Are you an Accidental Thief?

I have copied this (with her permission) from Maddie Kertay of BadAss Quilters Society. I am an individual member of that society as well as a business member.

Maddie is not shy about voicing her opinion and that’s one of the things thing I like best about her.

Please read and then follow your heart….

“Pattern and tutorial writing is tedious and hard work. By the time I
am done with all the steps it takes it is freaking likely that I will not
want to see that project again for a good long time, but it does not
mean I am not totally vested in my ownership of the rights.
I know I am not the only one in this boat. Designers and bloggers
put a lot of effort and money into the patterns and content they
create no matter if they are for sale or offered free on their
website as a way to attract web based traffic. The fact that it is
offered free of charge in no means indicates that the creator does
not hold the copyright and all decisions about how the pattern can
and cannot be distributed.
So when a social media group owner takes content offered on a
blog, reformats it, and creates it as a new PDF stripping off the
name of the blog and the author that is what we call STEALING.
Worse yet, the majority of those group members have no idea
where this content was gleaned and when they take it and print it
out they now too are complicit in stealing from the pattern/content
author.- Theft by accident.
How Not to Be an Accidental Pattern Thief….. and how to
talk about it without people thinking you have a stick up your ass.
Unless expressly noted, no print pattern may be copied and given
to another for use. This includes magazines, print patterns and
purchased PDF patterns/ tutorials.

COPYING IS STEALING. (Do note that you may make a working copy for your
own use but when done with it is must be destroyed or
archived with the original pattern.)

SITUATION EXAMPLE – You see that Sue has a great new quilt
pattern while at guild and compliment her on it, next time you see
Sue she hands you a copy of that pattern fresh off her printer.
Sue has now stolen a copy of this pattern from the creator just as
sure as if she had slipped on her Keds and tip-toed into that
designer’s studio durning the dark of night and taken a copy from
her desk. Worse yet, she has given YOU the stolen goods,
YIKES. ..what to do..what to do!
This is a ticklish situation indeed! You have two choices – say
nothing, take it and then destroy it in your shredder- otherwise
known as the chicken-shit way or do the thing that makes your
stomach twist. You need to tell Sue that you are not comfortable
stealing from the designer ( sure you can say violating the
designers copyright, but let’s be honest..this is theft) and that
while you appreciate her trying to hook you up with the pattern
you will buy a copy from your LQS or online when you are ready.

SITUATION EXAMPLE – You get to your monthly private quilt
group and the member teaching the class has made copies of a
single pattern she bought and is teaching the class from it.
again…STICKY and time to ask some questions.
Perhaps the member bought additional rights to copy the pattern,
this can happen and if so she should be able to show you this
paperwork. If copied from the web, we can search of attribution
or release to be used in a class setting. We can ask and be clear
that we value those who create for us and we need to be on the
right side of the law as well as the right side of our fabric. We
need to be clear both privately and publicly that we are willing to
pay for patterns and/or obtain them in the proper way.

SITUATION EXAMPLE – You are part of an online group and
patterns you know that are sold at your LQS are being scanned
and uploaded into the files section of the group page for free
download by any member. Or perhaps complete online
instructions with no attribution. Or patterns copied from leading
magazines. Oh dear, oh dear…little figure-eight black masks and
black and white striped shirts for everyone!
What to do!… This is hard and each person has to check in with
their own moral compass on this. For those of us made of less
than stern stuff and yet are made sick by the idea that they are
being made complicit in theft can just leave the group. For those
made of an iron-will and the desire to land on the right side of
justice.. well you might capture some screen shots, and contact
the pattern makers where able to let them know their content is
being stolen.
You can also bring it up in the group and to the group owner but
do know this is a fast flume ride to being kicked out the
group…which while not the worst thing, you were going to leave
anyway, it does help alert other group members that there is an

Pro-Active Responses
It is always easier to deal with a situation when it is still in the
abstract so becoming educated about content theft ( active and
passive) and sharing that knowledge when you are able is a great
way to avoid these sticky situations.
Volunteer to do a session about it at your next guild meeting.
Share articles ( like this one!) about it in your online groups.
Speak up when you hear people suggest “sharing” a pattern while
at the quilt store. Speak of the value that designers and their work
bring to your life. Put a face and family to each and every pattern
maker and blogger out there who brings you content that inspires.
While not always easy I am pretty sure that you would speak up
and step in if you saw someone breaking into your neighbor’s car
or saw someone reach into someone else’s purse and extract
their wallet. Content theft is no different and it takes quilters of
integrity to put a stop to those who have fallen or thrown
themselves down this slippery slope and are stealing the
livelihood from the hardworking members of our industry. So slap
on that badge, there is a new sheriff in town…. and it is you!
Maddie Kertay”

Stand up for the designers you buy from, stand up for what’s right, stand up and be counted as a law abiding citizen!

Hugs & Stitches to you all, until next time!

Barb @ Crafty Threads – Small, but Mighty FUN!

2 thoughts on “Are you an Accidental Thief?

  1. Seems like sharing articles like this would also infringe on copyright laws.
    Says in your article to “share articles like this” hmmmm

    • Hey Diane, you bring up a great point – not EVERY share is an infringement. As long as you have written permission from the owner (which I do) of what you are sharing, then you are not breaking any laws. As Maddie states, designers have the right to have their designs distributed in any way they see fit – they own it. Just like you can loan your car to any one you chose, but if someone takes it without permission, I’m sure you would call the police!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *