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Copyright on flannelghan pattern?

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Is the flannelghan a copyrighted pattern?

 

I've been making them for friends and giving them away, but a couple of people have seen the ones I have made and want to buy them through Etsy. (And I would like to offer to make them with custom colors.)

 

I know Etsy won't let me sell a copyrighted pattern, but as I'd be selling something that could be copyrighted... where does that leave me?

 

Help!?

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I'm not an attorney or anything, but yes, Rose Red wrote the pattern and she owns the copyright on it. You would need her permission to sell items made from the pattern (IMO).

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RoseRed is on Crochetville, so you can contact her here.

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In case RoseRed is busy right now and cannot get on the forum, she has her copyright instructions at the bottom of the Flannelghan pattern. :)

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In case RoseRed is busy right now and cannot get on the forum, she has her copyright instructions at the bottom of the Flannelghan pattern. :)

 

Good call, I didn't think to check there. Duh! :lol

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Why not just create your own original design using this technique of blending colors together?

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Between blending colors and making squares in strips, I've seen a lot of 'inspired by' come from this pattern. I've also seen total rip-off's of this pattern. It still amazes me how popular the flannelghan is.

 

I reserve the right to sell my own work online.

 

Maybe it's time to rethink this - something that Jean Leinhauser wrote the other day has me considering the Terms of Use clause. She said that she didn't understand why people held their patterns so close to their hearts. I think part of it is that I didn't sell this pattern to a magazine - I put a part of myself out there. I certainly didn't get paid hundreds of dollars to 'let it go'. I don't know what I'll decide in the future, but for now - my Terms of Use holds.

 

If you have a private sale that you wish to fulfill - go right ahead, enjoy, hope you get top dollar for it. If you want to make a bunch and put them up in your Etsy store - that's in violation of my Terms of Use.

 

While I do appreciate you asking, you can find most copyrights and terms of use at the end of most of the patterns out there.

 

********************************************

 

I've worked very hard to understand copyrights so that I do not violate them. I'm not a lawyer but this is my understand of them:

 

Copyrights (for crochet patterns) are fairly simple once you get thru all the legalese (I am NOT discussing clothing here). Anything that is written is granted an automatic copyright. You can also register the copyrighted work thru the Copryright Office. Things must be registered if you want to sue for money damages.

 

'Poor Man's Copyright', where you mail yourself a registered copy of something, does nothing.

 

The wonderful thing about posting things to the internet is that they are stamped with the time and date of the original copyright. There's no dispute about when something was posted. The NOT so wonderful thing about the internet is that it's really easy for someone to copy and paste whatever they want and 'scalp' someone else's work.

 

A copyright simply means - this is my work. I made it, I own it but you can use it.

 

The Terms of Use clause is what tells you what you can do with said work. Some people say for Personal Use Only, some people refuse to let any of their work be sold anywhere. This clause is in addition to the copyright so that anyone can know what they're 'allowed' (I hate to use that word but it does seem to fit well) to do with a pattern.

 

There are people out there that refuse to use a pattern that has any limits on use. That's their prerogative. There are people out there that simply don't care and do what they want knowing full well that relatively little will happen.

 

In the world of self published crochet patterns - the worst that could happen is the copyright owner contact the selling website (whether it be for selling the pattern itself or the finished item) and the selling website pull the item because it is in violation of copyright.

 

The woman here on the 'ville hold copyrights close. They see and report to websites and back to the designers when they see something in violation of the copyright terms. I've seen it happen a lot. I've done it myself. I've emailed or PM'd fellow designers with a link and said "This looks an awful lot like your pattern."

 

The whole copyright thing is an 'honor and scruples' thing - at least to me it is. I hope I've explained it so that it makes a little more sense.

 

~RR~

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Between blending colors and making squares in strips, I've seen a lot of 'inspired by' come from this pattern. I've also seen total rip-off's of this pattern. It still amazes me how popular the flannelghan is.

 

I reserve the right to sell my own work online.

 

Maybe it's time to rethink this - something that Jean Leinhauser wrote the other day has me considering the Terms of Use clause. She said that she didn't understand why people held their patterns so close to their hearts. I think part of it is that I didn't sell this pattern to a magazine - I put a part of myself out there. I certainly didn't get paid hundreds of dollars to 'let it go'. I don't know what I'll decide in the future, but for now - my Terms of Use holds.

 

If you have a private sale that you wish to fulfill - go right ahead, enjoy, hope you get top dollar for it. If you want to make a bunch and put them up in your Etsy store - that's in violation of my Terms of Use.

 

While I do appreciate you asking, you can find most copyrights and terms of use at the end of most of the patterns out there.

 

********************************************

 

I've worked very hard to understand copyrights so that I do not violate them. I'm not a lawyer but this is my understand of them:

 

Copyrights (for crochet patterns) are fairly simple once you get thru all the legalese (I am NOT discussing clothing here). Anything that is written is granted an automatic copyright. You can also register the copyrighted work thru the Copryright Office. Things must be registered if you want to sue for money damages.

 

'Poor Man's Copyright', where you mail yourself a registered copy of something, does nothing.

 

The wonderful thing about posting things to the internet is that they are stamped with the time and date of the original copyright. There's no dispute about when something was posted. The NOT so wonderful thing about the internet is that it's really easy for someone to copy and paste whatever they want and 'scalp' someone else's work.

 

A copyright simply means - this is my work. I made it, I own it but you can use it.

 

The Terms of Use clause is what tells you what you can do with said work. Some people say for Personal Use Only, some people refuse to let any of their work be sold anywhere. This clause is in addition to the copyright so that anyone can know what they're 'allowed' (I hate to use that word but it does seem to fit well) to do with a pattern.

 

There are people out there that refuse to use a pattern that has any limits on use. That's their prerogative. There are people out there that simply don't care and do what they want knowing full well that relatively little will happen.

 

In the world of self published crochet patterns - the worst that could happen is the copyright owner contact the selling website (whether it be for selling the pattern itself or the finished item) and the selling website pull the item because it is in violation of copyright.

 

The woman here on the 'ville hold copyrights close. They see and report to websites and back to the designers when they see something in violation of the copyright terms. I've seen it happen a lot. I've done it myself. I've emailed or PM'd fellow designers with a link and said "This looks an awful lot like your pattern."

 

The whole copyright thing is an 'honor and scruples' thing - at least to me it is. I hope I've explained it so that it makes a little more sense.

 

~RR~

 

This was very well said, RR. I don't have a lot of designs to my name, but the few that I have come up with still remain mine, due to the fact that I haven't sold my rights to another party. I submitted two patterns to the 2010 Crochet Calendar, who printed them with my permission and allowed me to retain copyrights. I also would like to (when I have time) make my items and sell them via the internet websites like Etsy, etc. and and not have a lot of other people out there with the same item. I'm sorry if that sounds selfish. It is a matter of pride in my "baby" - my original design. If someone wants to make the items and sell them to friends or through a venue such as a church bazaar or craft show - I don't mind. But internet venues are out of bounds and selling the pattern itself as any sort of pdf, word document, e-file or in other mass-produced manner is also verboten.

 

It is different when a designer has been paid for her rights, but then I wonder what the purchaser (publisher of a magazine or pamphlet) would think about someone mass producing those items and selling them? They have become the copyright holders.

 

My thanks to those who respect copyright issues and those caring enough to check on the permissions they are granted before taking the leap into selling items they make online.

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RoseRed,

 

I think you explained everything very clearly and again I must thank you for the flannel'ghan pattern! I made my DH one last year and he LOVES it. I'm starting another one today! You rock!

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Where do you guys as designers stand on people using them to sell at a bazaar or basically non-internet? I really do see where you wouldn't want people selling the items on the internet/etsy/ravelry kind of thing and I just don't get those that will scalp a pattern that obviously belongs to someone else!!

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Where I stand is different than where other designers stand. Where I stand with selling locally is - go for it!

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US copyright law really isn't cut and dried. There are lots of gray areas. There's a special exclusion to US copyright law that excludes "useful items" from this certain types of protection. For the specific law, please visit the US Copyright Office website.

 

That website also has a Fact Sheet regarding this exclusion, and here is a quote from that:

 

Copyright in a work that portrays a useful article extends only to the artistic expression of the author of the pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work. It does not extend to the design of the article that is portrayed. For example, a drawing or photograph of an automobile or a dress design can be copyrighted, but that does not give the artist or photographer the exclusive right to make automobiles or dresses of the same design.

 

The actual written pattern is given copyright protection, and it cannot be distributed by others without permission of the copyright holder.

 

Some attorneys interpret the exclusion to mean that you can sell your finished item made from a pattern. Others say that you can't sell a finished item made by following the pattern's written instructions, but if you can recreate something similar by looking at the picture, you can sell that.

 

Some who believe that copyright law would allow for sale of the finished item believe that contract and/or licensing law can be used to place restrictions against sale of finished items. Others state that these laws can't be used to set restrictions that aren't provided for by copyright law.

 

We've decided to keep things simple here at Crochetville: we only allow discussion of sales of finished items in these cases:

 

1. you're using a pattern of your own original design OR

 

2. you're using a pattern that specifically gives permission for the finished item to be sold OR

 

3. you've asked for and received permission from the designer to sell your finished item.

 

I understand why designers wouldn't want some big company to mass-produce their design in a third-world country using cheap, cheap labor. I can also understand if a designer actually has a business selling finished items, why they wouldn't want others selling the finished item as well. (Although in this case, the better business practice would be not to publish your pattern and keep it private for your own use.)

 

When you've made a pattern available for free, sold the rights to it for only several hundred dollars, or have hundreds of dollars invested in producing a pattern you're selling personally (and therefore would have to sell lots of the pattern to make back those expenses plus make a several hundred dollar profit), it can be difficult to see that others could potentially make lots more money from your pattern than you'll ever be able to, just by selling finished items made from your pattern. Yes, they're making money for their crochet skills and time invested, but they wouldn't be able to make that particular sale if they weren't using your creativity.

 

It's easy to see both sides of the equation: why designers might not want others making more money from the designer's creativity than the designer will ever be able to, and why the crocheters believe they should be able to make some money from their time and effort in making an item from a designer's pattern.

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Amy - why is it a better business model to not publish the pattern at all than to have a 'not to be sold on the internet' term of use?

 

I find it a sad commentary on our times that the answers come from 'the lawyers' instead of judges anymore.

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The fact is if you make something then don't put the pattern out there someone WILL copy the look and make their own pattern to sell. So why not sell it or lay claim to it first.

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Amy - why is it a better business model to not publish the pattern at all than to have a 'not to be sold on the internet' term of use?

 

I find it a sad commentary on our times that the answers come from 'the lawyers' instead of judges anymore.

 

(Note: Use of "you" is generic, and doesn't mean any particular person.)

 

I should have qualified that with "in my opinion." I meant it mainly for ease of mind of the designer. If you haven't published the pattern you use to make your finished items for sale, you don't have to worry as much about other people using it to make finished items for sale. Yes, there might be people who would reverse-engineer just from the pictures, but that number is much much smaller than the number who might use the pattern to make finished items for sale.

 

It's all a matter of what's more important to the individual designer. Is sharing a pattern for others to use for personal use of enough value to you that you're willing to deal with the stress and aggravation of seeing others sell finished items against your wishes (whatever those wishes are)? Then go ahead and publish the pattern, and fight off whatever instances of infringement you think you see.

 

If not having to deal with the stress of fighting off potential infringers is more important to you, you'd choose not to publish your pattern.

 

Even if you firmly believe you have copyright law behind you and you try to stop someone selling items made from your pattern, you may not be successful. After you contact someone, they may not comply with your request to stop what you're doing. If you then file a Notice of Infringement against that person with their site host/service provider, be prepared that they could file a Notice of Non-Infringement to say they don't believe they are infringing upon you. Their host site would legally have to put their stuff back up at that point, and could only take it down again if you filed an infringement lawsuit and won.

 

As far as answers coming from lawyers instead of judges, an answer can't come from a judge until a specific case has actually gone to trial. And since taking a case to trial would require a plaintiff and/or a defendant who had a lot of money to burn, it's probably not going to happen any time soon.

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The fact is if you make something then don't put the pattern out there someone WILL copy the look and make their own pattern to sell. So why not sell it or lay claim to it first.

 

The question is really, what benefit does laying claim to it get you?

 

If you're selling the pattern, then the benefit is income from pattern sales. Those increased sales might make you more willing to deal with people you think are infringing upon you by selling their finished items after they've purchased your pattern.

 

If you're just giving the pattern away, then what benefit do you have? Yes, you have the joy of sharing with others. But you'll also have more people wanting to use the pattern to make items for sale. Is it worth the feelings of anger and resentment caused by those people who are doing something with your pattern that you don't want them to do? Is it worth your time trying to get those people to stop?

 

While Crochetville encourages our members to respect the wishes of designers when using their patterns, the rest of the world doesn't necessarily share our viewpoint.

 

Also remember, what you may feel to be someone unfairly using your pattern, isn't necessarily considered copyright infringement in the eyes of the law.

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Thanx for taking the time to explain all that.

 

Like I said before- it really is more of an honor/scruples thing. Without registering the copyright there's nothing that can be done legally. If the terms of use exceed the actual rights bestowed by copyrights than bringing it before a judge does nothing either.

 

Then, the rights that are inherent in copyright differ depending on whether it's considered a useful item or art. There is so much to it and so many ways it can be interpreted that it gives me a headache.

 

The rules that I govern myself with (when it comes to patterns) are stricter than copryright law and I'm good with that. Kinda like Cville guidelines are stricter than actual copyright law.

 

I have no desire to chase down anybody. People do want they want and they live within their own conscious. I just love sharing what I love.

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You're welcome.

 

Another thing for designers to consider is: If you're not going to try to stop anyone who doesn't follow your terms of use regarding sales of finished items, is it really worth having those terms?

 

Personally, if I felt strongly enough to place restrictions in my Terms of Use, then I'd feel I should attempt to enforce them. Otherwise, the restrictions would seem pretty pointless to me.

 

If I didn't feel strongly enough to attempt to enforce restrictions, then why not just tell people to feel free to sell their finished items? Then I wouldn't have to waste energy feeling resentful that people weren't respecting my wishes.

 

Of course, I don't expect everyone to share this thought process. :)

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yup regardless of what is spelled out in copywrite. people are going to do what they want regardless, some just do not care,

 

in soem cases like me, I do not have the money to keep buyin yarn and spendin out of my pocket to make for strangers (after seeing things I make for friends), so

 

I personaly rather stick with asking a person to purchase what I'll need in yarn to make a item that is from a pattern, . then return whatever unused yarn is left along with the Finished item, Then i'm not waisting my money on yarn only to to make something for someone (unless it's a friend), that i'm not being paid for my time to make, Then 'I am not out any money. or out any of my stash. The person gets their blanket and They are the ones who put their money into the materials. and what they do with the left overs is up to them. I tell most people. to just donate it to their loacl pre school or kindergardtn class. they can always use scrap yarn for crafts. :) that ie payment enough for me :)

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The only time I've had a problem and had to ask anyone to remove an item made from my pattern was actually a free pattern I have that was made in Honor of my Mom who died of breast cancer. I contacted the person & they tried to tell me it wasn't from my pattern then I contacted the place they were selling and it was removed either they had a heart or they were made to remove it either way it turned out good.

I'm getting the sense that since some people don't agree with the copyright of not selling finished items on the internet that hey it's ok if people do it because well there going to so why bother even ask them not to. I'm sorry but that's not right. There are many magazine patterns and patterns in books that have the same rules why is it such an unreasonable request on a designers part to ask that others not profit from their design work. Just because you don't agree with a rule doesn't mean you should say it's ok if others break it :think I have respect for other designers and I would never sell a finished item if they tell me they don't allow it it's the right thing to do.

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I think it is worth having those terms. I respect the wishes of other designers and choose for myself to follow their wishes. I think most people would do the same.

 

For me - it comes down to 'you can't force people to do the right thing. You can't force anybody to do just about anything', but you can hope that people do the right thing.

 

I seriously doubt that any (or many) of the small independent designers are paying the $35 fee to have each of their patterns registered. I don't think that the terms of use restrictions are pointless even if there is no real legal recourse. As the author of these works it is within your rights to decide if it can be made for sale, for personal or private use or even for charitable use only.

 

I'm not going to go out and play the copyright police but if something is brought to my attention - it'll be addressed to whatever point it needs to be and whatever point it can be. I'm not going to go looking thru gazillions of shops and spend my days wondering if I'm being infringed upon. I'm also not going to hold onto anger or resentment over it - life is too short.

 

It's not that I don't feel strongly enough to try to enforce them but I'm also not going to spend the bulk of my time looking for it either.

 

I do tell people to go ahead and sell the finished product. I ask that they do not do so online. If someone went up to or emailed JennyBunny and said "I love that afghan - can I pay you to make one for me?" to me -that's a personal and private sale. Whether she's paid in cash, check, yarn, spaghetti or paypal.

 

To me it's a huge difference between a private sale vs something in an online store or something being advertised.

 

Krakovianka brought up an excellent point as well. If afghans do indeed fall under 'useful items' then this entire conversation is a mute point. Under the useful items clauses there can be no restrictions on how it's used.

 

Ya know, Amy - I love our chats. There's always a good exchange of thoughtful consideration.

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I whole heartedly agree with copyright terms of use. Which is why i have never sold my patterns and i dont usually share them, i figure if i dont put them out there i wont have a problem.

 

i do have a couple of people i share with. its so hard to put something out there and try to monitor what people do with it, and sadly people wont do the right thing.

 

There is one thing i have trouble with though, with so many basic stitches, how can people really tell what is their pattern and what is someone looking at something and working it up without a pattern? How does that work?

 

And then i have seen people say because someone used A certain stitch on something that they were using so and so's pattern, (see that a lot on a couple other forums) because they were selling an item with the same stitch. By that i mean blankets, scarves, things that its kind of hard to tell if you are using a common stitch.

 

I think sometimes people go a little far, SOME patterns are very CLEARLY recognizable, BUT i dont understand how someone thinks that because items look similar they are automatically someone else's pattern. Look at all the SAME items for sale on esty, how can you honestly tell the same style hat patterns one from another? They all look alike to me.

 

Also what happens when you have someone who can look at a picture and come up with their own pattern from looking at a picture (so wish i could do that)

What happens then? I guess what i am saying is i agree with copyright, i just honestly dont understand how it can really be enforced since crochet stitches are fairly easy to deduce and unless its a very unique item (like the flannelghan) how can you be sure its someone else's pattern?

 

HONESTLY makes people not want to share, and i dont blame them :(

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You cannot copyright an idea just the written word. Stitches whether you knit or crochet are universal and what ever you might think you have invented someone else in the world has either been there first or thought of it at the same time. Now whether you call a sc a single crochet in the USA or double in Australia and the UK, it makes no difference the method of producing it is identical so cannot in themselves be copyrighted as they belong to mankind. a chain is a chain and whether worked from the back front or upside down those stitches are for everyone. But the moment you write down how you put an item together using those stitches is another thing. Once you have published it for sale or whether you give it to the world for free it doesn't alter the fact that you were the original owner of that design but on the other hand if you have published it then it is reasonable to think that those who love that design are going to make it, garment, gloves, throw etc., and for those who want to make themselves a few bob by selling their work then good luck to them although you hope that they have the heart to say where it originated from. It is only when they try to sell your pattern then that is another thing, they are then robbing you of all your hard work and they would have to alter quite a bit of it to call it their own and not just substituting words, they would have to alter the words that describe the method and by doing so render their copy of your design as totally different, defeating the whole object of their theft. The best thing that a designer can hope for is that people who bought the original or have seen your designs on forums such as this one, will speak up and say to the person responsible for using your design as their own, "we know where that originated and therefore we will go to the organ grinder not the monkey for the how to." Having written books and patterns on machine knitting I know how frustrating it is to have your work photo copied and see garments made from your original patterns being paraded and win major events with no acknowledgement as to the designer. It brings with it heartbreak and bitterness but honestly you would spend half your life in court chasing after these people who blatantly steal from others, and it isn't worth it, all it does is make the lawyers richer. Hugs Joyce

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Joyce - you bring up an excellent point in the whole copyright discussion. Stitches, like recipe ingredient lists, cannot be copyrighted. Ideas cannot be copyrighted. I'm strictly speak about this little corner of the copyright world here, only the tangible written directions (and the finished piece as a derivative work) are copyrighted.

 

I don't have that need to be recognized. It's nice to be acknowledged and I would hope that people do point to the original pattern but that's not a necessity for me. Then again, I have my own strange and unique view of the world.

 

I do think, however, that if a pattern of mine was being paraded and winning awards with no mention at all that that would bother me too.

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