copyright, again.

(this is a repost, but relevant)

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Copyright issues have recently come up on one of the message boards I read, and I feel the need to get this out of my system without addressing anyone specifically. (I’m diplomatic that way) It all began with the usual basic copyright questions, then there was a bit of chatter, but then someone popped on with a comment along the lines of “it’s so nice to see the different takes on the copyright issue.” Which is what set me off.

There are no “different takes” on copyright law. The law is the law no matter who you are or what you do for a living! I have never understood why copyright law is so confusing… If you have an original chart you may sell it, give it away, burn it in your backyard, use it to line your birdcage, or anything else you’d like to do with it privately. You may NOT scan, fax, photocopy, post in your webshots album, or in any other way *share* that original chart with anyone else. Simple, no?

Why are there opinions on what the copyright law is?? There can certainly be opinions on the validity of a law’s existence, but never an opinion on what it IS. Take for example the very volatile abortion laws: everyone knows that the law says (with minor nuances for individual states) that abortion is legal. There are no opinions on what the law is, but rather opinions about whether or not the law should even exist. Once a law is written down, there it is… opinion free. All you have to do is read it, and you know the law. Choosing to obey the law…well, I guess that’s where the opinion part comes in, isn’t it?

 TO ALL OF THE HONEST STITCHERS OUT THERE:  

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If you happen to see designs being “shared” online somewhere, please take a moment to inform the designer… we work hard to create charted designs that will provide you with hours (days, weeks, months) of enjoyment. It’s a rotten thing when our designs are copied and posted on the internet; it’s not fair to us (we have families to feed, too) and it’s not fair to you, either.

BTW, here’s the link to a fantastic explanation of Why Infringement Happens. I encourage you to indulge in an “educational moment”, as this explanation clears up several common misperceptions about pattern copyrights.

ps. A common question (believe it or not) goes something like, “But I loan my books out when I’m finished reading them so what’s the difference?” Yes, we loan books to our friends, but only one of us is reading it at a time. If I were to photocopy a paperback and give you a copy so we could both read it at the same time, then I’ve stolen the cost of 1 book from the author/publisher/bookstore…. because otherwise, for us both to be able to read the book at the same time, we’d both have to buy it.   Think of like this: anytime you cause/enable a chart to be used by more than one person simutaneously when only 1 chart has been paid for, it’s theft. Pretty simple.

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11 thoughts on “copyright, again.

  1. Hey, Officer Monique. :o) What a coincidence. I was talking to a friend of mine about this the other day. I mentioned I’d sold an OOP chart to another stitcher. She asked me if it pained me to part with the pattern, and did I send the stitcher a copy. Noooo I told her. I wouldn’t have parted with it if it would have pained me, and no, I didn’t copy it. She asked me if the cross-stitch police would come get me if I did. YES, I exclaimed! At least, I hope they would.

  2. I never understand why people are prepared to pay out for the fabric, fibres, sparklies etc. on a project, but can’t be bothered to purchase the chart.

  3. Hi
    only one part of the article do I feel a need to question. In mentioning webshots are you saying that a person can’t display on webshots the finished stitched piece or can’t display the chart. I’m confused because I thought webshots was just for sharing pics and a chart on there would be useless to the reader anyway :O) Not tring to cause an argument just need it clarifying.

    Peg :o)

  4. Very informative post!

    I’m such a boob…I have never shared anything from my stitchy stash with anybody. Ever! Not even my pesky little sister who has lusted over a few charts! I make her go buy her own!

    This is all the result of my decision on Day One as an Official Stitcher to always respect all copyright laws. I figure if I never copy, share, sell, or give away anything at all (ever), then I’ll never be in violation! ;-)

    (How’s THAT for rationalizing my ridiculously selfish need to keep my stitchy stash all to myself, hm?)

  5. No, I meant the chart… so a person could just get it and stitch from it. I think sharing finishes is great!

  6. I used to dabble in writing and that is one thing my dad, a cartoonist, taught me — copyright everything so when somebody tries to steal it you have recourse. I have often thought about putting some of the stuff I wrote on my blog or something but decided better of it — even with the copyright symbol, somebody might relieve me of it. Not that it is any good but it seems that is just what some people do. Very sad to happen when people in the arts industries bring some pleasure to others.

  7. Regarding the comment about sharing books:

    Giving books away, lending books, and buying used books is legal and not uncommon. Giving away embroidery charts, lending charts, and buying used charts is likewise legal and not uncommon.

    In both cases, the author/illustrator/designer and publisher do not earn anything from the transaction.

    I think people get confused about why this is okay but copying charts is not.

  8. Thank you for clearly stating this “law”, I know it but am constantly being around stitchers that do not know it or understand it, have forwarded your post and may bring it up at EGA tonight even..it is theft, clear and simple and perhaps a HUGE reason why we have less designers lately.

  9. I am always stunned that people do not understand that copyright infringement is theft of intellectual and artistic property. I wonder how they would feel if they painted (or graphed and stitched) a beautiful picture that millions loved and then found that everyone just “took” it. They would scream! They would feel violated, just like designers do! A lot of people are just greedy and “do it because I can”. It is a sad commentary on life and I’m glad you ranted! You have many people in your boat who agree with you!

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