Friday, 28 September 2012

Stockholm Scarf Now Available for Cottage Licensing


UPDATE: I have since talked to other Canadian knitwear designers and it turns out that there is conflicting information, I'll keep looking into it. I have a difficult time  feeling magnanimous towards people using the patterns of others for their own profit without contributing to the designer at all. Just my opinion, regardless of what the final result is.

After a couple of years of occasional requests from knitter looking to sell finished Stockholm scarves, I've decided to sell a cottage licensing fee.  A cottage licensing fee will allow a knitter to sell finished Stockholm scarves made from the pattern. The licensing fee is $25, and if you are interested in selling handmade Stockholm scarves, please read the full details here.

I'll post a master list on this blog of those licensed to sell Stockholm scarves, so that if you wish to purchase a finished scarf, you can check out the shops.  If you have any questions about the licensing, please email me directly!


ChocolateandWoolens said...

Knitters already have the right to sell finished objects made from your pattern, or any other. Your copyright protects your words and images in the pattern, it doesn't give you a permanent right to control what a knitter does with the object they put their time, money, supplies and labor into making.

A knitter no more has to buy a license to resell a project knit from one of your patterns than the PTA has to get permission from Betty Crocker to sell brownies made from her cookbook at a bake sale.

I have always considered you a very talented and creative designer, and I'm going to assume that this was an honest error, rather than an attempt to mislead your customers. Misunderstanding of this issue is rampant in the knitting world, as evinced by knitters writing you for permission to sell their FOs. (Knitty actually published an incorrect article on the subject as well, and most designers [including magazines as major as Twist Collective] do incorrectly tell knitters that FOs made from their patterns can not be sold.)

If you doubt what I have to say, please feel free to ask the U.S. Copyright office. They will tell you the same thing I have--that the copyright on the pattern covers your words and images and the right to reproduce them, but that you have to legal right to require that knitters refrain from selling finished objects made from your designs.

Please note: I'm only talking about the United States, not other jurisdictions.

Erin Kate said...

^^ although the above comment may be true legally, I personally feel that maybe some of us would be glad to pay the cottage fee in order to feel morally sound in selling our FO's.

Julie said...

Hi ChoclateandWoolens,

I assume we're talking strictly about the legal implications, and understand that this is a murky subject for many knitters (not ruling myself out of that group!). I am going by the information outlined in this article:

Please note that I reside in Canada, where, according to the info outlined in he above article, it notes that there is precedent for protecting the copyright of selling finished items made from copyrighted patterns. But I'm open to conversation on this! Any other countries want to chime in?

ChocolateandWoolens said...

@Erin Kate--what's immoral about selling an FO from a pattern? The designer has sold the product (the pattern) for a price they deemed fair, and received the payment. The knitter then puts in time, effort and money to transform a set of instructions and pictures into a physical object. It seems immoral to me that many designers assert a claim to the labor and materials of another person, particularly after they have already been compensated.

Knitters are really, really nice people, and I honestly think they are trying to do good. But being "nice" to the designer by asking for permission to sell an object you made is being "not nice" to the knitter, disregarding the value their own efforts and skill in producing the FO. When you are "nice" to the designer, you are implicitly saying the knitter doesn't own or control their own FO or the yarn and labor used to produce it. That doesn't seem very nice or moral or me.

@Julie--that Knitty article is part of what is contributing to the misinformation rampant in the knitting world. I have long-wished they would issue a retraction as what they wrote is inaccurate, at least as it relates to the United States jurisdiction. (And I assume much, if not most, of Knitty's readership is American.) Please contact the copyright office in your own country for accurate information about the rights to your pattern.

Julie said...

HI ChocolateandWoolens,

As the Stockholm Scarf pattern is a free pattern I released for personal, non-commerical use, I have not seen a single cent from it. Also, is Canadian-based as well, with a global readership. I think it's a bit shortsighted to assume copyright conversations should only apply to the US. There are millions of knitters all over the world.

Anonymous said...

This is wonderful, Julie! I was just thinking of knitting this pattern last night (for myself) but I'm sure many knitters would love to sell this.

I don't know much about copyright laws, but I won't sell an item I made based on another designer's pattern, without first checking with the designer. I (and I believe many other knitters) think it is great that this (really nice) pattern is available for free for personal use, and will gladly pay the $25 if I want to sell it, even though I'm not rich.

That said, I do not think legal laws should be the absolute 'gauge' for right and wrong... Laws are the most basic rules, but are in no way completely comprehensive.

Kathleen said...

Julie, I think it's great that your Stockholm Scarf has been so popular! I also think it's very generous to offer an option for knitters to sell their FOs of the pattern by providing a license fee.

To address ChocolateandWoolens persistent comments:

Whenever I see a knitted item for sale at a craft fair and recognize a familiar pattern, there is never any credit given to the designer of the pattern. The person selling these items is attributed the credit for concept of this item. Yes, they knitted it, but anyone can knit. Not everyone takes the time to design.

Similarly, whenever I knit a gift, such as a scarf or toy, for someone, people who see the knit, say to me, "oh, you could totally sell that!". And I say, "No, I can't because it's not my pattern." People often don't think about the process; they just appreciate the knit. Designers spend a lot of time creating these patterns, and for some, it's their livelihood.

There has been great debate regarding this on Ravelry. If you read through some of the threads, I think you'll find, ChocolateandWoolens, that your way of thinking is in the minority among knitters. I haven't checked with the U.S. copyright office lately, but I will say that there is a strong, moral code among knitters that believes that you just don't sell finished objects from a designer's patterns, unless they have expressly permitted you to do so.

Cornelia said...

Funny you should blog about this today. Just this week I was browsing Etsy and saw quite a few nicely knitted garments made from popular Ravelry patterns. I'm sure not everyone has paid the designer appropriately. It's just sad, and disappointing.

Monica said...

Wow, quite a heated debate.
I have to say that I also strongly believe that designers deserve the recognition for the item that they have created. Designing a pattern is hard work, that not everyone can do, and 25$ for the right to reproduce an item from a pattern that is not yours is very reasonable.
I don't believe it quite matters whether it is required by law or not, it is simply respectful to the knitter to ask their permission to make money off thier work.

Voie de Vie said...

While I have no desire to enter into a legal debate about licensing (either in the U.S., Canada, or any other country!), I do pretty much reside in Julie's camp on this, both emotionally and morally.

For a really good example of how licensing *can* work by adding real value for all parties involved, I'd highly suggest looking at how Carina Spencer handles it. Go here to read more (as well as see all of her officially licensed participants):

Ivete said...

The concept of cottage licensing is alive and well in pretty much every other handcraft arena other than knitting. One prominent example is small sewn items, whose patterns almost always include information on whether the designer allows you to sell items made from the design or not.


Almost all quilting patterns I've ever seen also say that "small amounts" of production are OK, for example.

Bookworm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bookworm said...

I do, respectfully, doubt what ChocolateandWoolens said.

A U.S. copyright protects the 'intellectual property' of a designer as well as the written pattern instructions. If a knitting pattern prohibits commercial use in its write-up, then the design seen in that finished project, which stemmed from that pattern, is under the designer's copyright protection as well. The design elements are considered intellectual property in a U.S. (and any moral) court of law. Commerical sale of that item without the designer's consent does violate the designer's intellectual property rights which are protected under copyright.

While it may be difficult to legally enforce those rights, it does not negate the existence of them.

{As an aside, selling Betty Crocker's brownies would be illegal if Betty stated as much on her packaging or in her cookbook. Making tons of copies of a CD for private sale is illegal for the same reason: intellectual property right infringement. Sure, you made all the CDs your selling, but without consent, you're breaking the law.}

Advertising the sale of that FO by its pattern name without consent (i.e. Turn A Square hat, Stockholm Scarf, etc.) also breaks copyright laws.

Add in the fact that KnittedBliss is trademarked and copyrighted, and her pattern originated under that banner of protection, Julie has every right to demand permission and compensation for commerical sale of her design ideas, just like Jared Flood and Debbie Bliss would.

A lawyer, asked specifically about knitwear design, copyrights and commerical sales from patterns this past summer 2012, can verify:

This American Julie thinks Canadian Julie has got it right.

Anonymous said...

My mother has designed her own knitwear for sale for decades and I’m a published author, photographer, and an inventor with five (very expensive) global patents on file, so we take intellectual property rights seriously and have been following this discussion with interest. I'm afraid I may not make many friends by saying this but I'm going to have to side with ChocolateandWoolens. I don't pretend to be a lawyer but I have paid some of the best of them to handle copyright and patent issues for me over the years, and I’ve helped my mom work out mind-bending stitch math so I have great appreciation for what is involved in pattern design...but...I think there is a lot of confusion and some outright misinformation in the "knitting world" about the differences between functional and non-functional "intellectual property", what can actually be protected in those circumstances, and what restrictions can be placed on end users. First of all, knitting has been around for centuries. The odds of anyone inventing or designing something that is truly "new and novel" in the legal sense are extremely remote. To use an example from one of my lawyers: If you invent and patent something held together by a screw the next guy can't just come along, put in a bolt instead, and call it a new design. The jump forward has to be monumentally useful and novel and game changing and nothing that anyone has even described before as possible, otherwise you are just "using the technology" that someone else invented. Variations in the same basic sweaters, hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, etc. are really just that – variations and changes in ornamental design of a fundamentally functional object. That’s not “intellectual property” in a legal sense like it would be with a piece of poetry or sculpture, for example, which is something that is entirely non-functional and wholly creative. Varying the yarn, changing the stitches, etc. is well within the province of things that people have been doing forever. Just because someone who is "into knitting" knows the finite distinctions doesn't begin to rise to the level of "different" or "new" in the legal world of copyright, industrial patterns, or trademarks. (I’m going to break this into two posts because of the character limit…)

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, it looks to me like a few years ago somebody somewhere, aided by the Internet, began making up their own contract and licensing rules using a bunch of legal-seeming phrases and snippets pulled out of context and various people have just kept cutting and pasting clauses and concepts until this mash-up has gotten multiplied across the Web, when all the while I don't think any of them are based upon a single piece of case law involving knitting...certainly none that I've ever been able to find (If somebody can point me to an infringement case based on these clauses I would appreciate seeing it). I think the big confusion comes from people who simply want this type of control over end users to be real (even in this thread several people have argued there is some sort of "moral" basis for this kind of legal approach even if there were not to be a "legal" basis for it) and therefore they overlook the aspects of the legal wording that don’t fit their chosen scenario. For example, bottles are functional items. If you’d designed the traditional Coke (registered trademark:) bottle with its distinctive shape you could get a design patent on that shape and prevent anyone else from selling drinks in that exact bottle or any bottle that is so "substantially similar" to it that it would confuse a reasonable person as to the "origin" of that bottle. In other words, they might think they were buying a Coca-Cola product because it looked like a Coke bottle. That is ALL any design patent is supposed to prevent. Design patents cover uniquely distinctive but purely "non-functional" aspects of things that are sold by a particular manufacturer – like car hood ornaments. Again, I know this is going to be unpopular, but I think it’s pretty clear existing copyright law simply means that no one else can print up or sell the actual “non-functional” portion of your pattern - the written, graphically designed, printed or electronically-posted pattern itself - without your permission, same as if you were the author of a book. Copyright just protects the right to make and sell complete original copies. That's it. Don't get me wrong, I love knitting, but it’s like cooking: There is no way that anyone alive now invented it - all you could possibly do is creatively re-arrange the existing ingredients. If you sell somebody a great cookie recipe you are in the recipe business - not the cookie business. You can't charge royalties and licensing for the cookies that they subsequently make any more than the company that made your knitting needles could demand a royalty cut of every sweater you sell just because they might argue that you couldn't have done it without them

gaskellreader said...

I think this link also sums up what ChocolateandWoolens and Bookworm are saying. And I agree.

Anonymous said...

If carriage licensing doesn't really exist, what about setting up a donation page instead? That way, those who want to sell the FO and want to pay you for the work you've done on the pattern, have a way to do so.

Madeleine said...

^I think the above comment is a great idea and a good middle ground. That's just me, though.

Lauren said...

I have a different twist to add to the conversation. But first, I have to say that from what I've learned in the US, ChocolateandWoolens is correct. However, I think the bigger question for knitwear designers is, "Is someone who makes and sells FOs from my patterns taking away my business?" I think not. The person who wants to buy an FO on Etsy or elsewhere isn't the same person who would buy a knitting pattern. If they knew how to knit, they wouldn't be paying someone else to do it. So, as a budding designer myself, I look at it this way and don't stress too much if people are making and selling my designs. It's just more exposure right?

Oh, and for the record...I am not posting this to be combative at all. Just giving my two cents. Julie, you are a lovely and talented designer who I enjoy following. :)

Cindy said...

NOTE: My comments are intended to be read from an ethical perspective, not a legal one.

I've been following this thread for the last few days and thought I'd wade in. I have designed a few quilt patterns - I don't expect to control the finished product. My profit came from pattern sales. I do get upset when people copied patterns from a class and use it to teach the class later but I think that is akin to copying and selling or giving away the pattern - that is infringing on the livelihood of the designer. Selling the finished product is different.

A couple of other points: not everyone quilts/knits so are those to go without hand knits? My other point is I have 312 PAID patterns in my Ravelry account. This is only those I've bought on Ravelry and does not include books,hard copy patterns, magazines.... There is no way I can use all those patterns for myself - the pleasure comes from the process. If I cannot sell some of those products (and I'm talking about selling one of each product, not dozens) then I am not going to be buying patterns. Once the knitter's time is taken into account, I doubt that he/she is even making minimum wage. Thus, I don't think the knitter is making money off the back of the designer - s/he has bought the pattern and added wool and time...

I love your work.

Tracye said...

Although I am new to the knitting world, I've been in the fashion industry forever and, there is nothing new under the sun. There are some knitters who make basic patterns, give it a name, then charge a fee for the pattern...that is wrong.

Then there are real knit designers, with complicated stitches that deem a pattern, and I don't have a problem with them charging a fee for their time in making AND writing the pattern.

Having said that, I have seen on Ravelry and other places, knitters charging fees for their patterns that can be researched online but if you want to pay a fee, then pay the fee but like I said, there is nothing new under the sun.

The fashion industry gets ripped every day all year long and people still make a living at it. I don't blame Julie for charging a fee for her patterns because they are not basic stitches and take some skill and effort to produce.