Wednesday, April 6, 2011
The C word
Copyright. OMG, wash my mouth out with soap. For some of us designers, the word "copyright" is practically a four letter (plus five more - I didn't get that English degree for nothing, you know) word for all the trouble it can cause, both wittingly and unwittingly. Whenever we create a new design, the little voice in the back of our head is saying "are you SURE someone else hasn't done this before and is going to sue you for copyright infringment?" Whenever the topic is brought up among designers, it is sure to start spirited debate about what is proper and legal and what is not - some designers are more relaxed about their copyrights than others, and this always leads to some interesting discussions. And copyright comes up frequently as it is a problem in the quilting world; no designer is immune to the constant threat of having her or his patterns taken to the copy shop and copied for friends of the original buyer. I doubt anyone reading this is shocked by that, although it should sadden us all, since a designer's copyright means "I alone have the right to copy this. So back away from the copier, sister." Or some such thing. I for sure don't understand everything, but I do know this: I have never read other designers' copyright statements before deciding to purchase a pattern. I know they are there, I know I am not allowed to copy them, and if I like them, I buy them. But I also know that whatever the statement is, the designer has worked out the wording and they mean what they say, and I respect that. So anyway, for me, what the copyright says or doesn't say has no bearing in whether or not I purchase a pattern. Of course I am not looking to make quilts for sale, which might affect both my likelihood of reading the copyright and deciding to purchase or not, nor have I ever seen a copyright that offended me as a quilter, like "Hey. If you think you can make this quilt as well as I can, go for it, but if not, don't even bother because I am the Queen of everything quilt related." Because that would just be rude. Many of my FB followers chimed in yesterday and today after I posted that I wanted opinions on a copyright statement I was considering. And boy did I get them! Which is exactly what I wanted to do; if I didn't want to know what people thought, I wouldn't ask, and I feel very fortunate that the EPQD community I am attempting to build on FB is doing just what I intended - becoming a place we can share ideas and just have fun. Anyway, if you didn't see the post and discussion, check it out at www.facebook.com/EvaPaigeQuiltDesigns. I would retype the whole thing but I have to pick up a kid from preschool in half an hour and frankly there isn't time. While I love that most quilters seemed to love what I had to say and that is great for the ego, I also took into account those who weren't in love with it. After much debating about in my head, I have come to the following conclusions: 1. While copyright means it is mine to copy, the copyright statement is also totally mine to make. So why not make it totally mine? 2. The likelihood that a quilter will buy my pattern based on the copyright alone is doubtful. It will be a combination of the pattern love and what I allow them to do with it. If the fact that I am honest about why I request that my work be respected offends them, oh well. 3. Being a little cheeky in the copyright could only hurt my reputation in the quilting community if I had one to begin with. 4. And let's be honest, if other quilters who do have reputations in the quilting community wrote a copyright statement like that, people would be falling all over themselves to praise them. And with good reason, because it's honest and true and mildly amusing. So I've changed up a few little things (removed "almost killed me" and replaced it with "was a challenge", etc) and I put it on my new pattern. I'm taking bets to see if anyone even notices.