What is Copyright?
After the Napster episode, the music industry brought the topic of copyright into the spotlight
and caused a lot of discussion in different industries, including needlecraft.
Many people may violate copyright laws unintentionally,
so I thought it is a good idea to have a quick review on this subject.
Please note that the following piece covers only a small subset of the copyright laws.
Copyright laws are not for creating an uncomfortable situation for you and me.
They are to protect the rights of creators and producers.
Think about it; if publishers and designers do not benefit from their work,
what incentive will they have to produce more designs for all of us to enjoy and use?
Each of us works somehow to earn a living, including designers and publishers.
Should we make it hard on them if nobody knows?
Is it permissible to copy a pattern from a magazine or book that I own?
Yes, you can copy a pattern or enlarge it, so long as it is for your own use.
My friend wants a copy of the design I am working on, can I make a copy for her/him?
No, it is against the law to share a copy of the design with anybody else,
whether you make a print copy or share it electronically (copy to a media or via Internet).
Whoever wants it, should buy a copy. Just tell them how/where they can buy it.
Is a yarn shop allowed to copy a pattern from a book or magazine for a customer?
Generally speaking, no.
Designers and publishers usually hold the copyrights to patterns in books and magazines.
A yarn shop may, however, make copies of a pattern for which it holds the copyrightfor example,
if the yarn shop commissioned the designor a pattern for which it has received
permission from the designer/publisher.
I saw an interesting design in a book. I am willing to buy the book, but it is out of print.
Since the book is not available to buy, can I make copy of the design?
No, the copyright remains effective even when the book is out of print.
You should ask the publisher. Most publishers are willing to let you have a copy of
an out of print pattern for a nominal fee.
If I buy a book, do I own the designs in the book?
No, buying the book gives you permission to use any pattern in it to make items for
yourself, your family, and friends. In other word, no commercial use.
I like to make a garment using someone else's design and sell it.
Considering that I am doing the work myself, am I breaking the law?
Yes you are, because you are benefiting from someone else's labor.
You need to have the permission of the design's copyright holder before making any commercial use.
How long do copyrights last?
On this subject, I quote directly from US copyright office.
So if the wording seems somehow complex, don't blame me!
A work that is created (fixed in tangible form for the first time) on or after January 1, 1978,
is automatically protected from the moment of its creation and is ordinarily given a term
enduring for the author's life plus an additional 70 years after the author's death.
Works Originally Created and Published or Registered before January 1, 1978 has a total term of protection of 95 years.
There are many sites on the Internet for this topic.
TNNA (The National NeedleArts Association) has produced a comprehensive brochure on copyrights.
You can view and/or download a copy for yourself from
Nazanin S. Fard
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