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View Full Version : can you copyright a rail fence pattern?



WendyI
July 5th, 2014, 01:46 AM
just found a blog online offering a free beginner rail fence pattern. This pattern is dead easy from what I can tell and also dead common and yet this person says it's all copy righted by her and the pattern cannot be shared.

Like seriously...how can you copy right a pattern that has been around forever? or is she copyrighting the way she wrote the pattern out? I'm confused.

It's on this blog site:

Millie's Quilting: String and Rail Fence quilts (http://milliesquilting.blogspot.ca/2013/10/string-and-rail-fence-quilt.html)

Hulamoon
July 5th, 2014, 01:59 AM
No. I don't see where she say's it, but that is ridiculous. I ran across a blog with a simple pattern and geez are you kidding to take credit for this? I don't pay attention to them anymore. When I was selling kids clothes on Etsy and making tiered twirl skirts I did the pattern on my own.. Now people are saying it's copy righted? Give me a break.

WendyI
July 5th, 2014, 02:01 AM
if you go to download the pattern it's indicated at the top that you can't print it and share it or the PDF download but you can get it from her by request. Doesn't make any sense unless she is selling email addy's...now THAT will annoy me no-end!

Kgrammiecaz
July 5th, 2014, 02:08 AM
I could not find what you were referring to, but I dont know how anyone makes a pattern there own and says that its copyrighted. Unless someone does some really totally new design never seen before. She is offering it for free anyway. What is making copies going to do. The only thing I would not want to do is get a pattern from anywhere, copy and make money on it. I stay away from that. I buy patterns and I get many off the web free. Either way, I dont copy them and I surely dont sell them.

This can be a hot topic on this forum. I do know its never right to make money off someone elses work. Thats about it for me. One easy rule.

Hulamoon
July 5th, 2014, 02:10 AM
It must be the written pattern it's self. I still think it's stupid. lol I don't know what what point is when you can copy any picture and duplicate the pattern on your own.

Hulamoon
July 5th, 2014, 02:18 AM
Here is the same rail fence from one of my favorite blogs,
Red Pepper Quilts: Zig Zag Rail Fence Quilt and New Quilt Pattern (http://www.redpepperquilts.com/2011/07/zig-zag-rail-fence-quilt-and-new-quilt.html)

Kgrammiecaz
July 5th, 2014, 04:23 AM
Here is the same rail fence from one of my favorite blogs,
Red Pepper Quilts: Zig Zag Rail Fence Quilt and New Quilt Pattern (http://www.redpepperquilts.com/2011/07/zig-zag-rail-fence-quilt-and-new-quilt.html)

I like her blog too. But too funny. She is selling the pattern for 8.50. Really. A fence rail. The quilting world is going crazy I think.

rebeccas-sewing
July 5th, 2014, 04:36 AM
I don't get it either, Wendy. I think she can copyright it but I don't think she can do anything about it legally since that's a pattern that's been around for quite some time. You may be right in suspecting that she is copyrighting her instructions. I think she'd be hard-pressed to get anywhere if she pursued legal infringement.

Cat77
July 5th, 2014, 06:30 AM
I like her blog too. But too funny. She is selling the pattern for 8.50. Really. A fence rail. The quilting world is going crazy I think.

And that's not the only one she's selling. How about a classic HST pattern (https://www.etsy.com/listing/156597350/retro-half-square-triangle-hst-quilt?ref=listing-2) or Pinwheels pattern (https://www.etsy.com/listing/73509619/pinwheels-on-parade-quilt-pattern-pdf?ref=listing-11)?
I wonder how many people actually buy them.

Mpyles
July 5th, 2014, 06:48 AM
And that's not the only one she's selling. How about a classic HST pattern (https://www.etsy.com/listing/156597350/retro-half-square-triangle-hst-quilt?ref=listing-2) or Pinwheels pattern (https://www.etsy.com/listing/73509619/pinwheels-on-parade-quilt-pattern-pdf?ref=listing-11)?
I wonder how many people actually buy them.

Looks like she has had over 3000 sales....

Bubby
July 5th, 2014, 08:43 AM
There's one born every minute...!

JCY
July 5th, 2014, 10:26 AM
I would think that the Rail Fence pattern would be considered public domain. It's an old pattern. There are many FREE downloads on the web. Check out Generations Quilt Patterns for 11 different ways to lay out a RF. Also, Quilters Cache has a free pattern & directions81170. If you click on the various names, you'll see several examples of how people laid out their quilts & the colors they chose. It's totally not necessary to pay for a RF pattern. Having just completed the pink & green baby quilt, I can say it probably was the easiest quilt I ever made. The previous quilt I made, Warm Wishes, actually could be a variation of the RF. It was just a rail block alternated with a focus fabric square, arranged to make that secondary "block" of the gray & the lt. pink. JCY

Sylvia H
July 5th, 2014, 10:49 AM
I believe the copyright to mean that no one can copy/print the instructions and claim them as their own. The quilt, which results from following the pattern and instructions cannot be copyrighted. The same thing goes for haute couture. The "sketch" of the clothing design can be copyrighted, but ANY clothing made to duplicate the design is not subject to copyright laws.

This is a recent controversy in my state regarding a company that has a copyright on a quilt design, and they are trying to stop people from selling quilts made with that design:

Quilt shops and auctions are sent cease-and-desist notices over copyrighted pattern (http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/quilt_shops_told_design_with_3d_effect_is_copyrigh ted)

Annette Ackley
July 5th, 2014, 07:59 PM
My DH and I have an online business making hunting gear. We use camo fabric. We got told that we couldn't sell anything made out of real tree or mossy oak. They are patented prints. We use generic camo, and it looks better than the labeled camo. We can make something out of real tree or mossy oak, as long as we were giving it away but not selling it. Same as if you were to buy Disney fabric, which is the same thing. You can make some thing with there fabric, but you can't sell it. You can give it away as a gift to someone. There are so many laws. You could go insane trying to figure it out. lol As for a block pattern that has been out for centuries, Can't believe that it would have a patent on it. Then , any one who is a quilter and has used this block pattern would be in trouble for using it and selling what they did with that pattern. Makes no sense at all.

JCY
July 5th, 2014, 11:12 PM
I browsed through some of Millie's blogs & photos. I'm under the impression it's ok to use her patterns as along as you use the quilts as gifts & don't make money off them. I enjoyed looking at the various string quilts. She has a lot of neat ideas & pictures. The one pattern I looked at was a link to Mary's Quilts, & that was a free PDF download. Anyway, it was fun to browse. JCU

Hulamoon
July 5th, 2014, 11:20 PM
That's the thing about this, people trying to make money. Writing up a pattern that is everywhere for free. Be original for gosh sakes.

Midge
July 6th, 2014, 12:18 AM
I believe the copyright to mean that no one can copy/print the instructions and claim them as their own. The quilt, which results from following the pattern and instructions cannot be copyrighted. The same thing goes for haute couture. The "sketch" of the clothing design can be copyrighted, but ANY clothing made to duplicate the design is not subject to copyright laws.

This is a recent controversy in my state regarding a company that has a copyright on a quilt design, and they are trying to stop people from selling quilts made with that design:

Quilt shops and auctions are sent cease-and-desist notices over copyrighted pattern (http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/quilt_shops_told_design_with_3d_effect_is_copyrigh ted)

Thanks for pointing that out to us, Sylvia. I have felt confused about this issue too, and I had thought copyrights on patterns means don't copy it, put your own heading on it and resell as yours. And I would agree that is dishonest. I've noticed that some pattern makers specify that purchasers should credit the design correctly rather than passing it off as your own. Again, it's very sketchy to try to do that. And finally I've noticed some pattern makers state that their patterns are for personal use only and not for commercial production. Can't blame them.

In story about the Light in the Valley quilt it seems to me the same issue as this split rail fence pattern. The pattern is published elsewhere previously, and is a known pattern historically. Just goes to show you that intellectual property law is very tricky.

slamb13
July 6th, 2014, 10:43 AM
This is an interesting topic to me as I have just been reading a Tula Pink modern block book that I borrowed through our library. Many of "her" blocks are to me very common and traditional ones.

However, she does not claim any copyright over them and in fact the opposite, says that she provides the measurements and instructions so you can run with it and make it your own. To me, that is the right attitude!

The only thing I don't like about the book, which would annoy me if I'd paid for it, is that she only gives ONE size for each block. Not very flexible.

But lots of great inspiration in the book. What I think she does really well is put a unique color/fabric/value placement spin on the blocks. Very interesting to me to see some very non-traditional placements of the fabrics within blocks.

Susan

Mchelem
July 7th, 2014, 02:07 AM
My DH and I have an online business making hunting gear. We use camo fabric. We got told that we couldn't sell anything made out of real tree or mossy oak. They are patented prints. We use generic camo, and it looks better than the labeled camo. We can make something out of real tree or mossy oak, as long as we were giving it away but not selling it. Same as if you were to buy Disney fabric, which is the same thing. You can make some thing with there fabric, but you can't sell it. You can give it away as a gift to someone. There are so many laws. You could go insane trying to figure it out. lol As for a block pattern that has been out for centuries, Can't believe that it would have a patent on it. Then , any one who is a quilter and has used this block pattern would be in trouble for using it and selling what they did with that pattern. Makes no sense at all.



Actually, you can make and sale these items as long as you use a disclaimer stating they aren't "official Disney products" (or mossy oak, or realtree)
You can not copyright fabric, you can only copyright the design on the fabric. (Meaning you can not have fabric printed with the mossy oak design and logo). They give up their rights to dictate how the fabric is used when they offer it to the public.

This site has a lot of info on lawsuits and what you can and can't do.
Copyright Law - Licensed Fabric. (http://www.tabberone.com/Trademarks/CopyrightLaw/LicensedFabric.shtml)
Precious moments lost a lawsuit, trying to stop a consumer from selling items made from their "copyrighted" fabric.

MLB decided to pull their licensing for cotton fabric for this reason. They couldn't keep consumers from making and selling items made from MLB fabrics, so they decided not to make MLB fabric anymore,

Sewsirius
July 7th, 2014, 02:31 AM
Hi...I can't believe that people are selling basic quilt block patterns when they are so freely available...I also find it even harder to believe that people are actually buying said patterns! Crazy! Ive found a similar situation for basic tote bag patterns where "sellers" are being a little heavy about copying a pattern that's two rectangles...come on this is getting ridiculous! Designers need to get over themselves and offer basic patterns for free...I would and I am planning to do just this. Obviously I'd like to get some kind of a mention if the patterns is sold etc, but I'm not going to loose sleep if it's not. I agree with one of the earlier replies about not making money from someone else's work...it's really bad karma!

KnitWitRosie
July 7th, 2014, 10:09 AM
And that's not the only one she's selling. How about a classic HST pattern (https://www.etsy.com/listing/156597350/retro-half-square-triangle-hst-quilt?ref=listing-2) or Pinwheels pattern (https://www.etsy.com/listing/73509619/pinwheels-on-parade-quilt-pattern-pdf?ref=listing-11)?
I wonder how many people actually buy them.

Being a complete newbie to quilting, I have purchased quite a few patterns for some simple designs to get me started. I'm really not quite to the point where I can make something start-to-finish completely on my own. I like the patterns for the directions as well as the materials list. Makes it much easier to go shopping that way.

That being said, I do think patterns are completely overpriced! I bought a table runner pattern from Craftsy and it was $2. I can handle that. But to spend $8+ on a pattern, especially for one that is fairly basic seems a little much for me. I can see if they were physically printed and shipped (meaning there was production and shipping costs incurred), but for an instant download?

In regards to copyright stuff, I've seen it debate across multiple crafty genres. I know in knitting, someone will try and copyright a sweater and forbid people from making it and selling and/or donating it without their permission. You can't do that. What you can do is prohibit the reproduction of the physical pattern for sale or distribution. Like, you can't print off multiple copies of a pattern, either free or paid, and give them away or sell them for profit. You can direct a person to the source (website, Etsy store, etc.) and they can get it on their own. It's the written word that is copyrighted, not the design or idea.

Leah53
July 7th, 2014, 01:27 PM
Let me fill you in on my experience with copyright infringement.

I was a member of HGTV craft forum several years back, I had made some items that used free artwork from a Printmaster print program and when asked about the artwork from other members I shared where I got it from.

Now, the Printmaster program gets their artwork from different artists and puts them on the program as a freebee for the consumer to use, I guess there's a little clause in the agreement that says you can't sell the work that you produce using this artwork, who reads that crap.

Well, a website, the name escapes me for now, has rights to these artists works and objected to me sharing the artwork with other members of HGTV and demanded that I remove and stop using it, yeah, I don't think so. You can make things from that artwork but you can't sell it, there is nothing in the rules that say you can't share it. My philosophy was that, if you don't want people to use it, don't offer it so I told them I paid big bucks for the program and will not stop using it. They threatened to sue me, I told them to go ahead and continued to use it. HGTV lawyers got involved because they were threatened with a lawsuit also, they basically told them they didn't have a leg to stand on, that didn't stop them from threatening, I kept using the artwork and I don't know what ever became of the threatened lawsuits, I'm guessing the threats stopped after a while because I was never sued.

If you throw something out there for free and expect people not to use it than you're pretty naive. I agree with a clause that "this is my design, do not claim it as your own" but I don't agree with expecting people not to use it, if you don't want it used, keep it in the closet. If I was sued every time I used someones designed I'd be in court all the time. As long as you modify their design you can claim it as your own. I have someone else who does the quilting on my quilts, I put a separate little label with the name of the quilter.