Sunday, 21 July 2013

Copyright and the Crafter


Copyright is an important issue for crafters/designers. Especially among knitters it's a hotly debated topic: Can patterns be distributed? Can items made from patterns be sold? What counts as a unique design in the first place when all you are doing is putting a number of stitches together? Who do I credit and how?

More recently, I've noticed that many crafters don't seem to be aware of copyright infringement in their own work, which is worrying. If the creator discovers your work or someone reports you, this could have serious legal consequences.

This is why I have come up with the following questions crafters should ask themselves if they are selling their work:

- If you are using other people's artwork/design, whole or in part, even if you are changing it as part of your project, do you know if you need permission from the artist?
- If you do, have you acquired official permission?
- Are you aware of copyright law in your country? What about the original artist's country?
- Do you credit their work?
- Do you know your source? (You should!)

These questions are just to get you thinking. The academic in me loves links back to original sources and it turns out they're not just useful when writing a thesis; you need to link back to the original if you haven't sketched, painted or designed something entirely by yourself. Chances are you will be found out eventually thanks to the global network that is the internet.

So, no more Disney, Doctor Who and insert-popular-brand-here. It's hard to be entirely original, especially because it seems everything's already been done. We just have to look at what's out there and do it better and differently. Or go out on a limb and create something the world has never seen before.


  1. An interesting issue that seems to keep coming up, great post!!
    I make beaded bracelets and necklaces linking together beaded loops. The pattern for the loops is adapted from a pattern by Laura McCabe. So when I decided I wanted to sell them I shot off a quick email to Laura with a picture and she responded so sweetly and so quickly (happily to say yes), but the main thing was that she was so appreciative of me taking the time to ask her, and it took minutes, a small cost for piece of mind.

  2. That's fantastic, Lynsey! The best outcome in such a tricky matter.