Copyright Clarifications

Jul 22, 2006

Oh, boy. Isn't it great that writing a blog is so easy? So easy, and occasionally in such a vacuum that a post can end up not at all communicating your intent.

In a stunning absence of clarity and utilizing my full force of ambiguity, it seems I didn't make my point well in my last post. Rather than argue against comments that are entirely appropriate given the terrible job I did of presenting my opinion (except for one or two, that are irrelevant), I'm just going to post again and do my best not to muck it up.

I think that copyright laws are necessary and important, both for creators and for society. Copyright laws enable creators to protect their works so they can make a living off them, and they also allow those works eventually to enter into the public domain so that society at large can utilize them for further creation. What I find ridiculous is the length of time creators currently get to hold monopoly rights to their works.

I think copyright violations are wrong. I do not think the way to make change is to flout the law; I think the way to make change is to work within it. It is not okay to copy a crochet pattern without permission and distribute it to your friends, and it's not okay to copy a crochet pattern and distribute it to several thousand members of a Yahoo! group. What is the case, however, is that it's often prohibitively expensive and time consuming for independent copyright holders (which many crochet designers and writers are) to litigate against alleged infringers. Fair? Not really, but it is the case.

It absolutely sucks for a designer to have their pattern copied and distributed illegally. It's a violation of the law. Certainly the answer to that problem is not to go write another pattern. But if the answer is also not to litigate since it's prohibitively expensive, what is the answer? To each her own, I say. But I don't think it's a productive use of time to complain to colleagues about it ad nauseum. Ideally, it would be a good idea to put that energy toward educating the public about the importance of respecting copyright. But I've engaged pattern sharers, as have many crochet professionals, and to a great extent they're neither educated about the laws nor interested in following them. There is an astonishing factor of entitlement that pattern sharers exhibit: they believe it's their right to take any patterns they like for free and share them with thousands of strangers. Education efforts will certainly help many consumers understand the law, but they won't eradicate infringement entirely.

When I mention that crochet professionals might use their time and money more effectively for their bottom line by innovating, I'm not referring to making up new patterns: I'm referring to innovating in the way they do business. Since music was brought up as an analogy, I'll go with it. Although it's tempting to think that illegally downloading music for free is okay since music labels and rock stars are so rich to begin with, it's wrong. But that doesn't change the fact that music sharing and downloading became ubiquitous. The recording industry had two choices: litigate or innovate. An enormous amount of time and money was spent going after teenagers and grandparents. Yes, those people had broken the law. But what did the industry gain by filing such suits? A few thousand dollars in fines and lots of bad PR? That's my take. Illegal music file sharing is still going on, which leads me to believe the suits didn't work to end it. However, now look at businesses like iTunes. They made paid music downloading a massively successful business. They took consumer behaviour, however illegal it was, and created a business model to take advantage of it. That's what I mean when I mention innovation in business. I'm not saying there's one answer that all crochet professionals need to scramble to find. But I do think that given the fact that illegal copying and distributing won't be stopped, it might be a productive and profitable use of time and resources.

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croshay wrote
on Jul 22, 2006 12:36 PM

how about we start here. why not start with this blog. this is a perfect opportunity for YOU to give something back to the community by trying to help educate people about this issue, you have an audience of both crafters and designers so rather than encouraging creators to give it up and quit complaining, and condoning the illegal behavior simply because you are tired of reading about it "ad nauseum", how about taking some responibility and putting forth a little effort to help support those who have given you the success you enjoy now, instead of blogging about how annoyed you are by the reactions of people who are being taken advantage of. how about that for an idea?

as far as your views regarding innovation, the artists in the music industry have an advantage over crochet designers. it isnt a fair comparison in that they have the support of multibillion dollar corporations willing to invest in technology to help protect their artists interests, but we are DIYers, we are on our own, we only have one another and we owe it to ourselves, our craft, and out community to stand and speak up on one anothers behalf. and that is exactly what I plan to continue to do, no matter how annoying you may personally find it.

on Jul 22, 2006 1:19 PM

I don't find your take annoying. What I find counterproductive are creators who cry foul, then cry further foul for not being able to afford to fight infringements, then sit around.

If an independent creator can afford to litigate and chooses to do so, I'm all in favour of it. I really, really am. You're right, crochet designers don't have big companies to back them, and often even small publishers can't afford the costs it takes to fight infringements. That's just the way it is. I don't think it's good, I just think it's reality.

When I brought up education, I was not dismissing it. It is consumers' obligation to abide by copyright law. And it's the obligation of creators to know their rights and to know how to best go about ensuring they're respected. The more understanding of copyright there is, the better, and I'll do everything I can to that end.

I am not in any way downplaying the importance of this issue. I am in no way condoning copyright infringement. By bringing it up on a big site with a large audience, I'm hoping to start a dialog that does seem to be starting, no? By stating strong opinions, I'm hoping to engage creators and consumers alike. I think I am, no?

My expression of these thoughts is not in response to anything but my participation in an email group of professionals that often ends up discussing this issue to no productive end. You, however, are talking about being productive. Right on.

We are DIYers. We are not do-nothings. When our individual hands are tied by finances or time, it does no good just to complain. You're not complaining. You're doing something. Good luck, and let me know if I can help more than you think I'm not already.

You can choose to think I'm being insincere, but I'm not. The decisions I've made about licenses used on this site and my attempt to explain them, and decisions I've made in my non-Crochet me business frequently involve my belief that copyright is important and that people should be educated about it and should respect it.

It's not disrespectful to ask a complainer to put her energy where her mouth is. You're doing it, so I'm sure you agree. If the innovation I speak of comes in the form of a massive banding-together of DIYers, I'm all for it if it's done right.

In case my long-winded response isn't clear -- I'm agreeing with you. If you have some good ideas about what I can do with this site to further education on the issue and to further support designers, please drop me an email.

croshay wrote
on Jul 22, 2006 2:17 PM
you know kim, youre all over the place with this.. you started out with the statement that you think "the current copyright laws are ridiculous", you go on to talk about the length of copyright protection being too long, then about orphaned works..? but what you were really trying to say is that you are tired of hearing about designers' frustration at being in an extremely difficult situation without resources or the support of a community, and your advice is not much more than "get over it". if any of these issues were really a concern for you, which I am not convinced that they are, you would have approached this as an opportunity to try to help those whose work you are profiting from right from the very start, and rather than blaming the designers for annoying you ad nauseum (or whatever) you would have stepped up with some ideas for solutions of your own, advocating for the creatives that have contributed so much to your project here instead of spending your time drumming up more drama and division. so, in my mind, you are just as bad as those you are complaining about in these last couple posts. and the backpedaling you are doing in this response now just makes you look like a hypocrite.

so ya know what? I dont buy it.

nikki wrote
on Jul 22, 2006 3:30 PM

i read kim's [to me]lucid comments which i feel are very productive.

then i read the [to me] rambling nonsensical response.

i wonder if there is a personal vendetta against kim.

in other words, it appears to me that no matter what kim has to say regarding this issue about copyrights, it will be attacked.

i look forward to a noncombative and productive discussion on this important topic.

nikki

on Jul 22, 2006 3:40 PM

Ha! Thanks, Nikki. It seems I might need to say this more obviously: as the editor of an online magazine, I fully support in all ways every contributor's copyright and their right to defend it.

I'll go a step further and say this: If indie writers' and designers' copyrights are being infringed but they can't afford to litigate, let's discuss what they *can* do.

croshay wrote
on Jul 22, 2006 5:30 PM
hey nikki if there was something that I said that you didnt understand I am happy to try to clarify my point of view for you, doesnt that seem like a more noncombative and productive way to discuss this issue than to make accusations of personal vendettas and such?

the comments she is making now contradict what she said initailly, that designers who are infringed upon need to just accept that there isnt anything they can do about it:

Occasionally, creators complain that they can't make a living because of copyright infringements they can't afford to litigate. To that I have this answer: Accept that you can't fight it, and spend your time and energy innovating...

she said she had the answer, she did not ask for suggestions or solutions or try to rally support for victims of copyright infringement, she expressed irritation at having to hear about it "ad nauseum" on mailing lists and message boards. so I pointed out to her that I disagreed, I dont feel that designers giving up their rights is the answer and that she had the opportunity to do some good here, to use this forum to advocate for creatives, to help educate consumers, to be a part of the solution not the problem, to spread the word about how harmful sharing copyrighted patterns is to this entire industry from the designers to editors, publishers and consumers. furthermore, I feel that she has a responsibility to speak up on the behalf of crochet designers, after all, if it werent for those willing to share their work here, where would she be now?

I am sure she has been reading the discussions going on outside this blog about her comments and is hopefully realizing now that she was totally out of line in saying what she did. this post is reconciliatory in tone as was her response to my comment above. still, I am skeptical.. because I am shocked and offended that she would ever say something like that in the first place.

I have no other affiliation with her or with this site, but I am an independent designer who has been in the situation she is so tired of hearing about on her mailing lists, and I am just doing what I said I was going to do and that is to stand and speak up about it.

on Jul 22, 2006 6:09 PM

Standing up and speaking up about a problem is something, for sure. Engaging in a conversation about it is better, and it's not what you're doing.

I've said everything I can to clarify what I meant when I said infringement needs to be accepted -- it needs to be accepted simply because it happens. It happens, it sucks, and all too often indie designers can't do anything to stop it after it happens. That sucks even more. No, I don't have an answer. I never had an answer. My suggestion is to be proactive in trying to prevent infringement or in experimenting with business practices that might protect against it rather than focusing on being reactive when there's little recourse.

I never, ever said I think *anyone* should give up their rights. I also never said anything about message boards. I think we might be coming at this with the exact same goal but under different assumptions of context, and that's unfortunate. My goal is for designers and writers to be able to make a living from their creations. My goal is to encourage creativity and creation. My goal is to education consumers about what goes into making the products they consume, and about how they can comply with the uses permitted of the products they buy.

That you've chosen not to take my offer of conversation seriously, and that you've chosen not to believe the words I've been writing is your thing, not mine.

I can't do anything to prove that I take this seriously unless you take me seriously enough to give me a chance.

I would appreciate it if, in railing against my writing while choosing not to converse with me, you wouldn't make assumptions about me. As a matter of fact, I have not been following what's going on elsewhere. Much of that is due to my anticipation that it's petty and mean, and I won't be petty and mean. People can say what they will against me elsewhere, or say it here where they can be sure I'll read it but where they can't be sure I won't delete it.

So. Please either go back to publicly flogging me elsewhere, which I still won't read, or please respond in kind, with some indication that you're willing to believe me. If you're not, there's really no sense having this discussion, is there?

styledbykristin wrote
on Jul 22, 2006 8:50 PM

Hi Kim,

Great analogy with iTunes and the music industry. I liked what you said about innovation. I'm sorry to see such a negative tone in the comments.

Best regards,

Kristin

perpet wrote
on Jul 22, 2006 10:16 PM

I said infringement needs to be accepted -- it needs to be accepted simply because it happens.

I disagree. By accepting that it happens, designers will stop caring, and they shouldn't. It's their work on the line, and they have every right to kick and scream as much as they want over their patterns being ripped off.

I feel that you're disrespecting the designers here. By telling them to accept infringment, you're telling them to quit whining and moaning about something they worked very hard on getting removed from their power. They created it, they have every right to control it, and you're telling them not to control it at all.

Sure, you're throwing around vague ideas about how to fix infringement, but the other side of your mouth keeps going on about acceptance of disrespect and theft.

nikki wrote
on Jul 22, 2006 10:26 PM
croshay,

all my life i've had to put up with people who seem to live only to twist other people's words and throw out put downs.

i made no accusations. i only wondered, and that was due to the tone of your posts.

you have twisted my words. that, by the way, is an accusation.

you do see the difference, don't you?

now, as far as what kim said it certainly wasn't [quoting you]

"designers who are infringed upon need to just accept that there isn't anything they can do about it"

now, [quoting kim] "occasionally, creators complain that they can't make a living because of copyright infringements they can't afford to litigate. to that i have this answer: accept that you can't fight it, and spend your time and energy innovating..."

your statement and her statement are not the same [more twisting].

kim is not advocating giving up. only if you don't have the money to sue there's not much you can do on that front.

in other words quit beating your head against the wall and find a "door".

her answer [a good one, i might add] is not the only one and she never said it was.

but, it was an answer to the problem.

i am looking forward to your answer to the problem.

nikki

this post is not meant to be solely negative, rather to clarify what was actually said.

marykate wrote
on Jul 22, 2006 11:47 PM

Wowza. Rakereasy, croshay. Put the throwing stars down, thanks.

I had been excited to read about this topic, as one of the major talks at the CGOA professional day was given by a copyright lawyer for DIYers, big and small (like the one-stroke painting lady, and crochet dude etc). The craft industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and somebody's making that bank. I admit my eyes glaze over with a lot of legal terms and so forth, but the lawyer said that it's not as expensive as you think to get representation or at least a consultation to figure out what is worth pursuing. It's a matter of whether you get your major source of income from your creative work, and if so, you have to be wise about documenting your creations and protecting them as best as possible. A political cartoon site I visit often (www.cagle.com)just blogged about this orphaned works issue, and how a woman's illustration had been ripped from a promo postcard, her signature removed, and then pasted on to a cigarette ad. She had proof that her piece had been deliberately infringed upon and won her suit, but the piece with signature removed could still be floating out there for someone to "adopt," should this orphaned works legislation go through. Lots of companies are too lazy and cheap to hire real artists, and the proposed law needs to include some safeguards against abuse.

That said, for a humble crochet designer like myself, I don't really have a huge stake in the matter. At present I make zero money doing this. However, it was enlightening to learn the differences between copyrights and patents, trademarks etc, and that I should make my own illustrations for handouts for knitting/crochet classes to avoid copyright infringement, or have everyone buy the book/visit websites themselves. oops. My bad. At least no one paid me...I swear!! ahem.

As for educating people via this site about copyright issues, I found Kim's submission guidelines to be very clear and good, and Creative Commons' site explains the finer points so even I can understand them.

What more is necessary?

Thanks for reading this longwinded post! peace, mk

perpet wrote
on Jul 23, 2006 12:20 AM

That said, for a humble crochet designer like myself, I don't really have a huge stake in the matter. At present I make zero money doing this.

By being a designer you have a stake in this. The way Kim talks, she doesn't particularly care about infringment. Yes, she says we need to be "innovative" to fix it, come up with new business ideas and such, but at the same time, she's saying that designers need to "accept" that they get infringed. Acceptance of an illegal act is the first step in apathy towards the act, and by encouraging acceptance, Kim is feeding into the idea that crochet design isn't a legitimate copyright. No amount of innovation is going to help when the other message being relayed is that infringement happens and we can't really stop it. It's ideas like that which feed into people thinking infringement is fine.

Anonymous wrote
on Jul 23, 2006 12:23 AM

Wow! This conversation is right out of the ol' community! Meeeeoooow! While I am still just a crochet hobbyist, and do not have any published crochet patterns to date, I was inclined to comment on the sheer tone of this post.

I fully support the artistic rights of others. If one wishes to share his/her patterns with others, I feel lucky to have the resources at my disposal. If one chooses to sell them, then I will purchase the ones I am interested in. I have no right to buy them and pass them on to others. This is the law and if you are experiencing a problem, consult an attorney. Enough said!

Yes, this is a blog and you are all entitled to your opinions. And as many of you in this case are "professionals" who have published works, you need to take into consideration that the majority of readers here are not, and also, are not interested in listening to political, snarky disputes here.

We are here for patterns, inspiration and ideas. If we have to come here and read this crap, and then click on the link that takes us to your website, do you honestly think we're going to purchase your patterns? What kind of customer service experience can we expect to have there?

A true professional is respectful of others, even when they don't necessarily agree with their opinions. I find it amusing that you are wasting your talents and creative energy to compose personal attacks on someone at their own website and not at your own. Why not invest your time promoting your business, to sell more of your copyrighted patterns?

I don't know any of you, but I know of your work and subscribe to your blogs. You are all very talented people, but I am embarassed for you.

Let it go!

perpet wrote
on Jul 23, 2006 1:07 AM

For the record, I'm not a professional crocheter. I make no money off any of the crochet I do. However, that doesn't change the fact that I feel very strongly about copyright infringment and think that when people take a half-hearted stand against it, as I feel Kim is doing, that I need to say something to open the floor for a real discussion, as opposed to someone posting a blog entry and everyone agreeing.

I'm curious as to the "politics" you are viewing here. I don't see politics; I see a difference of opionion, and if someone's opinion makes them passionate, good. That's how you should be about opinions. Kim stated in an earlier post that she knew this post would cause some heat. Well, it's here, and I can only assume she's willing to deal with it.

On a final note, posting anonymously and opening your comment by comparing this comment thread to a catfight comes off as rather lowbrow to me. If you're willing to tell us to "Let it go!" and that the professionals here need to concentrate their energy elsewhere, then you should be willing to tell us who you are.

Nancy wrote
on Jul 23, 2006 7:13 AM

WOW!

Being married to a man who works in the retail music business and having a dear friend who's husband writes for a living, I have a pretty good understanding of how copyright infringement takes food from our mouths.

However, my understanding of what Kim is saying is this - don't be surpised when you put your pattern out there and it gets ripped off!
This will very likely happen at some point in your designing career and you need to decide how you are going to deal with it. Here are your choices
1.Put your pattern out there knowing it could be ripped off and resigning yourself to that fact.
(obviously not an option for most)
2. When it happens take the fight for your rights to the highest court in the land!
(what we all would like to do, but not financially possible for most)

3.Put our collectivly creative heads together and come up with a solution that works for all of us. I believe this can be done. (iTunes is a great example of what can be done when creative minds get together to find a solution).

In a nutshell - if we aren't going to work together on option 3 and we can't afford option 2, then we must accept option 1. Sitting around complaining about it after it's happened accomplishes nothing.

Keep up the good work Kim!

Josi wrote
on Jul 23, 2006 7:50 AM

Where are you getting that it is prohibitively expensive? In my case it was, but that's because I made errors along the way.

The truth is that litigating something registered with the US copyright office, as long as you can trace the thief, is actually VERY VERY LUCRATIVE.

But you didn't suggest learning the ins-and-outs of copyright, in order to better protect oneself. You didn't suggest banding with other artists to retain an attorney as a group, just in case someone in the group needed the help. You didn't suggest recruiting crafting attorneys...

and as someone seen as a professional in the field, your words have some weight.

I believe your words are ambiguous because they leave you the room to spout ill-conceived ideas without fleshing them out in the reality of the situation.

Josi wrote
on Jul 23, 2006 8:13 AM

Well, if you are offended, then please please please Do Not purchase Get Hooked. My skirt is on the cover, front-and-center, and I, for one, and sick and tired of people who think liking my designs gives them some right to question my politics or ethics. Who the hell are you to be embarrassed for me? Puh-lease.

Have you ever been to a meeting of True Professionals, of any kind? I don't think your comments apply. Why, even when I was a CPA, our meetings of professionals would often degenerate into name-calling drama-filled clashes... why? Because a collision of minds causes explosions. Intelligent, passionate, creative people are going to disagree. Discouraging otherwise is to douse the fire that causes the brilliance.

croshay wrote
on Jul 23, 2006 11:04 AM

the topic of copyright can bring out ... strong opinions. Bring it.

everybody's got one..

and I told her mine. I thought that instead of using her time and space to express irritation with designers who speak up about being frustrated and angry with the seemingly universal attitude that being stolen from comes as a part of this business, she should use her position as a perceived authority on these subjects, after all she is the editor of a crochet magazine, to try to help spread the word and educate her readers, taking a firm stance in suppor t of designers like her contributors. instead, she chooses to make statements which perpetuate harmful beliefs and validates the behavior of those of her audience members who violate the law by participating in the distribution of copyrighted materials' and their already admitted sense of entitlement to the fruits of other peoples hard work.

I have a feeling you and I just arent going to see eye to eye on these things nikki, maybe because I remind of someone else? maybe because my experiences are out of the realm of your ability to comprehend, whatever, I can accept it. nevertheless, I am no less qualified to state my own opinion here as anyone else. ;)

croshay wrote
on Jul 23, 2006 11:20 AM
the editor here solicited opinions in her previous post, so it's one thing to disagree, but it is unfair to condemn us for voicing them.

if you subscribe to my blog, mrs. anonymous, please dont read, please unsubscribe.. you really squick me out.

Lynne wrote
on Jul 23, 2006 12:31 PM

Well, Kim, I hope you have thicker skin than I do because after reading the scathing personal attacks in not only this area, but the previous post, I think I'd be crying in a corner. I understand the anger, frustration, and passion that fuels this topic, but what I don't understand is the blatent disregard for respecting another human being. Just because there is a certain amount of anonimity that goes along with blogging does not mean we should feel free to say whatever, however we want to. Frankly, I am a little more than disgusted with the overall "tone" of responses. They aren't challenging, thought provoking, or intelligently written. They are rude.

perpet wrote
on Jul 23, 2006 2:07 PM

Could you show where you see personal attacks happening? I've been reading this thread since it opened [and commenting as well], and what I'm seeing are people who are passionate trying to carry on a debate and dicussion over copyright. If their tone gets harsh, that's just part of asking for opinions and thoughts. Kim made in clear in the posts leading up to this one that she knew it was probably going to cause heavy discussion and tension, so I imagine she can handle it. While I'm sure she appreciates your concern for her, coming in and telling those of us who are in discussion that we are disrespecting another human being and that we're only doing it because of the anonimity that blogging gives us, is more of a personal attack than any I've seen here. People are telling Kim that they don't agree with her opinion. That's not a personal attack; that's an attempt at discussion.

on Jul 23, 2006 2:55 PM

This may be a discussion, but it's not a productive one and I'm disappointed by that.

It's perfectly legitimate to decide that what I say is offensive. It's also perfectly legitimate for me to stick to my guns, and to get weary of repeating what's already been said. As far as I know, only one designer I've worked with has ever decided my professional behaviour (by which I mean my behaviour in the professional arena) is not worth her time. That's okay. I will continue to support this issue as much as I can, and I will continue to support crocheters and designers as much as I can.

I'm going to use my control of this blog in a way I haven't done before, and I'm going to close the comments on this post. I'll practice what I preach and spend my energy pursuing other discussions on the topic with people who are also interested in brainstorming about the challenges professional crocheters face.

If you're interested in learning more about how crochetme.com has been a resource for designers with accompanying support of their copyrights, I'd like to direct you to our copyright policy, our submission guidelines, our forum posting guidelines, a response to the suggestion of pattern sharing on our forum, and the small print from our Feb/March 2005 issue.