The Copyright FAQ For Knitters

promotionWhy do I have to be concerned with this rigmarole in the first place!?

Beyond the good feeling you get when “doing what’s right,” or “giving credit where credit is due”, there are legal repercussions of copyright infringement. In the United States it is a Federal offense.

If you’re thinking, “But one copy won’t make a difference, will it?” Consider this: When you see a pattern selling for $5 for only one design, you may think the price is outrageous. However, that $5 doesn’t go very far.

First, the yarn store owner takes half–and uses it to pay rent, heat, electricity, phone, advertising, credit card surcharges, employees and maybe the owner. Now the designer might get $2.50, which he or she uses to pay for getting the pattern out to the shop in the first place. If the designer goes through an agent or a distribution company, that middleman takes a cut. On top of that, there are the actual production costs of publishing a pattern. Many people are unaware of the costs of putting a pattern out into the world; they include the costs of the yarn used to make the models and swatches, the paper for the umpteen printouts until the pattern was right, any test knitters, the electricity for the computer on which was typed the pattern, film and developing of the picture to go on the front of the pattern, copying, and those page protectors that the pattern goes in or the equally expensive heavy high gloss paper. (Until you make thousands of them, one page of color copying generally costs over $1.00 U.S.) If there’s anything left, the designer gets paid so he or she can pay rent, heat, light, etc.

The upshot of all this is that to actually earn a profit on a pattern, a designer has to sell a huge number of them; to make a living, the designer has to work very hard, come up with many patterns every year, and sell huge numbers of all of them. The income from each pattern is important!19

When knitters infringe on copyright law by abusing the rights of the copyright holder, whether innocently or intentionally, this diminishes a designer’s incentive to develop patterns for sale or their desire to share with others. As a result, some designers may decide to stop designing and publishing their patterns. This has already happened in other needle arts. (See the links to the online articles in the “Further Reading” section.)

Truly, where would we knitters be without this talented group of special people? Think about this before you decide to make an unauthorized copy.

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