Wednesday, May 7, 2014

COPYRIGHT - to share or not to share
(or Share and Give Credit)

I've been reading a wonderful 'sampler' book about the modern quilting movement and many of the leading modern quilters and their work.  I highly recommend "Quilting With a Modern Slant" by Rachel May!

A common question discussed in this book, and also in several magazine articles I've recently read is that of copyright.   Does a designer 'own' a quilt pattern?  Since there are so many quilt block designs that have been passed around for hundreds of years, if you arrange them and choose the fabric, do you own that new arrangement?   And what about fabric companies that put out 'designs' for quilts using a collection of their fabrics?  And magazine projects 'designed by' various contributors?  There is a lot of gray area regarding what constitutes a singular design or a unique pattern or a style applied to a traditional work.  And more importantly who owns it, and how do you prove it?  Happily, quilters are a generous lot.

I love the approach most quilters are taking in the way of "share, but give credit".  I think that handles the issue nicely!  If you make your own version of someone's quilt pattern or design, don't just mention the name of the block you used, but also where you saw the quilt, your inspiration for it, and the name of the quilter who inspired you.  If you do a variation of someone's printed or published pattern, mention it and who the designer is.

This puts the emphasis on sharing with respect, not owning or stealing.  This approach is called:  Attribution Share Alike license according to Rachel May in her book.  

With online tutorials vs paid instruction, free patterns vs purchased design instructions, etc. it is hard for many creative artists to make a living.  So I guess it is up to us to support artists and crafts people when possible by paying for their services and purchasing their work, while appreciating the generosity of those who provide free patterns and instruction without taking advantage of them.

And it's also up to us as individuals to find our own unique voices in our creative expression.  Then...

...give it away.  Teach someone how to sew.  Donate a quilt to a charity project.  It's certainly a way to leave our mark when ideas are so intangible and talents are so diverse.

I want to give this more thought.  What do you think?

Two samplers quilted with patterns taught in Angela Walters free motion class on    ;)