Copyright, Copyright, Copyright!
I never really thought much about copyright law, about what is allowed and what isn’t, until I started using and writing patterns. I’m not a lawyer but understanding the basics of copyright is actually pretty easy. Basically, if you didn’t get the pattern directly from the source then it is possible and very likely you are violating copyright law. All of the following are in direct violation of copyright law:
- Photocopying a pattern and passing it around to your friends is in violation of the law and it is stealing from the designer/publisher.
- Sharing a pdf (email) of a pattern is in violation of the law.
- Printing multiple copies of a pdf and giving them to others is in violation of the law.
- The sharing of free patterns is also in violation of the law, share the link instead.
Keep in mind, you don’t have to be selling the pattern copy to be in violation. Giving it away for free is still a violation of copyright law . Please, stop and think before you pass along or accept a pattern.
- Is it a photocopy, it is likely a violation.
- Did I receive a download from someone other than an authorized source, it is likely a violation.
- Do I see it for sale everywhere else but I’m getting it for free from a different source, it is likely a violation.
Independent designers often sell on multiple platforms. If you aren’t sure if the source is authorized, contact the designer first and ask. Big name corporations/yarn companies are victims too. If you wouldn’t shoplift a magazine from Michaels/Wal-Mart/local yarn shop then why steal patterns? It’s the same as shoving that pattern or magazine up under your coat and walking out of the store without paying. See this page for an easy to understand explanation of copyright. http://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/
I believe most people don’t realize that what they are doing is wrong. How many times has someone said to you-“I love that shawl you are making. Can you copy that pattern for me?” Next time it happens simply reply, “Thank you! I love it too. The independent designer is XXXXXX and she sells her patterns on XXXXX. Here, let me send you the link to her site.” Hopefully she will accept the information and won’t ask you again for a photocopy but if she does, just say something along the lines of “Sorry, photocopying would be in violation of copyright law.” There’s a good chance she is just unaware.