A Lesson In Copyright
I know this is lengthy, but please read the whole thing. (I will be monitoring comments, so please be nice)
Yesterday I was contacted by Deneen from Yarns and Musings. She claimed I had stolen two of her patterns and that I needed to immediately removed them from my shops and stop selling them. I very nicely replied that there must be a misunderstanding, that I to this day, have all the notes, on all the patterns I’ve ever created. Since the day I designed my first pattern I have never copied a pattern in my life. Anyway, she didn’t believe me and said she was contacting her attorney. At this point I was irrate, mad, and in tears all at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t, nor am I now, afraid of her attorney. I can prove my work. But I was having a hard time with the way she was treating me. So, I decided to look for the first pattern in question.
Oh my word!!! Let me just say, if the shoe had been on the other foot I may have reacted as she did. I’m not justifying it, but I can see where, not knowing me or who I am, might just think I copied her. The pattern in question was my “Bubbles Textured Baby Blanket”. What was the name of hers?…Bubbles Baby Blanket. And to make the whole thing more freaky, it really was the same stitch pattern. I really couldn’t believe it. I told my hubby that the odds of something like this must be 1 in a few million. (totally guessing). I did use a different hook size, but I didn’t look at the number of stitches or size, because it didn’t matter. The fact of the matter is, she created and put a copyright on hers in 2005. I created mine in 2007. She owns the copyright whether I copied her or not. Granted I didn’t like the way she was treating me, but ultimately that didn’t matter….and I honestly could see why she would think I did. So, I immediately removed the pattern for sale. I will however add my counts, hook info, and dimensions, to the bottom of this post, along with a link to her pattern, for those that would like to use my sizing, etc.
I also immediately removed the second pattern from my sites. I couldn’t even find her pattern in question, but 1) I was so upset about the way she was treating me, and 2) I was still blown away by the facts and similarities of the first one, so I just took it down without looking into it further. I can’t tell you how upset I was. I’ve had one of my patterns stolen. I’ve had about 30 pictures of my children wearing my items stolen. But I would never intentionally do it to someone else. I could still cry over this. Anyway, after I made my children some dinner, I went back online to search for pattern #2. My afghan was “Winter Warmth Car Seat Cover” but I couldn’t even find another afghan on her blog, or in her Ravelry store. What I did find was a washcloth/dishcloth that used the same stitch I used. Now, I don’t have her pattern, but she did tell me she put instructions in there on how to adjust the size. In my opinion (please comment nicely if you don’t agree with me) this scenario is much more ‘touchy’ in the copyright field. I do not believe she can hold a copyright to any size square with this stitch. That’s almost like saying you hold the copyright to the stitch. But, anyone who knows me, knows I’m non-confrontational. I don’t really care. You want the copyright, you go ahead. It’s not that I’ve given up, but it’s not worth attorney fees to fight over a $3 pattern. I didn’t start this business to ‘own’ anything. I started it to pass on my love of crocheting. So, I won’t fight her on this. I won’t put the pattern back up for sale either, but I’m not relinquishing the pattern either. Hers is a dishcloth, mine is an afghan. So, I’ve come up with a solution. I will post the pattern to the afghan in another post and I will add a link to her sight in case you’d like to make the washcloth.
If you’re a designer, I’d like to make a few suggestions.
1) If you have an idea for something, look online to see if you can find it elsewhere first. This is something I’ve only recently started doing (maybe the last 4 – 6 months or so). Now, things I made almost 5 years ago, are coming back to bite me :). Granted I’ve only been online for a year, maybe a little more, but if you’re reading this you’re online ;).
2) If you think someone has stolen your pattern, confront them nicely. You may be right, they may have copied your pattern. Or, just maybe there is another explanation. I don’t care that I had to take down my patterns. I’m honestly more upset about the way I was treated. Obviously if the accused doesn’t cooperate then you’re probably write about the copyright infringement. (I do want to add that she did apologize for losing her temper with me. Unfortunately, I was already way beyond upset over the whole issue)
I am one of those ‘up and up’ people. If you want to know just ask. I once got a book out of the library. I couldn’t for the life of me read the pattern. It was in UK terms and very poorly written (in my opinion). I returned the book, but came up with my own square that looked just like it. I posted the pattern on here, with a clause that stated it may be the same or similar to the one from the original author. I didn’t want to be accused of stealing. Anyway, I received this nice comment from someone who saw my disclaimer.
so, maybe Jan Eaton’s square was your inspiration, but really, this is your own square? :>)
I always think that, honestly, people can independently come up with something so similar to someone else’s ‘copyrighted’ square that after a while, ‘copyright’ is a little bit silly to claim?
Anyhow, thanks for this lovely square! And for your forthrightness in warning that it might be very similar to someone else’s work. :>D
My point in sharing that is that she has a point. Deneen and I used the same stitch. She made a cloth and I made an afghan. Now what? I didn’t copy her, I just used the same stitch as her. If Deneen can lay claim to anything square made with that stitch, we are all going to be copyrighting someone sooner or later. I’ve seen so many cowl patterns, in the past year, all made with double crochets. I’m pretty sure one didn’t copy the others pattern. It’s an easy pattern to create, especially when you’re starting out. Have a little compassion and try to work things out. We’re all in this for our love of crochet.
Here is my Bubble Textured Afghan. I used a size “J” hook and Bernat Baby Coordinates yarn. I held one strand pink and one strand white together throughout the whole project. My beginning was ch72 and the finished product was 23 1/2″ X 27 1/2″. I’m adding the border below because I got the impression from her emails that hers didn’t have a border.
Here is a link to her post. The post will give you the links so you can get it on Ravelry or CrochetPatternCentral.
Round 1: 3sc in corner stitch, sc evenly down side of afghan (approx. 60 sc), 3sc in corner, sc evely across bottom (approx. 49 sc), 3sc in corner, sc evenly up side (approx. 60 sc), sc evenly across top (approx. 49 sc), slip stitch in 1st sc.
12 thoughts on “A Lesson In Copyright”
So sorry to hear that she was not more diplomatic regarding the matter….it appears you are honest and forthright….remind yourself of that and don't let her comments to you hurt you. Keep creating the beautiful items you create and thank you for this information!
I don't know you personally, but from what I do know of you, I cannot begin to imagine you would be the kind of person who would 'steal' someone else's idea. For the other person to have accused you of such in such an unkind way just blows me away. It IS possible for two people to think of something very similar, if not the same. It happens. And there ARE nice ways to go about dealing with it.I'm sorry for the emotional distress this has caused you. I'd be the same way over it!p.s.-just going by this other person's demeanor, I would not even consider purchasing a pattern of hers. Keep your chin up, darlin!
I don't think anything is really original anymore, I get an idea thinking no one has done it, but then sure enough someone did, we all have great ideas…..and it's strange, because my GRANDMOTHER made me a blanket just like that when I was born 27 years ago, SO there for I don't think anyone means to copy anyone, there is so much out there it's hard to think of something new………..It's just a pattern, get over it please! I bet you BOTH did a wonderful job on it and it's great that you share………I don't think anyone is to blame……. it's ok! <3
I haven't been crocheting very long, but I can TOTALLY see how this can happen! There are a lot of great designers with great ideas that are the same or similar to other designers ideas. I am sorry you were treated poorly in this matter!
I think she's gone a little overboard. It may be the same stitch but you added a nice border to yours and it looks more finished. In my opinion the pattern is different regardless of the stitch. She can't hold copyright to the stitch. I have done several patterns of my own and people have been wearing them for years and then I see them online,I don't go after the person,they could have come up with the same idea.It happens,it's not unusual,it's no reason to get your panties in a bunch. I think she may have been upset maybe because you were making money and she wasn't? In any case she didn't need to use the lawyer card,that's just a cheap shot and she could have and should have used a little more tact than she did. I'm sorry this happened and hope you don't have anymore problems out of her…Good luck!!!
I am sorry that this has gone down this way. In reality since crochet is hundreds of years old there will always be someone who has done the same stitch or something similar before. I do not think you can copyright a stitch. Maybe what you have done with it or how you do it…if it is unique enough.Please dont let the threats of a lawyer scare you. Official copyright requires a lot of money and paperwork. I doubt that has been done.Don't let this get you down….((HUGS))
As talented as you are, does she not know that you don't need to "steel" anyone elses pattern? There are only so many stitches you can do with crochet (I've been doing it about 50 yrs) and sooner or later they are going to look alike. Keep doing what you do best, and don't worry.
As my 8 yr old daughter would say, "Choose your words wisely because words are very powerful". I hope she ponders and is embarrassed by her actions. Don't let it get to you….her bark was louder than her bite. Kindness is Power and Karma is a b#%€£. :D
I later apologized for my initial reaction, as it is not the first time I have come across this. I never said you "stole" anything. Stitches cannot have a copyright and someone from the UK wrote to me about the pattern on Etsy. I also believe no crochet pattern is new, just a bunch of stitches put together-however the irony of the name, as well as pattern, threw me for a loop. As for the comments regarding my demeanor, do you even know me? I wasn't upset about the making money, it's a free pattern I did and Project Linus uses it. Please don't judge me here, I'll have my day. The lawyer card, I DO have an attorney and happen to work for one, so it's not as costly as you would think. That was my initial reaction-again, I apologized for it.Again, I apologized for my initial reaction, as I stated it has happened to me before and probably will again. Those of you "bashing" me in the comment, feel free to continue, but please remember Karma is a B&*(%. Also, please put the shoe on the other foot and think about my end also.
Deneen,Please go back and re-read this. I did put in here that you later apologized for losing your temper. This post wasn't really about you, and more about the "touchy" copyright issues with patterns. The only reason I even mentioned you, or your blog, was so that I could link to your post. As far as the word 'stole', you are correct. That was not the actual word used in your emails. But do you say that's not what you were claiming by using other words?As for the copyright on the stitch. I believe it was taken out of context. I stand my ground that you shouldn't be able to lay claim to any size square made with the stitch of your cloth. Just because I used the same stitch to create my afghan shouldn't mean I violated your copyright. What I was trying to say was that you can't claim copyright on a stitch so their will be plenty of things in the same stitch, just different sizes, etc. If you start doing some research I'll bet there are plenty of others out there just like me.
There is sssooo much I want to say in regards to this, and it seems it has mostly been said already!! I REALLY believe in the "coincidental" crafting theory, in that, given the exact same base materials, two people can, indeed, create the exact same finished product without any collaboration. You handled the situation very well. If I was in the same position, I would have been in tears too, as I absolutely hate confrontation. Pulling the Bubbles pattern seems the right thing to do. I also agree with the whole "stitch" argument you pose. It's a hard stretch to think that I'd be infringing on someone's "copyright" by making a DC square, or any other stitch combination for that matter. I think it has to be a whole heck of a lot closer to a more elaborate pattern than that to make me think I was in any way doing something "wrong."Hang in there, you are a great designer, and we've all got to face these moments of uncertainty and confrontation, doubt and if we are to be honest) anger, no matter what career we have!!
There is a certain % that has to be changed in order to get around “copying”. I wish I remembered how much, but there realy should not be an issue with using the same stitch over and over. To me, a pattern changes, it is more than a stitch. Throw a bunch of different stitches into the mix and call it a pattern. Make different objects and add borders, or alternate rows of different stitches and call it a pattern. To argue over a stitch is crazy. I have written a few patterns that I post for free because they are just the same stitch over and over. I knew what I wanted when I started working the project, but didn’t actually have a pattern to follow, so YES, I made it up and Yes, there most likely is another project out there that is the same…but just a different size. That’s why they are free. Don’t let it get to you. You are still creative!