One of the touchiest embroidery subjects involves copyright – in particular, the copying of patterns and “pattern exchange” groups.
In this article, I hope to give you an idea of what you can and cannot do with embroidery patterns, and digitised designs, as well as pieces that you have stitched.
Copying Patterns and Designs
Your purchase of an embroidery chart, pattern or digitised design allows you to make copies for personal use or backup.
This means that you can photocopy the chart or pattern to use as you stitch, to avoid writing on or destroying the original paper pattern. For digitised designs, or patterns/charts you buy on a CD or DVD, you are allowed to make a copy of the design for backup purposes (as you are with any software).
You cannot sell, trade, or pass on any copies of the design that you make. This is a violation of copyright. You can, however, on-sell the original pattern/chart if you do not want it any more.
Use of Copyright Characters (eg: Disney, Loony Tunes, etc) or logos (eg: football clubs, insignia, etc)
You are able to use copyrighted characters in your embroidery provided that you are using them for personal use only.
For example, you could stitch a Mickey Mouse onto your child’s shirt, or make a coaster with your favourite football club logo on it, provided that you do not intend to charge money for the finished product (this includes selling, auctioning, raffling).
You may have the best of motives – fundraising, etc., but unless you have written permission from the copyright owner to do so, it is a violation of copyright.
The obvious – the people who design these are doing it to earn a living. They are using their own imaginations and talents and have the right to charge for their efforts.
Imagine if you spent hours in painstakingly designing a chart – including the initial drawings, the test stitching, and then any alternations, as well as writing instructions. As with all things embroidery, you won’t be paid anywhere near what the hours you spent on it is worth. So every cent you earn on it, is recognition of your hard work.
It’s like any form of piracy. By copying and giving away the copies to friends, or fellow members of one of the “pattern exchange groups”, you are, in effect, stealing.
You wouldn’t steal a handbag. You wouldn’t steal a car. Why would you think so little of stealing a pattern?
The other reason comes from copyright characters and logos.
Merchandising plays a big part in raising money for many companies. They choose carefully what they want and do not want their characters and logos to appear on – it’s part of their corporate image.
Again – if you use a football logo on an item you intend to sell, you’re stealing that logo from its rightful owner.
Copyright is a touchy subject. Anybody who has had anything they have created plagiarised or used by others without their permission will fully understand the heartache it can cause.
And, don’t be mislead – it is a very personal thing. Your creation is like your “baby” and it’s very disheartening to see people who think so little of your work that they won’t even spend the money to purchase an original for themselves.
Next time your friend asks for a “copy” of one of your patterns – think again. If they truly valued the designer’s work, then they would pay for their own copy.
Is there anything that you would particularly like to see an article on? If so, please e-mail me with your suggestions.
© 2006 Megan McConnell