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.

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.

yeesh.

*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 :)

 

the dirty dogs

A few Sneaky Senators have hotlined the Orphan Works legislation, and passed it through with unanimous consent… which doesn’t mean that every senator agreed. UC is what happens when a bill is hotlined (or pushed through quickly under the radar) and no one has time to say they disagree. Like when they are more concerned about an economic crisis. So now it’s on to the House, and this is our last chance to get our message through.

PLEASE, go here and send a message to your Representative to oppose the Orphan Works bill. It’s a form letter, so all you have to do is add your address… takes like a minute. I did it this morning and here’s the complete email I received in return:

************************************************************
To: <mkeylon@centurytel.net>
Subject: From the Office of Congressman W. Todd Akin

Thank you for contacting my office.
************************************************************

Wordy fellow, eh? Well, at least my two-cents reached his office.

If you would like to know more about the Orphan Works legislation, and how it will affect ALL of us, please visit this site: www.owoh.org

opinions are like elbows…

… everybody has one. Ok, I know that’s not how the saying goes, but this is a family-friendly blog. Besides, I gave up vulgarity when I gave birth 8 years ago. After years of Teletubbies, Blues Clues, and movies with talking animals, I’m not even sure I remember what the dirty words are :)

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, staple it to your wall, or whatever else you’d like to do with it privately. You may NOT scan, fax, photocopy, post in yourwebshots 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?

I think I’ll start a “copyright” category on the blog; after all it’s not as if I have anything else to do (she said sarcastically). I do think more education is needed on the subject, and maybe if I’m pumping out explanations once in a while, my blood won’t boil when I read those inane comments on the various message boards. I can just relax, knowing I’ve done my teeny-tiny part to keep this industry healthy and growing.

am I nuts?!

Early last week, a fellow designer brought to the attention of my DesignerBiz group a website where copyright infringement went on with reckless abandon… a den of thieves. Cross stitch charts (and patterns for all crafts) were being scanned and posted for anyone to print out! And I mean by the THOUSANDS. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. Of course, I knew pattern sharing happened, but I had no clue of the magnitude of the problem. Several designers have infiltrated the group and are making records of offenders; many will be filing suit against the infringers as well as the webhosting service. A few of the more vocal designers have been bombarding the site with warnings of the illegality of posting/sharing copies of patterns and the infringers have been running for cover. I do hope that at least a few of the lawsuits get public play, because this is an important issue.

While watching this drama unfold, I began to question my sanity for trying to make a go of needlework design. What in the world posesses me to invest so much time, money, and energy in creating and promoting something so easily stolen?! For a moment, I thought of quitting. But fortunately my ever-present rosy outlook on things soon took over. I know so many lovely people who are stitchers and I so thoroughly enjoy being part of the stitching community that to stop designing is really what would be nuts. I can’t let a few bad eggs spoil what seems to me to be the life I am meant to lead.

Thank you, from the very depths of my heart, to all of the honest needleworkers out there! It is because of you that I am able to enjoy my work. And because of you, my daughter thinks I’m famous… a funny story: I was packing up a few orders the other day, something I usually do while she’s at school, and she asked what I was putting all my charts in the boxes for. I told her because shops had asked for them, and explained the process to her and she said, “wow, mommy, you’re famous!” I laughed and said, no I wasn’t at all, but using her 7 year old wisdom she told me that if anyone wanted to pay for something I made, I had to be famous. Otherwise no one would want it. Huh.