Thursday, January 7, 2010

Let’s Talk About Copyrights and Wrongs

On this dreary snowy day I thought I’d take some time to go over what I’ve learned recently about Copyrights. 

But business first ……


The patterns for this will be mailed out today!  I thank all of you for the great response and the orders.  Expect your patterns in your mailbox by early next week. 

The white fluffy wool is still a big topic in emails to me.  Regular weight or blanket weight wool would work nicely for the sheep.  They’ll still look like sheep even if it’s not my same bumpy textured wool. Also, I don’t see a problem at all with using fleecy fabric of something other than wool for this.  The Warm and Natural quilt batting would work well as well as whatever else you may have that would be similar.  It’s your mat, think outside the box and do what you wish!

The special pre-order price of only $8 for this pattern will end tomorrow night.  After that, the price will go up to $9.50. 

I will probably be selling a finished one on Ebay soon but the one that is pictured will be used as a sample in a local shop. 


Ok, Copyrights …

I’ve learned a lot about this since I started selling my patterns a few months ago.

There was an issue with an Ebay seller who was selling finished candle mats of my design.  I had just released the pattern for it and the mat was identical to my own original design so I knew that she must have copied it from my pictures either shown on here or in my photo album.

She insisted that it was her own idea  and that we both coincidently came up with the exact same design. 

How bad does that look for my newly started pattern business to have someone else claim ownership of the same design that I was selling?  She refused to stop selling so I had to file a copyright infringement report to Ebay.  I had to fax information and I had to submit pictures and dated proof of when I first created the design. Since I was able to prove that I designed it last year, I won and Ebay forced her to remove her listings.

The good thing that came out of all this hassle, time and mess that this seller created for me was that I was forced to do quite a bit of research on Copyrights so now I know how it protects me and my work.

Think you have to have an official registered copyright to be protected from thieves?  Nope, all you need is dated proof and I thankfully, I had it.

The proof that I submitted …

Dated pictures of the finished candle mat.

Email addresses of all the purchasers of the finished designs.

Ebay listing #s of all the finished items of that design that I sold last year.

All finished items had my own signed and dated labels attached to the back and one customer was willing to submit pictures and verify that she indeed purchased it last year.

My blog postings which clearly show the design was already created before the thief started selling it.

Thankfully I was easily able to prove it was indeed my design.  All she had to do was submit proof that she designed hers before I designed mine … and of course, she couldn’t do it!

So all of you fellow designers and creators out there reading this .. we are protected, just be sure to take steps to back up your proof of ownership so that all of it can be presented as evidence in court,  if necessary.

Here are some suggestions that the kind man from the Ebay legal department told me on the phone to do instead of spending $$ on an official registered copyright.

*Make dated pictures of your original designs.  Digital cameras have the date of the picture embedded into the digital data so that’s proof enough but if you place them in an online photo album, that gives you additional proof.  If you include a dated newspaper in with your design when taking the picture, that’s even further proof. 

* Go to your local bank or AAA office and get your designs notarized.  For a few bucks, it’s done.

*Post the designs in your blog or some other online site such as Facebook.  That dated proof is important!

For those of you who think you have the right to copy and sell anything I show on my blog without my consent?

It’s stealing.

You can use my pictures to be inspired to create something different.

As long as the design is not recognizable as mine, you can claim it as your own.  That doesn’t mean that you can trace the picture and change the placement of a scarf or change the color of a nose. It has to look completely different.

See that sheep candle mat picture up there in this post?  Just like Mickey Mouse, you can’t legally trace two sheep exactly like mine, put button wheels on them and make it into a pillow instead of a candle mat and claim it as your own design.  

Believe it or not, embroidered lettering can be copyrighted too!

If the lettering is drawn in a special creative way, using unusual fonts or swirls or loops in with the lettering design, it’s copyright protected.

As someone told me .. the minute I draw something, it becomes copyright protected.  It’s mine, unless you can prove otherwise.

From the US Government site:

“Copyright protection subsists from the time the work is created
in fixed form. The copyright in the work of authorship
immediately becomes the property of the author who created
the work. Only the author or those deriving their rights
through the author can rightfully claim copyright”

US Government Copyright Website


Don’t steal my stuff, please?  

Happy Day everyone!


West Side of Straight said...

Good job, glad you won that battle. It really makes me mad to think that someone would infringe on others designs, but I'm sure it happens all the time. Good information on protecting yourself.

ohiofarmgirl said...

That is so interesting...I love learning new stuff. I am happy it worked out for you. I love the little sheep too! Dianntha

Mary said...

Thanks for the clarification, very helpful.

Recently we had some problems with another business using our business name, they simply added an s to the end of it.
Thankfully they are no longer a franchise in our area, because there was nothing we could have done about it-- theirs was copyrighted nationally--ours only in the state of PA.

whitey said...

My sister was writing music a long time ago someone told her to mail ( maybe even ceritfied?) herself a copy of what ever she had done then when she received it never open it unless it came to proving that she had been the original writer the postmark was proof of the date for her, do not know if this still holds up.

theolde stone house said...

Hi Cath
I am so glad yu could prove it was yours. I despise people who steal anything from someone else. I was raised if if isn't yours don't touch it. Same applies to your designs.
I got an old wool fireman's coat from a friend of mine. It is the greatest shade of blue. I felted it but it didn't change much. but the fabric is wonderful. It is so thick and rich looking. Can't wait to start a project with it.

Janet Pittman said...

I'm so sorry you had this problem. It took valuable time away from you when you could be doing the things you enjoy and spending time with your family. It is a shame someone so generous as you,sharing so much info with us and sharing your designs, has to be takin advantage of. At least you have more info about protecting yourself now. I'm glad you stood up for yourself. Thanks, can't wait for the sheep to arrive.

Linda said...

Love all your candle mats, but I am so glad to hear of this. I guess I didn't realize that people would call it "their" design. Let me ask you something though, does this mean that a person can not sell the completed design, or does it mean that they just have to acknowledge you as the "designer". The reason why I'm asking is that I would love to make some to sell, only because I am a candlemaker--to add a little extra with my wares. However, I do not want to do anything that would ever hurt someone or tarnish my rep. Note: I've never made the first one, and after I've made one, I may decide it's too much work to sell or give away, ha ha. And, by the way, you are a wonderful designer.