Oh dear

Tuesday, 30 September, 2008

The things when you learn when you do things. I hate that you don't realise you've done something wrong until someone gets mad at you and then points it out at you. But I suppose that's the way life is.

Anyway, we got a bit into a bit of trouble for listing my knitting in Bec's Etsy shop because the owner of the Odessa pattern contacted Bec to say we shouldn't have listed the item for sale without her permission, and doing so constituted copyright infringement.

Further research into the whole subject revealed some hitherto unknown pieces of information. Well, I did know that knitting patterns are subject to copyright. I just didn't know that making something from a copyrighted pattern does not mean that you can sell it. This blogger notes,

In fact, the industry norm is that items made from any pattern that the knitter buys or downloads (even free patterns) may only be made for the knitter or as gifts. So in the absence of a copyright notice on the pattern, it could be argued that those would be the implied conditions of use. This is not universally accepted; here's the starting point to one long discussion I read where this point was argued back and forth. I note, however, that even the person arguing that the knitted articles should be able to be sold also argued that credit should be given to the designer.

(Further information.)

Sometimes what I've done is adapt a pattern but that doesn't entirely mean that what I make a completely new creation. Knitty's article on the subject says,

1. I'm designing a knitting pattern. Can I use a stitch pattern I've seen somewhere before?

The building blocks of stitch patterns —knit, purl, cable, twist, increase, decrease, yarn over, and so forth—are not protected by copyright. They're techniques. However, their combinations might be protected.

So there you go. I've violated international copyright law. But what do I do about the stuff I sold?

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If you made a derivative work of another, which all creative people do all the time anyhow, it is up to the copyright holder to prosecute you.

Or otherwise, you can ask the copyright holder for permission to use it as such in which case they can say yes sure, or the can ask you for money.

Posted by philip andrew on 01 October, 2008 9:10 AM

I was wondering about this the whole time I was admiring your work. The thing is that it’s not clear cut in any way shape or fashion. Some patterns will say that you can’t sell any products from the pattern but some will say nothing at all. Nathan insists that the only thing that can be copyrighted is the paper/online pattern itself. If the designers didn’t want you to create and sell from the pattern then they should have patented it.

It’s very murky. Copyright australia website has some pdf helps but even then I’m unsure on the whole copyright vs patent issue.

I think this is only a very recent thing in the crafting world. Before it used to all be about sharing patterns and sharing ideas for the common good. But now it’s all about ‘gimme, gimme, gimme’.

No doubt people weren’t aware that others were selling stuff made from their patterns. But now that we have the internet, it’s easier to track these things.

From the brief reading I did, even if Australian copyright law were slightly different, because of how other countries subscribe to certain forms of international copyright law, they can still claim their rights even if you’re in Australia and they’re in the US.

Anyway, the problem come when you sell what you knit; if you give it away for free, it’s fine.

I’ve gone and asked for permission from the original designers of the patterns I used. One said a flat out no. I’m waiting to hear back from the other two.

I agree with Nathan, I don’t think you can copyright the pattern, you’d have to get a patent. Sounds like wishful thinking on the pattern creators part.

Posted by Ben Beilharz on 02 October, 2008 3:36 PM

Everyone automatically gets copyright on work they produce and publish. You don’t need to (C) 2008 the work, its automatic law.

You can release that work under a license otherwise it defaults to the normal copyright law. A license can give certain permissions and apply certain restrictions in the use of the work.
Often people release works under more than one license, for say a commercial license and a free license where free may have some restrictions such as preventing re-sale of the item.

Patent law only applies if you obtained a patent, which only applies to inventions which are new and original. Unfortuantly people can patent too many things these days such as DNA and thereby own living organisms.

Posted by philip andrew on 06 October, 2008 1:30 AM


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