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Thread: Am I stealing? Or just borrowing?

  1. #1
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    Since I am so new to quilting I want to find out where the line is so I'm not a bad quilter. :oops: If I see a pattern in a book or on a webpage or another quilt, and make the quilt without buying said book or pattern, is it ok? Or am I stealing? I know I can't use it to make quilts to sell. But for the quilts that I give to family/friends? I'm just very confused on where the line is on all this. :?

  2. #2
    Super Member lfw045's Avatar
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    It is just my opinion, but if you aren't making them to sell and are giving them as gifts to your family and friends, I say go for it. If you can look at it and make it.........absolutely go for it. Again, that is just my opinion and besides.....you'll be putting your own spin on it when using colors that are to your preference, I would think.

    Linda D.

  3. #3
    Super Member Marcia's Avatar
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    I agree. I have seen quilts or blocks that I thought "Hey, I can make that" without purchasing the pattern. I often get ideas from other quilts I see. I do not think it is stealing. I call it inspiration.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Karenmay's Avatar
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    Its strange that this should come up now as Ive got the same problem! I was having a look at some art posters on the internet a few days ago, and found a print that I would love to turn into a wallhanging. It's a modern style print, which i dont usually go for at all but this one just caught my imagination I think! I would only be making for my own pleasure , to hang in my own house....not to gift it or sell it, so I'd be very interested in your opinions on this!
    Thanks for bringing the subject up Shelly!

    Karen xx

  5. #5
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    I think it's perfectly ok. I do it all the time:) If you have the skills to reproduce the pattern on your own, go for it if it's for personal use.

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    Shelly, I am happy that you asked the question.

    There is a very fine line here. As a quilt designer and pattern maker, here is my take on the whole thing..

    There is a wealth of traditional blocks that are in the public domain.. Where these are concerned, you can use them however you wish...Make them out of the same fabrics...redraft them,,,

    What you cant do is take someone elses work to draft the pattern, and reproduce the pattern and distribute it in any way. That is their work.. they created the directions.. this is a definate no no. The law says that any creative endevor is owned by the creator and protected by copyright law even if it isnt registered with the copyright office.

    There are antique quilts that are unique. These are owned by someone.. It is not ok, in my opinion to copy them without the permission of the owner of that quilt.. You cant use the image of these quilts either...For instance, if you saw a picture of one of my quilts on the board, downloaded and reproduced it, without my permission, that would be a no no,, If you did it and never showed it, how would I know, so you would probably get away with it, but you should just ask first.. Most people are very forgiving when asked..

    Now, If you see an original piece of work.. my quilt for example, you should either ask for permission to copy, ask for a pattern you can buy, or go on to something else. Most people dont have the skills to reproduce anyway. But many people who produce original art work do not want it to be copied, and it is protected...

    Ok I have reread this and Im sure you are still confused....

    But I will tell you that even the professions abuse other peoples patterns and work.. So I suggest you just be as considerate as you can and dont copy a real original..

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karenmay
    Its strange that this should come up now as Ive got the same problem! I was having a look at some art posters on the internet a few days ago, and found a print that I would love to turn into a wallhanging. It's a modern style print, which i dont usually go for at all but this one just caught my imagination I think! I would only be making for my own pleasure , to hang in my own house....not to gift it or sell it, so I'd be very interested in your opinions on this!
    Thanks for bringing the subject up Shelly!

    Karen xx
    In this case it is a no no to reproduce without the permission of the creator.. However, you most likely can contact the artist and ask for permission to reproduce a version of it in your medium... fabric and most likely will receive permission,, but they will probably not want you to create and sell or give away a pattern without some commission.. It did come from their creativity...

  8. #8
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    for instance, I have done digitizing for embroidery..
    on the internet I found drawings by someone and I loved them..
    I sent the person an email saying how much I liked their work and could I have permission to digitize some of the drawings FOR MYSELF...
    I was granted the permission (which I still have on my old computer because - sigh - I still haven't gotten around to doing anything with the drawings)...

    in this case, I have permission for MYSELF, I do not have permission to sell or give away the FILES. I do NOT have permission to make lots of whatever and then sell them, I do have permission to make one and give it away, or make say for instance a shirt with one of the designs and wear it....

    he did say that if I wanted to SELL somethings with his designs we could possibly work something out.

    there are a blue gazillion patterns in the public domain, fabric manufacturers give away awesome patterns on their websites (free for the download)..


  9. #9
    Super Member Mamagus's Avatar
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    I wondered about the same thing... most of my chicken quilt blocks were sketched by me after looking at other chickens.

    I feel this way about it: If I saw an artist's work ( like a Picasso ) and decided I wanted to try and make something in his style, I wouldn't be doing anything wrong. So why is quilting different?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janeen
    he did say that if I wanted to SELL somethings with his designs we could possibly work something out.

    there are a blue gazillion patterns in the public domain, fabric manufacturers give away awesome patterns on their websites (free for the download)..
    I want to take selling out of the whole thinking. I know there is a thread on this board about copyrights and selling things. I'm just talking about making 1 or 2 things for myself, my family, or my friends.

    With that many patterns out there....how do I know that a design that I came up with isn't already out there somewhere? How do I know that its an original? I really don't. Whos to say that on one site its free but on a different site, in different colors (the ones I'd like to do), its a pattern their selling? This is where I'm totally confused!!!! :? :? :?

  11. #11
    Super Member Lucky Patsy's's Avatar
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    Technique or style is not protected under copyright laws, so it is permissible to make a quilt inspired by Picasso's work or style because it will be substantially different from the original.

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    jstitch is correct. I am also a quilt designer. You can not copy someone elses work.....either for yourself or a gift ...without written permission. I don't want to sound like a meanie but someone took the time to create patterns, print them, market them, pay taxes on them......you are stealing. Plain and simple.
    There are too many sites out there that offer free downloadable patterns, why not use them.
    One thing that really upsets me is to see quilts in magazines or books that someone has "created" and all it is is the same tried and true quilt but with new fabrics.

    Just a couple sites are:
    quiltblocksgalore
    claudiasquiltshoppe
    paperpanache
    and dozens more......just put free online quilt patterns in your search engine and see how many hits you get.

  13. #13
    Super Member retrogirl02's Avatar
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    They have books at the library and I don't consider that stealing. I check out the patterns at our local libraries all the time. I'm sure that even though I"m not xeroxing them they have an influence over my quilts. I can't really follow a pattern to save my life anyway-----I think I'm a quilting dyslexic. If I need specific measurements or detailed instructions to follow, then I buy the book. Amazon has some good choices discounted.

    I would say for home quilting and just general pattern ideas, you're good to go. There are tons of freebies online. If you're stressing about it, be sure to google the block or ask in here. Somone is bound to know a link. :-)

  14. #14
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    I say do your thing Shelly and don't worry about it. I doubt seriously that the quilt police are going to visit your friends and family that you choose to make quilts for. :wink:

    I will also say this. Any artist in any medium should realize and accept that if they put their designs in a magazine or on the internet that they are going to be copied by anyone who likes them and chooses to try and reproduce them in a quilt in their chosen colors. It is a compliment for crying out loud. That is one aspect that I have never been able to wrap my brain around. They put their art out there for all to see and compliment and give them kudos for but by golly you better not make a copy of it even just for yourself.........selling for profit I can understand and agree with. Makes no sense to me. They should just keep if for themselves and be done with it and not tempt the rest of us who like to make nice things for ourselves.........sorry..........I'm off my soap box now.........LOL.

    If you would like to flame me for my opinion, please do it with a colorful quilt picture........LOL!

    Linda D.

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    Perhaps some of you have missunderstood the intent of the copyright laws of, not only our country, but many other countries as well.

    Several things have been stated here from , "if it is within my ability to copy, then I can and its OK, to "you should be so honored for me to copy you"

    I too have artwork created by someone else that I would love to make into a quilt, but have not done so. It is their creation and it is 'Stealing' to do so, for my own use or to give to someone else.

    Everything in this industry has been copied and not always has the orginator of the design, technique or idea been given compensation, much less any credit for the work. It is stealing, plain and simple. It is just like copying recorded music to share with your friends. And it can be prosecuted. Just becasue you CAN do something does not make it right.

    There are many many blocks out there, published in books and patterns. There is no reason that you cannot draft your own version of the pattern and make your quilt and even sell them. But if you make copies of someones cutting instructions and instructions on how to do it and distribute it, that is stealing.

    If you see a set of blocks put together in a quilt and want to do it, go ahead, very few things in this industry are new..most blocks date back 100 year or more.

    But if you see a unique creation, take a picture, enlarge it on your copy machine and reproduce it, you are stealing and people have been prosecuted for this activity.. and the idea that if you change just a few things to make it your own is NOT true, it is still stealing and people have been prosecuted for this as well.

    And this idea that you shoud be so honored if I copy your work is the reason that many many beautiful quilts are never seen.....And now makes me wonder if my photos should be taken down off this message board...I notice that several have been downloaded multiple times...

    I dont intend to take them down, but, making the point, I have seen some fantastic things that you will never see, because the creators do not want you to copy them.. as a result of this attitude, you are missing out ....


  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mamagus
    I wondered about the same thing... most of my chicken quilt blocks were sketched by me after looking at other chickens.

    I feel this way about it: If I saw an artist's work ( like a Picasso ) and decided I wanted to try and make something in his style, I wouldn't be doing anything wrong. So why is quilting different?
    The difference,
    one, is he is dead and to tell you the truth, without looking it up, I dont know who owns the copyright to his work..and
    two, if you copy the style, that is not the same as copying the work.

    If you make a quilt of one of his paintings.. that is stealing,, If you make your own in his style, that is not...

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lucky Patsy's "Mom"
    Technique or style is not protected under copyright laws, so it is permissible to make a quilt inspired by Picasso's work or style because it will be substantially different from the original.
    Not true. This is called "derivative work" and the copyright laws are very specific about it. You cannot just change colors or even the medium and be worry free. Here are some copyright myths explained.
    http://www.templetons.com/brad/copymyths.html

    Artists in all media have to expose their art to the public in order to eat. It's that simple. They have the right to be protected from those who copy their ideas and claim them as their own. Most of us will grant individuals sigular use of the work, be it a quilt pattern or graphic image or whatever, but you do not have the right to assume it has been granted just because we put it out to public view. To have your work copied without receiving acknowledgement for your efforts, be it financial or other recognition, is not a compliment. It is stealing.




  18. #18
    Super Member 3incollege's Avatar
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    I'll just say this-- If buy a pattern, I'm going to do what I want with it. If I diplay it or give it as gifts. THey got my money, they sold it!
    If you design a pattern and you don't want anyone to have it, Then don't publish it for everyone to see. Once you get it on the web, you might as well think of it as a free for all.

  19. #19
    Super Member lfw045's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 3incollege
    I'll just say this-- If buy a pattern, I'm going to do what I want with it. If I diplay it or give it as gifts. THey got my money, they sold it!
    If you design a pattern and you don't want anyone to have it, Then don't publish it for everyone to see. Once you get it on the web, you might as well think of it as a free for all.
    You said it much better than I did....... :wink:

    However, I have a question that is just begging to be asked at this point in time:

    As a Designer of quilts, should you have to acknowledge the quilt blocks or quilts that inspired your "new" design or are you just borrowing those old designs and just expounding on them?

    Linda D.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 3incollege
    I'll just say this-- If buy a pattern, I'm going to do what I want with it. If I diplay it or give it as gifts. THey got my money, they sold it!
    If you design a pattern and you don't want anyone to have it, Then don't publish it for everyone to see. Once you get it on the web, you might as well think of it as a free for all.
    If you bought the pattern, then you are entitled to make that quilt as many times as you like,, no problem there.. but if you copy the pattern and give it to all your best friends.. that is not fair or right...see the difference?

  21. #21
    Super Member Moonpi's Avatar
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    jstitch, I download pictures from here to get a better look. Generally, I don't even keep the jpg file - I just want to see the details that I can't see on my browsers.

    As an artist at various times in my life, I have had my work copied and used without my permission. It devalued MY hard work in coming up with idea, pattern, and execution. When I met and confronted the person who did it, she "tee-heed" and said I had "inspired her"

    I've had clients turn down logo designs, saying they "changed their minds", only to see my design show up on their business cards months later. It is hurtful.

    Most of the patchwork I do is combinations of time-worn patterns. Applique designs usually come out of my own head, then onto paper. If I have inspiration from someone, I talk to them about permission.

    One thing I see happening that bothers me is people claiming copy rights on old patterns. One in particular is the mock cathedral window, which I learned in the 70s, now being renamed and claimed as "owned" by several different individuals.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by lfw045
    Quote Originally Posted by 3incollege
    I'll just say this-- If buy a pattern, I'm going to do what I want with it. If I diplay it or give it as gifts. THey got my money, they sold it!
    If you design a pattern and you don't want anyone to have it, Then don't publish it for everyone to see. Once you get it on the web, you might as well think of it as a free for all.
    You said it much better than I did....... :wink:

    However, I have a question that is just begging to be asked at this point in time:

    As a Designer of quilts, should you have to acknowledge the quilt blocks or quilts that inspired your "new" design or are you just borrowing those old designs and just expounding on them?

    Linda D.
    Generally, yes...designers should give credit where credit is due and most of the time, I have noticed this to be true.
    If I draft a traditional pattern in a different size or piecing technique, I usually disclose this.. If the design came from an antique quilt, I usually share a picture of the quilt it came from or at least disclose that fact.


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    If I see a quilt either in a book, shop, online, or in a magazine and I go home, get out my graph paper, draw it up for myself, make it then put it on my wall or couch, I doubt the quilt police are going to batter down my door. What's at the heart of this discussion is intent. ]If what you want to make is for you and that's the intended purpose, then what "law" has been broken? none that I can think of. Let's face it, as quilters we are inspired by the work of others, whether it be a color scheme, a block layout, or a technique. Don't be scared to try out something new that you see, because in all truth, aside from art quilts, there's probably not one truly new block that hasn't been done already. Do you NEED to always buy the pattern? I say no. Just because something is published doesn't mean I'm obligated to purchase it when I'm perfectly capable of recreating it for myself. My intent just for me. Now, putting that same quilt I just made either on a website, or in a show, would obligate me to credit my ispiration or the original creator of where I got my idea. Then, the copyright scenario comes into play. If I did that, then my intent would be to gain recognition or credit for myself. Do you see where I'm going with the intent?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Moonpi
    jstitch, I download pictures from here to get a better look. Generally, I don't even keep the jpg file - I just want to see the details that I can't see on my browsers.
    Hey Moonpi, I wasn't saying that everyone who downloaded my pictures were doing so to copy or "be inspired" by them.. sorry if that is the way it came across.

    My statement was more to the fact that some posts here actually were indicating that if I shared my work then it was theirs to copy.. That is the point to which I was taking exception..

    You can look all you want and Im happy that you want to see the details.. As a matter of fact if you want to see something that doesnt show up, let me know.. Ill send you a better pic...


  25. #25
    Super Member lfw045's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by babeegirl
    If I see a quilt either in a book, shop, online, or in a magazine and I go home, get out my graph paper, draw it up for myself, make it then put it on my wall or couch, I doubt the quilt police are going to batter down my door. What's at the heart of this discussion is intent. ]If what you want to make is for you and that's the intended purpose, then what "law" has been broken? none that I can think of. Let's face it, as quilters we are inspired by the work of others, whether it be a color scheme, a block layout, or a technique. Don't be scared to try out something new that you see, because in all truth, aside from art quilts, there's probably not one truly new block that hasn't been done already. Do you NEED to always buy the pattern? I say no. Just because something is published doesn't mean I'm obligated to purchase it when I'm perfectly capable of recreating it for myself. My intent just for me.
    Exactly!

    Linda D.

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