Crochet Copyright 101

Apr 27, 2012

As an artist and crafter, I love the process of transforming a luscious hank of yarn into a finished garment, accessory, or home decor item. It's like magic! Designing my own crochet patterns or modifying existing patterns for the perfect fit is often an invigorating, exciting adventure and probably my second favorite part of the process.

Crochet CopyrightThen there is the business side of crochet. Whether you are a designer or simply crocheting a gift for a friend, or even yourself, you have touched the world of crochet copyright. This can be a confusing world with many myths and rules that may not seem to make sense. But for those who make a living with their craft, copyright is an essential tool in ensuring they can keep their business profitable and continue designing for you.

To help you navigate copyright rules and regulations, we have created a ten page free downloadable eBook. Know Your Rights: Copyright 101 for Crocheters will help you answer questions such as whether changing a certain percentage of an original copyrighted work allows you to copyright your own piece and what is "fair use."

Here are a couple  examples of answers from Know Your Rights: Copyright 101 for Crocheters:

Q: What is copyright infringement?

Copyright infringement is any use of a work that violates the copyright holder's exclusive right to benefit from and control the work. The issue at the heart of copyright protections is unauthorized copies—that is, any duplication, replication, or reproduction of the original work that infringes on the exclusive rights of the copyright holder.

In the craft market, unauthorized copies could range from simple photocopies to digital files to handwritten copies of copyrighted pattern instructions from a magazine or book.

Q: What about Pinterest, Facebook, and other social media?

Sharing content makes social media fun and inspiring to participate in. Although pinning or sharing photos from books and magazines may or may not be defensible under fair-use guidelines, it's an increasingly common practice, and some copyright holders don't object. Try to pin from/link to/credit the original source whenever possible, avoid linking directly from image search tools, and always respect the copyright holder's guidelines, if any, around pinning and sharing their work. Interweave encourages sharing and circulating our photos, book and DVD covers, and other media, as long as you link back to and credit us as the copyright holders.

Q: Can I resell a pattern/magazine/book/DVD I own?

Physical products are always transferable from consumer to consumer, in any portion. Digital products are usually not transferable because they are licensed rather than sold to the consumer, and there is currently no way to confirm that the product was actually transferred and not just copied.

Download your free copy of Know Your Rights: Copyright 101 for Crocheters and share this information with your friends. Crochet designers will thank you.

Best wishes,

Related Posts
+ Add a comment


dmandy wrote
on Apr 29, 2012 5:54 AM

"Q: Can I make and sell projects I found in a book or magazine?

Generally, no. This infringes on the copyright holder’s right to benefit from and control

the work. Some copyright holders make a note that small-scale production and selling

of projects based on their works is okay; when in doubt, check with the copyright holder."

This is from page six of this download and in the US it is wrong. Unless a pattern has a work of art in it, I can do anything I want with the finished object. Check with the US Copyright Office.

BettyW@27 wrote
on Apr 29, 2012 8:25 AM

While much of the information contained in this document is accurate, it does include some widely held misconceptions:

1. Copyright pertains applies to the pattern itself --  the words and pictures. It does not pertain to design. In the US, there is no design protection except by trademark or patent. This is how we can have many perfectly legal patterns for very similar end products, and this is also why some fashion designers are lobbying for exactly this right -- it does not currently exist.

2. Copyright does not extend to the personal property created by following the set of instructions given in a pattern. Thus, a crafter can in fact dispose of the article made by using the pattern in any way he or she deems fit, including selling it, without having to ask anyone's permission. After all, to use an example given in this document, the recipe, one does not need to get permission from Pillsbury to sell cupcakes made from their recipes at a bake sale. Finally, this restriction seems ridiculous when one can resell the actual intellectual property (the original publication, not copies) at will (cf. First Sale Doctrine).

3. Licensing is a contract that requires active agreement from the parties involved - it cannot be unilaterally imposed by one party onto another. In purchasing an Interweave publication at retail, no license is presented and no licensed agreed to by the purchaser.

I am sorry to see Interweave, a publisher whose products I have enjoyed, engaged in promoted these myths.

ruthhr wrote
on Apr 29, 2012 11:10 AM

The following quote is from the page above:

'This can be a confusing world with many myths and rules that may not seem to make sense.'

I agree. I just think it's a shame that you are perpetuating these myths and nonsense.

From page 6 of the download:

Q: Can I make and sell projects I found in a book or magazine?

A:Generally, no. This infringes on the copyright holder’s right to benefit from and control the work. Some copyright holders make a note that small-scale production and selling of projects based on their works is okay; when in doubt, check with the copyright holder.

This is incorrect. The actual answer to the question is:


Why? Because:

You do not need the permission of the designer or the copyright holder to sell the items you make using a pattern you have legally acquired. You do not require any form of license either. Copyright legislation does not extend to encompass the finished item made from the pattern, over which neither the pattern's designer, nor the pattern's copyright holder, has any control or right of ownership. The ownership of the finished item rests solely with the person who makes it and as such it is their right to dispose of it in any way they wish, including selling it.

It is also worth noting that misuse of copyright legislation in an attempt to assign to yourself and enforce rights you do not hold is a serious offence in itself.

I hope you will remove this misleading 'guide', do some proper research on the subject of copyright as it pertains to craft, patterns and finished objects, and reissue a more accurate replacement guide which contains the correct information.

ruthhr wrote
on Apr 30, 2012 12:13 PM

I note the response by the poster of this guide.

I would be grateful if the name and contact information of the IP lawyers you consulted could be provided.

As has been pointed out, the information you have given specifically contradicts the information given by the various governements' OWN IP SITES.

So either you have been misinformed by this 'lawyer', you have misunderstood what they told you, or you chose to misrepresent the information

Whatever the reason, the information in the guide is incorrect. This is not a debate. The information is wrong and it needs to be corrected or withdrawn.

A 'license' cannot be granted unilaterally. This is a fallacy. Making an item from a pattern is NOT a copyright infringement, therefore the finished object is not an 'infringing object' and the designer or copyright holder has no control over or rights to it. You cannot 'license' someone to do something which they already have a right to do and is not an infringement,  therefore the magazine does not provide a 'license' with purchase.

Copyright which applies to original artwork in the design applies ONLY to that artwork, not the object itself, or the design without the artwork.

Please revisit the issue. If you are not able to compose such a guide without misunderstanding or misrepresenting the information, leave it to the professionals to produce these guides.

BettyW@27 wrote
on Apr 30, 2012 1:46 PM

Re licensing, you may wish to have your IP specialists take a look at what happened to software companies when they tried to say that purchase = license agreement. Why do you think one has to actively agree to a license before installing software? It is a contract, which requires mutual agreement. At no time during my purchase of any Interweave publication was I presented with an opportunity to agree to a license. Do one actually require a license to use a publication for the exact purpose for which it was created? Ludicrous!

JaimeG wrote
on Apr 30, 2012 5:35 PM

Dear Crochet Me Readers,

We appreciate your feedback on our recently published copyright eBook, in particular your passionate response to the question of whether readers can make and sell finished objects from instructions found in books and magazines. We never take for granted the commitment we’ve made to provide our readers with accurate information. Our eBook was developed directly from the text of U.S. copyright law and was vetted and approved by our Intellectual Property attorney before we made it available to the public. However, even our attorney says there are many gray areas around copyright law and its interpretation, and to provide further clarification we have revised the Q&A from page 6—see the update below. We'll be replacing the downloadable eBook file with an updated version as soon as possible.

We anticipate updating this eBook at least once a year to address our readers’ questions and welcome your feedback. You can always leave a question here in this forum thread or email us at While we can't answer questions pertaining to individual cases or take the place of a consultation with an IP attorney, we will incorporate the most frequently-asked questions into future editions.


Jaime Guthals

PR Director


REVISED Q&A, Know Your Rights: Copyright 101 (page 6):

Q: Can I make and sell projects I found in a book or magazine?

The projects instructions we publish at Interweave are intended for personal use and inspiration only – not for commercial purposes.

In the United States, copyright protections do not extend to the utilitarian aspects of "useful articles," such as clothing or other functional items. This means that only the artful authorship that can be identified separately from the functional aspects of such articles may be copyrightable: the specific ornamentation, for example, on a dress, sweater, or quilt, and not design constrained by the item's function as a dress, sweater, or quilt. In general, designs for items that have any intrinsic utilitarian aspects are very difficult to copyright, and copyright infringement claims over similar-looking or even clearly derivative works are not likely to succeed.

What is always copyrightable are the specific words, images, diagrams, and other materials published as a part of articles and project instructions. At Interweave, we ask that you respect the intended usage of the materials we publish.

JaimeG wrote
on May 4, 2012 9:18 AM

Hi everyone, the revised eBook was posted yesterday evening here on Crochet Me and Knitting Daily, and is going up today in all our online communities here at Interweave. Thanks again for all your feedback on our initial launch and the revision. If you have general questions that you want us to address in future updates to the eBook (we anticipate updating it once a year), please send us an email at and we'll do our best to answer them if they are not already addressed in this edition. Stay crafty. All the best, Jaime Guthals, PR Director, Interweave