In the World of Crochet

Crochet World - - Contents - By Randy Cava­liere

Every pat­tern be­gins with an idea created by a de­signer that evolves into a prod­uct that she/he owns. Pat­terns in mag­a­zines, books and on yarn com­pany web­sites are usu­ally pur­chased by a bona fide busi­ness and the copy­right is trans­ferred to that com­pany. There are also hun­dreds of thou­sands of pat­terns avail­able for pur­chase or of­fered for free di­rectly by a de­signer. Re­gard­less of who owns the rights, the pat­tern is not to be re­pro­duced for sale or distri­bu­tion by some­one other than the owner. Do­ing so is copy­right in­fringe­ment, theft or piracy. Un­for­tu­nately, it’s a com­mon oc­cur­rence that ranges from vir­tual “shoplift­ing” of a sin­gle pat­tern and post­ing it on a craft web­site un­der some­one’s name other than the de­signer, to en­tire books stolen and sold il­le­gally. In every case, not only has a de­signer been dis­re­spected and hurt fi­nan­cially, the ef­fects reach far and in­vade the busi­ness of pat­tern de­sign. I spoke with well-pub­lished crochet de­sign­ers who have been af­fected by this in­sid­i­ous and eth­i­cal prob­lem. They all strive to earn a liv­ing from their de­sign work; for some, rev­enue from fiber arts is their sole source of in­come so any loss of earn­ings is detri­men­tal. Bon­nie Barker, known for her Celtic ca­ble de­signs, self-pub­lishes her work, sells to mag­a­zine and yarn com­pa­nies, and has had books pro­duced by ma­jor pub­lish­ers. She’s had two books and more than 40 pat­terns stolen. Lorene Ep­po­lite knows she’s had at least 50 pat­terns taken il­le­gally. Mary Beth Tem­ple said some­one stole a knit pat­tern and sold 103 copies. Their loss of in­come ranges from the un­known to enough money to help with a child’s col­lege tu­ition. Dora Ohren­stein took the is­sue a big leap fur­ther, say­ing that theft of her pat­terns doesn’t only hurt her, it dam­ages the pub­lisher of her stolen books. The pro­duc­tion of books and mag­a­zines in­volves pat­tern testers, var­i­ous edi­tors and proof­read­ers, lay­out artists, pho­tog­ra­phers and mod­els. Pub­lish­ers are tak­ing a gam­ble on the craft book. If it’s stolen, it de­prives in­come to the de­signer and the pub­lisher, which, later on, “could make pub­lish­ers leery of in­vest­ing in crochet books of any sort, and there­fore does wide­spread dam­age” to the craft in­dus­try, ac­cord­ing to Dora. Pi­rated pat­terns have been found on Etsy, blogs, eBay UK, web­sites in the U.S., China, Rus­sia, Brazil, the Mid­dle East and Eastern Europe. There is lit­tle, if any, mone­tary re­course for the de­signer. So, what does a de­signer do? When theft is dis­cov­ered on a site such as Etsy, some­times a writ­ten re­quest to the of­fender along with fil­ing a claim with the site ad­min­is­tra­tor will re­sult in the re­moval of the pat­tern. Bon­nie turned to the pub­lisher of her stolen book so the le­gal de­part­ment could in­ter­vene on her be­half. Hir­ing an in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty lawyer is ex­pen­sive and rarely an op­tion af­ford­able to a de­signer. The pub­lisher was able to shut down the web­site but no money was re­cov­ered. Mary Beth no­ti­fied her pub­lisher as well when her books were found on Rus­sian and Chi­nese sites. The le­gal de­part­ment may have filed a DCMA (Dig­i­tal Mil­len­nium Copy­right Act of 1998) take­down no­tice, but ac­cord­ing to Dayna McMullen, founder of Crafters Against Pat­tern Piracy and Copy­right In­fringe­ment, this is ba­si­cally a cease and de­sist or­der that iden­ti­fies the copy­right holder (pub­lisher or de­signer) and where the vi­o­la­tion is tak­ing place on a web­site. She says most web­sites take th­ese very se­ri­ously and will im­me­di­ately re­move the ma­te­rial that vi­o­lates copy­right law. Dayna, a non­de­sign­ing cro­cheter and re­seller of vin­tage craft mag­a­zines, books and kits, started an anti-piracy Face­book group, Crafters Against Pat­tern Piracy and Copy­right In­fringe­ment, in 2018, to ed­u­cate de­sign­ers and pat­tern users about copy­right law after many cro­cheters con­tacted her to dis­cuss vi­o­la­tions they found on­line. The group is open to crafters of any kind. It posts links to ar­ti­cles that ex­plain how to rec­og­nize a pi­rated pat­tern site and will guide de­sign­ers or pub­lish­ers with fil­ing take­down forms when the need arises. De­spite her group’s ef­forts, vi­o­la­tions will con­tinue, she says, “un­til our copy­right laws have more teeth for the crafter, make it less ex­pen­sive for crafters to reg­is­ter their work with the Copy­right of­fice …We need the sup­port of our law­mak­ers to pro­tect the cre­ative work of our de­sign­ers so they will be free to cre­ate rather than spend­ing their valu­able time look­ing for and deal­ing with pat­tern pi­rates.” Sadly, as Lorene said, “it is vir­tu­ally im­pos­si­ble to get foreign sites to take down pat­terns …This is a part of do­ing busi­ness. Un­for­tu­nately.” Help our de­sign­ers keep their work where it be­longs. If you see a pi­rated pat­tern, re­port it to the owner, pub­lisher or McMullen’s Face­book page.

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