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Thread: Another copyright question...

  1. #1
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    Another copyright question...

    I asked this on another thread but it was the wrong place:
    1. If I copy a block, such as "Swoon" in EQ7 and make a quilt with it, am I infringing on someone's copyright? Am I obligated to send them money? (I'm just using this as an example as it's a fairly distinct pattern.)
    I ask this because I've been drawing a lot of blocks in EQ7 and doing a lot of different versions of coloring them.
    How am I to know if I've got something that is copyrighted somewhere? I have no plans to sell any patterns but this question has been bothering me. I may get inspiration from a block I see, then fool around with it and end up with another block that is copyrighted.
    When I was learning to quilt I make a quilt in a class. We all used the same pattern and similar fabrics. Someone I knew said that it was nice but she had designed her own quilt and (because she doesn't sew and never quilted) "just" had someone sew it for her. She said she even picked out her own fabrics. This was meant to be a left-handed compliment (given the source) but I just bit my tongue! What I'm guessing happened is that she saw a quilt she liked, asked someone if they could make it but add more of a certain block or something, then went with the woman to a quilt shop and selected the fabrics with her. I don't consider that she "designed" the quilt anymore than my picking out the colors and options for a new car means that I designed the car. (Okay, maybe that's a little much, I admit.)

  2. #2
    Super Member Quiltngolfer's Avatar
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    I don't know the answer to this one either. My friend and I were shopping one day and saw a pretty quilt. We started to take a picture and were asked to leave the store. It really hurt my feelings. I don't remember now why we tried to take a picture, but the lady made us feel like thieves. I didn't even quilt at that time, so I never meant to "steal" her pattern. My guess is if you intentionally copy someone's pattern exactly without their permission, you infringe on the copyright. If you make some changes, then it would be your new pattern. There are so many quilt patterns out there now, how can we possibly know if a pattern is copyrighted?

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    It's all about 'ideas'. An idea cannot be copyrighted.

    For example, think recipes. Quilts patterns and recipes are similar. It is a copyright infringement to copy the written pattern and to represent or sell that pattern as my own. Just like it would be against the law for me to copy down a recipe and represent it as my own recipe or to sell it as my own recipe. However...I can use that recipe anytime I want...I can even sell those cookies that I made from it...no copyright infringement. ....

    If I tweak the recipe in a decidedly and substantial way and write that tweaked recipe down in my own words, I have not broken copyright law.

    If I take a quilt idea and am inspired to make a quilt that is similar but decidedly different in a substantial way. . . that quilt is mine.

    However...the key words are decidedly different in a substantial way. You can't make a minor change and call it yours.

    It's all about ideas.

    However...that being said...I'm with Shazeeda...don't worry about it...just keep on quilting.

  4. #4
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    most, if not all, of the blocks that come with EQ are in the public domain.
    read the manual for clarification. in EQ7, they discuss the issue clearly on the first page after the Table of Contents.

    if you buy any of the companion software make sure to read those manuals, too.

    making minor changes to a copyright protected design makes yours a derivative.
    it does not relieve you of liability under the law.
    the owner of the first design could legally lay claim to your derivative and would likely win a lawsuit.
    I Quilt, I Nap, I Quilt Some More ... Aaaaah, The Good Life!

    I also have an eddres you can use if you need to contact me with questions or suggestions that relate to our community: [email protected]

  5. #5
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrandmaSewNSew View Post
    I asked this on another thread but it was the wrong place:
    1. If I copy a block, such as "Swoon" in EQ7 and make a quilt with it, am I infringing on someone's copyright? Am I obligated to send them money? (I'm just using this as an example as it's a fairly distinct pattern.)
    I ask this because I've been drawing a lot of blocks in EQ7 and doing a lot of different versions of coloring them.
    How am I to know if I've got something that is copyrighted somewhere? I have no plans to sell any patterns but this question has been bothering me. I may get inspiration from a block I see, then fool around with it and end up with another block that is copyrighted.
    The answer is no and no. A simple arrangement of squares, rectangles and triangles can't be copyrighted in the first place. The pattern *instructions* are copyrighted. No you don't need to send them money.


    Quote Originally Posted by GrandmaSewNSew View Post
    When I was learning to quilt I make a quilt in a class. We all used the same pattern and similar fabrics. Someone I knew said that it was nice but she had designed her own quilt and (because she doesn't sew and never quilted) "just" had someone sew it for her. She said she even picked out her own fabrics. This was meant to be a left-handed compliment (given the source) but I just bit my tongue! What I'm guessing happened is that she saw a quilt she liked, asked someone if they could make it but add more of a certain block or something, then went with the woman to a quilt shop and selected the fabrics with her. I don't consider that she "designed" the quilt anymore than my picking out the colors and options for a new car means that I designed the car. (Okay, maybe that's a little much, I admit.)
    Still not a copyright violation.

    You violate "the right to copy" when you take somebody else's written instructions, change the name to your name and copy and sell it.

  6. #6
    Super Member Lori S's Avatar
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    It is not a copyright violation. Did you copy words or sentences , or take an image to the copy machine, from a published document that has copyright protection? Then the answer is no , you are not violating any copyright laws.
    Let just suppose for a moment you see a dress at the Academy Awards and the next day you dupicate that dress... its not a copyright violation. If it was many many companies would spent most of their days in court, as those "one of a kind " dresses are often dupicated within days and sold in major department stores.

  7. #7
    Super Member EasyPeezy's Avatar
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    How can the Swoon pattern be copyrighted when it's just a slight variation of
    the Dutch Rose block?

  8. #8
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    Thank you all! One of the reasons I bought EQ7 was to be able to just have fun arranging and drawing blocks.

  9. #9
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    When it comes to copyright, it's dangerous to try to compare one thing with another. Patterns or designs for articles of clothing fall outside copyright laws. Lists of ingredients for making food (the major part of a recipe) can't be copyrighted either. Applying common sense to copyright is often an exercise in futility.

    Yet, I think copyright is very easy to understand in regards to quilting. Don't copy someone's original work. Don't make copies of any published/printed pattern without written permission from the copyright holder. (If it's published somewhere, it's automatically under copyright protection.) Technically you're also supposed to get the copyright holder's permission to display a quilt made from her pattern, but that is seldom done except for major quilt shows. (I think it's unlikely that the copyright holder would complain about the display of a quilt made from her pattern, as long as you give her credit for the design.) That's about it.

  10. #10
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    Thank you. I checked your ebay link and that pattern is beautiful and sure looks original to me! Now something like this really can be seen as a copyrighted pattern as it is a distinct pattern and not something that just says "cut 5 inch squares of fabric...". Some of the other patterns being sold don't seem to have that original piece to them so for them it must just be the directions that they can claim as unique. Certainly you're not claiming the copyright on the log cabin block but on your particular variation. And it isn't just a matter of your saying something like "make a log cabin block that is 20 inches square" and claiming that as your variation. But I'm also not well-educated on patterns and so if your pattern was published elsewhere but you had just put a different shape to the quilt (your hexagon border), would that make it "yours"? I think not and if someone took your pattern and varied it just a little, it would not be theirs either.

  11. #11
    Power Poster mighty's Avatar
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    If it is only for your own use is it really a problem????

  12. #12
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster View Post
    When it comes to copyright, it's dangerous to try to compare one thing with another. Patterns or designs for articles of clothing fall outside copyright laws. Lists of ingredients for making food (the major part of a recipe) can't be copyrighted either. Applying common sense to copyright is often an exercise in futility.

    Yet, I think copyright is very easy to understand in regards to quilting. Don't copy someone's original work. Don't make copies of any published/printed pattern without written permission from the copyright holder. (If it's published somewhere, it's automatically under copyright protection.) Technically you're also supposed to get the copyright holder's permission to display a quilt made from her pattern, but that is seldom done except for major quilt shows. (I think it's unlikely that the copyright holder would complain about the display of a quilt made from her pattern, as long as you give her credit for the design.) That's about it.
    The envelope art work and the written instructions in clothing patterns are copyright-able.

    However, there is absolutely nothing in copyright law about getting permission to display a quilt you made with a pattern you purchased.

  13. #13
    Super Member mom-6's Avatar
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    As I understand it the violation of copyright mainly has to do with monetary gain (or loss of the same by the copyright holder) from claiming someone else's copyrighted work as your own.

    Also as has been pointed out so many of the actual blocks used in anyone's quilt are traditional ones that have been around longer than most of us have been alive.

  14. #14
    Senior Member rush88888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dray965 View Post
    It's all about 'ideas'. An idea cannot be copyrighted.

    For example, think recipes. Quilts patterns and recipes are similar. It is a copyright infringement to copy the written pattern and to represent or sell that pattern as my own. Just like it would be against the law for me to copy down a recipe and represent it as my own recipe or to sell it as my own recipe. However...I can use that recipe anytime I want...I can even sell those cookies that I made from it...no copyright infringement. ....

    If I tweak the recipe in a decidedly and substantial way and write that tweaked recipe down in my own words, I have not broken copyright law.

    If I take a quilt idea and am inspired to make a quilt that is similar but decidedly different in a substantial way. . . that quilt is mine.

    However...the key words are decidedly different in a substantial way. You can't make a minor change and call it yours.

    It's all about ideas.

    However...that being said...I'm with Shazeeda...don't worry about it...just keep on quilting.
    there is such a thing as intellectual property, which means ideas that hold copyright. i am not an attorney, so i can't give any advice on the matter. if in doubt, contact an attorney; otherwise, use common sense and hope you are correct.
    "perfection is the enemy of done."
    "the secret to having it all is knowing you already do."

  15. #15
    Senior Member rush88888's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster View Post
    (If it's published somewhere, it's automatically under copyright protection.)
    copyright can expire, but i am not sure how long that would be for any given material.
    "perfection is the enemy of done."
    "the secret to having it all is knowing you already do."

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    Not sure if this is any help, but I used was taught (art) by someone who had previously worked in the fashion industry. She said that regarding clothing sold in major stores that was a 'copy' of a catwalk design, the general rule was that 'five small things' had to be changed from the original garment. This way, it was not considered a 'copy', even though they looked extremely similar - the alterations could be as tiny as putting different buttons on, or a different stitch along a pocket.

  17. #17
    Super Member catmcclure's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quiltngolfer View Post
    I don't know the answer to this one either. My friend and I were shopping one day and saw a pretty quilt. We started to take a picture and were asked to leave the store. It really hurt my feelings. I don't remember now why we tried to take a picture, but the lady made us feel like thieves. I didn't even quilt at that time, so I never meant to "steal" her pattern. My guess is if you intentionally copy someone's pattern exactly without their permission, you infringe on the copyright. If you make some changes, then it would be your new pattern. There are so many quilt patterns out there now, how can we possibly know if a pattern is copyrighted?
    I wanted to take a photograph of a wall quilt at the Houston show one time. The booth attendant asked me not to and said it was against the rules. The fear was that I'd take the photo and make my own pattern. Instead, she gave me some handouts with much nicer photographs of that quilt and several others. I really didn't have the heart to tell her that I could make a much better pattern from her handout than I ever could with my photograph.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quiltngolfer View Post
    I don't know the answer to this one either. My friend and I were shopping one day and saw a pretty quilt. We started to take a picture and were asked to leave the store. It really hurt my feelings. I don't remember now why we tried to take a picture, but the lady made us feel like thieves. I didn't even quilt at that time, so I never meant to "steal" her pattern. My guess is if you intentionally copy someone's pattern exactly without their permission, you infringe on the copyright. If you make some changes, then it would be your new pattern. There are so many quilt patterns out there now, how can we possibly know if a pattern is copyrighted?
    I had this happen to me once too and I had just purchased the pattern from that shop. I took the pix to remember the color selection they had used on the shop sample because it was much more attractive than the colors used on the pattern jacket. I was so embarrassed and my friend was in tears. I told the clerk who had just checked us out what I was doing and she still was horrid to us. Needless to say I don't shop there anymore.

  19. #19
    Super Member willferg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catmcclure View Post
    I wanted to take a photograph of a wall quilt at the Houston show one time. The booth attendant asked me not to and said it was against the rules. The fear was that I'd take the photo and make my own pattern. Instead, she gave me some handouts with much nicer photographs of that quilt and several others. I really didn't have the heart to tell her that I could make a much better pattern from her handout than I ever could with my photograph.
    That made me laugh. I can so see that happening!

    The Swoon block is on blogs all over the web. You can probably find a dozen tutorials for it. I don't see anything wrong with playing with the layout in EQ and then making the quilt. I wouldn't worry about it.
    People who start projects and never finish them are cooler
    than people who never start projects at all.


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  20. #20
    Super Member Scissor Queen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FubsyMog View Post
    Not sure if this is any help, but I used was taught (art) by someone who had previously worked in the fashion industry. She said that regarding clothing sold in major stores that was a 'copy' of a catwalk design, the general rule was that 'five small things' had to be changed from the original garment. This way, it was not considered a 'copy', even though they looked extremely similar - the alterations could be as tiny as putting different buttons on, or a different stitch along a pocket.
    The person that told you that didn't know what they were talking about. Clothing is not copyright-able at all. You can make an exact copy of any clothing item and not violate copyright. Trademark however is a different thing. You can not make a clothing item and put CC or LV all over it if you're not Coco Channel or Louis Vitton.

  21. #21
    Super Member vickig626's Avatar
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    my quilt instructor told me that if you take a pattern you like and want to make your own spin on it, you need to change it by at least 30% from the original...then it becomes your own. Sometimes when I find a purse or bag pattern I like, the instructions can be horrible. I showed her how I had to rewrite the instructions (for myself) then end up making a lot of changes to the pattern, she said it's now my pattern because of the amount of changes made. The bag looks similar but quite a bit different from the original. Not sure if this helps or not but thought I'd pass this along.
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  22. #22
    Super Member BettyGee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GrandmaSewNSew View Post
    Thank you all! One of the reasons I bought EQ7 was to be able to just have fun arranging and drawing blocks.
    EQ7 is a program designed to allow you to create. Selling someone's intellectual property using your name is illegal. Using a program designed to allow you to create your own design is not infringing on someone else's rights.
    BettyGee, quilter on a Rocky Mountain High

  23. #23
    Super Member justflyingin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by catmcclure View Post
    I wanted to take a photograph of a wall quilt at the Houston show one time. The booth attendant asked me not to and said it was against the rules. The fear was that I'd take the photo and make my own pattern. Instead, she gave me some handouts with much nicer photographs of that quilt and several others. I really didn't have the heart to tell her that I could make a much better pattern from her handout than I ever could with my photograph.
    That is for sure. What crazy reasoning she had for not taking pictures! I guess people are really insecure. With so many design ideas out there, a person who wants to design and not buy their own patterns, will. Designers need to realize that and just market their stuff to people who don't want to design their own and don't worry about the rest.

    Restricting pictures because you might copy it? That's pretty crazy, IMO.

  24. #24
    Senior Member TeresaS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scissor Queen View Post
    The answer is no and no. A simple arrangement of squares, rectangles and triangles can't be copyrighted in the first place. The pattern *instructions* are copyrighted. No you don't need to send them money

    Still not a copyright violation.

    You violate "the right to copy" when you take somebody else's written instructions, change the name to your name and copy and sell it.
    Perfect explanation! i would be half of these quilts are not copyright..Its more someone does not want them to copy their work. I feel it is the best form of flattery myself

  25. #25
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    Sometimes picture taking is restricted at shows also to protect quilts too. Also picture taking does make sense at times. And people do copy designs from pictures all the time so it can impact pattern sales in MHO. But it should be handled in a civil way. If you buy the pattern, the rule should be bent so that you can take a photo. Usually at booths at quilt shows, you are also asked not to take photos.

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