....That is the question, at least for some designers out there.
Recently I have read a whole slew of postings about fabric designers saying that their copyrighted fabric designs cannot be used in anything that is sold for money. I have also seen a bunch of quilt designers saying that their patterns are copyrighted and you can't make a quilt from their patterns and have it judged in a show without the designer getting full credit and giving their permission for it to be shown. Can anyone out there make a quilt exactly as it was shown in a pattern? If you can, then it is a copy so why bother making it in the first place?
As far as I know none of these issues has been litigated fully...that is a judge has not ruled on the legality of all these threatened lawsuits.
I decided to make my own test of all of the issues by making something based on a copyrighted design and see where it lead my not-so-legal mind.
I purchased the April 2011 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting because it had an article about Edyta Sitar... a recent guest of the Kingwood Area Quilt Guild.
Edyta designed a handbag that had some interesting lines in it so I decided to make a copy.
Here's how mine came out versus the original article:
Does my bag even look remotely like the one in the magazine?
Should Edyta get credit for designing my bag?
I believe the most credit she could get would be as an inspiration for my bag but even that would be a stretch as my bag is different than hers in the following ways:
I redrew and re-sized the pattern to meet my needs.
I used pre-quilted fabric rather than custom quilted fabric for the body of the bag.
I added interior and exterior pockets.
I eliminated the gathered embellishment.
I eliminated the gathered corners and turned them into tailored ones.
I did not hand apply the binding and used a double rather than single layer of binding.
I reinforced the handle with heavy nylon rope.
What about these other bags I have made that contain similar design points:
If I ever sold this bag would I need to get permission from all of these designers and pay them royalties for specific design elements? And let's not forget that I bought the fabric at JoAnn's so maybe they should get credit as well. And what about the threads I used or the old binding from the bottom of the stash?
I think you can see why I am so confused by all this craziness.
If you want to copy my bag, I have a pattern you can trace and I won't make you pay royalties but it would be nice if you gave me some credit somewhere sometime when you are become a big time handbag designer for Dolce and Gabbano.