At the moment Pinterest and Ravelry are teeming with projects to knit and crochet minions from the film Despicable Me 2. They are pretty cute and look like a fun crochet project. But is it ethical and is it legal? A few days ago I tweeted:
Its amazing how many crochet minion patterns pixar have licensed. Oh wait, they haven’t. Theft is still theft even if its a big company.
— Joanne Scrace (@notsogranny) August 15, 2013
Mostly because I feel let down by the design community over this. Designers are the first to jump up and down and get upset if someone has copied their design.* Being copied isn’t nice, someone taking your idea and/or work and depriving you of income.
* or they perceive someone has copied their design – a lot of times people do just have a very similar idea to you – this needs to be the subject of a different post I think and I will link it here when I write it.
Because we live in an online world international reach that is legislated with national/state/federal laws it is so difficult to work out what exactly is legal/illegal where and why but here are some general guidelines to help you respect copyright internationally.
Use of patterns:
- Make something with the pattern and you can dispose of it as you want – sell it, give it, keep it. If you sell it, particularly multiple copies online it is nice if you credit the designer of the pattern.
- You can dispose of the pattern how you wish – you can gift it, lend it or sell it provided you deprive yourself access to it. This means that it is okay to lend out a pattern to a friend but it isn’t okay to copy it and give it to a friend. Obviously this becomes tricky with selling on digital copies as how do you prove that you have deleted it and destroyed any copies you made? This is why most sites prohibit it.
- Making a copy for your own use – printing out a pdf or photocopying a section from a book so you can annotate it.
- Pointing people to the link for a free pattern online.
- Posting a pattern written by someone else in part or in its entirety on the internet.
- Selling or giving away copies (scanned, photocopied or written out) of a pattern written by someone else.
- Using the photos from a pattern to promote your products – even if you have made it to sell you must use your own photos to do so.
Interesting to note:
- It doesn’t matter if the pattern is paid or free the same rules apply.
- Copyright doesn’t have to be asserted in the pattern it is automatic.
- Please please please, if you find sites on the internet that are posting for free or selling patterns that you think are infringing copyright then let someone know and don’t give them your business. If a seller on a site such as Etsy or Ebay sends you a pdf or physical pattern that is obviously copied then report it to the sites as they have the power to ban people infringing the copyright of others and you will be entitled to a refund if you paid by paypal (always do this to protect yourself)
- Being inspired by a shape or a technique and using it in your own design.
- Using stitch dictionaries.
- Reworking someone’s pattern in a different weight yarn and publishing it.*
- Reworking someone’s pattern with a different stitch pattern inserted and publishing it.*
- Working up someone’s design (reverse engineering) from a picture and publishing your notes or turning it into a pattern.
- Creating and publishing a design based on a licensed character (unless you have the licensees permission.)