Patterns & Copyright

One of the most common questions crafters ask is, “Can I sell something I made from a pattern?” The crafter is often left to their own honesty and integrity to abide by a confusing and unclear law on copyrights.

Whether or not a pattern is truly unique or original is something that has plagued crafters and artisans for years. But, when it is your pattern being discussed; what could you have done to avoid this conundrum?

Simply Tell Them

Since the decision regarding the right to use a pattern for items to be resold is up to the pattern designer, why not simply and clearly state your policy on the pattern?

Why is this so hard for so many?

The Internet has only made this problem bigger as it has allowed anyone to enter the pattern publishing business. It used to be patterns came from the major sewing companies, books, or magazines. While the major sewing companies appear to all have a no sales policy on finished goods, the others often had vague and unclear guidelines. Frustrating that something so easy to clarify is so rarely spelled out.

Make It Clear

So, if you sell patterns, why not make it more clear and protect your copyright in the process? Perhaps as an industry it could even be standardized…

Pattern Copyright Restrictions:

Personal Use: Yes
Publication: Yes/No
Selling Finished Product:(use one of the following options)

  • Yes
  • No
  • Limited to xx number per year.
  • Yes, but item must carry a tag stating, “_________”. (Give the exact verbiage you would like on the tag.)
  • Only with written permission. Contact information: ______________
  • Wholesale:
    • Yes
    • No
    • Only with written permission. Contact information: ___________

Wholesale Purchase: Yes/No (If yes, include contact information.)

Everyone out there listening? C’mon what’s the big deal anyway? Tell people in clear and simple terms how they can use your patterns. Sheesh.

A few suggestions for further reading...

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