My work - and concentration - were interrupted this week by a disheartening discovery on another quilter's website. Quite by accident, I saw a sidebar on a blog I visit occasionally, showing a picture of my Oriental Beauty. I thought, "oh isn't that nice?" and clicked to read the post of an Australian quilter. To my horror, I discovered the owner of the blog had pieced my design in another colourway, given it a new name ("It's Not Christmas") and claimed it as her own original work. She has been teaching workshops and selling the pattern for MY copyrighted design!! Click here to see an example...and here to view an entire workshop. You will notice I did not take pictures from her site, I am only linking to them. I emailed her right away and she readily admitted what she had done. She went on to justify her actions saying she thought it was ok to do that, since she had made changes. That in itself blows my mind...
International copyright law states: the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following: (1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies...; (2) to prepare derivative works based upon the copyrighted work; (3) to distribute copies...of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending....“It’s Not Xmas” falls under the category of “derivative work”. Section 2 above says that only the copyright holder (in this case me) has the authority to make a derivative of this design. To be copyrightable, a derivative work must differ sufficiently from the original to be regarded as a new work or must contain a substantial amount of new material. Making minor changes or additions of little substance to a preexisting work will not qualify a work as a new version for copyright purposes. The new material must be original and copyrightable in itself.
I have no problem with a quilter being creative with my designs – in fact, I encourage it. Readers of this blog know that I often post pictures which show great variation in interpretation of my patterns, and delight in showing them off. It's an entirely different matter for someone to claim another's work as their own and profit from it. To her credit, she nicely apologized and says she will stop selling the pattern. I will be watching...but how many others are doing the same thing?
Sadly,this is not the first time I have run across this, and I find it more and more discouraging as time goes on. This is my life work, be it ever so humble. I take great care and spend many long hours at my sewing machine and computer. It makes me stop and evaluate whether I want to continue patterning designs as I have done professionally for the past 24 years. It's been a very disheartening week. As my good buddy Paul McCartney sings in Flaming Pie, "took my brains out and stretched them on the rack, now I'm not so sure I'm ever gonna get 'em back..."
On a lighter note, my ingenious husband has been busily crafting snowshoes for he and I to wear when visiting the bees. We took a test drive of the prototype last weekend and had so much fun. They need a bit more tweaking, which he has been doing this week. He's so clever. With more snow predicted later today and tomorrow I look forward to clearing my head in the fresh winter air.