View Full Version : Legal Question -How far must a pattern be modified before...

01-30-2006, 01:01 PM
How far must a pattern be modified before it legally becomes "yours"?

01-30-2006, 01:21 PM
There is a pretty comprehensive article about this type of thing in the current Vogue Knitting if you are able to pick it up.

There is also an article here (http://www.knitty.com/ISSUEfall03/FEATcopyright.html).

01-30-2006, 01:38 PM
Here's a primer on copyright for knitters.

01-30-2006, 01:43 PM
Boy, that article sort of raises more questions than it answers. :thinking:

01-30-2006, 01:55 PM
From reading the article in Vogue, copyright law is itself by nature very ambiguous {sp?}. There is no real hard and fast amount that you need to change something to make it "yours". For example, if you change a pattern to make it in a different size than there are instructions for in the pattern... that wouldn't make it "yours". Now if you were to take a basic sock pattern... use the number of cast on stitches called for, and follow the instructions for the heel and toe, but come up with your own stitch pattern for the main parts, that would probably be "yours". If the sock you are basing your pattern on has a unique type of heel or toe, the designer may have that particular technique copyrighted.

What are you looking at doing?

01-30-2006, 03:42 PM
What are you looking at doing?

Well, I've been making these felted lambs...

I've changed the pattern slightly. I made the ears larger and fixed a mistake (missing knit across row) in the original pattern.

I was wondering if I were to rewrite the pattern using different text and diagrams, and incorporating my modifications, would it be legal for me to share the pattern with others at no cost.

I have no intentions for resale or financial gain. You couldn't sell them if you tried anyway, with the amount of work that goes into them alone you would have to sell them for $200 a piece or something to actually make any money. No one would pay that.

I seems unfair to force someone else to purchase an entire $30 book just for one silly pattern.

From reading that article, it would seem that what I want to do, very well could or could not be legal. I don't want to pay a lawyer $1500 just to find out if I'm allowed to share with my friends.

01-30-2006, 04:45 PM
I would say that your changes aren't significant enough to consider it your pattern. I would play it safe and not share it. Even if you distribute it without personal financial gain, you're taking away from the designer's financial gain.

01-30-2006, 05:48 PM
I would say that your changes aren't significant enough to consider it your pattern. I would play it safe and not share it. Even if you distribute it without personal financial gain, you're taking away from the designer's financial gain.

I see your point, FiberGirl. But what if I were to lend my book to a friend? That seems like a perfectly normal thing to do. Would that be taking away from the designer's financial gain?

So many shades of grey.

01-30-2006, 06:05 PM
Here's something else to muddy the waters. Libraries. If I were to borrow that book from the library and make a copy of the pattern for my own use, that would be legal because of the nature of libraries.

01-30-2006, 07:33 PM
From memory (but this may only be in Australia), there must be a difference of at LEAST 20-25% before the pattern is no longer the original, this does not include resizing.

I don't think you're changes are near enough for the pattern to be considered 'yours' as such.

01-30-2006, 08:08 PM
this is definitely a "fine-line" situation.

i just wanted to add something about those felted sheep. before you told me where you got the pattern from in your post this morning i searched for a pattern and came up with the one that FiberTrends sells. aside from the eyes they look very similar to me.

http://www.knittinghelp.com/knitting/forum/viewtopic.php?t=8754 - yours

http://www.earthguild.com/products/knitcroc/fibertr/fibertre.htm - fiber trends - you need to click on the pattern for felted flock.

did one copy the other or is it just a fluke?

i guess my point is that it's pretty hard to make a felted lamb different and still keep it looking like a lamb. so if you had never seen this and just whipped up a pattern the lambs are probably going to look the same. are you then in violation of the copyright law if you sell the patterns?

01-30-2006, 08:23 PM
yeah, libraries are protected under the "fair use" clause of the copyright law. It would be illegal for you to borrow a book from the library, make more than one copy of a pattern and distribute it, but it's ok for you to make a copy for yourself, provided you're not selling the finished product. It would be ok for you to lend a book to your friend, and you could probably get away with making a copy of the pattern for one friend (who's going to know? it's your own conscience) - it's when you start _distributing_ it where you can get into trouble. Personal use vs distribution.

A situation where two patterns pop up for finished objects that look very similar again is a fuzzy issue. I think whoever published their pattern first technically has the copyright, and the second person could be accused of infringement if there is enough similarity.

01-30-2006, 08:52 PM
I think the lamb was designed by Bev Galeskas who *is* the Fiber Trends designer, but I'm too lazy at the moment to go into the other room to get my own copy of Encyclopedia of Knitting by Donna Somebodyorother (that I bought at Joann's with a 50% off coupon). When I grow up I want to make the Sunshine Duo sweaters in there for me and my girls.