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 again...today'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 corner...do 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 front....you 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!

6 comments:

twoives said...

Kris, I am enjoying all your rug hooking etiquette articles. Today's is clear and definitely needed. We all need to respect you talented teachers who design patterns, dye wool, teach, write, etc. Were we all so talented, but alas that is not the case. As a rug hooker, folks often ask if you design your own patterns. My reply is that I don't have enough time to hook all the patterns I am in love with designed by others. I might do something small, but like I said, I look to the professionals.

Queenie said...

What about using a free pattern and donating it to a charity auction?

Pat said...

I've been rereading all your posts on this subject and they are spot on. This subject needs to be presented in all classes and reviewed yearly in the rug hooking publications. Some people have honestly never give thought to copyright laws and appreciate learning about it. Then there are the others that outright ignore it. The other Pat that has responded mentioned the flow chart that has been done to try an explain what you can and can't do.....in fact it was in a past ATHA magazine. I was thrilled to see it as I have used it as a handout many times.

I hope you'll continue to mention this in future posts. If just one guilty copyright thief gets it and stops, you've done a great thing.

Pat.....the one who writes, designs and used to teach.

Kris Miller said...

Hi Queenie, I looked up the definition of a charity auction:
A charity auction is a popular type of nonprofit fundraising event. During an auction, nonprofits raise money through taking bids for auction items and selling each item to the donor who places the highest bid.
Since, in my humble opinion, money is exchanging hands, it does not fit the definition for "personal use." You should get permission first. I can't see why an artist wouldn't want to give permission for charity but you won't know until you ask.

adailydoseoffiber said...

My sister was a free lance illustrator and she took on a major corporation about this! They copied her greeting card and put it on the label of a can of air freshener. It was completely the same! In a copyright lawsuit, the "copier" has to prove that their design is significantly different from the original. This company buried my sister under paperwork and all sorts of things but she did win in the end. Three years, countless hours... They had to stop producing it and she (and her lawyer) got $10,000. By then, it was just the principal of the thing for her; she certainly didn't profit from the suit.
I'm sure it must be so difficult for you these days...

Queenie said...

Thank you.