~~~Copyright for Knitters~~~

[B]Copyright for Knitters[/B]

The subject of a raffle/donation/auction has come up recently so I thought I’d share this. It’s important.

Recently it came up in the “Knit Baby Surprise” Yahoo forum asking about knitting a Baby Surprise Jacket for auction. The pattern owner/publisher (Meg Swansen) was contacted and she denied permission. Most patterns can be used for straight donation, but if there is an exchange of money, and even if that money is donated to charity, it was not acceptable. This particular incidence applied only to the BSJ, but other pattern writers may feel the same.

IMO… As long as the item isn’t for personal gain I don’t see a problem, but it’s not my decision. :shrug:

So bottom line is to contact the pattern writer for permission. It usually just involves an email. And to be on the safe side, save the email if permission is given. :wink:

Certain elements of the knit copyright issue really pi$$ me off. :grrr:It is extremely disturbing that “copyright” denies me the right to sell an item that I spent hours, days, weeks, months or years making. The authors own the [U]pattern[/U]; how is it fair that they own every single item made from the pattern?!!? I just don’t get it. :shrug: Based on the “ownership of materials used” concept, then what’s to stop “patent” from denying knitters the right to sell even their own designs just because they’ve used Addi Turbos to physically make the item? While I understand copyright prohibits photocopying or otherwise replicating patterns for various intents, this “can’t sell your knitted work” copyright thing is especially ridiculous when you take into account a “basketweave baby blanket” or “raglan sweater” or any other patterns that are quite generic in concept.

If you are making a basket-weave baby blanket, that’s not copyrighted. Basket-weave is a stitch pattern, and is considering “public domain.” If you were to write down a pattern and say “Use x yarn, y size needles, cast on z stitches, knit garter stitch for 7 rows, and knit a 7 stitch garter border on all rows, <basketweave instructions> for 49 rows, knit 7 garter rows, and bind off,” that’d be a pattern.

But “basketweave stitch” and “raglan sweater” aren’t copyrighted…they are techniques. It’s the sum total that makes a pattern copyrighted.

I understand both sides of the argument here:

For one, pattern writers don’t want knitters selling something that was really made from [I]their[/I] work, and taking credit for it.

Second, knitters have made the item, why not get to sell it? The actual [I]knitting[/I] is your work, so why shouldn’t you be able to sell/donate/etc?

I’ve been in both of these situations, but to tell you the truth, I wouldn’t worry too much about selling generic items, like, say, toe up socks, raglan sweaters/baby blankets, unless the designer has completely made up a new design concept or stitch pattern, because, who’ll know? I’ve sold sweaters made from Elizabeth Zimmermann’s percentage system, but just to make sure I could, I called Meg Swansen, and she said it was not only legal, but encouraged! So, don’t worry about generic items, no one can tell if they’re made from a pattern/percentages, etc. They’re just plain items with no special concept behind them.

It’s actually not necessarily an issue of copyright, but one of intellectual property rights. If you’ve spent months working out the perfect pattern for a sweater, how would you feel if someone else made a profit on it? It’s like taking a Jane Austen novel, putting your name on it, and selling it on Lulu, or trying to pass off a Beatles song as your own. Even in cases where the authors are allowing the pattern use for free, it’s still a matter of giving credit where credit is due.

Copyright IS an intellectual property right. :teehee:

How much would you have to change up something before it stops being their pattern and becomes your own creation? Like, if you took someone’s very basic bag pattern, but put a fair isle or intarsia chart on it, it would become a very different bag. You may use their shaping, but if that’s just like “CO 50 stitches, increase every five rows” or something, but then that’s so generic it could almost be from any pattern. That’s the biggest thing I don’t understand. If you take someone’s pattern for a basic baby sweater but add some cabling or something, is it still their baby sweater?

Maybe this section will help, Rachel.

Thanks Jan! You always know the perfect websites to steer people in the right direction :slight_smile:

IMO if the pattern is completely unrecognizeable, then it becomes your pattern. If you use everything else, but just add some cabling or something, it’s still theirs. But, if you changed it so drastically as to add a stranded/intarsia/mosaic chart, then I believe it’s your pattern.

Thanks, I was going to ask a question about this. I plan to make shrugs and other knitted items and wanted to know if the actual stitches were copyrighted.

I, and most others that I find that design patterns, as well ask that you not sell items made from their designs for profit. I’ve given permission to some very nice knitters who have emailed me to ask if the FOs could be sold in auctions/craft fairs for worthy causes. But, I offer my patterns for free and for personal use, I don’t think it fair for anyone to make $ off of something that I designed and very nicely offered for free. Which is why I state this on all of my patterns. I’m pretty sure you will find this to be pretty universal.
I’ve found some of the FOs from my designs being sold on Etsy and the one of the people even told me that I wasn’t the designer!
Sorry, I in no way mean to cause any dissension, just hopping in with the designer’s view.

Yeah it’s very valid, and I’m glad to hear the designer’s point of view. I [I]don’t [/I]want to take any of the credit or rights from the designer if I’m not the designer, which is why I posed the question about altering patterns in the first place.
I think the link that Jan provided was a very good explanation of the laws, and it really clarified a few things for me. Good stuff :thumbsup:

It is absolutely not the same as claiming authorship of a book or song. That is outright plagiarism. Using a pattern to create something yourself is a completely different matter.

And I agree that pattern copyrights are often far too restrictive. If I use a pattern to knit something, I am putting in the work [I]myself[/I], and if I were to sell the item, I would take credit for the work I put into it, not the design of the article.

I think there should be a clarification to the rule. I think it should be ok for me to knit an Annie Modesitt pattern and sell the finished item… once, maybe even twice. But I should not be allowed to knit the item over and over and stock my store with said item for sale in a commercial setting.

In fact, I would almost bet that this is exactly what that copyright is intended to protect against. You could always write to the author and ask “Can I knit your sweater and sell it to a friend who has asked me to knit it for her?” Chances are, the author will allow this small sale. Sure, not everyone will, but asking doesn’t hurt anyone.

And on the subject, I need to add a note to my sock classes that you can take your finished socks and sell them if you want to. :thumbsup:

Ooh, score!!:happydance:

:oo:I might be wrong…but I always thought if it was a paid pattern if the person wanting it paid for it and then handed it to a knitter said will you knit this for me if I pay… you could as long as you gave back the pattern with the finished item and didn’t make a copy for yourself? :shrug:

I think I’ve hit a mental block. :teehee: I fail to see the novel comparison. Knitters wouldn’t profit off the author’s pattern; they be profiting off of their own labor. I would totally be in copyright violation if I made a bunch of photocopies of a pattern and sold [U]the pattern[/U] (triple fold copyright infringement if I replaced the author’s name with my own); but to sell the sweater that I made from the pattern? I still don’t see how the author owns the right to say I can’t sell the sweater.

You know, I’ve seen some stitch pattern books that say they are copyrighted and you are not allowed to use the st patterns…duh, what’s up with that?!
Well, this is why I so love Meg Swansen and Schoolhouse Press, she owns Schoolhouse Press, as you know and Schoolhouse Press is the publisher of all of Barbara Walker’s Treasury of Knitting Patterns books. I emailed them to ask if it was okay if I used a stitch pattern from one of the books and used it in a pattern that I offered on my blog, etc. Both Meg and another lady (sorry, can’t remember her name) said that it was perfectly fine as long as I stated that Schoolhouse Press gave me permission and that the st pattern came from the Barbara Walker book I was using. Well, I found another I liked and emailed to ask permission again and Meg finally said that she had seen my patterns and I was giving credit where credit was due and I didn’t have to email her to ask for permission to use these books anymore. BUT, for whatever reason, all publishers aren’t like that! And, it’s not like the same st patterns aren’t in all of the books! (Although, an email to a publisher of another st pattern book may very well prove me wrong which would be great!)
That said, I know that if you use the Barbara Walker books and ask Schoolhouse Press then they will give you permission as long as you state where the st pattern came from.
It’s as Silver said, if you get in touch with whomever the designer (or publisher) is, he/she will generally be pleasant and give you the go ahead with certain things. I always ask 1st before doing anything. I am going to use Priscilla Gibson Roberts short row heels and toes in a sock pattern, but didn’t know if it was allowed, I emailed the publisher of the PGR’s book and she told me that the “idea” can not be copyrighted and she gave me permission and, once again, asked that I give PGR the credit for coming up with this short row method.
LOL, all that to say, always ask 1st!

I guess you’ll just have to accept that they do have the right and ask permission. Or create your own patterns and be done with it. :wink:

Yeah …but I’m too stupid to create my own patterns :oops:. So if I were to subsidize the income with some knitty-buck$, I’d probably be a rebel, pick a generic and throw caution to the wind cuz I’m wicked like dat !!! :twisted:

After all, ContiKnitter told me to …

:teehee: :teehee: :teehee: :teehee: