One of the stickiest subjects I've come across in my passion for crochet is copyright. With some of the online groups I belong to, the topic ends up getting "mean" and feelings get hurt so the topic is banned. With more & more new crocheters joining us in our enthusiasm and passion for this art form, I think there should be some place to go to learn about it. After all there's a lot of misinformation, along with confusing information, mixed in with a few "I don't care's." And although I'm far from being an expert on this topic, I believe that we should care. That we should be informed.
So I thought I'd discuss some of the issues here, and provide some links on copyright:
1. There's been discussion of stores "making pattern copies" to give to their patrons for buying yarn, or to sell.
If the store where you are purchasing your supplies from is doing this, then they're breaking the law. The only way they can legally make copies is if
A. It's a pattern they wrote/copyrighted
B. They purchased the copyright
C. They have written permission from the copyright holder to make X number of copies
2. There have been auctions/sales of patterns copied onto paper, or CD
If the pattern date is prior to 1920 (as far as I understand) AND the copyright has not been renewed, then it's OK. To protect yourself (because you don't want to be a party of copyright infringement), buy the original!
3. It's OK to copy a friends' entire book, after all they already paid for it.
Nope. It's not OK. The only one that can make a copy from that book is the owner -- and for their own personal use (i.e., to write upon while working a pattern up, or to make it more portable during travel). The other time it's OK to make copies for personal use is if the book is from a public library. But it's not a cart blanc to copy the entire book.
4. I'm teaching a class on this, so the copies will go to my students.
Again, this is a huge no-no. If a teacher is to provide copies then the teacher needs written permission to make copies unless it's his/her pattern. Otherwise the students are responsible for purchasing the materials just like the teacher was. (this is why I started creating my own patterns)
Why is it important to respect the copyright?
Well, I think the movie industry did a great job explaining this with the commercial they came out with a few years ago:
The commercial starts out with a head shot of a movie star that explains that each time a movie ticket is purchased, it doesn't just help pay his/her salary. The commercial moves off of the star and starts to show some of the innerworkings of the movie process -- of people who get paid to help make the product come to life: the lighting crew, the editors, the directors, the make-up artists, the wardrobe crew (and those that sew the costumes), and so on.
This is true with crochet patterns. Think of a commercial explaining it. There's a head shot of a crochet designer that explains each time a pattern or book is legally purchased they get a tiny piece of the proceeds. Then the camera pulls back and the viewer sees the pattern testers hard at work, the photographer and the lighting crew taking pictures of the work, the models, the editors putting the new material together for an upcoming publication, the printers, the ink producers, the paper producers, and so on.
There's a lot of people involved to make it happen! And each time an illegal copy is made, it's money out of their pockets, food they can't put on their table, bills they cannot pay. And sometimes the publisher goes defunt, like the recent stopping of the publication Crochet Fantasy.
Are crochet designers paid a lot of money? No. I don't think so. In the book, Blue Ribbon Afghans from America's State Fairs: 40 Prize-Winning Crocheted Designs, I represent the state of Connecticut. I have an original afghan pattern that takes up eight pages of this fantastic book. How much was I paid for the pattern? Fifty dollars. See, it's not a lot of money.
So if the pay for patterns is not so lucrative, why do designers continue designing? Because they're passionate about our art, crochet, and they want to see it thrive. But it won't thrive if people continue to make illegal copies.
You can learn more about copyright by visiting the following websites: