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Copyright/Trademark Guidelines for Swaps and RAOKs: Everyone Read

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For most Crochetville swaps and RAOKs (wish lists), you probably won't have to worry about copyright or trademark issues. But if you want to include a pattern in your package, then it's important to know what to do and what not to do.


Special Note to All: If you list a digital pattern in your RAOK list or swap survey, you are implicitly giving permission for this pattern to be purchased for you through Ravelry using either your Ravelry ID or your email address. If you do not wish to give this permission, please do not list any digital patterns.


Here are some quick tips for making sure you avoid any infringement issues for yourself, your partner, or Crochetville:


The "Do" List


  1. Do send an original (as opposed to a copy) printed pattern, whether you purchased it, it was a free tear-off sheet or yarn label pattern, in a book, in a magazine, or in a crochet calendar.
  2. Do send any patterns of your own original design, to which you still own the copyright, in any format you wish.
  3. Do send only officially licensed patterns of popular characters, team logos, corporate logos, etc.
  4. Do keep your partner's full name, email address, and mailing address to yourself.
  5. If your partner has indicated they would like a digital pattern and provided you with their Ravelry ID, do use Ravelry's gift feature to purchase the pattern and have Ravelry send it to their Ravelry account or email address.

The "Not to Do" List

  1. Do not send copies of patterns (print, digital, or any other format).
  2. Do not keep a copy in any format of the pattern for yourself.
  3. Do not send unlicensed patterns (or links or any other information about them) of popular characters, team logos, corporate logos, etc.
  4. Do not send digital patterns of any kind (on a CD, flash drive, or via email; pdfs, scanned images, or any kind of computer file; any kind of hard copy file) to your partner yourself, unless you are the designer/copyright owner.
  5. Do not give your partner's real name, email address, or mailing address to any other party with the exception of using that information to purchase a digital pattern through Ravelry's gift feature.

Issues of Concern with Digital Patterns


Unfortunately, there are many potential copyright issues involved when purchasing a digital pattern and passing it along to someone else. The terms of many websites state that if you purchase a digital pattern you agree not to sell or give copies of that pattern to anyone else. Even if that is not prohibited, we are concerned that the purchaser might not know how to completely remove their access to that digital pattern by completely hard-deleting it in all places necessary (email in and out boxes on computer, webmail server, any electronic devices that access the email account; the temporary files of any browsers that access the email and/or the digital pattern; all backup programs used on computer for all electronic devices; any backup hard drives or online backup services; and so on).


It would be possible to get around copyright issues by ordering a digital pattern from a place that would send directly to your customer. But with this option, there is the problem that a person participating in a swap or RAOK has not given permission for their personal information (real name, email address, mailing address) to be shared with anyone but their swap partner. Your partner might not want the risk that they would end up on someone's mailing list because you provided their information to a third party. So this option won't work either.


There is only ONE way to give a digital pattern to another member, as described below.


How to Purchase a Digital Pattern for Your Partner


If the pattern is available for free download, the simplest and easiest thing to do is give your partner a link to that pattern. You could email or PM the link to them or you could include the link on a printed sheet of paper in their swap package.


There is only one authorized way to purchase a digital pattern for your partner: you can purchase the pattern through Ravelry and use their "GIFT" option by providing your partner's Ravelry ID or email address. This option does require that you have a Ravelry account yourself.


If you do not wish to have a Ravelry account, then you will not be able to send a digital pattern to your partner. If your partner has a Paypal account, you could send money to them through Paypal, indicating it is for them to purchase the digital pattern directly. You could include a small amount of cash in the swap package.




Because of all these potential issues, many sellers have policies in place that the purchaser is not to sell or give the purchased pattern to anyone else.


These problems don't really crop up in the same manner when dealing with printed original patterns.


While there may be ways to get around the copyright issue, they usually involve giving your partner's contact information to a third party. But when members sign up for swaps, they don't give permission for their information to be shared outside of Crochetville, so this wouldn't work.


It would cause unnecessary confusion to have a long list of situations in which digital patterns are okay and situations in which they're not. Not to mention, we'd never be able to make sure we had thought of every possible situation and addressed it.


It's much easier for everyone, swappers and swap hostesses alike, to know that digital patterns just don't have a place in swaps.


What If I'm Not Sure if I Can Do Something?


If there is even the tiniest question in your mind whether there's any kind of issue with what you want to do for your swap partner relating to copyright and/or trademark issues, you're always invited to contact me privately. I'll be happy to help you figure out if there's a way to do what you'd like to do.

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