do the math

Here are screen shots from where someone was so generously sharing one of my charts with fellow stitchers… look at the damage that just one person ‘sharing her stuff’ can do:

This particular design, Summer Blackwork, retails for $9. Of course I have production costs, wholesale discounts, distributor fees, etc. so I don’t actually make $9 when I sell one. (wouldn’t that be nice?!) Let’s think of that $9 as being shared by the designer, shop owner, and distributor. In just a few days, this person enabled stitchers to steal $171 from meand from the cross stitch industry as a whole.

Assuming an average price of $7 per chart, 2470 charts downloaded equals $17,290 stolen from the industry in a single year. If we figure in just 50 more ladies like this one (and unfortunately we have many more than that), suddenly the industry is missing $864,500.

It’s no wonder that designers are retiring and shops are closing.


*edited 10/14/10 to add:  I have seen many posts around the internet arguing that my math is not sound and that an illegally downloaded chart does not equal a lost sale because people like to get things for free that they wouldn’t normally buy.  So, is my math sound?  Not really.  I have grossly underestimated the loss to our industry… my figures are far from exact.  To be exact, I’d need all the data from all the file-sharing sites and that would be impossible to obtain.  And does *every* downloaded chart mean a lost sale?  Probably not… but it does mean that *if* that person would like to stitch my design, they damn sure won’t be paying for it.  Illegal downloading removes the possibility of income for designers, shops, and distributors… and after all, none of us would be in this business if there weren’t at least the possibility of income.  Further, not many of us can afford *stay* in this business if  that possibility is removed.

Again, THANK YOU to all of the honest stitchers out there!  It is our genuine love of this industry that brings us together :)



37 thoughts on “do the math

  1. I am appalled! I had no idea this was going on to such an extent. I am going to put that copyright warning button on my blog too. This is ridiculous!!! I want to support the stitching industry which is one of the main sources of my happiness!!!!!

  2. Grrrr! Nothing makes me more angry than things like this! I am so sorry this happens.

    Curse them! May your threads always tangle and your every stitch need frogging if you steal!

  3. WOW! How awful. I always knew it was happening but never really put together the cost like that. And I’m sure you were underestimating……..Nancy

  4. ugh that’s sickening! I really feel sick for you! I had somebody sell copies of my design on ebay once.. I had to get them removed.. then 6 months later she was at it again!! different username but same person! she even emailed me to argue she designed it!! she even stole the wording from my site on how to use the design etc.. I was so mad!! she eventually removed it when I had to threaten her with legal action.. so I know how you feel.. makes you sick with anger!

    I have a copyright image on my blog you guys could use to stick on your blog.. we need to get a blog together to name and shame people like this.. or a facebook page?

  5. Wow, it is incredibly disheartening to see designers and stores take this sort of financial blow! And I agree with the others, that you are probably underestimating the numbers. Downloading charts is stealing and so very wrong. Whatever happened to our societies morals and ethics anyways?

  6. With all the free patterns available on the Web, I think some people feel they should all be free.

    Thanks for demonstrating so clearly the effects of the pattern-sharing tradition.

  7. Hopefully showing the math will help get the message to some of those file sharing charts to stop.

    Had to rant about this on my own blog – sharing the message so to speak.

  8. This is disgusting. Is legal action possible? Probably not since it appears she is in Russia. Maybe you should publish her name so others would be aware of her. This is just sad and I feel really badly for you.

  9. I sure hope that you can do something about her. I’d be glad to put something about copyright on my blog.

  10. This does happen often – I have had one steal designs from my blogs and offer them for sale as a “fund raiser.” This person continues, unashamed, even with my attorney advising her to desist. New ideas are also klepped regularly, and presented as her own invention. It’s maddening, but not much we can do to stop it. In one case, I had to remove all posts about one subject entirely from both my blogs to stop this woman.

  11. Happen often…I have been designing needlepoint since 1974 and it always makes me crazy when i see a design that has clearly been copied , and not by just little designers or crazed distributors, designers with a high profile don’t seem to have any problem stealing….I have been in the business so long that the number of designs stolen would not even compute to an honest person.
    How can people live with the fact that they have stolen ….a designer that can not come up with an original thought should just get out of the business.Where has pride in your work gone.
    Designers in this business need a union, to check each other and all aspects of the trade in general…..shame on the people that have taken such a happy business and turned it into a negative.
    I know I sound crazy, but this just gets right up my nose…

  12. You will be most happy to know that I attended an event at which a “person” decided to sell bootleg copies of a very popular cross stitch designer’s work.

    I vaulted over six tables, eight chairs, and a gaggle of startled stitchers to pound this “person” to the asphalt with a q-snap. As she pitifully moaned and grabbed her offended shins, I confiscated every single one of the charts, bellowed a very pointed announcement about “BAD FORM” and why it will not be tolerated any further, and then I took away her secret decoder ring.

    I do not sell, copy, exchange, give, gift, or even peek at charts that are not mine and mine alone. This includes, but is not limited to my little sister and stitching sen-say, who buys her very own copy.

    We are, quite frankly, just too damn happy to have you fantastic designers churning out stuff to keep us off the streets to jeopardize your continued success.

    (Now in my very best Tony Soprano voice…”You want I should make a visit to that broad?”)

  13. This REALLY hurts. Thank you for posting. I’ve also posted your article to Facebook, Twitter which links to my website and blog. YEEESH!

  14. I have seen myself so many times in past years in painted canvas copies by “major designers” that I’ve learned to not have a heart attack over it, but it still is excessively annoying – it’s worse now because I don’t show at market any more. Maybe they think I won’t notice. It’s pitiful that no talent “wanna-be’s” have to resort to this.

  15. Unfortunately this has always happened, in every sphere where there is creative inspiration involved, but thank you for doing the maths. Maybe seeing those figures will make some people think twice before downloading bootleg charts.

  16. To complicate matters, there is also a shop in California (which shall remain un-named) that has a staff of artists that copy designs they buy from other designers. Years ago I got a phone call from a shop owner who was watching these artists paint one of my designs as well as those of other designers. I can’t imagine that it would have been any more cost-efffective than just re-ordering from me, unless these artists paint for free-so why bother doing this?

  17. I own a shop and overhear people all the time saying you buy and I’ll copy it. We very strongly advise them not to!! As far as “un named people” I think you should not only NAME them, but broadcast their practice. I would not deal with anyone who does that, but if I don’t know who they are, how can I know who they are???

  18. Wow. That’s terrible. The only way I would “share” my patterns is if someone wanted to actually borrow the physical pattern itself, and then I would only do it if I didn’t really care about getting it back. My favorites will stay on my bookshelf where they belong! Designers deserve to be paid for their work just like everyone else.

  19. That’s a good question. I suspect they think if they repaint it and then change it ever so slightly they can beat the laws on copyright infringement. The best protection is to keep designing and if you see something stolen, challenge it. I hate seeing this theft – as there is no other name. Cowardly theft.

  20. I walked into a store one time and saw a series of my designs packaged by a major company. When my attorney contacted them, they had unknowingly purchased them from a person who had bought mine and then changed one or two small lines and sold them to the co. as originals. I received an apology, and they were discontinued. Design companies (in the painted canvas field) do buy from individuals, who apparently have copied things that didn’t belong to them, but were sold as “original” work. I saw one company who had a series of my butterflies and didn’t even bother to change the size or colors. This is very frustrating to those of us who strive to produce a good and original product.

  21. Whats the difference in “giving” the pattern away and making a copy for someone? If you give it away thats still a person with a pattern they did not purchase, still keeps the money from the designers.

  22. I’m not sure where we draw the line on this. Isn’t OK to gift a stitcher a chart that you own, have stitched already and want to give away? Is it OK to participate in “traveling chart” stitching? It’s done with books all the time. I usually make a copy of a chart to use while I am stitching something so that it doesn’t get destroyed, but I would never pass it on to anyone. I am disappointed that someone would blatantly copy and share over the internet. I don’t think I would be wrong in thinking that most of us have downloaded shared music files at one time or another.

    I just found some of the sites you are talking about. I had no idea!

  23. I am so so sorry. I have my entire stash listed on my personal website for reference (so I don’t buy double ups) and have a note on the list saying I will not scan, photocopy etc. any of them because I believe in supporting designers, but I still get people emailing and askig.

    I am so sorry this person feels that they have the right to steal your work; I wish I could reach across and smack her for being an idiot.

    People like her are ruining it for the rest of us.

  24. I know that site (came across it from another blog but don’t worry, I never downloaded from it, I swear!) and it is often reported and the owner just never seems to get the hint. I am so sorry for you and all the other designers that are hurt by this!

  25. Of course there is a logic fallacy in your equations. That of each download equals 1 lost sale. A person doing the download may not have any interest in purchasing the pattern to begin with. Or they may have bought the pattern previously and then lost it and didn’t want to buy it a second time.

    Is chart stealing a problem? yes. Is it the sole reason for cross-stitches decline and people retiring or shop closing? No. I can’t remember the last time I bought a pattern simply because my interests have changed and most patterns don’t interest me right now. Plus I have other hobbies that suck up my discretionary income. So instead I’ll just work through the stash of patterns and books I bought several years ago.

  26. this is awful… can’t believe people resort to this. Cross stitch is a industry driven by passion and love, why to destroy it? as for people who lose patterns, that is there problem, why should the designer pay for it? bottomline is that no one should be getting charts for free.

  27. I had no idea anyone would steal a pattern. The patterns are reasonable to begin with. I always try to buy my charts from my LNS. We only have one store on Long Island. Without the store, no stitching and ideas to visit. It is always more fun to go into a store and see things in person. Morals and ethics are disappearing in a lot of different businesses. Its sad, and we wonder why our country is falling apart. Thou shall not STEAL. Sorry about this but keep pushing forward.

  28. Oh man. I’m brand spanking new at designing and have been a stitcher for more than 25 years. This information makes the already low bottom line even more despairing. I am not a prolific designer, but probably could be if I could afford to pay for stitching – and though I do not do this currently for the money (there isn’t any yet, lol), I wonder now if it’s even worth the effort. I’m really sorry your designs are being stolen. It’s awful.

  29. Yes, this is terrible. I don’t give out patterns I have bought because they are mine nor do I copy them for anyone. People have no feelings of what is right anymore.

  30. I know some of the designers forced out of the industry by the pattern sharers. They know what they are doing is wrong and yet they continue to steal from designers and everyone else who makes their living from the designers’ work.

    They should be prosecuted aggressively for violations of copyright law. The ripple effect of their actions affects many people.

  31. Please let everyone know that downloading files like that especially from Russia and the eastern european countries is dangerous. That is the way that trojans, malware and viruses are downloaded onto your computer. You invite them in with a “free” program and since you opened it up to them your protection programs will not always protect you.

  32. I for one would love to know which store that is. I don’t needlepoint, but I do cross stitch and I’d prefer not to give any business at all to a shop that does this! You would think a shop of all places/people would get how damaging this practice is.

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