Thursday, April 11, 2013


last of the warps for AGY:L&H to be woven on the small loom...

Weaver A was sitting at a table in the dining hall at a conference, wearing what was obviously a hand woven top.  Another weaver walked by, did a double take and exclaimed "You're wearing my top!"  Weaver A was noticeably taken aback.  "Pardon?" she asked.  "You're wearing the top I designed and had published in Handwoven."

Weaver B designed and submitted a project to Handwoven.  After publication she submitted the project to a juried show at a conference.  The juror, having seen the issue and the item in the magazine assumed that Weaver B had copied it wholesale from the magazine.  (The jurying was done without the name tags visible for the juror to see.)

Weaver C had a very successful line of place mats she was marketing at craft fairs and consignment shops.  During one craft fair 3 weavers strode purposefully into her booth, extracted notebook and measuring tape and began to do a fabric Weaver C's booth.  One of the three approached Weaver C and proudly explained that they loved the place mat design so much they were going to copy it and put it into production in order to sell it in their craft co-op.

As a weaver/designer/author, how do I feel about people 'copying' my designs that make it into publications?

One part of me (my ego) is pleased that they like what I've done enough to copy it.  Another part of me (still ego) wishes that they would at least change the colours and/or the texture.  Rather than copy wholesale, it would be nice if people would have enough confidence in their own creativity to use published designs as jumping off places.

But not everyone has the time or inclination to do their own design work.  People live busy lives, time is at a premium and it is much faster to work from project notes someone else has put together.

My issue with such 'copying' is when that person then sells the item they have made without giving credit to the designer.

The weaving community is a very tiny one.  (Just as a for instance, Ravelry, geared towards knitting and crocheting with a small corner for weaving, has 3 million registered users.  Weavolution, geared towards weavers has something like 10,000.)

There are very few people who routinely design and publish 'patterns' and we all pretty much know who they are.

Since my primary focus is to design, make and then sell my own original work, it is always interesting when I see that people in a given region (I sell my work all over western Canada) begin to emulate my work.  I generally bring at least one, usually two, new scarf designs to market each year.  If I see too many items that look too much like my own designs in the same marketplace I know that it is time to drop that particular item from my inventory.

It's no big deal.  It's just time for me to move along and make sure I come up with something new.

Currently reading Frost Burned by Patricia Briggs


Unknown said...

This is my biggest gripe too. I agree, that people should at least change the colors used, after all, how much imagination does that take? It's flattering to have people use your design, but for me, I'd rather see them do something original.

terri said...

wow, i hadn't realized that copyright protections extended only to the pattern itself, not the item made from the pattern.

it must make it so much harder for you to make a living this way...

Sandra Rude said...

My philosophy exactly. When multilayer scarves remarkably similar to mine (but *way* cheaper because they were produced in India or China) started to show up at craft shows, it was time to move on to things not so easily reproduced. No point in trying to fight it, you have to just keep ahead of the curve. It's just too expensive and time-consuming to try to fight copyright infringement in the courts.

Gretchen said...

In my opinion, weaver A used a pattern provided, in a magazine she bought to make an item for personal use. Weaver B was hopefully flattered.
Weaver C should have stopped the weavers when the tape measure and notebook came out and explained copyright infringement and perhaps how this would affect her ability to make a living. I suspect these weavers never considered that this might hurt weaver C's earnings.
Quite a bit to think about.