sure that you are not to make copies of cooking recipes either - the cookbook as a "literary work" (ingredients + instructional text + photos + layout, typeset etc.) is just as protected as any other book. What you can possibly do is re-write the recipe in your own words and distribute it - though I'd ask a knowledgeable lawyer about it if I considered making money from cookbook-rip-offs...

As far as loaning or selling my books/patterns/magazines is concerned: They are my property and I do with them whatever I want! And incidentatlly, that may turn out to the author's advantage: I've just loaned the second WSD magazine to spinning friends and now they are considering joining the association - which they'd never known about if I had not loaned them the magazines.

Bye, Klara Posted - 06/10/2011 : 08:24:39 AM
I do understand why you are not supposed to make copies of patterns that are available for sale...but what I don't understand is why doesn't that apply to recipes from a cookbook (or maybe it does?).

And if you own a pattern, can you "loan" it to someone else to use? If not, then how come you CAN loan someone a book you have purchased?

Or how come used book stores can re-sell a knitting magazine, or book? THEY get the $$, not the person who originally wrote the pattern?
Kade1301 Posted - 06/10/2011 : 02:30:15 AM
You can't - all you can do is not pretend that you invented it when in reality you copied it (that would be intellectually dishonest and do your reputation no good at all if it came out). Or, as a jeweller once said: "You design something and later you see in a museum that the Etruscans made almost exactly the same thing. And then you wonder: Have you seen a picture sometime in your life and forgotten about it, or are you really that good?"

As said before, in the U.S. there is NO copyright for clothing or other useful articles (such as baby blankets). Meaning there is absolutely no problem with you knitting and selling hundreds of hats or baby blankets (except for finding the buyers!). I was pretty surprised to see a scarf and a cowl that are extremely close to those I knit in recent Spin-Offs (which I had definitely not seen before knitting, and I don't think the scarf - which was sold - ended up with the person who wrote the article, even though it's not impossible. Much more likely is that we simply both looked at the pattern ("flame ribbing" in the 4th Walker Treasury) and thought "this is the perfect pattern for a scarf!" The cowl is 8 repeats of classing feather and fan knit in the round - not much "designing" involved either...)

What you must not do without the author's permission, is copy a pattern and selling this copy. Or take a pattern of the internet and giving it away to promote your yarn sales. In the U.S. the PATTERN is protected, the knitting isn't...

(Now, just to make things even more complicated: In France there IS copyright for clothing and accessories. There's a designer of It-bags who makes quite a bit of money from sueing competitors who copy his designs. You'd probably better not wear a hand-knitted rip-off Chanel jacket when walking through French customs...)

Bye, Klara

PS: Isn't it amazing how attitudes have changed since the subject was last discussed at length a few years ago? Or is it just that the knitters who shouted the loudest then are no longer active here in the forums?
kare Posted - 06/09/2011 : 2:06:01 PM
Last year,I knitted a baby blanket that I designed myself for our first great grandson - or so I thought it was my design. I've recently seen almost the exact pattern now on a well known yarn website - and they are selling that pattern. I don't want to buy the pattern to see if it is exactly my design, but it sure looks very close to it. So - even though I thought this was my very own can anyone ever be certain that there isn't another "copyrighted" design out there?
churchlady Posted - 06/09/2011 : 11:16:43 AM
The point about it not being in anyone's interest to litigate about a craft pattern is a good point; but you wouldn't want people to make your work worthless by giving away your work free at their store either, so, don't worry about the gray area stuff, we all know what's really not OK. Incidentally, on Ravelry, someone mentioned that when your gift made from a copyright pattern you promised never to sell gets to your sister-in-law, it may go right to a consignment store. Once clothing is made, no designer's claim on it exists. (Or so the Ravelry thread goes) One thing I learned researching music copyright: copyright law is really, really tricky. No one is going to sue my congregation, even though we have a little insurance, and some real estate. It's just not worth the hassle. But unless we use only the Hymnal, and pre-1800's music, the possiblecomplications are endless. Everybody just does their best and "Don't worry, be happy". Oh, no!! Is that covered under fair use?
lsparkman Posted - 06/09/2011 : 08:47:50 AM
Copywrite with regard to patterns and products produced from them is all about money. Well almost all, anyway. Unless you are making enough money to get the attention of some entity who has the resources to procecute, the most I'd say you'll get is a nice communicae asking you to either give them credit for the pattern/item, or stop using it.
Artists were not protected at all until a relatevely short time ago, and now, they're protected too much. I mean, read the other posts and you'll see. If some attorney convinces a judge your circle shape is infriging on their client's design, you'll have to pay. Really. But, in real life, it doesn't really happen, and if you do have to pay, it's a small portion. Like a slap on the wrist. Generally an estimate of how much you profeted from the copied material.
This does not follow for large infringements done intentionally, like some po-dunk company bottling Coke in Y-bangi and distributing it. This type of infringement will eventually be halted, and the offenders will be procecuted severely. This is the stuff we read about.
Having said all that, please be concienscious with your use of other's designs. The best advice I've heard on this is to do what you would like others to do with designs you came up with.

weavingway Posted - 06/03/2011 : 09:13:47 AM
I have also read (not sure where) that it is in selling the pattern that the copyright comes into question. To my way of thinking a knitted item is like potatoe salad, all the same ingredients may be used but the end result is different by every person who makes it. Using different needle sizes, a different joining, even something as simple as tension will change from person to person.
KathyR Posted - 05/30/2011 : 3:03:41 PM
I recently read on Ravelry (sorry, I don't have a link as I can't remember where I read it) that American copyright law allows you to sell items knitted from patterns but not the patterns themselves. The exception is if the pattern includes artwork of some kind. This always remains the property of the artist (or copyright holder) and you may not sell items reproducing it. I don't think, however, that the person on Ravelry stated where their information came from apart from quoting a letter from a lawyer. It did seem interesting, though.


If you always do what you always did, you'll always get what you always got.
My Blog (Roselea Fibres)
Kade1301 Posted - 05/30/2011 : 10:13:07 AM
I somehow have a feeling that there has never been a court case - at least in my years on this Forum nobody has ever mentioned any. The most exciting copyright issue was probably Alice Starmore way back when (details here: ) she sent a cease-and-desist letter to a yarn shop who wanted to post pictures of Starmore sweaters knitted by her customers on their web site. However, the GirlFromAuntie does not mention the issue going to court. And anybody can write a cease-and-desist letter to anybody about anything - in the U.S. it doesn't seem to mean anything at all without a court decision (unlike in Germany, where both possible reactions to an "Abmahnung" - complying or going to court - cost money). Tabberone ( didn't mention a knitting case either when I last looked on her web site.

Bye, Klara
mkfromKansas Posted - 05/30/2011 : 07:08:04 AM
As a formerly published writer, I understand copyrights
BUT I have yet to meet any member of the yarn copyright police. If I had made a garment that someone wanted to pay me for, I'd take the money in a heartbeat. I'd be curious to see how much punishment the court would deem appropriate, besides, I could use the money.

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