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Old 08-09-2007, 05:18 PM   #1
willowangel
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Yet another copyright question :-)
Sorry guys, you must get sick to death of these questions, but I'm so hazy on all the random laws etc that are out there, ie. what's law and what's just common courtesy etc.

So, my question is this : I saw the fantastic scarf Binary on knitty, and was inspired. I made a DS case for my partner, knitted flat instead of in the round, using black and green, but with a stitch pattern slightly different to the one on Binary that I made up. Essentially, I saw the pattern, thought it was cool, but made something quite different without a pattern that had green ones and zeroes on a black background.

Now, what could I do with the pattern for the DS case? It's kind of a hypothetical question, but it highlighted to me how little I know about this stuff. Could I :
a. not do anything with it except make gifts for my friends.
b. write out the pattern for other people to use free but with an 'inspired by ...' waiver.
c. write out the pattern to sell but with an 'inspired by...' waiver.
d. write out the pattern to sell as my own work.

It's just that stuff like this seems hazy copyright wise - I cast on a different number of stitches, stitched a different pattern, used a different graph set up, knitted flat and seamed to make something that wasn't a scarf. I know that stitch patterns themselves are in the public domain, but what about ideas, like green ones and zeroes on a black background to make a binary code? Where does the public domain end and copyrighted ideas start?

I hope this doesn't start a big heated debate, but I'd like to hear lots of points of view. I don't want anyone to think I'm trying to steal someone's ideas, I just want to know what the actual rules are about this stuff, *because* I don't want to step on anyone's toes. It just seems hard to create original things these days without being inspired somewhere or other along the way, so I'd like to know what our responsibilities are as artists?

Thanks,
Fi xxx
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Old 08-09-2007, 05:22 PM   #2
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I'm not sure what others think, but I think options c and d are absolutely out of the question. You can't make money off of someone else's pattern in any way. I'm not so sure about selling the finished product, but definately not the pattern.
I think option a is the safest, but b might be ok as long as you give credit where due, kind of like citing someone in a paper.
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Old 08-09-2007, 05:24 PM   #3
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I think willowangel's question is if she's now created a new pattern, or if this is a "derivative" and therefore not an original pattern.



I'm not sure.
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Old 08-09-2007, 05:28 PM   #4
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Unless I am mistaken, the original copyright holder could easily make a case that this is a derivative of their original work and therefore not your own original work, hence it would be a copyright infringement.

You're safe to make as gifts and such, but not to profit from.
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Old 08-09-2007, 05:38 PM   #5
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you used a different stitch pattern, knit it flat(not in the round) and your end product is a DS case not a scarf. BUT you did use the main idea behind the scarf (the 1's and 0's) I would contact the designer and ask for permission if you want to sell them or write up a pattern and share/sell it.
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Old 08-09-2007, 07:04 PM   #6
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Knitting-Guy is correct. You have also stated the design inspired you which the original designer could (I say 'could') jump on.

*A colour change does not change a design copyright.
*If the original design can be basically 'seen' albeit a few stitch changes exist, the original copyright still exists on the item.

*You could only write out an 'inspired by' pattern IF the original designer agrees.
*You could only make and give to friends if the original copyright allows that OR, as I suggested in the other thread, each friend buys a pattern (original) also.
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Old 08-09-2007, 08:31 PM   #7
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Some interesting excerpts from Knitty's article on copyright protection that seem applicable :

Quote:
[b] Whether a work is sufficiently original is also a subjective assessment. Original, in this context, does not mean 'unique' or 'new.' Original means that the work must have originated from the author. Certainly, the author will have been inspired by, or may have based her work on, someone else's. That doesn't mean that the work is unoriginal.

Is there a minimum threshold of effort that must be added? Yes. What is it? I can't tell you. There's no hard-and-fast rule defining originality. Sometimes originality is defined as 'not a copy,' but that's not a very clear answer either. Asking 'how much must not be copied?' is like asking 'how much has to be original?
Quote:
Copyright doesn't cover ideas or techniques. Nifty concepts, like how to knit reversible cables, or a neckwarmer worked in intarsia giraffe spots, may be fantastic new ideas. But these are simply techniques and concepts, and are not protected by copyright.

What is copyrightable is an author's expression of these techniques and concepts, in the form of written instructions, photographs, diagrams, patterns, or even knitted objects. If the creators of these techniques wished to protect the techniques themselves, they would have to treat them as trade secrets or obtain patent protection. However, trade secret protection requires that the technique be kept confidential and shared only under strict secrecy provisions -- not very easy in the knitting context, and not very useful if another knitter can figure out the technique for himself without access to the 'secret.' Patenting involves an examination and registration process that takes time and money.
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Old 08-09-2007, 08:42 PM   #8
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I can, unfortunately, see both sides of the argument. I do, completely and without reservation, believe that artists who create should be protected from other people taking credit for their work. I think it takes a lot of work to write patterns, to come up with something new and work out all the bugs in it.

But I also think that the way things are at the moment, without any real set in stone copyright 'here's what you can and can't do' laws, we're handcuffed. From this perspective, how the hell do new introductory knitting books get written? How are there so many patterns available for similar objects just with different patterns? What is copyrighted? Are stars copyrighted? Or just stars of a certain gauge in a certain pattern? I agree that people should be protected for the work that they've done, and I'm ok cause I can work stuff out without patterns and can take ideas and make stuff for myself without needing to follow a pattern word for word, but what happens to people who can't? What if someone wanted, for example, a binary ds case pattern? Why am I not allowed to write that for them? Why are green ones and zeroes on a black background, in a different yarn, with a different graph structure, for a different purpose, totally banned because someone once made a scarf with green ones and zeroes on a black background?

That's why I have a problem with this, not because I want to rip off someone else's work, or because I think artists don't deserve protection or recognition, but because it cripples our ability to do new and exciting things and *share* them with other people. It's great that I can sit at home and think 'I have a nice new ds case for my bloke, yay' but I want to be able to share that with other people, and if I put in the work to write the pattern, as different as it is, why is that wrong?
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Old 08-09-2007, 09:04 PM   #9
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The easy answer has already been mentioned. You simply get the copyright holder's permission to create an "inspired by" pattern. I don't think asking permission is exactly crippling.
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Old 08-09-2007, 09:29 PM   #10
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Okay, answer me this.....am i wrong when i designed the Flower Power Washcloths (3 versions and the Flower Power hand towel/placemat (3 versions) after seeing a cloth online shaped like a flower that someone had knit from a book (I don't know the name of it)? I sat down and played with yarn and needles and sketches for a couple of weeks for the 1st washcloth, then decided to do several versions of them...same with the hand towel/placemats. Was i wrong in creating something that I saw? FYI, I've still not seen the pattern, but have been told they are designed much differently. It's a very, very gray area! Same thing happens in fashion when designers do their 'versions' of couture (sp?) designs.
In knitting (as in all fashion, I'm sure) items repeat themselves over and over in different ways.
Sorry, I never thought of asking permission of (I don't know who it is) the person that designed the 1st cloth that looks like a flower (lol, probably not the 1st, i see all sorts of floral cloths everwhere!), I never gave it a thought after I sat down and did it all myself. I do so hope it's not wrong, I've since read here and there and didn't see where I was in the wrong. Most of you know me and know I would be MORTIFIED if I did or were accused of wrong doing because it's never been my intention! Just to let everyone know!
My goodness, as you think about it, you see all sorts of designs repeated over and over in different ways....raglan tops like the Anthropology capelet I just saw in either a magazine or book. You can go on and on. Knitting, as in fashion will now and forever repeat itself, don't you agree?! (fyi .... I in no way mean that one should steal copyright, I've had this done, not fun...just that fashion repeats itself).
My conscience is clear, I do so hope ya'll feel the same wayLike I said, I'll die if you disagree, but that's me!
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Last edited by rebecca : 08-09-2007 at 09:50 PM. Reason: clarification
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