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Thread: HELP! how does sharing a pattern work?

  1. #1
    Super Member just_the_scraps_m'am's Avatar
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    i have an old pattern from years ago and i would like to share
    with others. isn't it possible to share it as long as i don't profit? or do i still need permission from the maker or what?
    i would be willing to bet the copyright ran out on this one!!!
    thanks ahead of time for your participation--i think i will research this further.....

  2. #2
    Super Member butterflywing's Avatar
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    i would check with patrice on this one. she's knowledgeable about this stuff.

  3. #3
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    The copyright extends 50 years after the maker of the pattern dies, so chances are your pattern is still covered. Whether you profit from it has no bearing on the copyright. You need the permission of the person who holds the copyright to make copies. (That's kind of what the word "copyright" implies.)

    However... you can legally sell or give the original pattern to someone else (without keeping any copies, of course).

    This is the best explanation I have found concerning copyright: http://www.quilt.com/FAQS/CopyrightFAQ.html

  4. #4
    Super Member Quilt Mom's Avatar
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    Thanks for the explanation!

  5. #5
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    If there is no copyright symbol or copyright statement on the pattern then you can share.

  6. #6
    Super Member just_the_scraps_m'am's Avatar
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    thanks for your help

  7. #7
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BellaBoo
    If there is no copyright symbol or copyright statement on the pattern then you can share.
    I don't think this is true. A copyright doesn't have to be applied for, or stated, for an author's works to be protected.

  8. #8
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    I was told by a lawyer that if the creator did not protect the work it was free game. I think lawyers all have different views what is and isn't law. Seems that way sometimes. I think common sense went out the door in our courts long ago.

  9. #9
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    what pattern is it???
    mema

  10. #10
    Administrator Admin's Avatar
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    If there is no copyright symbol or copyright statement on the pattern then you can share.
    This is most certainly not true.

    I was told by a lawyer that if the creator did not protect the work it was free game.
    Uncle Sam disagrees with your lawyer :)

    http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/fa...al.html#mywork

  11. #11
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BellaBoo
    If there is no copyright symbol or copyright statement on the pattern then you can share.
    that's no safe indicator. what if there was a statement and the first pirate removed it? you have no way to know.

    a block pattern has two major elements: (1) the block itself; and (2) the instructions for making the block. there are hundreds, if not thousands, of blocks in the public domain (not under copyright). so you can use a public domain block without anybody else's permission. HOWEVER, the instructions are probably protected unless they were written before the 1970s (and then it gets really complicated.)

    a quilt pattern consists of the block(s), the way they're arranged (the layout), and the instructions. there are different schools of thought about whether a designer can slap a copyright on a layout made entirely of public domain blocks. i read somewhere that a few designers have won that argument in court. in any case, we are still left with the instructions.

    most people share. i used to but don't anymore. i put myself in the designer's shoes now.

    if a designer is giving away a pattern, it's usually to attract attention to the things she/he offers for sale. if we just pass around her patterns, we're taking away her opportunity to benefit from the pattern. why not just tell people where we got it and let them get their own legal copy?

    if a designer is selling the pattern and we give away copies of it, then we are stealing from her/him. it really is that simple.

    here's my personal "rule of thumb": if i didn't write the instructions, and there is no statement that gives permission to make and pass out copies to others, then i don't do it. if i know the block is in the public domain, then i write my own instructions and decide for myself whether or not to share them.

  12. #12
    Super Member Quilt Mom's Avatar
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    Thanks, Patrice! Well said.

  13. #13
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    Actually, copyright in detail is tricky, and can differ quite a bit depending on which country you are in.

    For instance as a general rule, in European countries copyright exists irrespective of whether or not the creator placed a copyright notice on their work.

    I'd say if in doubt, respect another person's creation and assume there may be copyright protection! It's what I want to happen with my own work, so it's what I want to do for others as well. Just another 2c. :-)

  14. #14
    Super Member sewcrafty's Avatar
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    I believe that the copyright is more along the design aspect unless its a true NEW block. A lot of blocks have resurfaced and adapted to a certain color scheme, etc. I don't know if you can copywrite a pattern that originally came out in the 1800's for free?

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    what pattern is it

  16. #16
    Power Poster BellaBoo's Avatar
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    My neighbor's son works at a publishing company. It is a well known company. He said they seldom take copyright cases to court unless profit/credit is being made illegally. Too expensive and nonsensical to sue Aunt Jane for copying a pattern from a book to give to Grandma Sally. For what it's worth, it should be a matter of what is the right thing to do, not what you can get away with.

  17. #17
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sewcrafty
    I believe that the copyright is more along the design aspect unless its a true NEW block. A lot of blocks have resurfaced and adapted to a certain color scheme, etc. I don't know if you can copywrite a pattern that originally came out in the 1800's for free?
    This is a question that keeps coming up, and I think it's because we don't have specific terminology to refer to a design (by which I mean specific blocks with or without a layout) vs. a pattern (by which I mean a printed or digital description that shows and/or describes those blocks and possibly tells how to make them). (Those are my definitions, for now.)

    Let's say that I write out instructions for making a quilt using just rectangles and flying geese. I obviously can't copyright the blocks themselves. Let's say the layout I describe is just alternating blocks, so I can't copyright the layout. However - my pattern itself, consisting of my original instructions (including any pictures of my quilts that I put in the pattern), is under copyright protection. And it doesn't matter whether I "published" the pattern.

    Now anyone can still make a quilt using alternating blocks of rectangles and flying geese, and anyone can write up her own instructions to make it, and she can sell her own instructions as a pattern, or give them away, but she cannot copy MY pattern (no matter how unoriginal the contents are) without my permission.

  18. #18
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BellaBoo
    For what it's worth, it should be a matter of what is the right thing to do, not what you can get away with.
    I agree with you completely.

  19. #19
    Super Member sewcrafty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunster
    Quote Originally Posted by sewcrafty
    I believe that the copyright is more along the design aspect unless its a true NEW block. A lot of blocks have resurfaced and adapted to a certain color scheme, etc. I don't know if you can copywrite a pattern that originally came out in the 1800's for free?
    This is a question that keeps coming up, and I think it's because we don't have specific terminology to refer to a design (by which I mean specific blocks with or without a layout) vs. a pattern (by which I mean a printed or digital description that shows and/or describes those blocks and possibly tells how to make them). (Those are my definitions, for now.)

    Let's say that I write out instructions for making a quilt using just rectangles and flying geese. I obviously can't copyright the blocks themselves. Let's say the layout I describe is just alternating blocks, so I can't copyright the layout. However - my pattern itself, consisting of my original instructions (including any pictures of my quilts that I put in the pattern), is under copyright protection. And it doesn't matter whether I "published" the pattern.

    Now anyone can still make a quilt using alternating blocks of rectangles and flying geese, and anyone can write up her own instructions to make it, and she can sell her own instructions as a pattern, or give them away, but she cannot copy MY pattern (no matter how unoriginal the contents are) without my permission.
    That's interesting, I'm doing a quilt for my sister. The center is a watercolor (went to a class and taught this techq.), machine applique of my own, plus a border of twisted ribbon and then finishing with another border (probably a scallop, not decided yet). So I've put a number of different techiques, styles, etc. does this make it my own or copywrited because of the watercolor center? Also, what if I sit down and draft up something original to me that's been done before?

  20. #20
    Super Member Oklahoma Suzie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quilt Mom
    Thanks, Patrice! Well said.
    yes, thanks

  21. #21
    Community Manager PatriceJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sewcrafty
    That's interesting, I'm doing a quilt for my sister. The center is a watercolor (went to a class and taught this techq.), machine applique of my own, plus a border of twisted ribbon and then finishing with another border (probably a scallop, not decided yet). So I've put a number of different techiques, styles, etc. does this make it my own or copywrited because of the watercolor center? Also, what if I sit down and draft up something original to me that's been done before?
    techniques can't be copyrighted. they must be patented in order to be protected.

    if the watercolor in the center of your quilt was made from somebody else's pattern then you can't copyright the whole quilt as your own design. if any other part of your quilt contains elements of somebody else's unique, copyrighted design, then you can't claim the resulting design as your own. if you designed your own center using the technique you learned, and also made up the rest as you went along, then it's yours.

  22. #22
    Super Member mary quite contrary's Avatar
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    I think I understand the copyright of the pattern itself. I have a question about the quilt I make from said pattern. Can I sell a quilt made from a copyrighted pattern?

    Thanks

  23. #23
    Senior Member ligia's Avatar
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    Interesting subject.
    I think the internet will in time make some concepts void.

    Earlier today I happened to visit a page by chance where I
    found something for free I knew from somewhere else as an original pattern.
    Who had first the idea of that same representation ?
    Most likely both designers took it from a 1800's quilt.
    Was it posted before or after someone else had the pattern
    copyrighted ?

    Just my two confused cents.

  24. #24
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ligia
    Interesting subject.
    I think the internet will in time make some concepts void.

    Earlier today I happened to visit a page by chance where I
    found something for free I knew from somewhere else as an original pattern.
    Who had first the idea of that same representation ?
    Most likely both designers took it from a 1800's quilt.
    Was it posted before or after someone else had the pattern
    copyrighted ?

    Just my two confused cents.
    It sounds like the two patterns you saw were written by different people to describe the same design, but the design was in the public domain? That's fine, no violation of any copyright.

  25. #25
    Power Poster dunster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mary quite contrary
    I think I understand the copyright of the pattern itself. I have a question about the quilt I make from said pattern. Can I sell a quilt made from a copyrighted pattern?

    Thanks
    My understanding is that if you own a pattern, you have the right to make quilts from that pattern, and since you own those quilts you can sell them. (This wouldn't extend to mass production.) But I would be interested in hearing if someone has information to the contrary. I know that when my guild wanted to make a raffle quilt from a pattern in a magazine they asked for permission first (which may not have been necessary, but it was nice anyway).

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