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Jussi

well said, we're all here to learn and grow, we bounce ideas off one another, share techniques, take pride in our originality, and give credit where it's due.

Kris

Hmm. Took me a while to find the blog you're referring to. See, this is why I'm looking forward to the next Yarn mag, because they're going to run an article on this very issue. My understanding (in the US) is that you can't copyright a design, you can only copyright an expression of a design. (Hence, there are a lot of mp3 players available in the US that look awfully like the iPod.) So the look of a garment can be copied, but the pattern can not. Knock-offs are only illegal when they're being passed off as the real thing. Again, this is only in America. I'm interested in having a lawyer spell out how things are actually different here.

(There is an interesting crossover with software development. For example, the Gimp is an open-source clone of Photoshop. To stay legal, anybody that tries to reverse engineer something - aka look at the finished product and work backwards from there - has to operate in a "clean room" state, meaning they can't have ever looked at the code they're attempting to emulate. This particular blogger appears to be claiming that's pretty much what she did - work from a photo with no reference material. The geeky side of me likes the idea of reverse engineering a garment. Of course, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act has now made it illegal to reverse engineer most things, so maybe it'll apply to knitting patterns too. Who knows.)

Anyway, to get back to the issue, I don't really have any problem with people making their own versions of designer items (as long as they're not pretending to be original). I mean, a lot of the monetary value of "designer" stuff is just artificial inflation. Sure, I believe people should be compensated for coming up with new ideas, but I'm talking about $600 handbags and such here. By making something that looks just the same, it's kinda like pointing out the hypocrisy of those who prefer the version with the designer label. Don't you think?

None of this applies to people who rip off blog designs though. They suck. :)

Sally

I don't think that reproducing a garment design for your own use can be criticised but it gets slightly "iffy" when you pass on/sell the pattern. However, I'm not sure we should be too harsh on all the plagiarism on this site as I'm presuming from the blog name that this blogger suffers from some sort of mental health problems.

Mar

Besides it being copyright infringement in the States, I find plagiarism completely immoral and heinous. Even if one credits a designer, that still does not mean they can make money from the designer's work.

Having mental health problems does not excuse stealing, unless, of course, the person in question is a sociopath or borderline personality, in which case, there's not much that can be done. Generally, if you have always lived by certain standards, they stick, whether you are mentally ill or not. Now, this blogger may in fact be a psychotic schizophrenic; however, I rather doubt she'd be able to defragment her brain sufficiently to cop other's work.

Kris

Actually it's *not* copyright infringement in the States. I was curious so I just did some Googling. Bitlaw (http://www.bitlaw.com/copyright/unprotected.html#useful) explains that "copyright protection is generally not available to articles which have a utilitarian function." They go on to specify that "The print found on the fabric of a skirt or jacket is copyrightable, since it exists separately from the utilitarian nature of the clothing. However, there is no copyright in the cut of the cloth, or the design of the skirt or jacket as a whole, since these articles are utilitarian. This is true even of fanciful costumes; no copyright protection is granted to the costume as a whole." Here's (http://www.fashion-incubator.com/mt/archives/garment_design_copyrights_patents.html) another article that talks about this.

It's interesting, isn't it? My reading of those articles is that it's completely legal to make a knock-off, and it's legal to even write your own pattern. It looks like there are those within the fashion industry pushing for copyright protection though (http://www.bc.edu/bc_org/avp/law/st_org/iptf/articles/content/1997121201.html).

M-H

I've written to Kris with more detail, but it is illegal here, and in the UK. The US is a standout here.

Mar

Well, of course there's no copyright infringement on a raglan shape. We're talking here, I think, about design concepts within the garment shape. And as it is, often people come up with the same ideas without it being plagiarizing.

Case in point: In 1997, I designed a pair of socks using a Barbara Walker lace pattern that I had modified for circular knitting, which I gave to the Knit List as a Christmas gift. I retained the rights to this design, however.

When A Gathering of Lace came out, lo and behold, Nancy Bush had a pair of socks therein that were almost identical to mine. Copyright infringement? No. Because the stitch pattern was available to anyone, sock shapes are generic, and I'm sure that it was a case of great minds think alike.

It's not legal to make a knockoff and sell it. It's the selling that infringes the copyright. If you're just making it for your own use, no problem. If you've copied a garment stitch for stitch, same garment shape, and then you sell the pattern or the garment, you're in legal trouble in the US.

A gray area, to be sure.

Alison

I think there's perhaps a bigger issue that should be discussed more by bloggers alongside the copyright debate. For the most part copyright is usually fairly cut and dry - from a legal perspective anyway. Most people either strongly agree about upholding copyright law irrespective of whether that applies to intellectual property, object copy, style or copycat productions: or they believe that no-one does anything truly original or creative and therefore has no right to ownership of anything they do, make, think or say (written or spoken). To which I say Bollocks. Blogging as a medium is often seen as not having any copyright/ownership/originality interests, and granted some people blog for the sake of it. But many blog as a serious form of personal expression and hope their writing and - let's use the craft/knitting community as an example - finished work are taken seriously.

What is a more appropriate arguement to embark on, is the ethical conscience of blogging - forget legal technicalities: how do we, as a blogging community, want bloggers to behave? Is it acceptable, ethically, to allow someone to take another person's copyrighted artwork, for example, and make cards of it, irrespective of whether it's for personal use or profit and blog about it and show it on a public photo sharing site without credit or permission? Would you want that to happen to something you had done? Is it acceptable that copycat design, style or content should be ignored because we can't legally do anything about it? Is it ethical to publicly condone ripping off designer labels and offering the notes around? Is it acceptable that people are vilified and bullied when questions are raised, because after all we have no right of originality to anything we say or do.

Copyright in the legal sense is one thing. Perhaps Ethical Awareness is the next stage to the discussion.

Sarah Durrant

Alas, apparently the copyright laws in Australia pertaining to the fashion industry changed quite substantially back in 2004 and it's not now possible to protect a range of commercial clothing (a la Stella McC)under copyright regulations. I suspect this is why we suddenly saw an increase in newspaper advertisements placed by big name clothing and sports companies, seeking the public's help to dob in any back street companies that were producing knock off Reebock, Nike, etc . They'd banded together to go after the fraudsters themselves, as the law no longer afforded them protection.

It's a little easier if Stella had produced a 'one off' of the said cardi, as that might well have still fallen under the protection of the law, though that would itself be a subjective assessment, by no means clear cut. But I understand that a clothing line (more than one of each item) like Stella *will* be covered by the Design Laws (as opposed to Copyright) provided she has registered the design accordingly.

Oh, it gets so complicated that I can't see how anyone can hope to understand the laws.
Whilst I applaud Alison's suggestion re the consideration of ethical judgement, I'm sorry to say that there seem to be far too few people in the world who are willing to apply that criteria to their own decisions about whether to rip off a design or not. And of course it doesn't worry people who don't have a conscience - only those of us who do!

Lilbird

I have to say, I am absolutely amazed, disheartened and sad to see you and Alison hell-bent to bully this other blogger. It strikes me as obsession and you have both lost your appeal, creativity and course. Get over it, stop projecting things that are not there and get back to what you were once good at. I hate to see Witty, Creative people turn catty and bitchy. It's sad, like watching a cat mark a fence post in a public park.

M-H

Dear Lilbird, you clearly have no idea of what I am writing about. You don't want to believe everything you read on someone's blog (mine included), but I can assure you that there has been a lot of activity on the internets that you aren't aware of. The issue isn't bullying, it's about honesty and blogging ethics. I can fill you in if you'd like to send me your email address. Yeah, like that's going to happen!

Lilbird

Ummm..... pretty sure I do. And "internets"? Is there more than one internet? Where might I find all the other internets? Are they top secret?

If this is how you try to have a discussion (defensive, categorically denying someone's knowledge/awareness of the situation, jumping to the conclusion that because someone has an opinion they are believing "everything they read on the internet"), then I doubt it would be worth passing along my email.

My opinion is that a very public post/mistake was made about an imaginary situation. For me the issue is about bullying. The fact that you are still seeking-out that person's blog after almost 2 months since the issue was made public, your tone, the way you put people down before you make a point tells me that you are, indeed, a bully.

M-H

Lilbird, I'm not discussing this any more in public. If you want to hear my story (which didn't happen two months ago - it's still happening) you can email me (link under my photo in the sidebar). I will delete any further comments you make in this vein.

Jules

It sounds like bullying to me too.

And the fact that you abuse everyone who leaves a comment that doesnt agree with you just prooves it.

Really get over it. Its just a pattern. Its not life of death. She is making no money off of it.

J

M-H

It's not abuse to explain to someone that they don't know the whole story. I'd be happy to share it with you, but unfortunately the email address you supplied bounced so I can't.

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