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Topic: Is it copyright infringement to sell stuff made from a pattern?  (Read 24673 times)
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Crochet J
« Reply #90 on: January 25, 2009 12:41:08 AM »

I've looked into this before and the copyright is on the pattern, not on anything made from it. The exception would be trademarked items, like Winnie the Pooh crocheted characters. They don't make it so you can't sell items made from the pattern, you just can't copy the pattern and resell it.  Kiss
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antarcticraft
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« Reply #91 on: January 25, 2009 07:43:16 AM »

Crochet J,

That's not actually correct- or else companies like Lion Brand, or books like The Happy Hooker, would not be able to restrict the selling of objects made from their patterns. Here is some relevant information:

From US copyright law:

A “derivative work,” that is, a work that is based on (or derived from) one or more already existing works, is copyrightable if it includes what the copyright law calls an “original work of authorship.” Derivative works, also known as “new versions,” include such works as translations..."

And also:

"Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to prepare, or to authorize someone else to create, a new version of that work."

In this case, the derivative work is something made from a pattern, which means that the copyright holder can dictate what can and can't be done with their patterns. If the copyright holder states (on the pattern) that you can use the item for sale, you can (as with many Creative Commons projects). If they state you can only donate to charity or give away as gifts, then that's all you can do, legally. They get to decide, and they have to include that information with the pattern - which is why just about any pattern you buy or find on the web for free will state what the limitations are for use.

To sum up: you can't take a copyrighted pattern, make something, and sell it. If the pattern is highly original and complex, and you re-wrote the pattern in new language, you could still get in trouble if the original holder pursues legal action.

This applies to a lot of things - you can't sell cards that use rubber stamps if the images are copyrighted, for example.

There's a clear explanation of copyright law and derivative works here. It's also useful to check out the part about how you don't actually have to register for something to be copyrighted, which is why you won't see official registers for most patterns.

I hope that helps!
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« Reply #92 on: January 25, 2009 09:38:47 AM »

I believe this is the logic here, although I'm not 100% sure:

Making an item from a copyrighted work is making a copy of that pattern but in a different form, and is a derivative work.  Think about sewing patterns.  The pattern is copyrighted.  You cut the pattern out of fabric and sew it together.  You area WEARING an EXACT COPY of the copyrighted paper pattern, only in fabric, not in paper.  Clearly a derivative work.  With knitting and crochet patterns it becomes more difficult, because the pattern is in the form of directions which are copyrighted, not usually an actual graphic representation (although I have a few patterns like that) that can be copied.  However, the principle is still the same.  You are making a copy of the work, in a different form.

I guess what I have never understood is why people work so hard to justify using someone else's creativity and hard work for their own benefit.  Why would you WANT to justify selling things you make from someone else's patterns?  Why do you want it to be OK?  I realize not everyone can just make up a new design for whatever thing they might want to sell, yes.  But even so, I find it sort of discouraging. 

I will also say this:  It is ABSOLUTELY not illegal to get paid commission-style to make an item from a pattern for someone else.  If you are paid a fair wage for your time, and are provided with the pattern and materials by your "employer" you can, in fact, use someone else's pattern to make something for which you will get paid.  No copyright holder can ever deny you the right to get paid for your time. Smiley
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« Reply #93 on: January 25, 2009 09:41:44 AM »

Disclaimer: whatever I say about copyright law is almost certainly wrong.

Ok, I read what you wrote, then read that website, and I wonder if I'm reading it differently than you are.  They keep using the word "work" as in "you can't reproduce this work", and I've been taking that to mean the original in the original form (so, in this case, a crochet pattern written out or a crochet chart).  I think the confusion is coming from the idea that we can think of the finished crochet pattern as being a "work" as well.  I don't think that's what they're referring to at all.

When they talk of "derivative works" they refer to translations and re-writings.  I don't see any mention of "carrying out" what the written word says.  

Before the example of music is mentioned, written music is copyrighted, but so it the recording of the music.  I haven't seen any example of something similar that applies to crafts.  That doesn't mean there isn't one, though.

Again, I feel the need to stress that I think it *should* be illegal to sell an item made using someone else's pattern without their express permission.  But I still don't see how it's illegal now.


I believe there is a discussion somewhere else on craftster (possibly the business boards... this is a popular topic there) about making things from patterns for items that have been around forever, that the company (it's usually sewing patterns that brings this up) didn't invent the A-line skirt, for example.   To bring this around to crochet, what if someone wrote out a standard granny square pattern to make a standard shaped blanket?  Perhaps they are violating copyright law.  What if you learned how to make a standard granny square, from you mother perhaps, and made a blanket and sold it?

I wonder if what should actually happen is that the creators of patterns should trademark the design?  I've heard (and believe) that you can't make and sell a Mickey Mouse design, but that isn't because there's a copyright on Mickey Mouse, or a crochet pattern to make it, but because the design of Mickey Mouse is trademarked.

Trademarking sounds like an expensive endeavour, so I fall back to my original stance: people shouldn't sell things made from the designs of others without the designer's permission.

In conclusion: I have no idea what I'm talking about. ^_^
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« Reply #94 on: January 25, 2009 02:16:13 PM »

Well, you can't copyright an idea, nor can you copyright the design of a usable item.  (They have patents for that, if your design can withstand the rigorous steps that need to be taken.)  Which is why it is not, in fact, illegal to see a picture of a sweater and make a copy by working it out yourself.  Nor is it illegal to make, via traditional methods, any item which might also have a pattern written for it somewhere, as in the case of, say, a basic top-down raglan or a granny square blanket.  Patterns for such standard and traditional items exist in plenty, but if you didn't USE THE PATTERN to make it, you have no fear of having violated any possible copyrights. 

That being said, ANY pattern, regardless of how standard or traditional the object is, IS copyrightable, because someone DID take the time to draft and/or write said pattern.  Not everyone can translate instructions from the mouth to the hook, and those people often require a written pattern to be able to make even the most basic items.  Just as there are those of us who are not blessed with the ability to translate our own shapes into two dimensions and draft sewing patterns to fit and flatter.  It is those people for whom basic patterns, like an A-line skirt or a raglan sweater or a granny square are written, and the mere fact that it is a basic thing does not diminish the skill or time it took to present the pattern and instructions. 

Again, I say, in the case of sewing patterns, you ARE making a copy of the pattern when you use it.  You are making it in fabric, but you are never the less basically tracing the very-much-copyrightable pattern drawings.  Even if you ammend the drawing to be more flattering for your own figure, you are still creating a derivative work, just as you would be if you copied or traced a drawing by someone else, but changed the sunflowers to dahlias.  Whether or not the item is a basic one, it was the copyright holder, not you, who went to the trouble of drafting the pattern, and also publishing it, and if it is SO easy and SO basic, then should you want to sell items, why not draft your own patterns.  And if you cannot draft your own patterns, then you have defeated your own position, because clearly it is NOT SO easy nor SO basic, and you are very much cheating the copyright holder.

As I said above, knitting and crochet patterns are somewhat different by nature, usually, however I have no doubt that a court would determine there is not significant enough difference between a sewing pattern compared to the finished piece and a knitting or crochet pattern compared to the finished piece for the one to have protections the other does not.  I guess that would depend on whether such a case ever came before the court, but precedence shows that typically the courts generally err on the side of caution, and defend the copyright holders.  Who knows.

As for trademark, you can't trademark designs like that.  The pattern is copyrighted as a written work, and you would have to actually patent the design in order to afford it those types of protections.  Mickey Mouse is a trademarked character, but if you copy an existing image of him, you are still breaking copyright, in addition to committing trademark infringement.  The only question is whether works created following the instructions of a pattern are correctly deemed copies or derivative works.  Clear in the case of sewing patterns, not as much in the case of crochet and knitting patterns, except in cases where, for example, there is a color chart.
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« Reply #95 on: January 25, 2009 05:16:27 PM »

fantasticmio - the website is referring to "works" because it's written for people interested in print media and film, but the same LOGIC applies to patterns and crochet. In this case, the pattern is the "work," and the crocheted item from that pattern is the derivative - as in, it was DERIVED from that work. Thus the copyright holder (the pattern maker) has the right to say what can and cannot be done with derivatives (crocheted pieces) of their work. If their pattern states that FO's cannot be sold for profit, then they cannot be sold for profit. You could be sued for "damages," which in this case would be the profit that the original pattern-holder did not make because people bought items from you instead of them.

And, to echo Lothruin here, why would people WANT to make a profit from someone else's creative labors? It's not very crafty, and it's definitely not Craftsterly.
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« Reply #96 on: January 26, 2009 04:09:23 AM »

Well, I think we can all agree that the copyright laws could really do with some editing to make them clear to regular people!  Smiley

I totally understand why someone would want to do this, though.  It's *way* easier to make money that way because you get to skip the whole "thinking up ideas" part of the process.  Wink

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« Reply #97 on: January 26, 2009 07:57:06 AM »

The copyright laws are VERY vague, and there are many nuances that are never really decided until someone takes it to court and a precedence is set. 
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jollyjasjas
« Reply #98 on: January 26, 2009 10:18:58 AM »

I was wondering what you all think about  making something from a pattern book like say Happy Hooker.. and then selling it somewhere like Etsy. is that a no-no or is that acceptable in this sort of situation?
I'm wondering about something simular.  What if I figured out a pattern on my own, but it looks exactly like one that a popular website is selling?  I've looked high and low for that patter but there just wasn't one.. I then finally figured it out after trying 100 times.. could I then sell it myself for around the same price?
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« Reply #99 on: January 26, 2009 10:35:29 AM »

jollyjasjas - if it is a unique item, you could be sued for copyright violation if there is a pattern for sale for the item. If there isn't a pattern for sale, things get much trickier - if you're, say, copying something on Anthropologie, they could very well take legal action if you make the item and sell it (or a pattern).

Honestly, my advice is just not to do it. Respect other crafters' creative process. With all of these situations, think to yourself- how would I feel if someone made money off of my idea? This is one of the reasons we strongly discourage posting for-sale items on Craftster, and using Craftster to sell work.
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