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Copyright Made Simple

Many people constantly commit copyright infringement, simply because they do not understand the principles of copyright. Allow me to elaborate on this sensitive issue.

In order to understand copyright, you have to understand the differences between a trademark, a patent, and copyright.

Trademark

A trademark is the name given to a product, or a range of products, by the manufacturer thereof. A trademark must be registered. Examples of trademarks are Levi, Guess and Billabong.

Counterfeit goods are goods that are sold with the trademark, but the trademark holder did not manufacture the goods.

Patent

A patent is registered with the government. If the patent license is given, the patent owner will have the sole production and selling rights, for a pre-determined time.  Examples of patents are the ambidextrous scissor, the retractable tape measure, the piercing crochet hook and the steel crochet hook with thumb rest.

Copyright

What is copyright

Copyright is the exclusive legal right that the creator of the artwork has, pertaining to his/her work of art/intellectual property. This means that the copyright holder, has the exclusive right:

  • To publish
  • To copy
  • To sell
  • To perform
  • To display
  • To distribute
  • Etc….

Copyright applies to all works of art. Included in this list are the following:

  • Books
  • Movies
  • Music
  • Paintings
  • Photographs
  • Presentations
  • Manuals
  • Craft Patterns
  • And more…

There is no registration for copyright, only declaration, e.g. © Hilda Steyn 2016.

Copyright Infringement

Here are some examples of copyright infringement:

  • Pirate music / movies;
  • Posting photos online without written consent from the copyright holder;
  • Sharing patterns online without written consent of the copyright holder;
  • Using art characters in your crafts without written consent of the copyright holder;
  • Copying a pattern for a friend;
  • Selling a pattern you did not design; and
  • Changing an existing pattern slightly, to sell it as your own.

What are the consequences of copyright infringement? The copyright holder could take you to court. Should you be found guilty, you could face the following for a first offense:

  • Confiscation of infringing material;
  • Interdict to prevent further infringement ;
  • Damages determined by the court, to be paid to the copyright holder;
  • A fine of up to R5,000; and
  • Imprisonment of up to three years.

Should you continue, and be found guilty again, you could face the following:

  • Confiscation of infringing material;
  • Interdict to prevent further infringement ;
  • Damages determined by the court, to be paid to the copyright holder;
  • A fine of up to R10,000; and
  • Imprisonment of up to five years.

Copyright on Patterns

Regardless of whether you received a pattern for free, or paid for it, you are entitled to:

  • Print the pattern for your own use;
  • Sell the items you have made from the pattern;
  • Keep the pattern for future use; and
  • Share the LINK to the pattern online.

In both cases, you may not:

  • Print a pattern to give to somebody else;
  • Sell the pattern;
  • Share it in any form whatsoever;
  • Publish pattern photos online; and
  • Recreate the pattern and claim it as your own design.

You are probably wondering why designers then make patterns available for free. We do it for the following reasons:

  • To build social media following;
  • Exposure to the crafting community;
  • To increase website traffic; and
  • To promote yarn sales (if the designer has a yarn shop too).

Remember: All aspects of the Copyright law, apply to both free and paid patterns. There is no difference whatsoever!

Techniques and Stitch Patterns

There is no copyright on techniques or stitch patterns. If I create a new stitch pattern today and call it raised stitch, somebody else can use that same stitch pattern and call it something else.

Expiry of Copyright

Copyright expires several years after the death of the copyright holder. In most countries, it is 50 years.

Please consider the effort designers put into designing patterns. Designing patterns, and facilitating workshops are our sources of income. Copyright infringement, robs us of an income.