Monday, March 27, 2017

Another Copyright Discussion (Part 4)

This is another post about that is based on a conversation I had with a couple of attorneys several years ago.  Remember, I am not a legal expert so if you have legal questions, please contact a copyright attorney.

When I taught myself rug hooking about 18 or 19 years ago, I purchased the book Basic Rug Hooking by Alice Beatty and Mary Sargent.  One of the things that really appealed to me was the rug on the cover of the book.  I thought the colors were gorgeous and I wanted to hook that rug some day! I made a few phone calls and eventually found a rug hooking store that sold this pattern, New Hampshire Antique, so I bought it.  The description in the book said it was "too intricate for a beginner's first," so I saved it for when I would be a better hooker, but I never did anything with it.  Lately, I've been thinking about digging the pattern out of my closet and finally hooking this rug.  I still love everything about it!  But way back when, it was only available on burlap.  It's not even the really nice premium burlap, more of a flat, slubby angus burlap.  So I worry about the age of the burlap (probably more than 20 years old) and the weight of the rug when it is finished.  You see, it's a very large 42" x 81" size.  It is too big to be hung on a wall so it will have to be used on the floor.  I do not think the burlap can take the weight of the wool nor the wear and tear of walking on it.

So what can I do?

My best option is to retrace the pattern again on a piece of linen and hook it for my floor.
Wait! you can't do that!  What about copyright laws?

Actually, yes, I can redraw this again on a different backing and then hook it.  Or I could use the original pattern for a template for a bed-size wool appliqué piece, if that is what I desire. Remember, I purchased the pattern and the obligation to the designer ended when I paid for it
I can only use it for one time/one use only,  regardless of how I use it (remember in one of my previous posts, I mentioned that patterns drawn on backing are for one-time use only).
Here's the catch:  if I decide to redraw it on a piece of linen (or use it for wool appliqué or any other medium), I am obligated to destroy the original pattern.
Why?  Because I paid for one pattern and I can only use it once.  In essence, to keep the original  and the copy would mean that I have created two patterns.  I only paid for one.  I cannot resell the original, I cannot donate the original, I cannot hook the original for personal use as a second rug, I can't gift it to my guild, I can't use it as a door prize.   That is where the copyright violation would be.  You can't create two patterns from a single pattern and use both. Period. Amen.

I know this could be confusing and I have tried to explain it as best I can.   Just remember:  one pattern = one use.

I've been thinking about advice for rug camp again and I think I'll go back to that for my next post.  Cheers!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Copyright-Personal Use vs. Commercial Use

Just when I thought I could move on, that pesky copyright monster has been hanging around my door's post is about personal use vs. commercial use.

What is Personal Use?
Property that an individual owns or uses for personal enjoyment.  It may not be used in any way in which money is charged
What is Commercial Use?
Using property in or for a business for financial gain.  Income generated using any kind of property.

Now let's talk about free patterns and personal use vs. commercial use.
I am going to be specific and talk about the free patterns you see/use in magazines.  However, this is also applicable to books and other publications that offer free patterns.
As a new rug hooker way back when, I didn't have a computer or internet or social media to be able to find any rug hooking information.  I had to depend on books and magazines, particularly Rug Hooking Magazine.  Believe me, I practically wore those pages out!  And I loved the free patterns because it gave me an option for something to hook.  All I needed was a piece of backing and a sharpie and I was ready to go!  
Fast forward to 2017...I have designed and written my fair share of free patterns and articles for many magazines.  It's fun but a lot of work too.  I have to design the pattern, hook the project, write the article, figure out prices for a kit (if one is offered), photograph the rug and the samples of wool that I used.  All working under a deadline.   But there is great satisfaction to see your free pattern being enjoyed by other rug hookers. I love to see the different colors and variations that people choose for their personal project.
Take a close look at those free patterns.  In Rug Hooking Magazine, they are a separate piece of paper inserted next to the article.  Unfold the pattern and take a look at the little box in the you see what it says? 
"You may make up to ten copies of this pattern, without the express written permission of Rug Hooking Magazine, for any purchaser who states that copies are for personal use. Not for resale." (my bold letters, not theirs.  I want you to take notice of that).
In the newly published Wool Works magazine, there is a disclaimer next to every project/line drawing/free pattern
"Templates Provided for One-Time, Personal Use Only"
(again, my bold letters)

So!  If you are going to use these patterns for your home, a gift for your sister or mother or uncle, you're good to go!  You are using it for personal use.

BUT!  If you are a small business (or any kind of business) and you are making them for your customers...oops!  You can't do that...copyright violation. That is my intellectual property and you are making money on it!!!

Honestly, I would think this is a no brainer but recently, I have discovered two different businesses that are duplicating my free patterns and offering them for sale to their customers/students.  Some of the patterns were from a few years back but that is certainly no excuse.  One of the patterns was changed a little, removing some (very small) details and adding a few tabs to the side of the mat.  Refer to my last post about "significantly similar."  You can't change a few things and call it your own.  And believe me, this piece was really significantly similar!  You could pick it out while riding on a galloping horse from a mile away.

So let me talk to all the sellers out there.  The small business in your home, the person who packs up their car and vends at shows, the person who sells patterns to their students, the person who is paying rent in a store are commercial.  You can not resell the free patterns offered in books or magazines without permission!  Don't compromise your business image, your integrity, your customer's trust, everything you have worked to accomplish.  Do not be labeled a copier.  And don't think it will go unnoticed.  In this day and age of electronic information, things seem to pop up everywhere.  And don't think that I don't notice.
I want to give first time offenders the benefit of the doubt. Hey, I've made some mistakes early on.  Maybe you just didn't know.  But now you do, so stop it.  Like right now.
I'm here to tell you that we all need to give each other a little respect.  I love to design patterns but I'm not going to submit them for publication anymore if they are going to be misused.  And then everyone loses. Let's do the right thing!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Few More Words About Copyright...

Just a few more words about copyright that I think are worth talking about...
(Remember, I am not a legal expert.  I am only speaking and writing from what I understand.  If you have any legal questions, it is wise to consult with a copyright attorney).

Significantly Similar
There is no magic bullet or formula for how you can change someone else's design to make it your own.  If a work is "significantly similar" to the original work, it is a copyright violation.  You cannot change a design 10% or 20%.  You cannot simply reverse the direction.  You cannot change a design "seven times" to make it yours.  If a "Regular Joe" can see that the new design is significantly similar to the original, it violates copyright law.
I know you will say that there is nothing new under the sun.  But that's still not an excuse to copy, OK?  You have lots of options.
There are things called "common design elements."  Stars, snowmen, geometric shapes, etc.  You cannot copyright these things.  But the more detail you use, the more specific you make the design, then it becomes copyrightable.  Everyone can use a basic snowman design.  But when you draw the snowman, put a golf club in his stick hand, draw a rabbit for his caddy, and the golf bag is full of carrots, then that's when it's your own copyrightable design!

I need to correct myself.  I think I was misunderstood or misspoke in my last post about copyright vs. antique rug patterns.  Remember that anything prior to 1923 is in the public domain.  That means you can adapt vintage/antique rug patterns prior to that date.  I also mentioned that designers often sell these antique adaptions.  But what I meant to say was that if you are going to adapt an old rug design, go directly to the original rug design.  Use your photo of the antique rug and do not copy the adaptation from the designer!  Yes, the design is in the public domain but if the designer added extra "stuff" to the pattern, you are also copying that newer stuff. It's public domain vs. a few new things someone else added.  I think it's a sticky wicket that I would want to avoid. 
I read an amusing story once where old map makers would design a map but purposely put one small error into an inconspicuous spot on the map.  Then they could often identify someone who was copying the map because the offender would also unknowingly copy the mistake.  Pretty clever, wouldn't you say?

OK, I don't know if I'm using the right word by saying "intent" but this is really what I mean:
Patterns drawn out on backing or foundation cloth are intended for one-time use only.  I mean that you cannot buy one pattern on the backing of your choice and trace it or redraw it for all your friends.  It doesn't matter if it is for personal use, you still are violating copyright laws. If you know someone who is doing this, DO NOT take part in this activity.  I know it goes on because I have had people call me and tell me that it has happened with my patterns.  My best advice to you is to not take part in this type of sharing and kindly purchase your own pattern.   I had a friend who once showed me the cutest little goat pattern.  It was an older pattern but certainly not pre-1923.  She said "oh, I know you like it so go ahead and retrace it.  I won't tell anyone."  Nope!  I would not do it.  It would have been so easy because who would have known if I traced it or not? After all, it was for my personal use.  But I could not compromise my core belief and to this day, I'm happy I stuck to my guns.
One other of my conversations with an attorney was about one-time use patterns.  Once you purchase the pattern, you may hook the rug and if you choose to sell the finished rug, you may do so.  The obligation to the designer was satisfied when you purchased the pattern.  The designer cannot prohibit you from selling the rug.

When you purchase my book, Introduction To Rug Hooking,  there are 8 patterns included that you are free to use for your own personal use.  You can use them as many times as you want and enlarge them, add to them, etc.  I own the copyright to the patterns but the intent of the book was for the reader to copy and use the patterns for personal use. There are lots of other books you can buy that offer free patterns too.  But be careful...not all line drawings that appear in magazines and books are for free use.  Sometimes they appear for educational purposes or for reference.  You need to do your homework and make sure that they are for public use before you copy them.  
I believe that most patterns you buy on paper or PDF have the same may copy and use them for your own personal use as many times as you wish.  However, please check for any disclaimers that come with the paper pattern.  They may limit you to a certain number of copies.

I hope this extra information adds to your copyright knowledge.  I appreciate your comments and input!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Rug Hooking Etiquette - Part 3

** I have a confession:  I have been working on this post for longer than a week.  Writing, editing, writing, and editing again.  There is so much information I want to tell you but I fear it might get too "preachy" somehow.  So I hope you find this helpful and please bear with me.**

In this post, I am going to be discussing the dreaded "C" word.......


(I can already see some of you passing out in front of your computer.  Or maybe your eyes just glazed over a little bit.)

There is nothing so fraught with controversy than to have a discussion with a rug hooker about copyright laws.  Let me say first that I'm not a lawyer, I don't have a law degree, and I am not an expert about copyright laws.  I have, however, had several discussions with attorneys about copyright law and I have done enough research to feel fairly comfortable when talking about it.  A great resource that I often refer to is the Copyright Office website at Please use it as a reference if there is any doubt. Another great book to read is Copyright Plain & Simple by Cheryl Besenjak.

So there you have disclaimer before I discuss copyright vs. rug hooking etiquette!

Copyright is the legal protection of one's intellectual rights and it protects original works including music, writing, artistic works (including pictorial and sculptural works), movies, photography, and even computer software.  Here is a link to general copyright information (really great information for inquiring minds):

Basically there are two important facts for rug hookers to remember:

1. Copyright laws cover the life of the creator + 70 years.
2.  Anything published before 1923 is in the public domain (no copyright) are wondering how this applies to rug camp etiquette? Well, it works like this:
You cannot hook Sponge Bob Square Pants at camp or anywhere else, even for personal use (yes, this is true.  Sponge Bob belongs to Nickelodeon.  I really did have to investigate this). You also can't copy/hook The Simpsons, or Winnie The Pooh, or anything else that is licensed by a corporation (unless you get permission). This includes sport team logos because they have strict licensing rules.  You can't create designs by copying images/photos you find on the internet or Pinterest or Facebook or Ebay or Etsy without finding out if they belong to someone. In other words, most pictures and images you find on the internet are copyrighted and to use them would be an infringement when you use them without permission.

I realize I am not the police when it comes to this but I can tell you that you cannot hook these things in my classroom.  Nor can you hook any design in my class that appears to be a copyright infringement. And I hope you don't do it in any other teacher's class either.

There are lots of really, really wonderful rug hooking patterns out there by many talented designers.  I like when my students pick one of the patterns from my website because I am familiar with them.  But I never, ever limit what a student can hook in my class to just my patterns, because of all the other wonderful choices (I always welcome any primitive/wide cut pattern in my class).
If you have an eye on a design that you've seen on the internet, or in a book, on a note card, etc, please don't make the assumption that you can copy it for rug hooking!  Do your best to find out who owns the design and ask for permission. It's not out of the question. I've heard of many artists who will allow you to do this for personal use.  Ask.  I love the adage "the answer is always no unless you ask!"
If you get permission, make sure it's in writing so you have proof that you can legally use the design.  But what if they say no?  Or what if you don't get an answer?  Just move on.  Think of all the other terrific design possibilities and find something else to hook.  It's the right thing to do.

One other thing....just because you purchase/own the artwork, whether it be a painting, note card, etc, it does not give you the right to copy it.   The creator still owns the intellectual rights/copyright.  Remember:   lifetime of the artist plus 70 years.

Can you copy an old postcard, poster, or greeting card?  Yes, as long as the design is pre-1923.
Can you copy an antique or vintage rug design?  Yes, as long as the design is pre-1923.

Many pattern designers do offer patterns from antique rug designs but beware!  If they have added a few extra elements (maybe a different border), or put their own spin on the design by adding a few extra doodles, they have essentially created a copyrightable design, and of course you can't copy that!  I often take my own pictures of antique rugs when I'm traveling somewhere or visiting an antique store.  When you do that, you are using your own photo and adapting the design just as you have seen it.

Complicated?  Confusing? You bet!  Will people jump all over me for this?  Probably.  Is this important to our rug hooking community?  Yes, it is.  Let's all do the (copy)right thing!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Rug Hooking Etiquette Part 2

Thank you for reading my previous post on Rug Hooking Etiquette!  I am amazed at all the positive comments and your suggestions!  Since I believe there is still a lot to say, I'm going to continue with a few more tips today. 

(Honeybee Chairpad, a Notforgotten Farm design, hooked by Pat Hagadon)

The first day of rug camp is always as busy as a bee hive. Everyone is picking where they want to sit, getting their frames and cutters set up, and there is excitement in the air.   They want to get started hooking on their rugs!
Here are some "B's" for the first day (how did you like my pun?):

Be on time (especially the first day)
I know a teacher who starts out the day by giving a talk/lecture. It might be about color theory or technique or copyright. Wouldn't you feel bad to walk in late and miss out on some of that wonderful information? On the first day, I always give a little talk about how my class works, how my wool is priced, how I color plan, a little personal information about me, and then we draw numbers for color planning. I like to have everyone there so I don't have to repeat myself over and over.  And if you are not in your seat when we draw numbers, you will get pushed back to be one of the last to be color planned. Hey, it's only fair to the students who did get there on time.  
I get it....there are times when you can't help but get there late. Try to tell your teacher ahead of time so she knows you won't be there until later. 
Which leads me to the second "B" .....

Be ready
Be in your chair when the teacher comes to your spot and she's ready to help you. It's fun to shop in the camp store or see what your friend is working on, but if you are away from your seat, I'm going to continue on to the next person who is waiting for me.   

Please stay off your phone or iPad if you see the teacher is coming to help you. I have had the experience where I stopped to help someone and they were so busy sending a text or looking at Pinterest that they never even lifted their head. Again, I don't want to interrupt you so I will move on to the next person who needs help!

Another big complaint at rug camp is phone conversations!  Try to keep your phone on vibrate. Or if your phone rings, step out of the room and continue your conversation. It might be a great achievement that your grandson finally ate carrots but not everyone in the room wants to hear it. I know there are emergencies and I've had a couple myself. But I've stepped out of the room so no one had to hear the details. 

Be Patient
Trust me. I know how hard it is to wait.  I have been one of the last students to be helped in a large class. As a teacher, I am acutely aware of the wait time, especially on the first day. I have had students sigh and/or roll their eyes as I walked by, on my way to help the next person.  Some students need a little more time than others. We have all been there at some point in our rug hooking life. My hope, by the end of camp, is that I have spent about the same amount of time with everyone. 
On the other hand, don't be a "time hog."  Remember in my first post, I said I liked to build your rug by only planning a motif or two at a time. I want to make sure your colors are working and I can move on to help the next person while you are hooking.  

Be Honest
I want you to love your rug when you go home.  Be truthful with your teacher if something isn't looking like you want it to be.  Just say "I don't think this is working for me."  There's a 99.9997% chance you won't hurt my feelings if you don't like the colors. So speak up! 

There's still more to talk about so I will save that for the next post. Thanks for reading!  

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Rug Hooking Etiquette

I have done a bit of traveling already this year...Florida, Texas, Kansas, and I'll be in Tennessee next week.  Since I am a one-woman operation, I find myself drawing patterns, dyeing wool and preparing for the "next big thing."  Everything else has to wait, including my blog.  But many of my friends have encouraged me to write again, so I'm going to try it and do my best.  Thanks for the kick in the pants!

Not too long ago, I was talking to another well-respected rug hooking teacher.  We have so much in common so sometimes I feel that we are really kindred spirits.  We started talking about rug camp etiquette and how something needs to be written about it.  I'm going to extend that to just plain "rug hooking" etiquette because I think we can apply it to just about any situation that involves our craft.   So over the next few posts, I will discuss some etiquette that I think will be helpful to everyone. 

Here's my disclaimer:  I am not criticizing, pointing fingers, making fun of or singling out  anyone, or otherwise being a bad apple about what I am discussing.  These are observations and helpful tips for those of you who go to rug camp or hook with a group.  I hope you will find them useful and maybe learn something too.  The seasoned rug hooker who goes to a lot of rug camps may already be familiar with this etiquette.  The newer rug hooking may find some benefit in my tips. Most of these tips are from my experiences and are my opinions.

Rug hooking workshop in Bryan Texas, 2017
My 2016 class in Cape May, NJ

Do you know what is the #1 complaint that I hear at camp?
Talking too much/talking too loud!
(I'm not talking about me...haha)
This is really difficult subject but it is unpleasant for the other participants when someone talks too much or too loud.  Usually we are in a small room and believe me, voices are magnified.   When someone is constantly talking, it is hard for the teacher to discuss lesson plans, techniques, etc.  Don't get me wrong, it's fun to chatter with your friends....but try to be aware of your volume.  Even harder for me is when a student asks me to tell that particular person to stop talking so puts me in a really bad situation that I don't want to be in!  

Consider what your teacher specializes in and go with it, learn from it
I am a wide cut/primitive rug hooking teacher. That is my specialty.  I teach #8 cuts and above.  Sometimes I use small cuts for details but not too often.  If you are a fine cut hooker who wants to learn 8-value swatches and shading, you would not be very happy in my class because that is not what I am going to teach you.  So when considering a teacher for rug camp, read the class description and choose wisely.  You will be much happier if you learn from a teacher who matches your style. If you want to learn something different, that's great...but plan on doing something within that teacher's specialty.  
You wouldn't go to a ENT doctor (ear, nose and throat) and ask him to do your pap smear, would you?  He probably learned to do it in medical school but you certainly wouldn't enjoy the experience!  

Don't color plan your rug before class
I may not be speaking for all rug hooking teachers, but when I teach at a rug camp, I am there to help you with a color plan.  We are there together to build a lovely rug for you.  I never color plan my whole rug in one sitting and I don't expect to do that for you either.  Sometimes, especially with textures, you have to hook a few motifs or elements to begin and then see how the colors are building.  We can get some surprises with wools/colors that we thought would work perfectly and once they are put into the rug, they don't work at all.
Take advantage of your teacher's knowledge.  Watch as she color plans and see why she picks the colors.  If you don't understand, ask questions. Every teacher does things differently.  I always say that if I learn one new thing from a class, it was well worth my money.
If you come to camp with a rug that is already color-planned, what is the point?  You could have stayed at home and hooked that rug on your own.

That's all for now, but I have lots more to we will save it for the next post!
Happy hooking!