Tag Archives: Giving credit

Giving Credit and Avoiding Copyright Violations

There’s a new skirmish in the quilting community. Apparently the admin for a Facebook group used tutorials and patterns created by other people, without attribution. When challenged on it, she kicked the complainers out of the group and made the group private.

Stealing is wrong, and though I don’t know the details of this story, it sounds like the admin did the wrong thing.

A couple of bloggers/quilters I respect have written about the incident and how to avoid copyright infringement. (See Sam Hunter’s post and Lori Kennedy’s post.) I’ve written about it, too, with some different links and thoughts. Since the last time I posted about it was a couple of years ago, I’ve updated that information below to provide it again.

Do you remember Robert Fulghum’s famous essay? “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten” begins like this:

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 5.20.28 PM

The essay was published in Robert Fulghum’s book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I am using this excerpt based on “fair use” rules for copyright.

Honestly, we don’t share everything, but I know bloggers and crafters are incredibly generous. Mostly we don’t hit. And as to messes, what happens in your studio should stay in your studio!

But there are three things here I think we should take seriously. One is playing fair, and one is not taking things that aren’t yours. And when we do mess up, we should apologize.

I see two separate areas of trouble when it comes to playing fair and giving deserved credit. One is for bloggers, and the other is for quilters and crafters. Obviously the two groups overlap.

BLOGGERS
Sometimes, in enthusiasm to share cool stuff and brilliant thoughts, bloggers use work that is not their own. Using information from other people might include photos, words, charts, tables, logos, or illustrations. The easiest violation is with photos. I wrote some about this earlier this year.

Are you sharing photos of someone else’s work? (This happens a lot after quilt shows.) Did you give them credit? There are both ethical and legal concerns on this. Legally there are copyright rights to the photo itself, and also to the creative work being photographed, such as a quilt. I am not the best person to speak about the legal issues, but I know enough to be very careful about sharing photos of anyone else’s quilts. In fact, unless I am linking directly to a picture someone else posted, I pretty much don’t do it anymore. (Some photos are in the public domain, meaning there is no copyright protection. Those can be shared freely. Still, information about the creator and the owner of the work should be included.)

Ethically, using someone else’s work without crediting is taking something that’s not yours, and it’s not playing fair. Ask yourself how you would feel if a photo of your quilt appeared in various blogs, but the bloggers didn’t have the courtesy to credit it with your name, or a link back to where they found your glorious quilt. Or even to ask permission to use the picture.

If you’d like more information on posting other people’s content appropriately, see a really helpful post from HubSpot Blogs. It is on citing sources and not stealing other people’s work on the internet.

QUILTERS, SEWISTS (SEWERS), CRAFTERS, ET AL
When it comes to creating tangible (rather than digital) work, there are other ways to take things that aren’t yours. Here again, there are obvious (I hope!) examples of wrong-doing, as well as others that might seem more grey.

First, a lot of people see no harm in copying a pattern that someone else purchased. If your friend buys a pattern and you want to make the same thing, you can just make a photocopy or scan of hers. In fact, your whole bee or swap or small group can have copies, too, right? But there is harm, as it deprives the creator of pay for their work. Imagine working — many hours of effort — to create a product for sale. Imagine someone taking it without paying for it. That is stealing, plain and simple.

Sam Hunter wrote about this better than I can. When a friend-of-a-friend stole one of Sam’s patterns rather than paying for it, it created a sticky situation, to say the least.

And remember, this isn’t true just of patterns that you buy one at a time. It also counts when you didn’t buy your own book or magazine patterns, but photocopied someone else’s instead.

Now comes the harder part, the grey area. Now also comes the caveat. I am NOT an attorney and am not providing legal advice. Most of the information provided below is based on two posts by Jen Bernstein. [Links below.] She is an attorney, but she also is not providing you legal advice. If this is an area of concern for you, please retain your own attorney. 

The design (what a quilt or project looks like) and the pattern (instructions of how to make it) are separately copyrighted. So let’s say you see a quilt and don’t want to buy the pattern. Instead you spend time figuring out how the block is made, how many of them there are, and how big they likely are based on the size of the original. You draw it all out in EQ7 to get your layout and fabric requirements. Ta-DAH! It’s all good, huh? Well, maybe not.

Depending on how closely “your” design matches the original, you may have infringed on a copyright. For more information, see Jen Bernstein’s guest post “Can You Copyright a Sewing Pattern?” on Abby Glassenberg’s While She Naps blog.

Don’t take things that aren’t yours. That’s the legal part of this. Now I’ll return to the ethical part: play fair. To me that includes acknowledging others for their inspiration and contribution.

That might mean literal acknowledgment in blog posts and Instagram and pins, or on labels. Some people say when you label your quilts, you should include the pattern and designer’s name, or the source of inspiration. I’m not likely to put that stuff on labels (I design my own quilts), but I agree with the intention.

Or it might just mean having an attitude of gratitude when we create. None of us is the first ever to make a quilt. That happened thousands of years ago. Regardless of how original we think we are, how fresh our designs, we were inspired by something.

Even if we are “self-taught,” likely that means learning from online sources or books, which someone else wrote and made available to us. We should be proud of ourselves and our work — we do amazing things! But we can be humble enough to feel gratitude for those who came before us, and for those who work by our sides.

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Thank You For Your Support

Yesterday afternoon I published a small rant. It was a rebuttal to a negative comment I received lately. I can take all kinds of criticism about my quilts or my writing, but the comment was written to criticize me personally. It was about my values, so yeah, it was personal.

I’m done. Got it out of my system. Going to put it behind me. I’ve removed the rant, because it no longer matters.

I don’t make anything off this blog. I’m not advertising and selling anything of my own. I don’t have sponsors and vendors and advertisers. I rarely recommend products and when I do, I’m not affiliated with them. I have nothing to gain here financially. What I do get it is the opportunity to share my thoughts and my talents.

To those of you who read, or who chose not to read, or who commented yesterday, I thank you. And to all of you who stop by even now and then to read my blog and let me share with you, I appreciate you more than you can know.

Thank you for your support.

 

 

BTS Blog Hop — Credit Where Credit is Due

When Sam Hunter invited me to be part of her Back to School Blog Hop, of course I said “yes!” She told me that many of the crafters she sees in real life are learning via online lessons, rather than in the classroom.

It started me thinking about classroom lessons. I remembered Robert Fulghum’s famous essay, “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” You may remember the list. It begins like this:

Screen Shot 2015-09-01 at 5.20.28 PM

The essay was published in Robert Fulghum’s book All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. I am using this excerpt based on “fair use” rules for copyright.

Honestly, we don’t share everything, but I know bloggers and crafters are incredibly generous. Mostly we don’t hit. And as to messes, what happens in your studio should stay in your studio!

But there are three things here I think we should take seriously. One is playing fair, and one is not taking things that aren’t yours. And when we do mess up, we should apologize.

I see two separate areas of trouble when it comes to playing fair and giving deserved credit. One is for bloggers, and the other is for quilters and crafters. Obviously the two groups overlap.

BLOGGERS
Sometimes, in enthusiasm to share cool stuff and brilliant thoughts, bloggers use work that is not their own. The easiest violation is with photos. I wrote some about this earlier this year.

Are you sharing photos of someone else’s work? (This happens a lot after quilt shows.) Did you give them credit? There are both ethical and legal concerns on this. Legally there are copyright rights to the photo itself, and also to the creative work being photographed, such as a quilt. I am not the best person to speak about the legal issues, but I know enough to be very careful about sharing photos of anyone else’s quilts. In fact, unless I am linking directly to a picture someone else posted, I pretty much don’t do it anymore. (Some photos are in the public domain, meaning there is no copyright protection. Those can be shared freely. Still, information about the creator and the owner of the work should be included.)

Ethically, using someone else’s work without crediting is taking something that’s not yours, and it’s not playing fair. Ask yourself how you would feel if a photo of your quilt appeared in various blogs, but the bloggers didn’t have the courtesy to credit it with your name, or a link back to where they found your glorious quilt. Or even to ask permission to use the picture.

Recently I had something of mine shared in another blog. When I saw it, in a comment I quoted my copyright/copy policy (on the right margin): “You may link to these articles but may not use the photographs, illustrations, or text without express written permission.” I told her to next time please ask permission.

Which brings me to the “say you’re sorry” point of Fulghum’s essay. She didn’t apologize. She didn’t ask permission. She deleted the material and my comment and didn’t say another word about it. I’d have appreciated an apology. But I won’t get it and now I’ll let it go.

Using information from other people might include photos, words, charts, tables, logos, or illustrations. If you’d like more information on posting other people’s content appropriately, see a really helpful post from HubSpot Blogs. It is on citing sources and not stealing other people’s work on the internet.

QUILTERS, SEWISTS (SEWERS), CRAFTERS, ET AL
When it comes to creating tangible (rather than digital) work, there are other ways to take things that aren’t yours. Here again, there are obvious (I hope!) examples of wrong-doing, as well as others that might seem more grey.

First, a lot of people see no harm in copying a pattern that someone else purchased. If your friend buys a pattern and you want to make the same thing, you can just make a photocopy or scan of hers. In fact, your whole bee or swap or small group can have copies, too, right? But there is harm, as it deprives the creator of pay for their work. Imagine working — many hours of effort — to create a product for sale. Imagine someone taking it without paying for it. That is stealing, plain and simple.

Our own Sam Hunter wrote about this better than I can. When a friend-of-a-friend stole one of Sam’s patterns rather than paying for it, it created a sticky situation, to say the least.

And remember, this isn’t true just of patterns that you buy one at a time. It also counts when you didn’t buy your own book or magazine patterns, but photocopied someone else’s instead.

Now comes the harder part, the grey area. Now also comes the caveat. I am NOT an attorney and am not providing legal advice. Most of the information provided below is based on two posts by Jen Bernstein. [Links below.] She is an attorney, but she also is not providing you legal advice. If this is an area of concern for you, please retain your own attorney. 

The design (what a quilt or project looks like) and the pattern (instructions of how to make it) are separately copyrighted. So let’s say you see a quilt and don’t want to buy the pattern. Instead you spend time figuring out how the block is made, how many of them there are, and how big they likely are based on the size of the original. You draw it all out in EQ7 to get your layout and fabric requirements. Ta-DAH! It’s all good, huh? Well, maybe not.

Depending on how closely “your” design matches the original, you may have infringed on a copyright. For more information, see Jen Bernstein’s guest post “Can You Copyright a Sewing Pattern?” on Abby Glassenberg’s While She Naps blog. See also Bernstein’s own blog, Brave Little Chicken, for her post “Quilting and the Law Series: Copyright 101.”

Don’t take things that aren’t yours. That’s the legal part of this. Now I’ll return to the ethical part: play fair. To me that includes acknowledging others for their inspiration and contribution.

That might mean literal acknowledgment in blog posts and Instagram and pins, or on labels. Some people say when you label your quilts, you should include the pattern and designer’s name, or the source of inspiration. I’m not likely to put that stuff on labels (I design my own quilts), but I agree with the intention.

Or it might just mean having an attitude of gratitude when we create. None of us is the first ever to make a quilt. That happened thousands of years ago. Regardless of how original we think we are, how fresh our designs, we were inspired by something.

Even if we are “self-taught,” likely that means learning from online sources or books, which someone else wrote and made available to us. We should be proud of ourselves and our work — we do amazing things! But we can be humble enough to feel gratitude for those who came before us, and for those who work by our sides.

That said, I want to thank Sam Hunter again for the opportunity to join this great Back to School Blog Hop. Please be sure to stop by the contributors’ sites and blog hop posts. Thanks to all of them, and thanks to you for reading. There’s a lot of great information already out there, and lots more to come. Here’s the full list again:

Sept 1: Peta Minerof-Bartos of PetaQuiltsDiagonal Pieced Backings
Sept 2: Cheryl Sleboda of Muppin.comThe Quilter’s Knot
Sept 3: Teresa Coates of Crinkle DreamsThe Importance of Pressing
Sept 4: Cath Hall of Wombat QuiltsColor Coding for Paper-piecing
Sept 5: Sam Hunter of Hunter’s Design StudioHow to Calculate and Cut Bias Binding
Sept 6: Melanie McNeil of Catbird Quilt StudioCredit Where Credit is Due
Sept 7: Mandy Leins of Mandalei Quilts – How to Keep a Perfect 1/4” Seam Between Different Machines
Sept 8: Rose Hughes of Rose Hughes – Fast Pieced Applique
Sept 9: Megan Dougherty of The Bitchy Stitcher – The Care and Feeding of the Domestic Sewing Machine
Sept 10: Lynn Krawczyk of Smudged Design Studio – Make a Mobile Art Kit
Sept 11: Susan Beal of West Coast Crafty – Log Cabin 101
Sept 12: Sarah Lawson of Sew Sweetness – Zipper Tips
Sept 13: Jane Victoria of Jolly and Delilah – Matching Seams
Sept 14: Jemelia Hilfiger of Je’s Bend – Garment Making Tips and Tricks
Sept 15: Ebony Love of LoveBug Studios – Curved Piecing Without Pins
Sept 16: Misty Cole of Daily Design Wall – Types of Basting
Sept 17: Kim Lapacek of Persimon Dreams – Setting your Seams
Sept 18: Christina Cameli of A Few Scraps – Joining Quilted Pieces by Machine
Sept 19: Bill Volckening of WonkyWorld – The Importance of Labels
Sept 20: Jessica Darling of Jessica Darling – How to Make a Quilt Back
Sept 21: Debbie Kleve Birkebile of Mountain Trail Quilt Treasures – Perfectly Sized No-Wave Quilt Borders
Sept 22: Heather Kinion of Heather K is a Quilter – Baby Quilts for Baby Steps
Sept 23: Michelle Freedman of Design Camp PDX – TNT: Thread, Needle, Tension
Sept 24: Kathy Mathews of Chicago Now Quilting Sewing Creation – Button Holes
Sept 25: Jane Shallala Davidson of Quilt Jane – Corner Triangle Methods
Sept 27: Cristy Fincher of Purple Daisies Quilting – The Power of Glue Basting
Sept 28: Catherine Redford of Catherine Redford – Change the Needle!
Sept 29: Amalia Teresa Parra Morusiewicz of Fun From A to Z – French Knots, – ooh la la!
Sept 30: Victoria Findlay Wolfe of Victoria Findlay Wolfe Quilts – How to Align Your Fabrics for Dog Ears
October 1: Tracy Mooney of 3 Little Birds – Teaching Kiddos to Sew on a Sewing Machine
October 2: Trish Frankland, guest posting on Persimon Dreams – The Straight Stitch Throat Plate
October 3: Flaun Cline of I Plead Quilty – Lining Strips Up

Caught Cheating…

Did you go to QuiltCon? Did you post a lot of photos of the exciting quilts? Did you give credit to the makers?

Huh.

I’ve seen a lot of blog posts recently that didn’t give credit where credit was due. In fact, it’s a regular thing, but QuiltCon gave photo ops that people rarely enjoy, and they took full advantage of it.

Unfortunately, many of those photographers took advantage of the quilters by not including credits. That’s sort of like copying someone’s work on a test. You get points for stuff you didn’t actually do. It is easy to take one more photo with the name of the quilter, and then include the name in the quilt’s caption. I expect every quilter would want that courtesy. Not only are there ethical issues, there are also copyright concerns when you use someone else’s work for your own benefit.

Another way bloggers cheat — use material without giving credit — is when posting photos of historical quilts. Do you know who owns the quilt? Do you know who made it? Do you know who took the photo? If so, give credit. If not, you shouldn’t use it. For example, there is a quilt owned by the Dallas Museum of Art called “Prosperity Is Just Around the Corner.” I would LOVE to use an image of that quilt. However, I can’t find a way to do so correctly, so I won’t.

In the U.S. we are able to use federally-owned photos without concern for copyright. These would include photos shown on the Smithsonian site, for example. However, it’s still good form to link back to the source. And again, if there is information about the maker of the quilt, you should note it.

To find other images that don’t have copyright restrictions, you can use Creative Commons. Enter your search term and specify whether you intend to modify the image or not. You can also find music, videos, and other resources there.

If you like to use other bloggers’ writing or photos, please make sure you acknowledge them correctly, too. An easy way to start is by hyperlinking back to the blog of origin. Use their name or their blog name in your reference. If you quote their words, use quotation marks or blockquoting. Before you do, though, make sure the blogger hasn’t put copyright restrictions on use. For example, my copyright notice says

© 2013-2015 Melanie J. McNeil All materials on this site are the property of Melanie J. McNeil, unless given specific credit elsewhere. You may link to these articles but may not use the photographs, illustrations, or text without express written permission.

What does that mean relative to the cheat sheet I built for my Economy Blocks post? The cheat sheet is linked in dozens of Pinterest pages. The CHEAT SHEET is an illustration. People are using it without my permission. The majority likely link back to the post directly. Frankly I think that’s a grey area, and I’m ambivalent about it. What is NOT okay is the scrapers who use it, without links (and YES I have seen this), to drive traffic to their own advertising sites. My work is valuable to them — they earn money off of it. That is not just unethical, it’s illegal.

Linking is a good way to give credit for other quotes, data, or information you find at other sites, whether a blog site or not. If you find information about the dollar value of quilt fabric sales in your town and want to use it, show us the source. If you include a chart you didn’t create, show us the source. If the quilt you are showing off was designed by someone else, tell us who, and if the designer has a website, give us a link.

I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes I miss in giving appropriate credit. My best intentions occasionally aren’t realized. But I will never intentionally use someone else’s work without paying them their due. To tell you the truth, that’s one of the reasons I have always designed my own quilts. I don’t want to present someone else’s ideas as my own.

You can get more great information about giving credit at HubSpot Blogs. Their post on “How Not to Steal People’s Content on the Web” includes a lot more detail than I have. Please take a look.

When I taught, I occasionally had to remind students that part of their job was to not give me reason to suspect them of cheating. I’ve seen a lot of cheating with photos recently. I hope it’s a long time before I see it again. Sadly, I suspect it won’t be, as many people simply haven’t thought through the issue of using other people’s work without giving credit. To all of them I’d like to say, don’t get caught cheating. In fact, don’t cheat.