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TOPIC: Copyright infringement of a quilt - what to do??

Copyright infringement of a quilt - what to do?? 10 Feb 2016 12:34 #135894

  • idaho
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My thoughts on this prob'ly won't meet with much approval..but are a different point of view. IMHO :
When we choose to share a quilt in public arena of any kind we are essentially GIVING our quilt to the world at
large. And if someone is clever enough and talented enough, they can make something like mine...though
certainly not an exact copy. And who am I to tell them that they cannot ?? I put it before them. I think we make
far to much of all of this notion. The answer is to not share...and that's not so much fun. IMHO
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The following user(s) said Thank You: Pemela, lovequilter

Copyright infringement of a quilt - what to do?? 10 Feb 2016 11:23 #135890

Heather this is a thorny topic. Rosemary brings up some important thoughts and ideas.

My take away is this. I designed a Pentagon pattern and had it copyrighted by the US government. It is a little bit of work and a little bit of money, but it made me feel better. Also, one time I was looking at quilts on pinterest and found my quilt "June Cleaver on Acid." This wasn't my original design, it was a TQS BOM 2009 pattern by Sue Garman, but with my own coloring. I could tell by the picture that someone had taken a picture of June at the Road to California show as it had the red ribbon hanging on the quilt. This person added the title and my name. But I've seen June out on the internet without my name. And, every time I enter a quilt in a show I always, always credit the pattern maker if there is one. For example I received permission from Sue to enter June in shows and credited her on the description. Another quilt I made I drafted blocks using Jinny Beyer's book "A Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns". The patterns weren't designed by Jinny, but were in her book. I drafted them in the sizes I needed. I also received permission from Jinny to enter the quilt in shows, even though the patterns were in the public domain, but I found them in her book. I say, it's easier to ask permission than forgiveness in this situation.

Good luck! And I hope that lady learned a lesson.

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Copyright infringement of a quilt - what to do?? 10 Feb 2016 10:20 #135887

thanks, both of you.

I did spend hours upon hours reading all I could find on copyright, and how it might apply to quilt design and quilts. It *would* be possible to register a quilt design, if it were original enough. So, for example, I couldn't make a simple log cabin quilt and register that design, as it's traditional/public domain. But, perhaps I could register my Oceans of Love quilt, which is a Storm at Sea blocks, but VERY untraditional/very original coloring, I think giving it enough originality that it could be registered.

I'm fuzzy on whether just the design itself (if, for ex, I made it into a pattern) or also the quilt itself (as a 3D art piece) are register-able, but I *think* both, although registered separately. I think. And then that gives me (actually, just having made it in a fixed manner, either on paper or in cloth) gives me sole right to produce copies of the item. So, in case of a published pattern (if I made a pattern, then offered it for sale), people could of course buy the pattern and make the quilt, but could not make a copy of the pattern to distribute to others.

But if I registered the quilt, as an UNPUBLISHED, 3D piece of art -- then no one would, theoretically, be able to copy the quilt itself. I think, if I'm reading all of that right. So much depends on whether I (or anyone) intend to publish the pattern, or if it is simply a piece of artwork I've made that I do not wish to publish. (and I believe blogging about it falls in "public display" which does NOT equal publishing).

All that to say, I think honestly the quilt that got copied would have been protected, but as there are no damages to seek, and no money was earned (that I know of) by her or taken from me, it's all resolved just fine at this point. It's the future quilts in my head that I would want protected, from exactly the issue you described, Rosemary, of the quilt owned by the guild, then someone saw the photo, copied it, and now selling the pattern.....massive infringement, that. I'd not want that to happen.

I do think I'll be rethinking what I share about some particular quilts. Not all, for sure, but some. Which makes me sad. Still pondering this......
Heather, a Texan living in Brasil

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Copyright infringement of a quilt - what to do?? 09 Feb 2016 15:52 #135886

  • Tribblemom
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Heather, if you plan to become a professional quilter/designer, you might want to seek legal advice or research it on the internet. One costs money. the other time. Until you get answers, think twice about projects you post on your blog that you want to protect.
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Copyright infringement of a quilt - what to do?? 09 Feb 2016 13:32 #135883

  • PosyP
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This is a very thorny issue. Unfortunately because of the web we can be exposed to so many different ideas and quilts, that we simply forget where we saw the original. I might come up with what I think is an original design/ layout of a traditional block, but it actually echos a quilt I have seen a number of years ago and subsequently forgotton that I had seen it. One of the main things I have taken away from my reading about copyright is that I should not take someone else's design and try to make money from it, especially if the originator is trying to earn her own living by her designs. Paula Nadelstein was involved in a fairly famous/infamous copyright design appropriation, which I am sure would come up on a google search. There are also other articles available about copyright & the quilter.

This is not unusual. The Quilters Guild of Great Britain owns a quilt known as 'Mrs Billings's Quilt (or something like that) It was in the exhibition that was held at the V&A Museum in 2010 and I think, the exhibition also travelled to Australia. Someone who viewed the quilt, & bought the catalogue has made a reproduction and is now selling the design, but, as far as I know, no royalties have even ended up back with the Quilter's Guild - I am not even sure if she asked for permission to sell the pattern, but I do not know all the details.

For self protection, the first idea that comes to mind is to put a 'watermark' on any photos that you post - Bonnie Hunter does this with all the photos that she posts on her blog at quiltville.com you could add a date at the same time if you wish. I don't think that there is a 'register' as such for design copyright (and if there is, it probably costs a lot to do, and then a lot to chase after infringements when you do find them. However what you would need is datable documentary evidence of when you designed your quilts.

I'm glad that you have had a reasonably successful outcome - acknowledgement of your design, I have read of much worse outcomes, usually when making money has been involved.

Embroideress Extrordinaire & Mad Hatter
Last Edit: 09 Feb 2016 13:51 by PosyP.
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Copyright infringement of a quilt - what to do?? 08 Feb 2016 17:23 #135871

Okay, quilt friends, help me think this through.....

Over the years, I have designed most of my own quilts. Rarely have I used a pattern, though many of my original designs are just traditional blocks that I've laid out (so not original enough that I would say I own the copyright on them, necessarily). Some, though, are original enough that -- even though comprised of traditional blocks -- the design is such that if you see that quilt, you know it's *that quilt.* So if you saw a side-by-side of my quilt and one someone else made, you would know they were the same exact design.

Well, that happened. One of my quilts is very often repinned on Pinterest, so today I thought I'd see if others have made that same quilt. One had, and it is all over the internet, YET she had not credited me as the designer, and in fact had claimed SHE designed the quilt. !!!

I have contacted her and the other websites that have shared photos of her quilt, and they are all adding in credit to me as the designer and a link to my original blog post about the quilt. BUT -- it has me wondering. What should I do in the future??

When you design your own quilts, do you immediately register the copyright with the copyright office? (to pursue any kind of legal action for damages, I would have to first register the design, and preferably before infringement had taken place). Do you not post photos? Do you go straight to making the pattern and publishing it, so that there *are* damages you can sight *IF* copyright infringement occurs? (I simply made the quilt, have never tried to earn money from it, etc, so there would be no damages as it is not taking income from me, etc.).

What is the best way to protect oneself against this sort of thing in the future?? I've always always always been careful to get permission if using inspiration from an original design (not my own), to credit the pattern/tutorial if following a published pattern or tutorial, etc. Always. It took me completely by surprise to find someone had copied my quilt then claimed to be the designer of it.

there are quilts in my head that I absolutely would not want to be copyright infringed, or would not want myself unprotected should it happen. And I'm curious about going back and seeking to register ones I've designed thus far.

Advice? tips? What do others do? Alex & Ricky??? any suggestions????

I'm flattered someone copied my quilt.....and dumbfounded and disappointed that she did so blatantly and even so far as to say she had designed it herself, not even bothering to say she saw the design "somewhere" (she has now fixed that, but still....)
Heather, a Texan living in Brasil

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