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 selling at a craft fair-copyright laws?
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diantha
Chatty Knitter

USA
136 Posts

Posted - 02/10/2007 :  1:27:53 PM  Show Profile Send diantha a Private Message  Reply with Quote
If I wanted to sell handmade items at a craft fair, do I have to develop my own designs? Most patterns say "not for commercial use". How have other people handled this? How many changes do you have to make on a design to make it "yours"? (or am I the only one who isn't really creative enough to come up with my own designs?)

glccafar
Seriously Hooked

825 Posts

Posted - 02/10/2007 :  1:34:01 PM  Show Profile  Visit glccafar's Homepage Send glccafar a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You have two choices. Come up with your own designs or get the express (written) permission of the designer.
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baxterknits
Chatty Knitter

USA
261 Posts

Posted - 02/11/2007 :  10:29:00 AM  Show Profile  Visit baxterknits's Homepage Send baxterknits a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Beyond the strict question of legality, do you really want to be the kind of person who profits off of another's original ideas without receiving permission, giving design credit, and abiding by any requirements the designer places on that use?

Obviously, some items (garter st scarves, roll brim hats, ribbed watch cap) are so generic that it would be hard for anyone to claim them as exclusive. But if a garment shape, trim detail, construction technique, pattern arrangement, etc., is distintive enough that a well read knitter would be able to look at it and identify the source, then IMO that's crossing the boundary.

Different designers will have different responses to a request to use their designs, but the only fair thing to do is to ask.

Cindy G
http://baxterknits.blogspot.com
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diantha
Chatty Knitter

USA
136 Posts

Posted - 02/11/2007 :  12:58:32 PM  Show Profile Send diantha a Private Message  Reply with Quote
No you're right Cindy, I wouldn't want to step on anyone's toes, which is why I asked. I only want to know where the line is drawn. Obviously if a pattern specifically states 'not for commercial use' then that is very clear. But what about a certain pattern, say of a leaf, that you got directions for in a published book, or a purchased pattern, that does not indicate how it is to be used. Can you then take that one pattern of a leaf and incorporate it into a scarf, hat etc, in your own way, without violating copyright (or any other) laws? And yes, I would give credit to the designer. Unfortunately, I do not have a very clear understanding of how different stitches work to create a pattern, so have to learn by following others' directions. Diantha
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Calamintha
Permanent Resident

USA
2886 Posts

Posted - 02/11/2007 :  1:17:11 PM  Show Profile Send Calamintha a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think Cindy put it well. Changes to a design have to be significant in order to be considered a new design that is not "derivative" of the original. It's not enough to just change the yarn or the color.

The good news is that it is not as hard to design your own items as you might think. As Cindy mentioned, generic patterns (simple, basic stockinette mittens, sweaters, scarves, etc.) are not copyrighted. It is the combination of design elements, stitch patterns, color design, etc. that are used that are copyrighted. You need to get yourself a stitch dictionary. Take a generic mitten pattern, pick a stitch pattern out of the stitch dictionary and use that instead of stockinette and viola you have designed a mitten.

You can check out your local library for stitch dictionaries. You might also want to check out any books by Elizabeth Zimmerman because she often has good advice in her books for customizing your own patterns. There are other books aimed at people who are interested in designing also. Nicki Epstein has a series of books devoted to knitting borders and embellishments that might be helpful also. You could take a basic mitten pattern and put a fancy cuff on it for instance. There are lots of possibilities. If you ask for suggestions for books in the Designer Forum, I'm sure you would get a lot of other suggestions.

Anyway, I applaud you for taking this into consideration. Some people would just go ahead and make copies and sell them without worrying about whether it was right or not.
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diantha
Chatty Knitter

USA
136 Posts

Posted - 02/11/2007 :  1:52:38 PM  Show Profile Send diantha a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thanks Calamintha - yes, actually that's exactly what I wanted to know. I had in mind the 'leaf'pattern in Nicky Epstein's 'Knitting on the Edge'. I wanted to incorporate that design, along with a couple of stockinette stitch borders, and a fringe, into a scarf. I have a hard time making a distinction between what is copyright infringement and what is not. I will also check out Elizabeth Zimmerman's books. Thanks again!
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Calamintha
Permanent Resident

USA
2886 Posts

Posted - 02/11/2007 :  2:13:56 PM  Show Profile Send Calamintha a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Stitch patterns are not copyrighted so you are able to use them in knitting without violating copyright. I can't tell you how many Feather and Fan stitch scarves and shawls I have seen. Each of them is copyrighted for the particular garment but the Feather & Fan stitch itself can be used freely without violating copyright.

You might find this article called "Copyright Issues and Knitting Design" helpful:

http://www.geocities.com/jbtocker/copyright/copyrfaq7.html
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baxterknits
Chatty Knitter

USA
261 Posts

Posted - 02/11/2007 :  3:19:54 PM  Show Profile  Visit baxterknits's Homepage Send baxterknits a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hi Diantha- I may have slightly misunderstood your original question and assumed you meant using an entire garment pattern (e.g. a pair of socks from Fiber Trends, or Vogue Socks on the Go). Now I think you were talking about incorporating stitch patterns or motifs from another source/sources into a basic pattern, thus coming up with your own original combination. This is definitely OK, Calamintha is right on in her suggestions and advice.
Have fun with your projects!

Cindy G
http://baxterknits.blogspot.com
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diantha
Chatty Knitter

USA
136 Posts

Posted - 02/11/2007 :  3:43:37 PM  Show Profile Send diantha a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hi Cindy - I'm sure I could have been clearer in asking my original question - I keep overlooking the fact that people generally are not mind readers! Thanks to both of you for your help!
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SheBer
Gabber Extraordinaire

USA
421 Posts

Posted - 02/11/2007 :  4:56:42 PM  Show Profile  Visit SheBer's Homepage Send SheBer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Great article on copyrights - thanks so much for sharing it, Calamintha. I have wondered about these same issues.

Sheri
www.theloopyewe.com
www.theloopyewe.com/sheri/ (blog)
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Kade1301
Permanent Resident

France
1438 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2007 :  05:42:46 AM  Show Profile  Visit Kade1301's Homepage Send Kade1301 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yes, thanks for the article - it really clarifies things.

By the way, I have never understood why selling the knitted article should hurt the designer. What injustice is done to Teva Durham if I buy Loop-D-Loop in order to knit sweaters from it for selling them? She sells one more book - and the people willing to pay 250 dollars for a sweater are not the same who would have bought the book to knit the sweater themselves. Of course, I'd say that it wasn't me who invented the pattern and give credit to the desinger (and the question is theoretic anyway because I'm chronically unable to exactly follow directions).

How about a book "Knitting for Selling", with chapters about market research, pricing your knitting, marketing and selling, dealing with difficult customers, etc. including a number of knitting patterns which can be used for commercial purposes?

Klara

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maribelaprn
Permanent Resident

USA
2033 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2007 :  11:47:37 AM  Show Profile Send maribelaprn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's the same reason why royalties have to be paid to songwriters/performers every time a radio station plays a song. And it's the same reason why you cannot record your own version of "Madonna's Greatest Hits" and sell that recording for $20 a pop. It's about you not profiting from someone else's work. That's one of the things copyright protection does...it's prevents others from profiting from your creation. Teva Durham's publication of a pattern does not entitle you to profit from that pattern. The injustice is that you would profit from what she created. Giving her "credit" isn't the same as giving her the profits.


2007 shawls/throws completed: 3
2007 socks completed: 2
WIP: So many throws, so little time...
My blog: http://maribelaprn.blogspot.com/
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knittingsheeple
New Pal

33 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2007 :  3:47:31 PM  Show Profile Send knittingsheeple a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm not sure that copyright actually covers selling items from a pattern. There doesn't seem to be actual case law that has decided that - at least in sewing fora that I've visited. It is clearly a copyright violation for me to take a pattern and turn around and sell it as my own. I cannot take the Polo Shirt pattern from "Welcome to Knit Cafe" and sell it myself as "Knittingsheeple's Polo Shirt pattern." I CAN sell the book, tho (like people do with used books). Likewise I cannot copy out Stephen King's "Pet Sematary" and sell it as my own.
There are some who argue that it's like house plans. If I buy houseplans, I can build a house and then sell the house. Can I, tho, buy the plans once and sell 5 houses?
IT was generally accepted once that I could buy a McCalls pattern and sell a dress made from it if I also sold the pattern. Then the buyer was essentially paying me for sewing services.

THere is a generally accepted stance that says that knitters should not profit from someone else's pattern writing without permission of the pattern writer. BUT, I don't know if it's an actual enforceable policy. For example: if I were to knit Roza's socks from the current IK and sell them. Grumperina could sue me (because honestly - you can sue anyone for anything) but would she win? I don't say this because I mean to do it, but it's a legitimate question that I don't think has been answered in court yet.

Playing a mild devil's advocate....
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Calamintha
Permanent Resident

USA
2886 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2007 :  6:17:45 PM  Show Profile Send Calamintha a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I have to agree with Mari on this. Most knitting patterns stipulate that the buyer is granted permission to use the pattern for personal use only. That would exclude commercial use which is what you are doing if you are selling items made from the pattern. You are free to make an item from the pattern for yourself, to make an item from the pattern to give to someone else or make an item from the pattern to donate to a charity but once payment is involved then it is no longer personal use.

As far as purchasing an additional copy of the pattern, I think that applies in a situation where a friend or someone you know asks you to make them a sweater (or whatever) from a pattern and wants to pay you for the sweater. In that case, an additional copy of the pattern must be purchased. That is a one time or occasional case situation though.

When people design clothing they have the choice of making it available as a pattern for people to make for themselves or if they wish to market the garment, they can enter into an agreement with a clothing seller to make and produce the item. In that case, sales are tracked and the designer would be getting a royalty. However, if someone takes a knitting pattern and starts selling copies of garments made from the pattern, the designer is cut out of the equation. The designer would have no way of knowing how many garments were sold and would certainly not be receiving a royalty.

Anyway, there is more on that aspect of copyright law below:

http://www.geocities.com/jbtocker/copyright/copyrfaq4.html

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maribelaprn
Permanent Resident

USA
2033 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2007 :  7:02:23 PM  Show Profile Send maribelaprn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It has been answered in court thousands of time. It's not an "enforceable policy"...it's an enforceable law. Copyright holders fight against people profiting from their work every day...and win. My own copyright was violated by someone who profited from my work. Since the offender wouldn't stop and felt entitled to do whatever he wanted to do, I sued and won a $25,000 judgement. Is that enforceable enough?? Alice/Jade Starmore constantly scan eBay (and other web sites) looking for people violating their copyright protection and are successful at having those violations removed from the site. Not all cases end up in court, but copyright holders are successful in enforcing their copyright protection. It's really quite an easy concept...you cannot profit from someone else's copyright work.
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Expat2
Gabber Extraordinaire

Canada
459 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2007 :  7:24:57 PM  Show Profile  Visit Expat2's Homepage Send Expat2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
One of the misconceptions about copyright is that it is about not profiting from someone elses work. That is only part of copyright. Copyright is also the right of the owner to say what happens to their work.
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Expat2
Gabber Extraordinaire

Canada
459 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2007 :  7:39:46 PM  Show Profile  Visit Expat2's Homepage Send Expat2 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Another article on copyright
http://www.3m.com/meetingnetwork/presentations/pmag_copyright_criminal.html
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knittingsheeple
New Pal

33 Posts

Posted - 02/13/2007 :  9:26:30 PM  Show Profile Send knittingsheeple a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Maribela,
Can you explain what exactly was the copyright violation? Mostly because I agree with the article cited by expat, but then there's this FAQ which adds more: http://www.geocities.com/jbtocker/copyright/copyrfaq7.html I'd copy and paste, but that's a violation. IT basically says that clothing is utilitarian and cannot be copyrighted. That items made from the pattern are not a copyright violation - but I'm willing to entertain the idea that I'm misinterpreting it.

And, please know that I'm just trying to have a reasonable discussion about this. Do not assume I'm looking to violate copyright. I don't have enough time in my day to make items to sell.

BUT, just because a pattern says "for personal use only" does not mean that's enforceable. I could write a pattern and says it's for boys only and that wouldn't be enforceable. The morality is different from the legality.
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Kade1301
Permanent Resident

France
1438 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2007 :  02:50:51 AM  Show Profile  Visit Kade1301's Homepage Send Kade1301 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
That's why I used Teva Durham as an example - I've never seen Loop-D-Loop, but from what I heard her garments might be artistic/distinctive enough to warrant copyright protection - a stockinette sweater (utilitarian item, not copyrighteable) planned with EZ's percentage system (which is a process or method and not copyrightable either) does not, if we can believe Carolyn d'Agostino.

There's a difference between me recording Madonna's Greatest Hits and me knitting Teva's pattern: Madonna sings and sells records, but I think that Teva is not a "knitter for hire" - she doesn't make money from actually selling handknit sweaters (or does she?).

I actually have a problem with buying an article and having limits imposed on its use. It's a bit as if I bought a minivan and the manufacturer says: "But you can't use this car for transporting people against pay - people have to buy their own minivan if they want to ride in it". Or, a better comparison: Can you use recipes from a cookbook in your restaurant? I think you can.

And, by the way, the ardent defenders of copyright have not respected Jennifer Tocker's wishes regarding her web site (and I thank you for it: It's certainly easier to go directly to the relevant bit): She writes to link to the index page (http://www.geocities.com/jbtocker/copyright/index.html)!

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maribelaprn
Permanent Resident

USA
2033 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2007 :  05:02:40 AM  Show Profile Send maribelaprn a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You present more arguments that continue the myth that copyright protection is subject to interpretation. First of all, cars are not covered by copyright protection. Suppose Madonna just wrote the songs. Would that make it OK for you to buy a copy of the sheet music, record your own version and sell it keeping all the profits for yourself? There is case law everywhere documenting cases where song writers have enforced their copyright protection.

You seem to suggest that one has to deserve copyright protection. Teva's designs are artistic/distinctive enough to warrant legal rights but a plain sweater does not? There are many plain, utilitarian designs out there that are copyright. It's not the stockinette sweater that's copyright, it's the pattern that's copyright. Take the simply Irish Hiking Scarf. It's a scarf. It's not artistic/distinctive, it's just 3 cables that anyone could dream up. What is copyright is the written instructions as to how to make that scarf the way the designer presents it and the photos the designer includes with the instructions.

I am an ardent defender of copyright and will not violate the copyright holders rights. That's what "All Rights Reserved" means. The copyright holder reserves the right to state the conditions of use and to be the only person who profits from the work. People who aren't ardent defenders of copyright won't respect these rights and will continue to do whatever they want.
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hillstreetmama
Permanent Resident

USA
3448 Posts

Posted - 02/14/2007 :  05:08:41 AM  Show Profile Send hillstreetmama a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's my understanding that recipes cannot be copyrighted, so that comparison doesn't work.

Jan
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