Copyright 101 for Beaders: Know Your Rights

Imagine walking into your favorite bookstore and buying a new book. You bring it home, read it, and decide that it's a pretty good book. It just needs a few changes. You type the whole thing out on your computer and add a few things, and maybe you leave out a few things you didn't like. Then you decide to send the whole thing to a publisher to see if they'd be interested in publishing your new book.

Does that sound a little outrageous? Of course, you'd never do that with a book, because that book isn't your own work or your own idea. So why does it make it any different if that idea is a beading pattern?

Understanding your rights as a beader and as a designer of beading patterns is so important, yet there seems to be so much misinformation out there about this subject. Take for example a video that made the rounds in the online beading community last year where a nameless, faceless woman pointed to a beading pattern published in a magazine and informed viewers that once the pattern was published, buyers of the magazine were free to do whatever they wished with it, including making and selling copies of the finished beading project without the designer's permission.

Protecting intellectual property rights is no laughing matter to the entertainment industry. Film studios and recording studios spend millions of dollars every year protecting their intellectual property rights. After all, they make their money turning creative ideas into finished products, just like a beading pattern designer would.

So, you really want to do the right thing when it comes to copyright and respecting intellectual property rights, but you need a trustworthy source of information. (A nameless, faceless video on YouTube doesn't really count, in this case.)

To take some of the mystery and confusion out of copyright law, we've launched a new free eBook for you, Know Your Rights: Copyright 101 for Beaders. Compiled by the professional staff here at Interweave, you'll find answers to some of the most common questions about copyright and beading patterns like:

  • What is copyright, and how does copyright work?
  • Can I resell a pattern, magazine, DVD, or book that I own?
  • Can I make and sell projects from a magazine or book?
  • If I create my own beading pattern, do I always retain the copyright?
  • What can I do if someone is violating my copyright?

Download your free copy of Know Your Rights: Copyright 101 for Beaders and find out how you can protect your intellectual property rights, and how to best respect the rights of bead artists. Understanding copyright and intellectual property rights is how we build a healthy and creative beading community!

Bead Happy,


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Beading Daily Blog
Jennifer VanBenschoten

About Jennifer VanBenschoten

Born in New Jersey in 1974, I escaped to the Adirondacks for the first time in 1995, making it my permanent home in 2000.  I have been interested in beads, buttons and making jewelry as long as I can remember.  It's probably my mother's fault - she was a fiber artist and crochet historian, and whenever she ordered supplies from one mail order source, she would order a huge bag of assorted buttons and beads for me and my sister!    

11 thoughts on “Copyright 101 for Beaders: Know Your Rights

  1. Hi, I was wondering if you could site your sources for the information in this ebook? Specifically, any actual statutes or case law this is based on.

    Here’s the thing, your staff may be professional writers, beaders, crafters, and editors, but are any of you professional copyright lawyers?

    The woman who did the “faceless video” does quote law and court cases to back up her position. To be honest I don’t trust her either.

    Your staff has a vested interest in keeping people from selling things made from the patterns you publish. She has a vested interested in selling stuff made from other people’s patterns. Neither one of you is impartial.

    I think it is inappropriate for you as a magazine and provider of patterns, but not a copyright lawyer, to be putting yourself forward as a source of copyright information. It’s a conflict of interest. And it makes me think less of a magazine I have truly enjoyed for several years.

    I, personally, don’t sell things I make from other designer’s patterns. This is not because I think it is illegal (based on my reading I don’t think it is, but I’m not a copyright lawyer either) but because I want to be known as someone who does original work. Rather than trying to scare people, please try inspiring them as well.

    Thank you.

  2. Thanks, for the ebook. I am sure it will answer questions for beginners. I personally can’t follow a pattern in beading, sewing, crocheting, so even if I copied: it would never resemble the original. I think, it is a “personal responsiblity” to honor designers original work.. no matter if its Painting or Beading or any other designer. You are honestly preaching to the Choir, honest folks do not steal designs. Dishonest folks always have a way to justify thier lack of Morales.
    Gyspy Mary

  3. Would it be a copyright violation if sold a piece that was made from a bead pattern but redited the designer? example: made by … designed by…???

  4. I was really happy to see your ebook but I have to agree with the comment that says
    we need the advice of a copyright attorney. Over the years I have heard many
    conversations about selling things made from a pattern that you purchased. But it usually says that those items are copyrighted and not to be used for resale of the pattern or the finished project. So, what’s to know……if I put an extra bead on can I
    thus claim it to be my design. Don’t think so….but on the other hand I was recently looking through a book and thought I’ve made that…not the same colors but very similar. I wasn’t upset…people are bound to do some of the same things with beads never having seen the others. Now there have been prople who sold wholesale to
    someone and that person sent or took the items over to China and had them reproduced. Now that is copyright infringment.

  5. I used to work in a shop where the owner designed and produced patterns. sometimes these patterns were on youtube with maybe the last line missing, So this lady was obviously copying them and adding the last line and putting her copyright on it.

  6. We all inspire each other, but you should ask permission to make and sell a design. I have seen a design in a magazine then seen it on Etsy right afterwards and they used the same colors and photos that were in the magazine, and no credit was given to the artist. This is wrong!! However, I have the base of a bracelet that I have tried to finish out 6 times thinking that I had done something wrong. Apparently, the way the bracelet was photographed let me to to believe that it was a flat design, but it finished up as a huge ruffled to the point of buckling up on the outside edges) design which I find most unnattractive. I will take that base, and finish it out to suit myself. It will not be the original, but it certainly will have the “genetics” of the original. Having said that, I would never try to pawn it off as my own design, but it has inspired me to go off in a new direction, and stretch my creative self.

  7. wat does this mean exactly? if i pay to buy a pattern, i can’t sell jewelery i make from dat pattern? wat wld be the whole point of buying it in the first case if that is the case?

  8. I must agree with salla2. I have myself been beading for more than 37 years. Materials and designs have come along way in that time.
    I have sold some pieces over the years, but generally I just give them to family and friends.
    I do believe you are being a little hypocritical. I have purchased a few issues of Bead and Button, and notice there is a little story with each project, on the “designer”.
    I have some books from overseas that are more than 10 to 15 years old and I think some of these “new” projects in B&B look very similar to items in these books. The beads may be a little different in size and colour, but they sure look the same to me. I have not noticed any credits given to those designers.
    When someone asks me about a piece I’ve made,I have never had a problem with telling them if it is my own design or someone elses.
    I don’t understand the fuss if a person is making and selling on a small scale, just for a little extra money, but if it’s on a larger scale, like an international magazine,or website that you must pay to see patterns already out there for free , then I have a problem with that.
    I will continue to bead because I enjoy it very much, and I thank all the other people out there that are sharing their talent and ideas with us.

  9. I’m with DianaEllis in that I would also like to know: Could I create a project that was given away in a magazine (such as Stringing, Beadwork, Crochet Today, etc.) or an e-book or for free and sell it as long as I gave credit to the person who actually designed the pattern? I would assume that if they’ve given the pattern away in a subscription magazine, or even a free e-book, that they’ve given up a lot of their rights to it as it is.
    For example: Say, I see a pattern for some super cute crochet gloves in Crochet Today (a subscription magazine that is also sold in some stores) that I think a lot of people would like too. Could I make those gloves in a bunch of different colors, put tags on all of them that say “Gloves designed by: Random Designer Person”, then sell them at a crafts fair, or even an Etsy store? Or would I even have to say exactly who designed it, as long as I’m not saying that I designed it?

    I mean, I would never make a beaded, knitted, or crocheted item from a magazine or elsewhere and sell it as if it were my own design. I would always give credit to the actual designer if I was going to sell an item like that. However, this has always been a question I’ve had that I can’t seem to find an answer to.

  10. The information in this book was reviewed by our attorney who handles contracts and copyright for intellectual property. If anyone has any specific questions regarding copyright, you can contact us directly!

  11. Hi !! So I wanted to share some beading patterns and instructions free ones of course with others via an opt in page is that considered infringing on copy rights even if I put the place where i got the information from.

    Thank Heather Ideas2come