Creative Commons Copyright

Copyright laws especially a blogs and bloggers' "Creative Commons" copyights can be a riotous display of seen and unseen, true and not true as far as what is copyright or trademark protected and what is not.  The photo above was taken in 2005. I was part of an enormous  quilting project where 200 quilters created 200 quilts for the victims of Hurricane just 2 days. An amazing experience in its depth and breadth as a quilter's putting imagination into action grew from something that might have been on a very small scale into something that galvanized and entire community into production on a large scale process.

And strangely enough, this one image from this blog out of about 4,000 images that I shared on this blog in my first 10 years here, became the most downloaded photo of all. And has anyone ever asked my permission  to download my photo of me that I posted on my blog? Nope. Did they ever ask me if they could use my video of a squirrel on the wooden arbor my husband built as a gift for ne erected in our backyard with the prayer strip ribbons frantically being pulled on, bitten apart by that squirrel for the creation of a squirrel nest amidst the branches of our trees? 

Nope not even asking if it was ok to share someones else's personal video without attribution. I thought I had to protect my rights to all of those kazillions of downloads. Afterall, my blog was going on 8 million views going towards 11 million now, and my blog, and my photo and me. So I  placed a watermark on it. Did it make a whit of difference?

Don't be silly. 
But in order to protect the rights of all of us, I am posting this little blog page post, as most artists and quilters now do about 'my' rights and the rights of all the artists, quilters, designers and bloggers that I talk about, write about, or share links to or photos from.

Just because others seem to have the most amazing sense of ownership to anything and everything and bandy about terminology and rights that simply do not exist. And I can often shake my head over life and all of its challenges and every single person I have every helped in any way, shape or form to begin with..

So here, you go. A post about respect. About blogging. About photos. And about the rights of ownership we all think we have..and quite frankly that I thought I had..once upon a time before 1,000 posts, 4,000 photos, and almost 10 years of my life in blogging service to others ;-)

No watermark on my photo above, of my sewing machine, my fabric, my sewing nook. Doesn't matter really anyone can cut and paste and claim its their sewing. But if I put a watermark, at least it will take them a bit to hide it before they claim it ;-)

But the truth is I store this photo on a popular photo web sharing site. " they' own it.

Seriously? Yep. And it can be shared by them as in sharing in google images.
We all use them for ideas right? The original 'pinterest' which is of course trademarked, has a copyright etc etc. on our photos posted on 'their' site while we do not. Interesting, hey?

"©© Creative Commons right to respect my work and the work of any and all quilters,designers and writers that I might link to, link up with, or write about."

Artists and quilters think I should post this on my blog.  I thought I should. So, I am.

"Please do not copy any part of my blog or its posts and use as your own. This has taken me years and years of hard, hard work. Simple link back to me, with a description and one photo, instead to any post, free patterns or tutorials pages."

And that..and this...

"Out of respect for those artists who require trademarks and copyrights for published patterns sold now or in the past, please do check where those patterns rights stand now, and how they may be used. Thank you! "

Did it done. Does it make a whit of difference. Nope. Not the digital world we live in anymore and I'm so sorry. I thought that was my photo, by my camera, in my sewing room, of my scraps and my sewing machine. But I don't 'own' this photo. I'm beginning to wonder if I own the room, the sewing machine and the scraps ;-)

Obviously, the Universe is trying to teach me something and here, I thought I was already this amazing and sharing and loving and caring woman. Nope, I think I own things. Ha.

Now, for the real dirt on quilts, quilting, copyright, trademarks, photo hosting etc. etc. etc. 

 And as your mama always warns you, everything we post online can be seen...forever. It can also be stolen, altered, misused or even used against us. Pinterest has pretty much destroyed who made what first as has blogs, because quite frankly people coders can change everything including dates under properties etc.

I remembered shortly after Pinterest became a huge fad, I mean huge. I saw that everysingle photo on my blog was being linked to an album on their site and I was not a member and did not create that page. I became totally crazy, I thought they had stolen my photos of my quilts that I had posted on my blog.

I didn't understand they could do anything they wanted with any of my or your photos on any blog, website etc. that any of their members visited and linked to. Their algorithms simply created a page for my blog and I couldn't even find a way to claim that blog's page of photos! So, I joined and am now in competition with myself..if I so wanted to see competition you see ;-)

We think we know about spies, trackers, cookies and robots. What we forget, sometimes, is that everything we put online is available, and alterable, by anyone with the right, the copyright, or the appropriate technology to do so. Unfortunately, this includes any photos or other images that we post, or even store online in photo hosting programs.

And to be honest, you can't get a copyright on a quilt, in fact you cannot legally copyright an idea. Tissue paper to blow your nose, nope. The word Kleenex with its legally trademarked name, yes, but have they every sued anyone for using the word kleenex when writing about blowing their nose with a lesser brand,don't be silly.

And yes, quilters are sillier than just about any one group of people I have ever met or read the hearts and minds of..seriously, do we all have OCD. I think you know the answer to that ;-)

Oh, and will this photo of me live forever? You bet. What is online stays there. Do I mind? I once did. But now that I am 23 years older and look it, I think hey isn't this just wonderful, there I am ;-)

Very few quilters have true legal copyrights even on their patterns and according to the government site, no quilter has ever even won a lawsuit thought one artist did get paid off just because she made such a big noise and is famous and very rich.

Talented, bright, and very open and sharing with all of us Leah Days made not only quilting news but major tech crunch news with this amazing, amazing post. This is so fabulous and quite frankly she showed us that yes, dear quilters, you truly are not wearing any clothes and we can all see you.

 The Free Motion Quilting Project: Copyright Terrorism

Mar 30, 2012 - Leah Day UPDATE - 3/31/2012. I've never received so many responses to a single post before, and I plan to keep the comments open so ...

Here is what tech news site said about her and her honesty and open sharing of well, it's the facts, m'am.

 Leah Day stories at Techdirt.

Apr 4, 2012 - What Quilting's Legal Battles Can Teach Us About Copyright ... Last year Techdirt wrote about Leah Day, who was trying to introduce a free ...

Leah has generously been giving away her quilting tutorials for years and years and urges others to do the same. She sees all the brouhaha over ownerhsip and lawsuits etc. as having gotten totally out of hand and ridiculous and let's face it..they have.

Don't you just love it when techs all over are now quoting this amazing quilters and her blog post on this issue? 

Here's what I learned about Fair Use:

All this time, as bloggers we believed in 'fair share' use of images promoted as such. Guess what? If they are copyrighted and more and more photographers are doing that (and we can't even tell some times if there is no watermark and they are not on a the originating site) and copyright lawyers are seeking photographers out and recommending their being paid to do searches for those images. Once, they find them they have potential lawsuits under legal copyright use of those professional images! And boy are they taking advantage of this and raking in the dough!

I know a lot of quilters now who pay for professional photos of their quilts even at $500 a pop. You thought your friend and fellow guild member didn't care if you used that photo on facebook..think again, best to ask first. And even if she says no problem, that professional photographer could still do a claim against you.

And believe it or not, without appropriate laws in place, you can go through the wringer even if....
  • if you link back to the source and list the photographer's name
  • if the picture is not full-sized (only thumbnail size is okay)
  • if you did it innocently
  • if your site is non-commercial and you made no money from the use of the photo
  • if you didn't claim the photo was yours
  • if you've added commentary in addition to having the pic in the post
  • if the picture is embedded and not saved on your server
  • if you have a disclaimer on your site.
  • if you immediately take down a pic if someone sends you a take down notice.
Please note...all of the above applies to professional photos WITH a legal copyright. However, as I said quilters are now hiring professionals.

Search for photos that are approved for use.
  • Creative Commons licensed pics -- You can search for photos that are free to use (with some restrictions) through Creative Commons. Usually this means you have to attribute the photo to the owner and link back to their site.
  • Wikimedia Commons offers free media files anyone can use. (Creative commons rules still apply.)
  • Use photos that are in the public domain. 
  •  Take your own photos and only use those.

Use sites like Pinterest and Tumblr with caution.

Most other social sites say that if you load something into their site YOU are claiming that YOU have a legal right to that picture. And if the owner of that photo comes after the company, you will be the responsible party. And Pinterest goes so far as to say if you repin something, you're saying you have the right to that photo.

 Yes, if that's enforced, it would mean that 99% of people on Pinterest are doing something illegal.

The Dangers of Photo Sharing Programs

Photo hosting is one of those things that we all love. Whether you use Picasa, or Flikr or Webshots or Snapfish ..or a million other programs...most of those programs own the 'rights' to your photos by your simply using and agreeing to use their hosting the fine print if you can find it ;-)...and have the right to use them without actually even needing your permission.

That right was brought home to a 16 year old teenager in Australia who unexpectedly saw her photo up on a billboard for Virgin Mobile. This was sometime before I began blogging in 2006.  She had never given her permission to have it used for advertising and had no idea of how it had gotten up there. 

It turned out that a friend of that teen "Alison Chang" had posted the photo on Flickr under a Creative Commons license. Under that licensed agreement, Flickr owned the right to use any photos posted for any commercial purposes and had it picked up by Virgin Mobile.

And that squirrel video of mine? Would you believe that a random blog reader seeing mine commented that a friend of hers had a squirrel on an arbor doing the same thing and wasn't that funny?  Well I investigated and that blogger didn't have a video si ilar to mine. She'd used mine.

Creative Commons licenses to some, or to all of your work. The rights granted vary, so if you ever design to assign one, know what you're agreeing to. It was meant to be a 'free' tool that would allow authors, scientists, artists, and educators to easily mark their creative work with assigned freedoms to change copyright terms from "All Rights Reserved" to "Some Rights Reserved." As such, it defines the spectrum of possibilities that lies in between a fully restricted copyright to the public domain of no copyright at all. Creative Commons licensing allows us to share,to remix, and to reuse...legally. On the plus side, it allows the proliferation of images, poetry, works of art, books etc. to spread like wildfire across the Internet... giving desired publicity, and publication, to its creators. On the downside, it becomes open to misuse, alteration, or misinterpretation.

Reading about this, and thinking about my recent posts on Copyright laws on the Internet, made me think about the images that I store and/or publish. A quick check into contracts of Photo Hosting services and a backup computer listing service tells me this:

You retain the rights to all photos you post on Flickr. However, you grant Yahoo a license to use the photos posted in public areas. Yahoo does not pay royalties for any photos it uses and it can use your photos to promote Flickr. Yahoo may also modify or adapt any of your publicly posted photos.

AOL Pictures:
You own the photos you post and store, but like Flickr, AOL is granted the rights to use them if publicly posted. AOL and its associates also have the right to modify them and to use them in any medium it chooses. Unlike Flickr, AOL does not give you the option of applying a Creative Commons license. AOL does include a link, however, to remind visitors that they need your permission to repost your photos.

Kodak Gallery:
Kodak does not claim ownership of your photographs. However, you do give them the right to use and distribute your images. This is for the purpose of making prints etc. Photos are not available publicly.

Web Albums: You retain the copyright to images you post to Google's Picasa. However, Google is licensed to use your photos. Google claims a perpetual, irrevocable license. The license is also royalty free worldwide and they can also modify or alter your photos and can make them available to companies for syndicated purposes. Picasa does not offer Creative Commons licenses. 
These are just the few I took the time to look up, back in 2006 when I first began blogging. They all pretty much work similarly and your give away your rights when you ask to use apps, cloud, space, etc. for free as we all do!

Remember: Just because your name is on the blog, the post, the photo album or the online store sales site, you don't 'own' it. We all just think we do.

Know your rights and remember that when it comes to the Internet, only the people are invisible, everything else is seen by someone.

Check out my post on blog copyright info:
What is a Copyright and Is Blog Material Copyrighted?

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:

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




Tools for Artists: | reverse image look up | The importance of watermarking 

LEGAL GUIDE FOR BLOGGERS: Intellectual Property  



Mine is..all the time! 

Coders simply use algorithms to create fake blog sites that scrape.."steal" ..every single bit of each and every one of our blog posts and then post them on their site and get the 'hits' for them ahead of our rights to 'own' our own blog post. Yep. Try undoing that.




I ask that you please respect the copyrights of any site that I link to directly or indirectly as well as that you simply link to my own free tutorials etc. Please do not cut and paste as if you had created my work, or my lists or their work, or their tutorials. Thank you so much. 

Having said that, it must also be said that the creation of Pinterest has all but destroyed understood copyrights of most work as posters have become so desperate to be 'popular' that they have posted and reposted links to things that they had no idea of even correct linking or who had made or posted the photos they share. This makes it all but impossible to give credit where credit is due. 

Having a watermark on my photos is part of my Picasa program setup. It does not mean I am claiming that I made anything I link up to. It is simply my link to my posting on my blog..a service to you for understanding the heritage of the piece! It tells others that I have shared here and if you prefer that I don't link to your site, please do let me know. A very few have complained until they realized that with millions of views I'm actually free advertising for what you do and what you make.

If I have no idea of who made something and nothing online links to you, I cannot give credit where credit is due unless you let me know. Anything over 1 week old on blogger goes into comment moderation file and it takes me a while to read your comment. Please don't assume I have deleted your comment. Unless you are out and out spam, I have not. It just hasn't appeared in my mailbox yet!