Oct 20, 2007

Copyrights and Quilting

When I published What is a Copyright and Is Blog Material Copyrighted? on my blog, yesterday, I was smart enough to stay with the general concepts of a copyright as it pertains to published materials (with only mentions of quilting and quilt patterns) and smart enough to not tackle the far more complicated arena of quilt designs, patterns, class techniques, quilt shows and the photographing of them, etc. etc.

Hopefully, I am still smart enough to be careful as I share additional links today, that Mary posted in my blog's comments, yesterday! Thanks to Mary for sending along: http://qnm.com/copyright/index.html from the Quilters Newsletter.

If you are curious about this topic, they have published in their online newsletter, a series of three QN articles written back in 1998 by Janet Jo Smith, a quilter and practicing attorney. She addresses many of the most often asked questions about copyright as it relates to these subjects.

The gist of them, as far as I could interpret, still follow the basic copyright rules as I previously understood them. The basic concepts of a copyright for poem, or a book, or a musical score, also apply to original, published (i.e. already created in tangle form such as a finished quilt).

Interestingly enough, Jo An states that no cases have been recorded in the case law involving quilts, but embroidery works and fabric designs have been accorded protection under the Copyright Act. This only shows how complex the concepts are to actually file suit over involving quilts and quilting.

The basics I pulled from the QN article are, and I quote:

A copyright exists from the time an original design is fixed in a tangible form. Registration is not required to create a copyright.
A copy is a substantially similar reproduction of the original, or any pan of the original, in any medium.
The copyright holder has the exclusive rights to copy, distribute copies, and to publically display the original work or copies of it.
Permission to reproduce, distribute, or display a copyrighted work is called a license. Licenses should be in writing.
In general, reproduction, distribution, or display of the protected work of another, without permission, is an infringement of copyright.
When a copyright holder publishes a pattern of the work, permission for the purchaser to make a copy is implied.
Fair use is the exception to copyright that allows copying for non-profit education, news and commentary, and scholarly research
Copyright protects original design or text. It does not apply to techniques.
A copyright holder may give, sell, or bequeath all or part other rights.
After a fixed period of time, copyrights expire, the design moves into the public domain, and it may be freely used by anyone.
The basic rule of copyright is: Always ask permission before you copy the protected work of another.
The most important facts still remain, no copyright violation can be claimed unless the original quilt was registered at the Copyright office. Again: go to http://qnm.com/copyright/index.html for info on published patterns, artists and the rights to their class work examples etc.

More for our use or info:
Once a design enters the public domain, it cannot be copyrighted again. It enters the public domain through the passage of time and expiration of the copyright. Traditional quilt patterns dating before the 1930s are available now for anyone's use.
Confusion arises with copyrights claimed on published patterns that are based on a traditional block design. In that case, it is not the design that is copyrighted, but the text of the pattern and any new design elements which may have been used in the quilt, such as an original border or quilting design. The traditional design remains in the public domain.
So, the book or magazine publisher may freely print the block, and the quilter may make as many copies of the block as she wants for sale, exhibit, or teaching samples. She can publish her own pattern of the same design. She just can't photocopy the pages of the book or pattern, or copy the words as her own.
Ahh, now we are to scanning and xeroxing of books and magazines.
Run, ladies, run.

Here is my original blog post

What is a Copyright and Is Blog Material Copyrighted?
That makes a lot of quilters who think that no one is allowed to copy a photo of one of their quilts and create their own distinctly different but appearing superficially the same pattern from it, get all upset.

It's important to note and realize the distinctive differences that make it legal for many spin offs to well, spin off! I'm sorry if you don't like that, but we are talking legal here, and not moral or ethical!

Linking to another's blog, or post, or idea, or technique is never a violation, it simply sharing a link to source. For additional information on the General Copyright laws, go to: http://www.loc.gov/copyright/faq.html#q45

Updated link courtesy of Nina Dunn

This Guide to Copyright and DMCA for Online Publishers - https://blogging.im/copyright-guide

It provides comprehensive coverage of copyright and DMCA laws for bloggers (and anyone who publishes online).

For additonal info on Quilting and copyrights, see:

Copyrights and Quilting
Dangers of Photo Sharing Programs

What is IP via US Patent and Trademark Office

“Who Owns What?” via Stanford University




Trademarked Fabric and Copyright Laws for its Use

Tabber's Temptations on Licensed Fabrics..... and I quote below from their article:

I am quoting from this article.
Please do not write me about this, though you may feel free to comment with personal opinions. Please click on link above for longer legalese discussion.

Tabber's Temptations on Licensed Fabrics.:

First Sale Doctrine: When someone releases fabric into the stream of commerce they effectively have relinquished control over the uses of that fabric.Licensed fabric means fabric that has been licensed by the rights owner to be manufactured and sold. It does not mean the fabric is being sold with a license. The term "licensed fabric" legally only refers to the fact the manufacturer of the fabric has a license to use the images on the fabric. It does not mean the fabric is "licensed" to the purchaser. Fabric is not "licensed"; fabric is sold.Even though the selvage may make a statement that the fabric is for "non-commercial home use only", that "restriction" is not enforceable primarily because the purchaser does not have agree to the terms before purchase.

Federal courts cases concerning the use of fabric to make items to sell:

In Precious Moments vs La Infantil, 1997, the federal court invoked the first sale doctrine in denying Precious Moments attempts to block the use of its licensed fabrics to make bedding for sale. The 1st Circuit Court said making a fabric item from fabric lacked any originality so it was not copyright infringement. Since then, M&M/Mars, Disney Enterprises, Major League Baseball, United Media (Peanuts fabric), Sanrio (Hello Kitty fabrics), and Debbie Mumm, have been sued when these companies tried to block the eBay sales of items hand-crafted from their licensed fabrics. Every one of them settled rather than risk losing the issue in court.

In Scarves By Vera, Inc. v. American Handbags, Inc, 188 F. Supp. 255 - US: Dist. Court, SD New York 1960, American Handbags was using towels manufactured by Vera to make handbags for sale. On some of these handbags made with plaintiff's towels there could be seen, at the bottom, the name Vera coupled with the figure of a Scarab or Ladybug, all three of which were registered trademarks of Vera. The judge rejected Vera's copyright claims.

It should be noted that in both cases the judges required the defendants to provide disclaimers attached to the items because the items were being sold in stores. The disclaimers were to plainly disavow any relationship between the manufacturer of the item and the trademark owner. This was done so "an ordinary, intelligent purchaser" would not be misled that there was any connection. When selling on-line, a prominent, highly visible and well-placed disclaimer, such as our recommended Tabberone Disclaimer, would likely serve the same purpose and legal need as the disclaimers required by the courts. Precious Moments disclaimer court quotation and Scarves By Vera disclaimer court quotation.

Quickie Guide to Copyright Law

Legal Zoom: Why Are Copyright Laws Important?

An Etsy Discussion On Copyright Infringement

An Avvo Discussion on Using Trademarked Fabric

Top Spot 4 U's Logical Discussion on How to Use Licensed Fabric

Can I Make and Sell Clothing Using A Designer's Fabric?

Tools for Artists:

http://www.tineye.com/ | reverse image look up
http://scottwyden.com/importance-of-watermarking/ | The importance of watermarkinghttp://www.rightsforartists.com/

LEGAL GUIDE FOR BLOGGERS: Intellectual Property




What Does Copyright Protect? (FAQ) | U.S. Copyright Office

www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-protect.html Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. See Circular 1, Copyright ...

For my list of well over 2,500 free quilt patterns that are all available from the public domain for free downloading, check out: Free Quilt Patterns

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting, from my heart and with my hands


Kim West said...

good information. I do wish, however, there wasn't such a "grey area" - something clear and concise for the "normal jane". I do believe, however, some pattern designers are taking it too far - confusing copywrite with terms of use.

Norma said...

It is way too confusing for the general public to deal with. It makes you want to put your quilts under lock and key and guard them with your life.

The end result of all this is going to be fear. And that means designer's who so freely give of their designs will stop doing that........how very sad for all of us.

Nellie's Needles said...

I would like to think the end result would be acceptance. Along with that, a willingness to acknowledge the source of inspiration or technique. From the blogs that I read, most people do.

Personally, I know my art cannot be duplicated exactly as I've made it. If someone wants to copy it, at least they may end up with something pretty good. If someone can take my basic idea and truly make it their own, then I'm pleased and proud to be an inspiration. If my art showed up on black market bags or shirts on the streets of New York, I'd want one ... they'd have good designs. Yes, I know, that last sentence is flippant and in reality I'd mostly likely feel pissed off. It all boils down to the premise that I make art for myself, but if the joy and the pieces couldn't be shared the experience would be diminished ... akin to hiding my candle under a basket.

MARCIE said...

Lots of good info to ponder. Thanks for all your effort in giving us the details.

SuBee said...

Like all questions of ethics, this one is a hot potato. There's validity to both sides and ultimately the we all bear the responsibility of treating others as we'd like to be treated. Great research, Michele - thank you for our continuing education! (hmmm...can I get CEUs for this??)

Browndirtcottage said...

Thanks Michele.....good info. I have bookmarked this post just in case for future use!!

Elizabeth H Jones, GREEN, GRI, RSPS, SRES said...

Thank you so much very helpful! So how do we know what blocks are in the public domain?