Why copyright law can make your head spin!

After a great read over at Craft Apple regarding copyright law and a conversation with my girlfriend’s hubby (he is a laywer at Patent & Trademark), my head was spinning. Not spinning in a bad way but spinning because there is definitely some gray area yet there are truly some clearly delineated areas as well.

With so many people crafting and a plethora of blogs, books, Flickr and more, what is original anymore is the question that I found myself asking. There are only so many ways to make a blouse, a pair of pants, a belt, a doll, a purse, and so forth. Brian, my bud’s hubby, mentioned many of the legal terms in layman’s terms such as pen to paper. Just because someone doesn’t expressly show you a copyright, as soon as that person put pen to paper and the idea became an item, it was copyrighted. Of course, unless they go the next step and actually paying the $45 fee with the Copyright office then it will be harder for them to prove infringement.

There are other legal thresholds like “Strikingly similar” “substantially similar” and “access” – all things that would have to be proven in a copyright infringement case.

An interesting case to read in your spare time 😉 is Wal-Mart v. Samarra. This case went all the way to the Supreme Court and it dealt with Wal-Mart reproducing Samara’s designs under their own name after having seen some drawings but having never entering into a contract with Samarra. Of course, many crafters are not on the same playing field as Wal-Mart but the principal is quite similar. This is why many music companies will send back your demo unopened because 5 years from now they don’t want you saying they sampled your song..if they send it back unopened then they never listened to it so you can’t prove access.

There was a lot more but I need to mull over it some more. I am trying to get Brian to do a guest bloggie on the topic but being that he doesn’t spend time in Joanne’s or on craft blogs, he felt he may be out of his area of expertise.

Like Craft Apple, I did some searches and many forums have tried to address the issue as it can get murky in craftdom. I think a big misnomer is when people use patterns from the store (i.e., McCall’s, Butterick, Vogue, etc.) and sell those items. Unless you have a cottage license/small business license from the company, that is copyright infrigement…look at the back of your pattern – it is for personal use. Granted you may not be Wal-Mart turning out 1,000 items but you are still using the pattern for commercial gain.

Like I said, there is more but it all leads me to wonder for those that are interested in a crafting business, should you limit the blogs that you read so that you are not influenced in anyway? I am not interested in starting a crafting business, I can barely eek out what I do now but does viewing others serve as a hindrance or inspiration?

Enough head spinning….on to other stuff….

In an attempt to try my hand at making my own pattern, I pulled out items I haven’t used in a few years like a protractor for a doll that I would like to make for my niece. It is my BIL/SIL’s first baby and he is my hubby’s younger brother (there were 8 of them and he is the baby). Of course, this niece will dethrone my daughter as the youngest girl grandchild but hey I still have the youngest boy grandchild. 😉 Considering that the next oldest grandchildren are in the final year of high school, I say I am doing pretty good. Oh did I tell you that my niece’s cousin is due 2 days later. Yes, due to so many siblings and age ranges, the oldest grandchildren are older than me and all except my 2 and 3 others (the 2 in high school and 1 in college) are married with their own babies. Gotta love a big family!

the beginning

Also, I have been thrifting but too lazy to take/share pics. I did find this little number the other day for like $3 and I think it makes a great thread storage, don’t you?

thrift storage