I know, I know, get the groans out of the way. I read somewhere, I can’t remember where now, that copyright policies of a designer should be clear before someone purchases a pattern because then they know up front the “rules” before buying. I have hesitated and hesitated about mentioning this foreboding and emotional knee jerk word, but decided to just get it over with.
I have an unusual caveat in my copyright notice.
“Design may not be created for commercial resale, professional exhibition/and or competition unless written permission is granted by Sandra Leichner”
There is a GOOD reason for the bit in the red. 99.9% of quilters are wonderful and only want to re-create or re-interpret a pattern or design for themselves, guild shows, a guild raffle quilt (I have no issues with that), or some other not-for-profit endeavor. GREAT! I love to inspire and this is where the old saying, “copying is the best form of flattery” is appropriately used IMO.
However, I have noticed a huge increase in opportunistic behavior in a professional capacity with no penalties being enforced by the industry as a whole. Please, I beg you, there is no need to band up in mob-like behavior, for or against, as though someone has been slighted by this–Do not take offense where none is intended. It doesn’t help or improve anything and leaves us in ignorance which is never a good thing.
Anyone’s art is free for the taking right?
Since the beginning of time, actual artists have had to swallow the fact that their original work has no “serious” value as far as a career goes in the mainstream public mindset. Unless your parents were free spirits, or artists themselves, whose parent(s) ever encouraged them to be an artist for a life’s career? Since it has no value, then it is free for the taking right? Perception is a difficult thing to change. This archaic indifference has been around for centuries and it is still the perception today.
My daughter’s strengths are in the arts. However at my last meeting with her math teacher and advisor when they were pushing the math, (it isn’t her forte’ and no matter how hard they try, it never will be), the math teacher frankly told me (with a contemptible sniff included), “that you can’t make a career out of art“. Oh REEEEALLY? No, I didn’t bother to correct her. Why? because I have heard this myself over and over ad nausea through life.
I read daily where someone wakes up one morning and has discovered in an epiphany they are “AN ARTIST!”. I often wonder what the reaction would be if I woke up tomorrow, announced I was a Neuro-Surgeon and went off to my local hospital to check in for surgery. Everyone would panic and security would escort me out.
Yet, when someone borrows, interprets or blatantly copies an artist for a career or profit, we think that is completely OK in quilting. Of course quilting has a tradition of sharing, but this was before women had the ability to protect their art and ideas and have the opportunity to profit from them. Does being a woman automatically make her exempt from wanting to make a living from her God-given talent?
“I can’t draw and it isn’t fair, so I just use someone else’s drawing and recolor or change it and that makes it mine to sell or win a national/international major award with lots of money attached.”
Let’s be honest, that is what it boils down to as a general motive in a professional capacity. What if I used that reasoning in my example again, “I am not talented to be a surgeon and make all that money and its not fair!”. Doesn’t quite work does it?
Try that reasoning with the art of a major company and see what happens with their deep pockets and a building full of attorneys chomping at the opportunity to go to court.
From the US Govt. Copyright office (I have underlined and emphasized the part people overlook in quilting):
Accordingly, you cannot claim copyright to another’s work, no matter how much you change it, unless you have the owner’s consent.
What it boils down to
It is that small percentage that makes it bad for the majority of us. Respect other’s abilities and talents, use good manners and ethical behavior and we can take the ugly out of copyright in quilting. It has been my experience that those who are determined to profit from someone else, are going to do it if they think they can get away with it. In quilting, most get away with it I am sorry to say.
It really is up to all of us to point out bad behavior instead of defending it. Please quit vilifying the original artist for defending their work just because their ability is in the arts and not in the sciences etc., where they could make a whole boat load of way more money if they could. The original artists are only trying to protect their livelihood and that of their families in some cases. Stealing from an artist is stealing from their table and their home. For me, it is stealing my soul.
So why do I have the unusual notice? Because it irritates me no end that someone can make a quilt for a national/international “for profit” competition and win $$$$ using someone else’s work and time without credit and call it their “original” design.
The hardest part of creating a new quilt is creating the design and color combinations. Why should someone jump to the head of the line and pick up the paycheck without doing the most difficult part of the job and gain the professional credit and advancement? Would you tolerate someone in your office just showing up to work and you doing all the grunt work and they get paid the same wage as you and taking all the credit and the promotions attached? There is NO difference even if it is art or in our case, quilting.
As I said in the beginning, 99.9% of quilters are wonderful and I have wonderful experiences with them. As an artist, addressing copyright is never easy because it tends to create instant offense to those you don’t want to offend. Thanks for your understanding and I hope this is the last and only time I have to write about this for your sanity and mine.