To copyright or not to copyright – that is the question…

Having got to the stage where I have begun to adapt crochet and knitting patterns to suit my own needs, my thoughts have naturally turned to thinking about publishing my own patterns.
On sites such as Ravelry there are thousands of patterns available for you to make and adapt for your own personal use.  The issue comes when you are looking to sell your finished products.  There are a whole world of technical and legal issues that arise from this and it’s hard to know where to start!
Many crafters will publish their legal standpoint on using their patterns, whether or not you purchased it or downloaded it for free.  But what happens if there is no clear notification?  Do we make assumptions or contact the crafter to ask for their terms?
Some generous souls such as Nevada Mama and her wonderful doughnut pincushion and Josephine Wu and her gorgeous baby owls have clear policies that you can use and sell the finished products as long as credit is given and the pattern itself is not sold.
Having been a keen crafter for years I can completely understand the request not to make profit from someone else’s hard work in designing a pattern.  I’m sure nobody wants to go to a Craft Fair and find their products gracing everyone’s stalls, but perhaps is it question of degrees?
When considering what I would do, if and when I manage to make my own patterns and either sell or give them away, the first thing I will consider is making my copyright terms clear.  Some often quoted terms include:-
  • no selling or reproducing of the pattern itself
  • no mass production of goods (or perhaps setting a production limit)
  • can be made for personal or gift use but not for profit
  • can be sold profitably for charitable uses

But what happens in making a profit from something in a book or magazine?  This site from Creative Income gives some advice – contact the publisher if there is no definitive notification.  One way around this is to buy a magazine like Craftseller where not only are the projects there for you to make a profit from, they even give you a guide to how much to sell them for!
It’s a very sticky topic without an easy answer – I don’t think my patterns would make someone millions (otherwise I would retire right now!) but I would be interested to hear any opinions and stories about copyright…
Happy crafting.
Lou x

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