Sew Karen-ly Created...

If you have arrived here via a link (such as to a tutorial) click on "Sew Karen-ly Created" to return to the latest blog post. I invite you to my website to see a gallery of quilts and patterns available for purchase.
Comments are always appreciated, simply click the word "comments" at the end of each post to leave your message. Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday 31 December 2011

The Dr.'s Advice

Selected passages from the brilliant Dr. Seuss:
  • "Don't give up! I believe in you all.
    A person's a person, no matter how small!
    And you very small persons will not have to die
    If you make yourselves heard! So come on, now, and TRY!"

  • Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
    nothing is going to get better. It's not.

  • "We've GOT to make noises in greater amounts!
    So, open your mouth, lad! For every voice counts!"
Happy New Year's Eve to all.

Thursday 29 December 2011

More Copy-Wrongs

In my December 20th post entitled Copy Cats, I included a link to an article on copyright as it applies to quilters written by Kathleen Bissett. You can read the article in its entirety here. With Ms. Bissett's permission, I will be quoting passages from this article in upcoming posts to illustrate some of the issues which hound me as a designer. Continuing on with the issue currently at hand, the Michigan quilt shop owner taught my New York Roundabout design at a well-known quilt retreat. In the widely distributed brochure, "her" beautiful quilt is given a position of prominence. Not only is it dead centre, it's the only workshop project pictured. And why is that? Because that quilt design is not only visually appealing, it is UNIQUE and sure to attract a good crowd of participants to the retreat who are tired of quilting the same old thing. Not only is the quilt pictured, but the owner is given a nice write-up on her quilting accomplishments. In her article, Ms. Bissett writes: "Since there was no reference to me or my pattern, the implication is that the artist is the designer." That's certainly the case here: everyone reading this brochure or attending the retreat believes that this shop owner designed this quilt herself including the retreat organizer; she was shocked when I contacted her to tell her otherwise.
Back home in Michigan, the shop owner continued to present workshops on the quilt. Again, with no reference to my original design, she assumes all credit. Financial gain aside, frankly one of the more rewarding aspects of what I do is the feedback I receive from quilters. Whose ego can't stand a little buoying from words like, "I never thought I could make something like this myself - thank you for your hard work." Sadly, those words all went to someone else...someone who did not deserve to hear them.
Sincerest thanks for all the comments, phone calls and emails of of which contained this quote: "Speak the truth, even if your voice shakes."

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Copyright Woes

2011 has been an unusual year for Sew Karen-ly Created…and for me personally. In my quilting, it spanned the reach from the best-of-the-best to the worst-of-the-worst experiences ever. Paducah, Houston, Quilt Canada and the highly successful Nova Scotia Fibre Arts Festival rank as highlights. On the down side, my cotton allergy has become quite severe and all cotton batting is now banned from the studio; a Honeywell air purifier has been installed to enable me to continue to sew cotton fabrics. This solution is not 100% successful, but it helps. Slowly I am coming to recognize the brands of fabric which have more lint and bother me most; those stay in the store, no matter how much those gorgeous prints beckon me to take them home. This reaction to fibre is not unusual and builds up over time; certainly over almost 25 years of 10 hour days, I have been exposed to a great deal of cotton fibre. Quilting has also taken a toll on my hands, which are swollen and painful from repetitive movements. These are things one can expect from the business, and accept. What I find I cannot and will not accept is my work being copied and sold; it is an unbelievable kick in the heart and one perhaps you can’t imagine until it happens to you. But trust me – it hurts.

As quilters, you well know that creating something from scratch is a labour of love. You pour your heart and soul – as well as many long hours – tweaking the design to suit your eye, removing a seam here and there to bring it to its simplest form. It’s exhilarating when you come up with something unique; there is excitement in the sharing. Since 1989, I have been sharing my designs through publication in books and magazines as well as individual pattern sales. The instructions are written with the utmost care to make recreating the design as simple and straightforward as possible. My patterned designs are intended to be sewn and duplicated – that’s the point of selling patterns after all. I want quilters to make them. But you CANNOT copy the design and pattern it as your own to sell. Not only is it rude and underhanded, it’s illegal. It’s theft. It’s the school yard bully knocking you down to steal the assignment on which you worked so hard and passing it in with his name on the top of the page. I never understand when people think you are making a big deal over nothing when copyright infringement is mentioned. It *IS* a big deal, and one governed by international laws.

If you own one of my patterns (thank you) turn it over; on the back you will see these words:

This pattern is for your own personal use. Photocopying, digitizing, and all other forms of copying to share or distribute the pattern, whether for profit or not, is prohibited by copyright law.

That does not say you cannot photocopy the pattern to use as you sew (in fact, many of my patterns are written for foundation piecing so photocopying the masters is pretty much assumed) – it means you can’t photocopy it to hand out free at guild meetings, nor can you scan and email it to all your friends. It’s for you to use yourself. You bought it.

This notice is followed by statement of copyright with that funny little © to indicate this is an original work, and the year in which the copyright was registered. That statement looks like this:

© 2008 Karen A. Neary All Rights Reserved

All Rights Reserved” means Karen A. Neary reserves (holds) ALL the rights to copy this design. No one else has the right to copy it without permission. This includes derivative (similar) copies of the original.

Although not operating from a brick and mortar store-front, Sew Karen-ly Created…has been in business officially since 1989, registered with the Joint Stock Companies of Nova Scotia. I operate as a sole proprietorship, and collect and remit all taxes, including GST, quarterly. An accountant audits my books. I am not just a quilter who does this for a hobby, I operate a retail business the same as any shop. My patterns are sold wholesale to quilt shops across North America and retail from the checkout page of my website. If you stole a printed pattern from a quilt shop, that’s theft and I expect the owner would call the police. If a pattern has been stolen from me and copied, it’s really no different. It’s wrong, immoral and unlawful behaviour.

Over the years, I have discovered copying of my work 7 times - 3 this past year-and I am always left wondering how many I haven’t discovered. These copy cats have always been confronted and each time, without fail, they admit what they have done, apologize, make restitution of sorts and we move on. The ones this year have been different. Last February, by accident, I found a well-known quilter in Australia who was blatantly claiming my Oriental Beauty as her own, selling patterns and conducting workshops all over her country. The rub on this one is that she herself publishes in quilting magazines and knew full well what she was doing was wrong. She made a very nice profit from my work. It was dreadfully upsetting and the new design I was working on in my studio in February got set aside. I felt I didn’t want to finish it and risk having her – or someone else – copy it. It sat unfinished all summer as I pondered what to do, working on string quilts and workshop samples in the meantime. On December 17th, I decided I was over it and resumed quilting on the piece. I posted a picture of Polly and I happily at the machine working on this quilt. The very next day, I discovered a copy of my New York Roundabout quilt on the website of a Massachusetts quilt shop, Fabric Stash. I contacted the shop at once and left a message, but did not hear back from them until after my blog post on the subject prompted numerous emails from my readers to the shop owner expressing displeasure with the copying. (My sincerest thanks for the outpouring of support). The woman responsible telephoned and she was LIVID with me – how bizarre!! She lit into me with unbridled fury, telling me she could copy any darned thing she saw. I have never encountered such violent anger, and it rattled me. I waited while she ranted; she did not hesitate to tell me yes, she had copied my quilt and that she was within her right to do so as there was “nothing new out there, it was all the same.” When she quieted down enough for me to get a word in, I calmly asked “so why did you choose this quilt to copy?” to which she replied, “Because it’s so different, I’d never seen anything like it before.” (Now put those two statements together and see if they make any sense: everything is the same but this one was different). She is right that my New York Roundabout quilt is different, and so is my Farrago, and Oriental Beauty, and Yuletide Jewel and…I’d like to think all the others. That’s why my work is copyrighted at the Intellectual Property Office in Ottawa. It’s an expensive and time consuming process but one I feel necessary to protect my work. I registered my first copyright in 1993 and have done so fairly regularly since then. Mind you, not every piece is registered in Ottawa; it would be unrealistic seeing as how I have published over 300 original patterns and most magazine deadlines do not allow time to wait for a copyright registration to come in. Thankfully, New York Roundabout is a design which I registered in Ottawa and I hold full, legal rights to this design. Two days after discovering the knock-off on the Fabric Stash website, I found another (again by accident) on the website, a shop in Michigan. The description reads, “this table runner has a new flair with an interesting shape.” “New flair” in unique. Get that? It is different for a New York Beauty quilt. Different is the reason I was able to obtain the copyright. I anonymously emailed to ask about the kit and pattern and the shop owner, wrote back saying it was her own kit, done in her quilt shop. I telephoned her immediately and told her I was the designer of the New York Roundabout quilt she had copied. She knew she had been caught with her hand in someone else’s cookie jar and as a quilt shop owner, she knows better. This particular quilt was designed to be kitted by Benartex using their pre-printed foundations and Fossil Fern Fabric. The shop owner decided she could make more profit and move some of her slower lines of fabric by kitting the Benartex foundations with non-Benartex fabrics from her shop. She printed up her own directions to include in her kits. My directions reference Fossil Fern colours. She has even taken the design and taught it at workshops. She admitted what she had done and told me she would stop selling the kits. I suggested she needed to make restitution and one solution would be for her to sell my patterns in her quilt shop…since she obviously liked my work. Frankly, I think that was a generous offer on my part as she had stolen sales from me. That’s all I was asking. She hesitated, so I suggested that we take some time and both think of a fair solution that would benefit each of us as business owners. She was to email me in two days’ time (Dec 22nd). That day passed and I never heard from her…nor did I have any response from the numerous messages and emails sent since then...until I posted this article which originally included her email address. She answered then. Her promise to contact me was no good, so how do I trust that she has removed these kits from sale in her shop? I don’t. She has removed the page from her website but through the magic of web archiving you can still see it - things never disappear. Once they are posted they are there for eternity...

So…what comes next? Certainly these official pieces of paper from our nations’ capital can do more than fan one’s face on a warm day. They will stand up in court to establish my claim…but why do we have to go to all this upset? No offense to the legal profession but we know there will be significant cost if a lawyer is involved. What a waste of time and resources…unless of course making a big fuss this time will bring a bit of awareness to the issue. I am not a happy camper to have to deal with something stressful and unnecessary like this; I just like to quilt :( This issue dogged my year and totally ruined my Christmas.

I will be doing a series of posts over the next little while to talk about the copyright issue some more. In a previous post (scroll down) I posted a link to Kathleen Bissett’s excellent article on the topic, and I have Kathleen’s permission to use excerpts. To say this is discouraging and disheartening states it mildly. This needs to stop...

Saturday 24 December 2011

Christmas Friends

We had snow again this morning and it finally looks like Christmas. This Red-bellied Woodpecker caused some excitement at our feeders as these birds are not common in our area.

What a treat to have a new friend visit for Christmas!
From our house to yours, we wish you all a wonderful Christmas. One more sleep and we're there!

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Christmas Diamonds Tutorial

Recently the link to this tutorial was included in the Christmas newsletter from Quilt Bug (thanks, Kris!) so I've been getting all kinds of new visitors to the blog. Gloria Charlton is one of these newcomers, and she wasted no time getting this sewn:She chose light, medium and dark shades of green that worked perfectly together to create the 3D illusion. Gloria writes that it was a very easy project and took her less than an hour. Thanks for sharing Gloria!
The Quilt Bug site is a familiar one to most quilters for their very popular Mystery Quilt weekends. Kris emailed that she has another coming up soon, and invites interested readers to her blog for the details.
Welcome to all the new readers; I hope you will return and become regulars to the blog. If you type "tutorial" in the search box in the left column of this site you will come up with instructions for a couple of other small projects. Enjoy!

Strings and Santa

The cheery emails and comments the past few days have been wonderful, I can't thank you all enough. There are so many good and kind-hearted quilters out there...and Joanne Colleaux of Armstrong, B.C. is one of them. I will remind you that earlier this year Joanne had an impressive win at the Pacific Northwest Quilter's Association Show in Tacoma, WA. She has shared another photo with us, and writes this: A few weeks ago you blogged about your blue/neutral string blocks, and that pushed a string project of mine up to the top of my to-do list. I added several more blocks to the dozen I'd made for a guild demo in the spring, and then had a fine time playing with the results on the design wall. The first photo (with a star in the centre) is the runner-up, and the third photo (with borders) is the one that won out. Somehow the centre makes the quilt look rectangular to me, despite the fact that it is square.
I enjoyed seeing the layouts; this one she chose is an unusual set for sure.
Joanne also sent along a picture taken at a recent Christmas Show and Tell at the Shuswap Quilters Guild in Salmon Arm, B.C. Madeleine Welch did a very pretty version of Santa's Trip Around The World. I like the thread she used for the reins - it shows up nicely on the red. Nice work, Madeleine!
My thanks to you for sharing the photos, Joanne. I hope you will check back tomorrow, there are more to see!