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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, 07:30 PM   #7
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I don't mean this as an insult to the excellent analysis folks have done on this thread, but doesn't this strike anyone as silly? All knitting patterns share common elements. This person was inspired by the numbers in the original pattern; but those numbers were themselves inspired by something else -- quite possibly something copyrighted. Does the original designer now own the copyright on anything with ones and zeroes in knitting?

The consesnsus here might be right, and in the eyes of the law you might be violating a copyright; but if so, the law is oppressive to creativity and offends fairness and common sense.
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Old 08-09-2007, 07:30 PM   #8
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Thanks for your replies guys, it was basically what I figured. As said, it's hypothetical, I'm not intending to sell the pattern anyway. I just wonder where the lines start and finish - like someone knitting stars into a wristband, I'm sure somewhere there's a pattern to be bought for that, but does that preclude that person making up their own pattern for stars in a wristband and selling them?

It's a different case, because in the ds case one I actually *was* inspired by someone else's work, but what happens when someone just comes up with something that someone else has already done like that? Say I'd not seen the scarf pattern, but decided to make a binary ds case in black and green since they're standard computer geek colours, would that still be violating copyright? And how, in the world of the internet, could anyone prove they had or had not seen a pattern or a picture somewhere in their web travels?
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Old 08-09-2007, 07:46 PM   #9
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Copyright infringement is not dependent upon your having seen the original copyrighted item. The copyright exists and the holder of the copyright has a right, even an obligation under the law, to enforce it or risk losing it much like a patent.

Whether you purposely copied the item or came up with the same thing on your own actually makes no difference under the law.

And yes, in some ways one could argue that it's somewhat oppressive, but it's the best theft protection currently available.
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Old 08-09-2007, 08:05 PM   #10
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I agree that it may seem oppressive, but it really is there to protect the creativity of the designer, not to opress. How would anyone feel if someone took their idea and modified it a bit and made money off it? I am sure that everyone can agree to a point that credit should be given when it is due, especially since just by knitting we are all extremely creative people and want to protect that.
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