The Imitation Game

There is a great debate in the knitting/crochet pattern designer community over selling finished objects made from patterns. Some designers even go so far as to try to put a “license” on their pattern to restrict the sale of finished objects made from the pattern or to charge more for a pattern that people intend to make for sale in a craft show or on Etsy.

This NPR story reaffirms a lot of what I have read; useful objects such as clothing are not copyrightable.  The actual words and drawings in a pattern are what the copyright covers.  No one should make copies of a written pattern and distribute the pattern without the author’s (designers’) permission whether the pattern is free or has a cost.  What a knitter makes from a pattern (the finished object) is theirs to do with what they will.  They can give it away or sell it.  They can make 10 of them and sell those items too.  The actual finished objects are useful objects  and they have every right to sell them just like any property they own.   Whether a design is patentable is a different story, but if you have not sought a design patent, the point is moot.  What about patterns for knitted toys?  If the toy is an original design and you want to license sales you  need to get a trademark. (Mickey Mouse anyone?)  If you make a pattern for a “Mickey Mouse” toy, maybe you’re the one in the wrong…

People who write knitting patterns make their money from the sale of patterns.  (Or they wanted to draw traffic to their website or sale of other patterns by offering free patterns). They are hurt if you make copies of their pattern and give them to your friends who want to make it too.  I have created a couple of free patterns over the years and recently made one for sale.  I have never tried to ‘limit’ the use of the pattern.  If you want to make items from my patterns and sell them, feel free!  (Just don’t copy my patterns or class handouts and give them away please!)

What's your story?