Copyright Question

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Emma.J wrote
on Apr 11, 2012 8:35 PM

I KNOW! I KNOW! I can hear the exasperated groans coming from all of you through my computer because this topic has been done over and over and over and over!

But this is a simple question, that I think a really smart person (Sue, I'm looking at you) can be answered in 5 seconds...

So, as I was browsing through the jewellery on Etsy the other day I kept seeing pieces up for sale and thinking 'I saw that pattern in Beadwork mag' or 'I saw that pattern in (insert book name here)' and I was wondering...
If I made a bracelet that has appeared in a magazine and I wanted to sell it, would I legally have to put something along the lines of "Pattern by _____, as seen in ______ 2012" in the description of the item to avoid copyright infringement?

Food for thought?


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megabgirl wrote
on Apr 12, 2012 12:02 PM

Most designers allow "pin money" to be made off of their patterns. Meaning you can sell what you make, as long as you don' (a) claim the design as your own or be (b) have the design be mass produced in a factory somewhere.


I get people asking me if they can sell the jewelry they make form my patterns all of the time. I tell them they can credit me if they want to (it would be awesome) but I certainly don't require it. As long as (a) and (b) from above are followed, no probs.


I HAVE seen pattern designers state that their designs are only for personal use and cannot be sold. I think that must be hard for them to enforce, but if a designer has such wishes it is still best to honor them.

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D.M.Z wrote
on Apr 12, 2012 12:37 PM

Emma, no groans, hopefully just answers will come from your post. I used to work in Small Business Development and we had several printed reference material for copyright infringement rules. Generally though, you cannot infringe on a stitch, they've been around for a long time, it is the specific way the stitch is put together in a design that makes it copyright-able. I think copyrighting jewelry and art are about the toughest things. Putting stitches together in a "unique" way is very hard with the number of patterns that are out in the market, for sale, for free, etc. But you see items that are from magazines, so there are recognizable patterns in circulation.

If you are seeing patterns for sale that are truly from a magazine, they have been either given permission to use it (ha!, fat chance, but possible) or they are clueless (happens quite often and in the real world they sometimes get slapped with a notice from the owner) or they understand what they are doing and are assuming they will get away with it.

If you want to make more than one or two of that bracelet (for your own use, as most magazines do state in the front), quite frankly I'd contact the pattern designer and ask permission. I did that with a picture I found in a magazine that I wanted to loom. She asked how many I wanted to make........I gurgled at the thought of more than one (20,000 beads and 450+ colors) and said no, just one and I got permission in trade for a picture sent back to her. Easy peasy.

Some of it is "intent".......... I bought three kits from three different artists, all three arrived with the most horrible mish mash of beads in them. One of them was so mismatched it made the final product look like "spit", so against the terms of the sale, I made a second item out of delicas and it is gorgeous and much more like I had originally pictured. The other two kits were much the same..........beads in cylinders, rounds, doughnuts all supposedly going into one piece..........blech, they got donated to a person who does bead embroidery and can use them up and was happy to get them. I just don't see paying almost $100 to make something that looks like it has been through a war even new. So while I broke the "rules" on what I could make as decreed by the designer, it wasn't like I wanted to make 25 of them to sell strictly for profit. Whew, I really ran on at the mouth, didn't I? Donna

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SCB1 wrote
on Apr 13, 2012 2:51 PM

Emma, thank  you for the vote of confidence.

I haven't answered before now because I have been vacationing in NC. with my grand daughter, her husband and children. Although I brought my  lap top with me, I have had very little time to spend on it.

Donna gave you some very sound advice. It is always a good idea to get permission from the designer. For the most part you will receive limited permission. Some will say only for yourself and others may say it is okay if you give them credit. Yet others will deny  any permission. When they deny permission, it is usually because they are still making money off that design, either by selling the design, kits, or the jewelry piece itself.  To  not follow their direction is  infringing  on their copyright, and you stand in danger of a law suit.

I have had designs stolen from me, and believe me it is not very nice. Don't get me wrong, I will usually even help the person with the design. However when I had a gal come into a shop I will work at once in a while, and told me that she was making my design (without my knowledge and selling the heck out of them, I was a little upset, because it was a new design that I had made and was selling them myself. When I found out that she planned on selling them at a couple of craft sales, I asked her not to sell them at the same show that I did. She said, that she had all the right to sell what she wanted to at those craft shows, so I had to do something I hated doing, I threatened her with a law suit for copyright infringement if she sold them at the same shows I was doing.  It ended up she withdrew from the craft shows I was doing.  Now I didn't tell her not to sell the pieces all together, just at the same shows I was doing. It wouldn't have been bad, but I was selling my pieces on sterling silver chains and she was using silver plated and selling them for a several dollars less then I.

There are a couple of gals on another site that post pictures of the designs they have made, some think that by changing the name or color they have the right to say it is theirs. I have even seen on this site, one gal that put up pictures of  things she bought, Another gal on that site has been coping designs as well.  Here is a link you can follow. It is informative and enlightening

So I believe the when it comes to using an design other person, The The Golden Rule is the best, "Do onto others as you would have do onto you"'.

But until you have a design stolen from you, you'll never understand the anger.

Happy Beading!!

Happy Beading!!


Small-town USA. 




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DebWAZ wrote
on Apr 13, 2012 8:35 PM


Like you, I get a little "squirmy" when I see designs on Etsy, and others that are blatant copies of designs from Beadwork or "insert book title" without crediting the actual designer. However, I don't think your "Pattern by___ from ___ magazine" is enough to cover you unless you have permission from the actual designer.

As Donna and Sue have already said, most designers allow one or two copies or sales of a few for "pin money". I would suggest that you contact the designer and ask for permission to make and sell that design. Some designers are very generous and others are not. It's better to ask for and receive permission than to assume "they'll never know" and then find yourself slapped with a lawsuit! Bottom line, if they decline giving you permission, respect their wishes.


I sometimes will whip something up as a sample item to inspire customers and will have it on display in the store and I don't mind if people copy it. Okay - I'll admit that there's a mercenary motive behind this, sometimes. Often, the piece will have components that I am trying to get rid of. I've had very few pieces that didn't wind up being copied a jillion times - meaning I sell out of the stuff I was trying to get rid of! I laugh about this because sometimes someone will fall in love with something I've designed and then try to buy the components at another LBS so that I won't "catch" them copying it. If they only knew that I'd happily HELP them copy the piece! :-) It's all in communication and respecting each other.

We've had a similar situation to yours recently. One of my instructors designed a bracelet and a pendant using RAW. She's teaching these designs in classes, but they are so new, we are still working out the bugs in the pattern. One of my customers fell in love with both pieces and asked about the pattern. I told her she'd have to take the class, but she said didn't have time to squeeze a class into her schedule before she went home. She asked about buying the patterns, but since we don't have a final edition of the patterns, I said I couldn't sell them to her. She said, "I really would love to make them and it doesn't matter what you charge - I'll pay the class price to get the pattern." 

"Wow," I thought. "She really is in love with these designs" - thinking it was a great compliment to my instructor.

Then, she had to ruin it. She said, "I won't be selling them around here, anyway - if that matters." I told her I'd talk to the instructor and see what she wanted to do. When I repeated the conversation, including the part about selling them, my instructor said, "NO - no way in hell!" <excuse the language> I understand my instructor's feelings completely. She worked hard on the design and on getting the pattern written out perfectly and to have someone come along and plan to sell her BRAND NEW design was a kick in the teeth. Since that conversation, we've decided that the only way a pattern will be available is if the purchaser physically takes the class! I know it won't stop the copyright pirates, but at least it will be sure the buyer has "sweat equity" in it before they start selling it! Besides, if the person has done RAW for any length of time, they should be able to come up with the same design fairly easily on their own.









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untmom2003 wrote
on Apr 17, 2012 10:41 PM

I have just recently purchased Bead Manager Pro, and in the piece I am creating, I can note where the pattern was from and the directions, so when I have emailed it to my cousin or my sister to look at, I definitely make it known that it is NOT my design, but where I got the pattern from. I am not, and probably never will, be able to create my own designs. But, that being said, I have done some pieces with no instruction, just what I know about a certain stitch (say, triangle weave) and so, in those cases, I really don't have anyone to credit, but don't really consider those "my" designs either. Maybe they are?? LOL! But, most likely, SOMEONE in the world has already done what this newbie actually figures out!!

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Emma.J wrote
on Apr 18, 2012 4:07 PM

Thanks all for the sound advice!

I'm sure I can understand the frustration from the creators point of view if the pattern was ever 'stolen' (so to speak) but that's why I got so confused when I was looking through Etsy and seeing all of these pieces that originally came from beading magazines that were created by other designers. When they are featured in a magazine, is the project not free to be used for person use - say making a piece for yourself or to be given to family and friends - so long as the product is not 'mass produced'? But what counts as mass production?

I am going to go with your suggestions and maybe email the designer and just ask her if I am able to sell the 2 bracelets that I made using her pattern (it may even be one.. my sister wants one of them Stick out tongue) lol.

Thanks all for the advice! And Sue, I'm so sorry that it had to come down to threats of a lawsuit with you and your customer..


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megabgirl wrote
on Apr 18, 2012 5:28 PM

You could probably check the submission guidelines with the magazine form the designer's end too. usually they have copyright terms that they are agreeing to with their submission, including possibly non-mass production selling of their designs by magazine subscribers.

Mass production is generally a reference to sending off a design to a factory where large amounts will be reproduced of that design.

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