Beading Daily 8/8 -- New or New to You?

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Larry.Linson wrote
on Aug 8, 2008 11:13 AM

Good question. It's one that should be addressed in the "guilt-trip" articles that have appeared with some frequency. Before you get all bent out of shape over someone "stealing a design", you might give some thought to the originality and uniqueness that would be required for it to be an "original work".

With over ten thousand years of art history behind us, there are a lot of designs that have been done (original) and long since lost to our search capability unless they are found in archaeological digs, usually as "grave goods" or "offerings".  That is "a lot" captialized, in italics, and highlighted in bright color!

It seems that the issues of originality and uniqueness are most often addressed only "in passing", if that.  It would be good, too, when an attorney is writing the article, to deal with the cost and difficulty of taking action under copyright law and winning the case -- you would have to be obsessed to take such action unless it is against a large, well-heeled commercial enterprise.

Some, at least, of the articles will state that they are talking about "ethics" rather than "legalities", but never seem to give much thought to the fact that it is the author's idea of ethics, rather than a concensus.  The ethical concensus is embodied in intellectual property law, not in an editor's or author's view. But these authors want us to accept their personal view of the ethics, rather than society's concensus view... they can't bar people from duplicating a design (intentionally or not), so they want to embarrass the naive into fearing that they might and going out of their way to accomodate.




on Aug 10, 2008 2:54 AM

Hi Larry, nice to see you again!

I guess in the end it comes down to using your best judgement and "how would you like to be treated?".  It is a giant topic and there are so many grey areas it's next to impossible to make sure you didn't copy someone in the context the articles mean.

You'd have to live in a black hole not to have been inspired by something you saw in a shop, magazine, on a person, etc. and since it might be years between the inspiration and you actually making something, you might not remember by then where you saw it or whose permission to ask before you make/sell/teach it.

As I've been planning the class I want to teach, I've had the hardest time trying to decide how to best print instructions for the class.  Basically every jewelry making book/mag written has instructions for what I want to teach, and I could have just made photocopies of something, but I decided that it wouldn't be a good idea.  So, I took all my own photos and wrote my own tutorials for it.  Do they look basically the same as every other publication? Yep.  But, at least I can say I did all the work for it myself and didn't just make copies out of the back of Beadwork, and that makes me feel good about it.



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Billy Z wrote
on Aug 10, 2008 5:54 AM

 Larry, I feel you man, I really do. I go through this same dilema every time i see a piece and get inspired to do something of my own that is similar. I have never made an exact duplicate of anything that i have seen in a book or magazine, but a lot of my stuff looks very similar to a lot of other peoples. Did I steal their designs? No. Did I take their design and make it my own? Yes indeedy. I doubt that I have ever had a completely origional design at all. It was either inspired by something that I saw or just ended up looking like something that someone else has made by dumb luck. *laughz*

 Copyright law states that a design(of any kind) only has to be changed by 15% to become a completely new design. You can change colors and order of beads and change a necklace more than 15% so it is hard for people who have been blatently ripped off to prosecute even. That's not fair to the artists, but it is also not fair for some newbie to have the same brain wave as an experienced artist and have to stop making their design too. It is truly a double edged sword and most of the time, neither party actually wins anything.

 In the end it is usually a big waste of time and then it comes down to your own conscience. If you can sleep at night, then you probably are not doing anything wrong. On the other hand, if you copy a design out of a book and feel bad about trying to market it, then you shouldn't. That's where your own morals start kicking in. In other words, if if feels bad, then don't do it. It works for me.

 Billy ;o)

 I yam wut I yam and dats all wut I yam. ~Popeye~

Dragonfly Jewelry Designs - ArtFire Artisan Studio


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on Aug 11, 2008 2:59 PM

For me, I think the quick answer to this is rather simple.  If you want to make things for yourself, copy someone else and then only wear or use those items yourself, NOT FOR RESALE, period.  If you want to make things, but don't want to be copied or used for inspiration, then only wear or use your things at home where no one will see them.  If you're a designer who doesn't want others to see and be inspired by your items, then for gosh sakes, don't put them out there, not even pictures!

I think we ALL need to accept the fact that if a *creative* person sees a piece of jewelry they admire and would like to make, they most likely will make it, only we will make it our own.  Ocassionally we encounter someone who copies without creating.  Do we like it, NO.  But, unless the original designer wants to do nothing but go from market to market just busting people for wearing or marketing products they may have copied, we have to accept that a certain amount of "plagiarism" is going to take place.  It just is.

With that said, I personally have never seen a design that I wanted to duplicate 100%.  Sure, I've used other designs as inspirations, but the things I've made, I've made my own.  I believe that a true beader/crafter, a person of design-inspiration will be true to him/herself by giving any hand-crafted item his/her own personality to the item.  Maybe we are each a form of divine intervention because we live to a standard of respect-in-kind toward other designers and our own consciences.

Any person who makes 100% of someone else's design isn't a creator, just a simple copier.  Where's the pride in that??

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Sheila H wrote
on Aug 11, 2008 4:32 PM

 I agree with all of you. We find inspiration in everything. I just don't see how we can't. I agree with the posting that if you can sleep at night you are okay. I think you have to do what you feel is morally correct.

If I see a piece and I think it is beautiful, I may use the general idea. But I know that I will find different bead color, sizes, style, and probably string it differently which in turn will give it a whole different look.

Somewhere, someone said that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. I think that is try in this case. If you created something that inspires someone else, you should be very proud.

For me, I do this because I love doing it. Do I want to make money? Oh yeah! Do I think that I will ever be able to quit my day job and do this full time. No. Even if I could, I won't because I love my day job as well. I think that helps with my creativity to walk away from the jewelry.

I guess I feel that if someone is in this strictly to make the money and to prevent others from copying their work, maybe they should take a good long look at their insides and rethink the whole thing. It may be time to walk away.

Okay, I've had my say and basically I agree with you guys ( like usual ).

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pony600 wrote
on Aug 12, 2008 6:37 PM

 OK, a few questions, just asking, not to stir the pot...

What about web sites that sell beads & findings, and also post a gallery of designs. Aren't they encouraging people to duplicate the design to sell their product?

How many web sites have you seen with the same designed piece, example- the angel, fairy or dragonfly wings made into earrings with  beads? Now, each website couldn't have come up with those ideas. Are you saying that someone couldn't whip up a bunch of those earrings & sell them?


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Billy Z wrote
on Aug 12, 2008 9:17 PM

 Long before I ever came to the web looking for anything bead related, I sat down with a pad of graph paper, a handful of Sharpies, and the origional 4"x4" sized picture used in my avatar and made up a completely origional(so I thought at the time) design for a beaded dragonfly pin for my straw hat. I brick stitched my little bug and put him on a pin and gave him a place of honor at the front of my hat. I later came to the internet and just happened to do a search for "beaded dragonfly pins". I got about 50 different websites(including this one) with a free or purchasable dragonfly pin designs and they were all very similar and some damn near identical. I found out real quick that my "origional" idea wasn't so origional after all. It was an origional idea of my own, but I was not the only one who had the same origional idea. Do you see where I'm going here? This happens way more often than you think. Just another angle from which to view.

 Billy ;o)

 I yam wut I yam and dats all wut I yam. ~Popeye~

Dragonfly Jewelry Designs - ArtFire Artisan Studio


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Sheila H wrote
on Aug 13, 2008 4:04 PM

 pony600 - Your point is exactly what I think most of us are trying to say. The chances of coming up with something completely unique that no one have ever thought of it VERY SLIM if none.

I did not think that you were stirring the pot, you were simply asking and voicing your thoughts. That is what we are all here for...

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