One of the things that I’ve mentioned as bugging me here before is people in the craft world assuming that copyright gives them control over produced goods based on their patterns.  It’s a pet-peeve of mine because that’s not how copyright works, and it’s pretty petulant of an entitled feeling pattern author to assume that kind of control over you.

They typically look a lot like this:

You may keep a copy of the pattern for your own personal use but you may not sell or distribute it, or sell items made from this pattern.

That first bit about the pattern is entirely within the right of the author.  The pattern itself, that is to say the pictures, verbiage, and other content is indeed protected by copyright law and is entirely within the control of the original author to dictate its use.  The goods produced by that pattern is entirely outside of their control, as such an object is a good and not a piece of intellectual property.  Such a thing would be protected by patent law, but requires the author to go through the full patent process and establish novelty, which would be neigh impossible with a craft, especially one that’s been around for several centuries.

The only time copyright comes into play in these situations is when the object itself is subject to copyright law, such as in the case of producing an object based on a copyright character, like crocheting a Mickey Mouse for example.  In that case the produced good is subject to an entirely different copyright than the pattern: that which protects an artists right to fully expressed characters.  So if you’re putting together your very own plush Sonic the Hedgehog, you can’t sell it because that would infringe the copyright on the character.  It still would not infringe the pattern it was made from, however.

Granted, this has led to the little, fake trick that pattern authors think they can use to achieve character copyright.  By simply adding a unique name to their pattern there is the misunderstanding that this automatically grants character copyright protection.  In the real world, this doesn’t actually work since a copyright character is required to meet a certain level of unique establishment in order to be protected, and a name is far, far short of that requirement.  So naming your rather generic looking wooden toy car “Sammy the Car” doesn’t actually give it any protection under copyright law.

So, at the end of the day, feel free to fully ignore such claims of control when dealing with patterns relating to objects that are not themselves subject to copyright protection.  Authors have no basis to make claims of control over your produced work and have no way to legally enforce them upon you.  Granted they can still complain to online vendor sites (such as ETSY) and try to get their entitlement complex supported by under-informed employees of those companies, but that’s about the extent of what they can actually do.

However, one of my favorite knot tying gurus, TIAT (Tying it all Together; J.D. Lenzen) had this to say about using his patterns for commercial sale:

I am often asked whether it is okay to make and sell the designs I show here (week-to-week) and in my book.  The answer… is yes. Absolutely!

It is my intent that others use my designs as they wish, for profit, fundraising, or otherwise.  If you chose to mention or note “Designs by J.D. Lenzen”, I would appreciate this.

But please understand, in the end… it is your choice and not mandatory.

So don’t hesitate to start a business online, at your local flea market, or anywhere else you think paracord ties would be appreciated.

Just promise me one thing…

If your livelihood is improved to the point where you can afford to give back to your community, through tithing, gifts, or donation, please do.

Just think of paying it forward the gifts I gave to you.

That is the correct mindset for creating and distributing patterns, tutorials, and other guides, whether free or to sell.  No control of the end project is assumed, rather the author simply requests that you cite him as your source for the pattern and then pay it forward if you’re successful selling the products.  No petulant claims of ownership over your production, not fake strings attached to the use of his patterns, just a simple request for credit of the pattern and future charity in the face of success.

TIAT, I wish more of the online authors of patterns, tutorials, and guides were like you.  You, my good sir, are doing it right.

As such, here’s a free plug for TIAT’s most recent book: Paracord Fusion Ties, which I recently purchased myself.  If you like making decorative paracord bracelets and fobs, then this is a great resource of new knots and braids.  Even if you don’t want to buy the book, check out his YouTube channel which is chock full of awesome step-by-step tutorials, and consider subscribing.  He has 264 videos, so you could be there a while.

Also, check out his webpage: Fusionknots.  He’s got a huge gallery of his knots there that is worth taking a look at.  A very nice quick reference to many of his knotting projects.

-Confusion is a state of mine, or is it?

NOTE:  This is as US copyright law applies.  Some countries do have statutes that product reproduction, such as the UK, provided that the work in question meets the requirements to be considered a  unique artistic work, which many craft projects actually don’t qualify as.

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