Pattern legal issue

I don’t want to be a spoilsport, but I just came across something on eBay that didn’t look right and I wanted to run it by you folks. I was looking for vintage knitting magazines, which I LOVE to do. I noticed that someone is selling e-mailed GIF files of really old patterns from magazines. They are from the 40s I think. Even though they are old, they are still covered by copyright, right?

How long does a copyright last?
The term of copyright for a particular work depends on several factors, including whether it has been published, and, if so, the date of first publication. As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors. To determine the length of copyright protection for a particular work, consult chapter 3 of the Copyright Act (title 17 of the United States Code). More information on the term of copyright can be found in Circular 15a, Duration of Copyright, and Circular 1, Copyright Basics.

Usually not on something that old. There’s several sites that offer some for free too.


Wow, if it weren’t such a pain to determine copyright on patterns published before 1978, I would suggest we get a vintage pattern swap going! I love vintage patterns so much. Some because they are hilarious and some because they are just timeless.

well i don’t think that swapping would be an issue. even selling whole magazines probably wouldn’t be an issue. it is that copying and selling an individual pattern that i think could be a problem. hard to say though with laws like that.

For those that are interested- I was given a few dozen magazines from the 50’s and 60’s. I could make a list of what I’ve got and could always scan or type in some patterns :slight_smile:

My idea of a swap was that we would all scan our favorite patterns and post them for eachother (not that we would swap the original hard copies). Wouldn’t that be fun if it were legal?

I just happened to see a link to this and thought it might be helpful…

Public Domain

It looks like a lot of the vintage patterns out there will fall under the public domain unless they renewed their copyright (if they ever had one).

You might want to contact eBay to find out if it’s legal. I am baffled and curious to know.