Friday, March 28, 2014

Copyright and craft patterns

Crafter and attorney Jen Bernstein has written some excellent posts here on copyright and also copyright and craft patterns - specifically about quilt patterns, but which could easily be applied to other craft patterns. She has written from a US perspective but it is still interesting to read. (I guess there are not many people writing about Irish copyright law and craft patterns! And what of international law on copyright?)

As a designer and pattern writer it is something that interests me hugely. It is easy enough to copyright my patterns - to stop people buying the patterns, putting their names on the bottom and reselling them as their pattern. A more complex area is whether people can buy my pattern, make the objects I've designed and sell those objects for their own gain.

I have frequently seen other designers put "for personal use" on their patterns and sometimes even sell licenses to other crafters who want to make clothes or products from their designs and sell them. It makes sense to me - I wouldn't want other crafters using my kits or knitting patterns to make items to sell.

Yet, do we have a leg to stand on? From what I am reading in Jen's great articles, it seems not. Or at least, not unless we sell patterns with a contract attached - two different contracts in fact - one for purchasers wishing to make the objects for personal use and one for those wishing to sell what they make from the pattern. This is obviously not going to happen as it is far too complex for small designers.

What to do? As a purchaser who is also a designer I would always respect other designers' wishes. For example, I have bought patterns by Rae Hoekstra of Made by Rae (who writes awesome patterns by the way). Rae sells licenses for a small fee to those wishing to sell clothes made from her patterns. I would never consider making clothes from her patterns to sell and not attributing them to her, or doing it without a license.

Yet it seems legally this is not really binding. Should it be? For example, if I think about recipes in the same way, it doesn't make so much sense to me. If I ran a cafe or a food stall at a market - would I feel that I couldn't use recipes by other chefs without permission? Absolutely not! I even remember reading Yotam Ottolenghi (who is my favourite cook in the entire universe at the moment by the way - if you do not own a copy of Plenty go out and buy one this instant) writing about knowing one of his dishes was a success when someone saw it on the menu in a "cool and arty pub in Camberwell".

What do you think people? Do designers need to rethink the way we approach our patterns? 
 Should designers be able to restrict people from using their designs to make items to sell? Or do we need to suck it up and consider it a compliment?

(Photo above is a sneak look at some new designs by the way, coming your way soon!)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

For the love of fixings. (And toddler busy boards.)

I thank my father for giving me a love of fixings and DIY shops. An abiding childhood memory is going to Atlantic DIY store early on a Saturday morning to get something-or-other my Dad needed to make something-else-or-other. Because he was always making something-or-other.

He gave me this sense that it is possible to make anything. That I can make anything. I certainly can't do it to the standards he would do it to, (see the amazing kayak he made below for proof of that) but at least I can do it! My sloppiness in this regard is a bit of a running joke! But every time anything breaks in the house I just ring my Dad so he can tell me how to fix it. (Or sometimes not to bother trying!) It was just normal to me having a father who is that fantastic so I didn't even begin to appreciate just how brilliant he was and what gifts he gave me until I grew up and realised not everyone's Dad was the best tech support for life. I'm lucky.

This love of DIY and skills with using tools is something I really want to pass on to the wee man. He might only be 1, but it's never too early.

So during the week I was making him a fabric "board" on which I sewed a buckle, a large button, a velcro tab, some pockets and a zip as these are the toys he likes!
 (Sorry for the crap phone photos.)

 And while googling for ideas of similar things other people had made their kids, I discovered busy boards. Some inspired people on Etsy have put together boards of fixings for their kids to play with.
So I copied them. (Sorry Etsians!)

We had a Saturday morning trip to the local DIY shop with three generations of my family. (Woohoo, day out in the DIY shop with Grandad!)
We picked up a variety of locks and hinges, door stops, light switches and pulley wheels. (Actually, the wee man picked up a lot more stuff  - "Look, boxes of little metal things everywhere! And it's all at my height!" - but we managed to put most of that back, albeit in the wrong boxes.)

I affixed them all to a large board which is now screwed up on the wall in our house. It was a massive success immediately. I cut a hole in the wood behind the door so we can put different things in there. 
Board in progress.

I want to go to another DIY shop, our local DIY mecca, soon and pick up a load of electrical switches. The boy loves switches. I guess DIY runs in all our blood. Thanks Dad!!