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Old 08-09-2007, 08:31 PM   #6
Knitting the Flap
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Some interesting excerpts from Knitty's article on copyright protection that seem applicable :

[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?
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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