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Laws & ethics of using patterns, tutorials and etc. for commercial gain?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

I'd love to hear thoughts on the laws and ethics of using patterns, books and tutorials as a basis for creating products that are then sold for a profit. Please share your knowledge, your experience and opinions! TIO...

post #2 of 9

I think most commercial patterns come with a copyright thing that says "not for commercial use" or whatever; and lots of free, downloadable patterns online have a "not for commercial use" or "for personal use only" statement on them as well. I use Ottobre patterns, and you're not meant to sell clothes made with 'em... which is interesting, because I've considered selling my kids' old clothes on TradeMe (the Kiwi equivalent of Ebay), and technically, I wouldn't be allowed to sell the Ottobre clothes. (Or would I, because they weren't made to sell, and are used?) Thus far I've been too lazy to sell any of their clothes anyway, but it's an interesting question. Some of the clothes are Ottobre patterns I adapted, slightly or significantly, so - can I sell those? Don't know.

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Yes, these are the questions we've been tooling with as well. The closest comparison I've thought of is cooking and recipes...don't know if that fits well enough though. 

 

With patters marked "for personal use only" I wonder also about teaching a class with the pattern. I also wonder about patterns and tutorials from books. 

 

And then, for sure, is the issue of how far we need to adapt something before it becomes "ours".  I guess the easiest thing to do would be to just make our own patterns. 

post #4 of 9

I don't think recipes are a close enough comparison... The thing with recipes is, the list of ingredients can't be patented or copyrighted, but the wording of the instructions can. So you could, in theory, write a cookbook comprised entirely of Donna Hay recipes, as long as you changed "mix all together" to "stir all the ingredients together until combined", and so on. It's sort of odd, but that's how it is.

 

But you couldn't use the pattern pieces for an Amy Butler bag and just change up the wording, because... well, ingredients belong to the world, but her pattern pieces are an original creation. You know?

 

With teaching classes from a pattern, I guess the thing to do would be to email the pattern-maker and ask. It'd be easier if it were a "real" person, ie Amy Butler, rather than Butterick or Simplicity; but either way, I guess it could be done? I'd bet a lot of blogger-type pattern-makers would be happy to have their patterns used, as long as they were credited - I mean, free publicity, right?

post #5 of 9
With a cookbook, if the same ingredients are used in the same amounts that would be an issue. Stirring instead of combining wouldn't protect you.
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by pek64 View Post

With a cookbook, if the same ingredients are used in the same amounts that would be an issue. Stirring instead of combining wouldn't protect you.

The way I understand, a recipe is a process, which is not protected under the US Copyright law (procedures, processes, systems and methods of operation in themselves are not protected).  Ideas in themselves are also not protected.  Inventions are usually patented.  What is protected under the Copyright law is the description in the book..the author's organization of the book and any pictorial or literary representation of the ingredients and final product.  Most food processes area extremely basic.  You need to use certain ingredients to achieve a certain end product.  It would be a nightmare to try to protect a process like cooking or baking.  

 

Sewing patterns are a weird grey area, mainly because although it is clear that the pattern itself (which is a pictorial representation) is protected (you can't photo copy or re-draw a pattern and claim it as your own), the process of making the clothes or other items may be altered by the end user to create a derivative work.  A lot of fashion falls under trademark law (think Coach and Hermes knock-offs).  When in doubt, some people suggest that an end user contact the pattern designer and request a license to re-sell the sewn product.  The reason it is so grey, though, is that most patterns are very basic.  Unless a pattern is a completely original design, it would be hard to claim that there is infringement.  

post #7 of 9
There are rarely lawsuits over recipes, however it is considered good ethics to :
1. Give credit for where the recipe came from
2. Alter it slightly by changing a couple of ingredients and/or amounts

Recipes can be patented.

Edited to add : the recipe must be original and unique.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

Back to patterns, books and tutorials...

 
Quote:

Originally Posted by CatsCradle View Post

 

Sewing patterns are a weird grey area, mainly because although it is clear that the pattern itself (which is a pictorial representation) is protected (you can't photo copy or re-draw a pattern and claim it as your own), the process of making the clothes or other items may be altered by the end user to create a derivative work.  A lot of fashion falls under trademark law (think Coach and Hermes knock-offs).  When in doubt, some people suggest that an end user contact the pattern designer and request a license to re-sell the sewn product.  The reason it is so grey, though, is that most patterns are very basic.  Unless a pattern is a completely original design, it would be hard to claim that there is infringement.  

 

Ok, great discussion! I think it is the "basic" nature of patterns that is getting me. I mean -- a shirt is not an original idea. ;-)  I do want to practice strong creative ethics with all of this, yet, I also know that all crafters and artist derive their work from others. 

The more I think about it the more I think we should develop our own simple line of patterns to use for commercial use. It can't be that hard right. lol.gif

post #9 of 9

I have several friends who sell clothes at craft fairs (and I may be starting too soon as well).  The general consensus they seem to have is this, you can't take a single pattern and use it exactly to create your work.  BUT!!!!  You can use several patterns to create a new and unique thing by combining the parts you like and changing things to make them work for you.  Also, a lot of tutorials, really are simply instructions on how to draft your own pattern and then put the item together.  Using that information you can then create an item and have it be "yours."  


To continue the cooking/recipe analogy.....you can look up several different chili recipes and use parts of them to create your own chili and then that chili is yours even though it is "informed" by others.

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