The Copyright FAQ For Knitters

Let’s move on to the newest resource for knitting patterns,

promotionThe Internet:

helpI found a free knitting pattern on So-and-so’s website and I want to print it out or save it. Can I?

acceptWebsites that offer free knitting patterns know that you are going to print out the pattern and put it in your knitting patterns folder or save it to your hard disk. It’s what you do with that pattern afterwards that comes under scrutiny. Take a close look at the copyright notice that came on the pattern. What does it say?

helpI don’t see a copyright notice on the pattern. What do I do now?

acceptEven if there is no actual copyright notice appearing on the pattern, that work is still protected by copyright just as though a copyright notice were there and must be treated as such.11

helpCan I share patterns I saved to my hard disk with others by email or by printing them?

acceptIf the copyright holder doesn’t specifically say in the copyright notice that it can be distributed to others, or if no copyright notice is present, then no. You must contact the copyright holder first to get his or her permission before it can be redistributed.

If the copyright holder has included a copyright notice in which it says that the pattern can be redistributed, and, again, if you adhere to the conditions and limitations that the copyright holder has given under which it can be done, then yes.

helpSo-and-so sent a copy of an original pattern s/he designed to our email/Usenet group without including a copyright notice. Can I forward it to someone else or post it elsewhere on the Internet or print it out and share it with others?

acceptAgain, even though there is no actual copyright notice on that pattern, by law it must be treated as though there were a notice included. In the early days of the Internet, it was safe to assume that just by sending it to an Internet email/Usenet group the original sender expressed a desire to share it with others (Public Domain), and you could go ahead and forward it or print it. This is no longer the case.12

The only way to be sure that the copyright holder has released something into the public domain is if they say so on the pattern.13

This principle also applies to anything written, including, but not limited to texts, instructions, explanations, tips, charts and tables.

Under no circumstance can any written material be stripped of its header and/or copyright notice for redistribution or use elsewhere in any format.

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