Sunday, 2 March 2014

The small matter of "copyright"

was being discussed yesterday when I arrived at our knitting guild meeting. It is a topic which gets raised at unfortunately regular intervals - usually in my absence.
I caught them yesterday. I am a little tired of it. No, I lie. I am very tired of it.
Copyright is really a very simple issue for knitters. Copying patterns comes under the same rules as any other print material. How hard is that? You may not use somebody else's pattern without permission to make anything to sell to someone else. How hard is that?
I understand what part of the problem is. People lack the confidence to design their own. They are afraid of "wasting" materials and the time and effort to make something. They believe they cannot design something. They are also lazy and want the easy way out.
I have written knitting patterns. It is not an occupation I recommend. Writing instructions for anything is extremely difficult. It does not matter how careful you are someone is bound to misunderstand. It takes time and effort.
There are knitting books where express permission is given to photocopy charts - usually in an enlarged form - if you are making the item. There is an implied right to do this if you are working from a chart in any book. There is a good reason for this. Enlarging the charts makes it easier to read them. Charts are also tools and many people mark off the rows as they work them. Does this confuse people? It shouldn't. It still does not give people the right to use the charts to make a garment to sell to someone else.
But...but...but... they splutter, "Why is it all right if someone gives you a pattern and the wool and asks you to make something?"
Ah, you are being paid for the work you do - if you are prepared to work for a few cents or pence an hour. You are not offering something on the open market with the intent of making a profit. In all likelihood you have also made some adjustments to fit a particular individual. It is like making a jacket to fit from a commercial pattern or altering the length of a table in woodwork.
I could go on - and on. I won't. It is when the issue is deliberately raised in my absence by people who have raised the issue before, people who know the answer is "no, you may not do that", that I feel frustrated and angry. I have tried telling them that this is theft but they seem not to want to see it this way.
Yesterday the issue was raised because they were discussing whether they should buy a photocopier/scanner/printer. They have the money to do that - and there are other good reasons why it might be done. I know however that easier access to the means to copy will increase the likelihood of illicit copies being made. I know it means other people's patterns will be used and the end results will be offered for sale. I know there will be arguments when I say that this is not legal.
I am attempting to set an example. I never use other people's patterns. I know I am fortunate in that I don't need to use them. I can work without them even though I will glean ideas from them.
It is a lot more work - but it is also a lot more fun. 


jeanfromcornwall said...

Absolutely with you on this, Cat. As well as the knitting, I do cross stitch - and I photocopy the charts on my printer, so I don't have to mark the original, but I wouldn't give copies away.
One of my daughters knits, and we both fell in love with a colourwork hat, so we each bought our own copy from the designer. We have certain books that we regard as common property, but for such patterns as are on Ravelry, we think that the designers deserve a payment from both of us, if it is something that we both want.

Anonymous said...

With you too ... and amazed that so many people ignore the fact that copyright law does allow us to lend a book, pattern or magazine to a friend so they can make up an article. However, selling the finished article is against the rules, and if the people doing it really thought about it they would realize they are making a profit using somebody which belongs to somebody else. I am assuming they would not use yarn which didn't belong to them to knit a jumper which they would then sell, so why do they think they can use a pattern?