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Thread: Copyright on a lone star block?

  1. #1
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    Question Copyright on a lone star block?

    Thank you so much for adding me to your site For a long time, I have had a lone star on my quilting wish list, and today finished my first one. I put it onto a share page on Facebook (a really nice one, everyone is kind) and was told in one of the first comments that the block was very similar to a book published some 15 years ago. I truly thought two things. First, I thought that Lone Star was a classic block that was likely in the public domain. Second, I thought that because my "version" is so simple, with just the placement of color as my distinction, that it wasn't really an extra-ordinary design. So when I saw that a book had been published, I went looking, and saw that while the swirl I created by myself was indeed in that book, it was utilized in a very intricate quilt, my heart fell. The last thing I want is to violate copyright.

    So, my question is, am I wrong to try and use this design as something for a very small scale, custom order or craft fair, sale item? In my opinion, a block that is public domain, with multiple tutorials online on how to make it, that I just chose color placement on, shouldn't that be OK?

    (the short version: I drew a lone star, spiral design, in EQ8. I read several tutorials and made my own, not using any one set of directions, and did not buy a pattern. I was then told of a book that had a similar pattern as the center of an intricate quilt that I had no clue of before hand. Can I sell items via small scale?)

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  2. #2
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    I don't have an answer to your question, except to say my grandmother made a lone star quilt about 40 years ago, not in that spiral design which your beautiful piece is, but a lone star, never the less. Would the issue be with the lone star, or the spiral?
    Copyrights are some times tricky, but I bet someone on here will be able to answer your question. And Welcome to the board!

  3. #3
    Super Member topper1's Avatar
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    Beautiful work
    Be kind today......

  4. #4
    Senior Member IceLeopard's Avatar
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    You cannot copyright an idea. I think you are all right -- and lovely quilt!

  5. #5
    Super Member GingerK's Avatar
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    There have been several discussions on this site about patterns and copyrights. Just do a search to read them all. I believe that the copyright comes down to publishing the 'wording of the instructions to make a block' and not the block itself. Please read the other threads on the board. But honestly, unless you are going to write up the exact same directions as another published pattern and use the exact same fabrics, I do not think that you could contravene any copyright laws--especially just for a different colour take on a traditional pattern.
    Never argue with an idiot. They'll drag you down the their level and beat you with experience.

  6. #6
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    The person who commented on your quilt was probably referring to Jane Krentz's book of spiral lone stars. Yes, your design is similar to the ones in her book, but that does not mean it is a copyright infringement. The copyright pertains to the writing and illustrations in her book.

  7. #7
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    In my opinion this is tricky. While the lone star is indeed in public domain, your arrangement may not be considered so. I would think you need some professional advice if you plan on marketing your design. If I recall other discussions, I am not sure they will answer your specific question.

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    You did a great job on that colorway. I have wanted to make one, but have just not wanted to fight with all those matching points. What method did you use for construction? Did you do stratas or cut each piece individually?

    I thought copyright had to do with selling someone else's pattern and saying that it is your design, but I could be wrong. Jan Krentz was one of the first to design a spiral lone star, but certainly not the last. Judy Neymeyer has several lone star patterns that her experts have made into Spiral Lone Stars. I've seen them on Facebook and they are beautiful. As long as you aren't making them by the thousands and exactly by the original pattern, it is supposed to be all right to use a pattern and sell a few if you want to.

    Edited to add: If you look at pictures of Jan Krentz' Lone Stars, she extends the pattern out to include some spikey blocks and an outside border. So, in my eyes, you are not really making a pattern she designed, but just chose a coloring similar to hers. https://www.bing.com/images/search?q...star&FORM=IGRE NOTE: These were made by her pattern but not all her work.

    And there are as many ways to piece and finish a lone star pattern as there are quilters. These are just some of the ways. https://www.bing.com/images/search?q...rn&FORM=RESTAB
    Last edited by Barb in Louisiana; 12-25-2017 at 06:13 AM.
    Sew a Little, Love a Lot & Live like you were dying!

  9. #9
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    Beautiful design and fabrics. Just keep a copy of your version to show your creative work.

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    Thank you everyone. I have absolutely no plans of making a tutorial, selling a pattern, or anything like that - I just am wondering about selling table toppers as I made this one. (This particular one is a gift but it was well liked by friends). Jan Krentz was the author mentioned elsewhere, but I didn't want to use her name as I'm unsure as to the full rules of this forum so far. But yeah, hers is so much more complicated) If my past sales are any indication, I might get orders for 10-20 of these, not anywhere near mass production.

    The confusion as to whether copyright is on the instructions and not being allowed to replicate the instructions for sale, or if it prohibits sale of the final produced product, is so confusing that it almost makes me not want to make quilts for sale, but I know that there must be common sense at some point.

    I made this design in EQ8, and figured out that there were 8 strip sets of 4 colors each. So, 8123, 7812, etc. I simply made 4 45 degree cuts from each of the 8 strip sets, then sewed together. The setting triangles were harder - they are all Y seams.

  11. #11
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    HudsonsBend...I appreciate you sharing how you did the stars. I love EQ, but haven't tried to design a lone star quilt. Now you are making me want to. I have a lot of batiks that would really go good in one. Thanks for the inspiration....
    Sew a Little, Love a Lot & Live like you were dying!

  12. #12
    Senior Member Pagzz's Avatar
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    The pattern instructions and illustrations from the book are copyrighted. Your work is not a violation.
    Peggy

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    -Chinese proverb
    http://peggybsquilting.blogspot.com/

  13. #13
    Power Poster Jingle's Avatar
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    Very pretty.
    Another Phyllis
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  14. #14
    Power Poster nativetexan's Avatar
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    quilt designs have been around for hundreds of years. so many people on this planet, one cannot help but duplicate others work from time to time. making money off it would be the only offense. Get back to quilting. you did a wonderful job!

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    This copyright thing is way out of hand. The idea that someone can tell you what you can do with a product that they sell to you is ludicrous. If you buy a quilt pattern from someone, you can use that pattern any way you choose (other than copying the pattern itself and reselling it). You can give it to your mom, you can burn it in the fireplace or you can make confetti out of it.

    What makes it ludicrous is that copyright exists under federal law. Who, exactly do you think might enforce this rule that pattern makers (writers, fabric designers, etc) think exists that allows them to dictate what people do with their copyright? Do they think they can go to the assistant attorney general and he/she will go to court and get an injunction that prevents you from selling a quilt you made? Equally ludicrous is that many individuals who design patterns don't actually copyright them. Just saying something is copyrighted (or putting a copyright symbol on it) does not make it copyrighted. You have to actually fill out the paperwork, have a sample, file it and pay the fee. A trademark can exist that has not be registered, but a copyright cannot be. What really makes it stupid of those who claim copyright rights, is that you can change the color, the size, bind it on the bias or anything, and it would not be copyrighted (it's not anyway). It's like a copyrighted recipe. You can change the amount of salt by 1/4 tsp. and it's not a copy of the recipe. You can call it yours, print it in a magazine and sell it on the street corner. The same would be true of quilts. It would have to be an exact copy even if the copyright extended that far.

    From what I've read online, this "copyright" thing has mushroomed into all the questions that keep on coming is Etsy. Apparently, Etsy has taken down some handmade items because someone(s) have complained that they hold a copyright on a pattern, therefore the item made from their pattern is an infringement of their copyright.

    Apparently, it's encouraged some people to claim rights they do not have. Just do a search for "first sale doctrine". It's pretty clear.

    bkay

  16. #16
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bkay View Post
    This copyright thing is way out of hand. The idea that someone can tell you what you can do with a product that they sell to you is ludicrous. If you buy a quilt pattern from someone, you can use that pattern any way you choose (other than copying the pattern itself and reselling it). You can give it to your mom, you can burn it in the fireplace or you can make confetti out of it.

    What makes it ludicrous is that copyright exists under federal law. Who, exactly do you think might enforce this rule that pattern makers (writers, fabric designers, etc) think exists that allows them to dictate what people do with their copyright? Do they think they can go to the assistant attorney general and he/she will go to court and get an injunction that prevents you from selling a quilt you made? Equally ludicrous is that many individuals who design patterns don't actually copyright them. Just saying something is copyrighted (or putting a copyright symbol on it) does not make it copyrighted. You have to actually fill out the paperwork, have a sample, file it and pay the fee. A trademark can exist that has not be registered, but a copyright cannot be. What really makes it stupid of those who claim copyright rights, is that you can change the color, the size, bind it on the bias or anything, and it would not be copyrighted (it's not anyway). It's like a copyrighted recipe. You can change the amount of salt by 1/4 tsp. and it's not a copy of the recipe. You can call it yours, print it in a magazine and sell it on the street corner. The same would be true of quilts. It would have to be an exact copy even if the copyright extended that far.

    From what I've read online, this "copyright" thing has mushroomed into all the questions that keep on coming is Etsy. Apparently, Etsy has taken down some handmade items because someone(s) have complained that they hold a copyright on a pattern, therefore the item made from their pattern is an infringement of their copyright.

    Apparently, it's encouraged some people to claim rights they do not have. Just do a search for "first sale doctrine". It's pretty clear.

    bkay
    Actually you do not have to register a copyright for your work to be protected. This is from the US government site on copyright: When is my work protected?
    Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

  17. #17
    Super Member applique's Avatar
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    You can sell all the toppers you want to with no problem. I would keep the work from EQ just as documentation of your idea.
    Debbie
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  18. #18
    Super Member Sandra-P's Avatar
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    I agree with bkay, and also with applique. Beautiful work also.
    Sandra

  19. #19
    Super Member QuiltingNinaSue's Avatar
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    Beautiful work. I had a class in Lone Star using the www.quiltsmart.com fusion pattern that was very simple to follow. They also have other pieced patterns that can be completed the same way. This helps to be accurate in getting all cut right way and sewing all together the right way. Sadly, I have not finished my yet...its a UFO.
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  20. #20
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    Beautiful lone star quilt-love your design and colors!

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    If you did not copy the paper pattern from a person and are not selling that pattern to others - you are ok. As far as the color selection and placement being similar - great minds think alike!

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    The interesting part of this post is that you had used EQ to design your lone star. THEN someone said they had seen your design in a book. When you tracked down the book, there was indeed one like it or similar. That cannot possibly be an infringement. After all, quilting is about taking shapes and colors and manipulating their placement. If we just plain copy someone else's plan, we have copied. If we do not use that book and move things around on our design board-that is very different. Yes, this copyright thing has gone way out of what had been intentioned and is widely misunderstood. You are on safe territory. Enjoy your design and don't worry about it.

  23. #23
    Super Member mike'sgirl's Avatar
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    I think that the copy right has to do with the directions on how to make the quilt, not the final quilt. Since you made you own directions out of many out on the web, you're ok. Sell it as your own design, because it is!

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