Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Question : :

I just stumbled upon these gorgeous pillows on West Elm, pinned them, and right away thought, "Oh, those would be so fun and simple to make!"

west elm
photo from West Elm

This happens to me ALL the time! How about you?

The thing is, I'm not sure if this is alright.

I few years back I was on the receiving end of a mean-spirited and ridiculous attack from some local women (this wasn't online and wasn't something sewn -- I don't think I even owned a computer yet and definitely didn't use my sewing machine yet), who thought I had created something based on a product they had seen that looked similar. They were completely wrong, but it was awful, and hurtful, and sad!

It changed me forever. In a lot of ways.

Artistically, it made me question where my inspiration for my own projects can come from. Where is it ok to pull inspiration from?

As an artist and maker and blogger, my goal is to inspire! I hope that those of you who have found me, see what I make, and it inspires you! To make something or to even try to make what I've made, yourself.

I hope it makes you happy, like it makes me! I hope it makes me you feel all the kinds of wonderful I feel, when I give something that is made with my own two hands to someone, who might love that thing. It's amazing! And that's the reason for ALL of this for me.

For companies, I realize it's different. But is it ok for us as makers, to see a product and then make it ourselves, rather than purchase it? Is it ok for us as bloggers, to then create a tutorial for how to make it? etc...

I know this happens ALL the time. And so, I thought I'd quickly throw this out there and finally ask these questions...

I'd love to know your thoughts on this -- please share!! Maureen 

edited to add -- I am not planning to make this pillow. This is just an example of what makes me think, "I could make that!" Here's another good example -- and this has been recreated a zillion times on blogs and flickr -- The Orimono Flower Pillow on Anthropologie

109 comments:

Stephanie J said...

Long time follower here and I think its horrible what happened to you about that lady. I think we all as artist pull a little something from everything we see and put it together with our own touches.

Chelsea said...

I think it would be fine to make your own version and even offer a tutorial. Selling a pattern to me would be pushing it. But I think anyone who sews could look at those cushions and easily figure them out.

Crystal said...

This is such a gray area that I can't even wrap my head around it. If your talented enough to be able to see something somewhere and duplicate it for your own personal use, what's the harm? If your not selling it, or marketing it as your own idea, I just can't understand why it's an issue. Not everyone is gifted with the same skill set, and if those skills can can save you money, I'm all for it. While you may inspire some people to create their own things, I'm sure some are just as apt to not go through the trouble and purchase what they want.

Kathaleeny said...

Ohmigoodness, I hate that anything like that happened to you. I think of you and your blog and tutorials as being generous and open-hearted. That whole thing with Kate Spain a few months ago made me feel hesitant about the fabric companies with all their copyrighted designers. I've made it a point to use stash fabrics almost exclusively. Whatever is the right thing to do?

Crystal said...

This is such a gray area that I can't even wrap my head around it. If your talented enough to be able to see something somewhere and duplicate it for your own personal use, what's the harm? If your not selling it, or marketing it as your own idea, I just can't understand why it's an issue. Not everyone is gifted with the same skill set, and if those skills can can save you money, I'm all for it. While you may inspire some people to create their own things, I'm sure some are just as apt to not go through the trouble and purchase what they want.

Anonymous said...

I think we shouldn't kid ourselves, we as creative people are ALL inspired by everything we see, constantly and even subconsciously. I think there is a difference in seeing something and trying to recreate it with your own twist and flat out copying! I think we all need to be less critical and just enjoy making whatever we want. And those who attacked you must have way too much time on their hands! I often wonder where these big brand companies get their designs -- etsy? blogs? flickr?? pinterest??? Probably!!

pkrueger said...

I def believe if you see something and want to make it instead of buying it, that is OK. I think it's even OK to do a tutorial on it. Seeing your work, I believe you put your own style into it and it wouldn't be exactly the same anyway. You inspire me all the time, you are so talented.

Marika said...

Inspiration can come from a lot of places, I think what is important is how it is interpreted.. the fabric we use, the modifications we make on the original project is what makes it ours..
I think that if you saw something that you like and you'd rather make it because you can, than go for it because in the end, it'll probably be very different than the original.
I'd say that if you were to sell it, maybe there would be a problem but if it's only for you, than you shouldn't feel bad.

I also like to know that I inspire people and I don't have any problem when someone makes something she saw on my blog because I also saw it on someone's blog.. so it's never completely ours !

Maureen Cracknell Handmade said...

Ooh, I must have missed the Kate Spain thing? I'll have to check that out!

Mermaid Sews said...

I was wondering a similar thing. Like if I see a quilt that someone has made, and made into a pattern, and I want to emulate it, but can figure out the pattern myself, is that OK?

JLVerde said...

For personal use, I see nothing wrong with making my own version of someone else's design. Usually by the time I get my version done, it has my own twist/flair to it (either deliberately or because I messed it up!).

It gets tricky when you're selling, though. In that case, I'd be very careful to make my version truly "mine", either by altering the pattern significantly (like changing a "pillow style" doll to be more dimensional by adding gussets) and/or changing the design/embellishments.

But in the case of this pillow, I don't see it as being anything that is "too" original. It's a basic pillow form (so not an "orignal" pillow pattern) and the design is very basic/common (in that it's a chevron/patchwork design, not an original drawing/character design).

I think you could (deliberately) change the design of the pillow (how you construct the design) to get the same basic feel but with enough change to make it "yours".

(example: it looks like the design is made by sewing individual strips to a plain base fabric using a straight stitch down the center. You could achieve the same effect by sewing it in a different way--so it would look very similar but be different)

Maureen Cracknell Handmade said...

Too much time and lack of their own talent and ability to create, was the main problem, but that's another long conversion all together. I do agree -- as bloggers and blog followers there is just so much amazing photos and creativity coming at us all the time, it's hard not to be constantly inspired!

Potpourri said...

Go for it, the maker of those pillows obviously saw strip piecing and liked it. If you choose to make cushion covers or a quilt from the same type of piecing I cannot see any problem. If on the other hand you used precisely the same fabrics in the exact same order they might have a reason to call foul play!

Tansy Dolls said...

My personal belief is that yes its totally fine to see, be inspired, and then recreate for personal use. However, the land of copyright is pretty tricky and its legal stuff so while it seems like it should be very straightforward...its isn't. Crafty folks have been somewhat insulated from it all and we kind of have a long tradition of recreating, but I feel like the waters aren't as safe anymore and big corporations have been known to go after those who recreate items that are "too much" alike the original. So...I say tread carefully. The big thing to remember is that you don't have to SELL the item to violate copyright. All the original creator has to claim is that you cut into their profit margin. If you sold the pillows, this is easier to argue, but its not essential. I like this site for information...http://www.craftsandcopyrights.com/faq.html#2b when making decisions. Some would likely say I err on the side of too much caution, but there is no way I could afford the legal fees on the off chance a company found out and then did pursue it.

Christina said...

I agree with JLVerde that some of it just depends on what the original item was. In the case of these pillows, you could find HUNDREDS of similar ideas on the internet right now what with herringbone and scrappiness being so popular. It's not like they have it copyrighted. Plus, it's very unlikely your creation would be exactly the same: either the dimensions would be different or the construction or something, so I don't think there's an issue with a tutorial for it, either. However, if like mentioned above you're recreated something that is more custom like an original drawing or design, then you'd have to be more careful and probably just do it for personal use.

Nicole St. John said...

Every year, just after the Oscars and also after major fashion shows, smaller designers scramble to recreate runway and red carpet dresses, then sell them in stores. They are in fact copying what they see someone else make. Artists and crafters of all types draw inspiration from the entire world around them, from nature, from patterns and fabrics and from exixting products. If you are outright copying something, its best to give credit to your source and not try to profit off of their ideas, but it shouldn't matter if you want to make a tutorial showing someone how to make something. In sewing, especially, the whole look changes just by changing fabrics and placement. It then becomes an entirely new creation. I am so sorry that you were subjected to such narrow minded, judgmental people who were most likely jealous of your creativity and talent.

Tansy Dolls said...

Also here is one story of a corp going after a crafter. It appears they just tried to scare her and she still has the tutorial up but yesh...this is the stuff my nightmares of made of...http://chezbeeperbebe.blogspot.com/2010/02/tutorial-and-pattern-rainbow-sunshine.html

Tansy Dolls said...

True but remember that fashion design is not copyrighted beyond the use of the designer's name. Here's a post that explains the rationale. http://www.mlfp.org/2012/04/18/the-wild-wild-west-of-fashion-copyright-law/

Maureen Cracknell Handmade said...

I totally agree! I guess I'm not asking about an artist copying or recreating another artists work -- I'm asking if an artist, sewists, blogger should be able to recreate a major manufacturer's product, like West Elm, Target, Anthropologie, etc...

piece peace said...

Everything about you and blog is inspiring to me. I do not think there is anything wrong with recreating a product and/or making a tutorial for it as long as you let everyone know where the direct inspiration or original product can be found.

The Cottage Mama said...

Maureen, I feel for you. I have been on the other end of something JUST like that and you're right, it changes you and for me, it changed the way I see others. I will never look at my work in the same way. Personally, I am inspired by lots of different things. I think as long as you take something and make it your own, then you are fine. Whoever created the pillow pictured above was probably inspired by something that was inspired by something and so forth........the world is full of inspiration. I do not believe in directly knocking something off, but what are we to do if we can use inspiration in our work?

Maureen Cracknell Handmade said...

I didn't know that, wow!

Maureen Cracknell Handmade said...

Thank you so much! I also think as bloggers, when we share products that we love and that have inspired us, it helps the manufacturer. I'd like to believe I help sell beautiful fabric and supplies here, and now I may have even sold a West Elm Pillow or two! :) As a community I don't believe any of us has the intention of "ripping someone off" or "stealing", I think we love to create, we love to share, and we love to learn more than anything else. I just needed to make sure I was right in believing that!! :)

Maureen Cracknell Handmade said...

I'm going to check it out now! Thanks for sharing!!

{Leila}Where the Orchids Grow said...

Oh yes this is always an interesting point of discussion. I believe you'd be hard pressed to find a truly original idea or design out there to copy. The big companies are just recreating designs based on older designs and ideas much like we are. So from a totally non legal point of view I see absolutely nothing wrong with it :D

Tansy Dolls said...

Ooo, and now I am seeming like a fanatic with so many posts. I wanted to add that if this is just a pillow using a common technique (strip piecing + chevron) then you are probably good to go. My responses were truly about the recreation of original items more generally.

Anna said...

it really is a gray area isn't it!?!

Jamie Lee said...

I can see why people get upset, because money is involved. If you looked at it like this--what if someone saw your trademark fox pillow and made one, and put it on their blog or Etsy store, and maybe wrote a tutorial for making something similar? You might be a little put out. I love reading your blog, I've bought two bundles you've promoted on your blog--Summerlove from Moona fabrics and your Intrepid Thread bundle. You are trying to get people to buy them, right? So, since your blog generates money, I think it's probably wrong to flat out copy. But it's just ticker tape, so that's not terribly original. What a tough question!

Allison C said...

I would say making it and using it on your own is totally okay, but giving a tutorial is a different scenario and wanders into a gray area. I too often see things and think I could make that and sometimes I do attempt to. Of course, when I make them they are never really identical because along the way I decide to change something because I find I like it a little bit different or I'm just not as knowledgeable in the technique so it ends up slightly different. A lot of times I find out the hard way that it is likely much easier and cheaper to get something that a machine created. Anyway, a tutorial on something that is identical could be cause for a lawsuit so I would suggest avoiding those situations just in case. If you change it slightly and credit it as inspiration then I think it is totally legit to give a tutorial on. I am a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due.

Alisa said...

There is a series called TedTalks. You can watch it on Netflix, its an instant download called... "TEDTalks: Beauty & Fashion: Beneath the Skin" and it is wonderful. Johanna Blakley talks about copyright law and fashion. You would be surprised by what is and is not indeed copyrighted. The series is wonderful and I highly recommend it. I love listening to the TedTalks while sewing. Your work is beautiful and I'm always inspired by your creativity.

heartsofhampshire said...

There is very little that is new in this world- we are all influenced by existing images and products- artists thro time have been inspired by and work in the style of , their heros! Unless you patent your work, and this is highly unlikely in the area of arts and crafts, anyone is free to copy and recreate. Does it matter? It is just wonderful to see people create , whether from their own ideas or from someone elses. It does no harm, we are all small scale and not taking business away from the big companies. Its a bit like the Olympic committee in the UK at the moment stopping anyone using the Olympic rings on anything that they do not have rights over- its nonsense- those rings can be used by anyone and have been throughout history.
Live and let live I say.
Heather x

Melinda said...

This topic has crossed my mind on several occasions. What it all boils down to is copyright, and therein lies all the problem. What exactly can you copyright? If you put it out there on a blog for all the world to see and admire, are you not asking for others to be inspired to create something similar? Leah Day has a great article on copyright here if you're interested.
http://freemotionquilting.blogspot.com/2012/03/copyright-terrorism.html
She cites the Kate Spain debacle if you want some back story on that.

Judy Nolan said...

This is a constructive discussion, I think. In my opinion, we are all inspired by images. If we duplicate an item that we see for our own personal use, I think that's perfectly all right. But doing the same thing and selling it is likely a violation of someone's copyright. On the other hand, I think it's perfectly all right to use an image such as the one you show as a jumping-off point. The pillow design itself is what you don't want to duplicate, but the technique of using fabric strips in this fashion is not copyrighted, and you could likely come up with a completely different product that uses that technique.

Jessica said...

Well, West Elm totally ripped those off of me. I mean, I've never made anything like that, but I thought about it once. So yeah, they were totally copying me. And you would be too, so I'd hate you forever. FOREVER! :)

Maureen Cracknell Handmade said...

That's funny you mention that because that has happened a couple times with my fox pillow. It did bother me, especially when the lady publicly shared my picture on facebook from my handmade page, and when I followed the share, the fox pillow she made was actually her new facebook profile picture! :)

I guess I feel like it's different since I am just me, not a huge company mass producing items, making lots and lots of money. But maybe it isn't different at all. This is why I'm asking. :) :)

Cindy Bunn said...

Inspiration to create comes from what we see every day & you may find yourself making something you saw over a year ago, without even realising that it was the same! This can't be helped! We can't be expected to remember everything we see! Even if you do create a tutorial to show how to create something, unless it's a copyrighted design, I think that's fine. I make jewellery as well & see tutorials all the time on how to make all sorts of things. Its the quality of components & skill level & imagination that is always going to make the difference between a beautiful item & a not so beautiful item. Jewellers, dressmakers, kettle makers, car manufacturers....I could go on :-) all make the same things, but they don't claim those items as only theirs,, they just try & make something prettier, more practical or with more bells & whistles on next time, so that the consumer might like that better. I see nothing wrong In doing something your own way, or teaching other people how to do something either. What I do have an issue with is blatantly copying a design & then also the photo of that design from someone's website or shop & passing it off as their own! You are a wonderful designer & a complete inspiration to everyone who reads or sees anything that you do! Please don't ever stop doing it....in fact, please do more :-)

Maureen Cracknell Handmade said...

I agree!

Maureen Cracknell Handmade said...

I'm dying of laughter!! I heard your "Mwah Ha Ha...at the end there, too!

Jamie Lee said...

I just read the entry (thank you WETA kids for giving me a minute of free time) and found it very interesting! Thanks for putting it out there. I didn't know about it before, but I see both Kate's and Leah's points of views are valid. I just wish money wasn't involved!

mammafairy said...

ok, before I read anyone else's comment, here is my two pnn'orth.
I made a pyjama case, twenty something years ago, for raffle at mums and Tots. It was a teddy in bed pyjama case, which I just dreamt up out of nowhere. It was much admired and raised a fair amount of money. That year a well known chain came out with a pyjama case- Rabbit in bed! And I was accused of copying. I hadn't, I didn't know they would come up with such athing, and it was hurtful.
Good ideas are on the ether somehow- good inventions often crop up in several different locations at much the same time.
But we are inspired by a variety of sources, and if you are inspired- well, that is good.
Passing off is a different matter. If I find a tutorial, and use it, and it works well, I should credit the tutor. If, however, what I do is very similar to what someone else has done, but I have not seen it, or copied- then it is coincidence- and coincidence happens. A lot.

If a commercial company thinks you are doing them out of trade, they are liable to stomp on you. but very often your little doings are neither here nor there, and will not affect their trade at all. I certainly wouldn't spend the money on a mass produced item I could make more to my taste at home. So they do not lose out, but I win. So I do it!

Fair? I hope so.
Of course, if I see someone can make what I want, better than I can, and at a fair rate, then I will use their expertise. I think that is only sense.

Ok rant over!

emedoodle said...

I think about this a lot. This chart really resounded with me - I saw it on pinterest (and I'm leaving the pinterest link only because the real link has TONS of different images related to it - it'd be confusing to tell you which one I'm talking about). http://pinterest.com/pin/271130840037272557/ I really like this. I think about it in general all the time. I don't have the time or the money to take a lot of sewing classes, or to buy a lot of sewing books. My knowledge is mostly self taught. Yet if some big name blogger is doing something similar (or has done something similar) I often feel like I shouldn't add my 2 cents to it, I should just link to them. But so often I've changed what they did, I've made it my own, I've grown. How do we mention that? I blog without feeling that I "owe" anything to my readers, I do it for me. Sewing is a lot like that too. But I generally don't sell things. Bottom line, I think it's always good to link back to your inspiration, and even better to email that person and share it with them too. I would always take it as a compliment if someone did that to me. But just putting it out there and not linking would be shady.

Jenelle said...

It's actually fairly widespread that companies like Antropologie and Urban Outfitters steal artisan designs and the ideas behind handmade products to mass produce them without contacting or compensating the original designer.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/26/urban-outfitters-steal_n_867604.html
So in all reality, many of the products that we admire (including me!) from larger stores like this may already be copies of an original design that was not given appropriate credit in the first place. They look like they could be easily executed by hand, because the original probably was.

I think that while it is impossible to not receive inspiration from outside sources (nor would you want to stop!), if one does plan to present an original idea (and sell it either as a good or as a pattern), it is important to let that inspiration first pass through the filter of your own creative mind before making the project. For instance when I saw this pillow, I thought, "great texture!", and immediately jumped ahead to how selvedges would look in this kind of configuration. I think that that is the start of an original idea brought forth from the inspiration of the pillow. This is a complicated topic though, and I am enjoying the discussion here. :)

captainsharmie said...

oooh boy. i took a course that delt with this in school last year, and i hope to write more about it in future. for now, i'll just give you my complete opinion:

no one has copyright on an idea. the idea to create a chevron pattern out of scraps on a pillow? impossible to copyright. making your own version of this is 100% within your rights. So is creating a free tutorial based on it.

when it comes to revenue, it gets more hazy, but this is where it becomes a question of inspiration versus duplication. if i were to make a copy of this pillow, then sell a pattern online, there would be grounds for the company to sue me. but if i used this idea to make a whole quilt, or used all one fabric, if i deviated from the original in any significant manner, it is now mine.

it's more a question of ethics than actual law. if i saw that a blogger had made this pillow and i copied their idea, changed it around a bit, and then started selling it, i'd feel guilty. but if i did the same in the face of a major corporation? i wouldn't. and since i have a basic grasp of what is within my rights, i wouldn't immedeatly fold under a little corporate pressure without consulting someone else first.

in a nutshell, i think that people are too protective of their ideas. they think that if they thought of it, they should be the only people to profit off of it. but the only thing that is theirs is the actual execution. deviate from that method, and the method is now yours.

thanks for reading my rambling...

captain sharmie
supersharmie at gmail dot com

Katy Cameron said...

Hmm, those are quite cool, and yeah, totally, easily doable.

As for the inspiration part of things, we are all influenced by all kinds of things, colour combos on a billboard on the way to work (no? Just me? ;o) ), patterns in puddles or broken glass, that bag the woman next to you on the train was carrying... We mull things over, sometimes consciously, sometimes subconsciously, and then head off to create something. Now if you've created something totally different from the original, all is right with the world, but when it's more of a direct copy that you then start to distribute, that's where it all goes horribly wrong. As soon as you create something, you own copyright, you don't need to apply for anything, it's all yours, automatically. If someone copies your carefully crafted item that you're, eg, selling on Etsy, and then, say, disadvantages you by selling and/or sharing the tutorial for their version with the masses, whatever, then they're breaching copyright, which the original owner could prove by showing their original design (btw, it's wise to take digital photos which you don't ever touch, as it will have an original date stamp on it). To be honest, most people in craftland don't have the money to pursue copyright claims, it's such a relatively low profit market, and some are actually flattered because their creation has reached a wider audience.

I think there is a perception that as soon as something hits the internet, or even just the public domain, then it's fair game for anyone to do what they like with. I worry, for instance, that all those food blogs that copy recipes directly from books to share what they made, are going to come a cropper one day!

The flip side of this is a legal dispute that I'm on the fringes of at the moment (as a witness) where one woman is trying to, rather insanely, claim copyright for a set of words relating to a particular craft technique, and suing another woman for having some of the same words in the description of her goods. If I tell you that crochet is one of the words, that might give you a small hint of the insanity...

Anonymous said...

I love to go to craft faIRS AND CHECK TO SEE WHAT OTHERS ARE DOING. tHEN i DECIDE IF I CAN DO IT OR NOT sorry about the caps...............Then if I really want to try it I usually put my own spin on it..............I sure dont have the money to fork out to buy everything I want to try or even to persue......Heres happy crafting to all and good luck pam fetrow

captainsharmie said...

oh, and i almost forgot! check out what's going on with the infamous owl sweater: http://katedaviesdesigns.com/2012/07/08/the-o-w-l-sweater-a-design-story/ this is a classic case of the situation you suggested, but in reverse.

personally i think that the company is acting in bad faith, but there isn't much that kate davies can do about it, because they're big and she's small. and that's really what it comes down to.

Gwen @ Gwenny Penny said...

Lots of great comments on this post. Very interesting read. I think it's absolutely OK to make something for yourself if you see it in a magazine or in a store or on Pinterest. Where I think things get a little sketchy is when a tutorial is written on how to make your own. I've done one knock-off tutorial, and I'll never do it again... I just didn't feel right about it. I also posted a Land of Nod knock-off that I made (I didn't write a tutorial for it), and someone from Land of Nod came to my blog and checked it out. I think many of these large companies are watching what we're doing.

I really liked Jamie Lee's comment on how you would feel if someone put together a tutorial for your fox pillow. I know West Elm, etc are large companies that mass-produce and make lots of money, but why is it right to take from them (i.e. show others how to make their products) but not OK for them to take from us (i.e. mass-produce something they see on a blog or in an Etsy shop). I don't think there should be a double standard.

So... definitely think making for yourself is A-OK, but personally don't think a tutorial is the right thing to do.

P.S. You're awesome :)

Lee said...

Check out this book: http://www.amazon.com/P-S-Made-This-PS/dp/0810996030. Subtitle: "I See It. I Like It. I Make It." I haven't read it, but according to the Amazon description, the book features "25 projects inspired by iconic fashion looks, runway trends, and celebrated style mavens for readers to create themselves."

If she can write a whole book of projects like that, sell it for profit, and apparently not get sued, I don't see why you can't make your own pillows that are inspired by the West Elm ones. : ) I'd be on board with it as long as you make a few small changes (don't duplicate the West Elm pillows exactly) and publicly credit the West Elm pillows as your source of inspiration. It's when people see a pillow they like, copy it, and then try to pretend they came up with the idea themselves that it really irks me!

JessiBerry said...

I think it is interesting. I find it coming up more and more in peoples blogs and conversations. Leah Day says "Art is derivative". in her post http://www.freemotionquilting.blogspot.com/2012/03/copyright-terrorism.html when talking about the tutorials for 'her'quilting patterns.

I think it becomes a problem when you take the original image/pattern/design (all three) specifically from blog or publication and claim it as yours for the purpose of making a profit.. Something similar happened to Neanner's Shop (http://neannersshop.blogspot.com/2012/07/ive-very-sorry-to-have-to-do-this-but.html), and that is sad because I learned so much from her! But even her photos were used for making money and a professional photographer took them for her.

I have not read all the people's comments so I don't know what I am duplicating, but the idea of not creating something for fear of copyright infringement is scary. Horribly Scary. I'm sure some of my ideas are not original, but they are to me because I don't think I have seen them before but rather similarities...

THat one comment will always stand out to me, "art is derivitave"...

Laura said...

If that's true, then Chrysler owes me a TON of $$ for the idea of putting 2 sliding doors on minivans!!!!! Anyone want a share of that?????

Jacey said...

Of course, this is something all crafters think about from time to time. Original ideas are very few and far between. Most popular patterns or motifs have roots older than us. And we do find inspiration every day in a variety of sources. I guess most crafters avoid something that they think may cause a copyright conflict.

**nicke... said...

i love jessica! lol!

Cherie said...

Interesting question!
That is a real shame what happened to you. How were you to know whatever it was had been made already.

I get most of my inspiration online. I see what other people are making on their blogs and think hmmmm I'd like to try that out, so I'll bookmark the page in my favourites and go back to it later.

It's funny though when you see some projects that are the exact same yet some people are "this is my original design please don't copy or sell any items made from it" then you'll find the same pattern on another blog and that will say "you can make and sell items made from this pattern on a low scale in an online shop, but do not mass produce" Then a few blogs down the line you'll see the same pattern maybe with one thing difference and you'll have to pay for the rights to sell it.
That always confuses me and I think should I even be making this item or not? The fact that so many people have used it and claimed it as their own makes it harder to know if it's OK to be used and why is it being sold if it's out there for so many people to see.

I'm not too bothered if people see my ideas and make something from them. As long as they don't go on to claim it as their own and try to sell it on. I make a free tutorial so someone trying to sell it is in the wrong.

It's harder when someone thinks they have an original idea only to find out it's already been done maybe some years ago by someone else.
Fabric patterns seem to be the most confusing in that sense as a lot of them seem to be a replica of another fabric pattern only with colours changed or the style that the print is in. I've noticed there are a lot of Chevron prints out there so are those designers copying each other?

Original seems to be a lost term half the time as a lot of ideas are inspiration from something else =D

Beached Librarian said...

Have you read "Steal Like An Artist" by Austin Kleon? It talks about things like how you should honour and celebrate what you find inspirational and not just copy. It's very interesting and changed how I think about things. Personally, I think it comes down to giving credit where it is owed and not stealing someone's lucrative idea just because you want to make a quick buck.

**nicke... said...

blech, this makes me never want to shop at urban outfitters again!

**nicke... said...

it makes me so sad that this has to even be discussed but i am so glad that you and other bloggers/crafters are thinking about it. i loved reading all of the comments! i love this pillow too and this is what i think we should do... "in the fall" i will make one for you and you can make one for me and we will both be happy! xo

Maureen Cracknell Handmade said...

I do LOVE that idea -- for the Fall!! LOL

**nicke... said...

i loved reading this link!

Maureen Cracknell Handmade said...

Actually, the items I was accused of copying weren't even made the same way I was making mine. These people were crazy! Seriously!! It was the hurt that came from being accused and the things that were said about me as a person and crafter that were hurtful. I never for a second thought I did anything wrong!

**nicke... said...

also, you are a true "artist"! you really are, and i think that as an artist you are entitled to pull your inspiration from anywhere! because the
"art" you create is your own!

Jenny Bartoy said...

Maureen, I pinned that pillow this morning too! And I thought the same thing, "I can totally make that!".

I understand all your thoughts and misgivings so well. I routinely go through the same stuff.

Here are my thoughts: I think that if you keep profit out of it, anything goes. In other words, if you make something as a gift or for yourself, then heck yes, copy whatever you want. But if possible, add your own spin. That's the fun of making things yourself: *you* are making them.

To me it crosses the line if you copycat something to sell in your shop, to inspire others to copycat too and/or to share a tutorial to bring traffic to your blog, you know what I mean?

Another thing to keep in mind is that those big companies like Anthropologie, Target, Pottery Barn, and probably West Elm too, routinely steal (um, I mean, "get inspired by") original ideas and copyrighted designs from small crafters and artists all over. So, I would keep most guilt in check over copying their stuff (as long as it's personal and not for profit as I mentioned above).

I would have a lot more hesitation copying something made by an Etsy artisan who relies on their handmade products being unique and not hacked left and right, than a big company who gets their "inspiration" from all the little people, like yourself!

I am rambling but I hope that makes sense!

You also get mega karma points for being so nice to everyone, so talented and so generous in sharing your ideas and projects. <3

Jess said...

This is a great discussion, thanks for starting the conversation. I sometimes worry about this. But, the thing is, if I do re-create something similar to what I've seen in a store, for my personal use and not to sell, I don't see anything wrong with that. The item ends up evolving while I'm creating it, so it's never exactly like the mass produced, and a lot of times, the materials are better. I, personally, wouldn't sell a pattern or anything based on something I've reproduced.

On the flip side, as an interior designer, knock-offs come up quite a bit in discussion. In general, knock offs are never as nice, in technique or materials used, but they are often cheaper. They are typically legal because as long as *something* is changed (dimensions, motifs, angles used, etc.), it's not really able to hold up in a court of law. Also, (from my understanding) functional items can't be under copywright, and since furniture is functional, it makes the area even more gray.

Whether this is ethical (what I think you are asking) is a completely different question than if it is legal. My conscious feels it's ok to re-create something for personal use, but I wouldn't create something exactly like the original and then sell it for a profit. Now going to read all those links that other commenters linked to...interesting discussion. :)

Jan said...

I do the same thing all the time. I'm not great about purchasing a pattern, especially if I can eyeball it and make it my own. I also think a tutorial is fine, because I'm sharing how I made something.

Jess said...

I know with recipes, the ingredient list cannot be under copywright. The process and steps (and their specific language) are what is able to be placed under copywright. So, if they are directly copying, that is an issue, but from my understanding, legally they can just change the language a bit. Whether or not that's ethical is another can of worms.

With crafting/sewing, if you copied someone's directions, obviously, that would be an issue (and very unethical IMO), but re-creating something inspired by something else is pretty much inevitable. We all draw inspiration from so much, even subconsciously. But if you have gained inspiration and can remember where from, it's nice to include that when you discuss your item.

Diann said...

Of course it is OK to see something and recreate it. The only time it would be open to question would be if you wanted to sell it. Then the question of copyright comes up and you would probably need to get legal advice.

BijouxBaby said...

There's nothing wrong with making a pillow inspired by a pillow you saw. Your's is never going to be the same. You aren't claiming you made the pillow on West Elm's website. Copyright law allows for fair use and derivative works. Not to alarm you, but posting West Elm's picture is more a copyright infringement than making a copy of the pillow. I think technically making a link to the picture is the right thing to do. However, West Elm just got a bunch of extra traffic because you posted their picture, so I doubt they are too upset with you.

I only buy patterns that I can't figure out on my own, or where I think the designer has done original work that should be rewarded. There are a number of famous blogsphere pattern designers who's patterns are nothing more than traditional blocks with modern fabrics. I'm not going to buy a pattern for a Disappearing Nine Patch quilt. Yes, I was inspired to make a Disappearing Nine Patch after viewing the cover of a pattern for one, but I am in no way violating their copyright by making my own. Nor would I be violating their copyright if I posted a free tutorial for how to make a Disappearing Nine Patch quilt. If I got a hold of their pattern and posted it on my blog as my work that would be a violation.

A chevron is not an original design, unlike, say copying an original design drawn or created by an artist. If the pillow were a damask pattern and you took the picture and blew it up so you could copy the damask design exactly, that is different than making a chevron.

Cath said...

Interesting questions!!! I often think that people think things are original, only to find out that they are not at all! And they've previously become very protective and aggressive about 'their' idea!!!

I think that if you are truly inspired by an idea, and decide to do one of your own, then if you're not selling it, I don't see too much harm in that. Whenever I have done that, I always credit the original source, and I think that that is all that any crafty person can ask for - recognition of their works! It's very disheartening to see people 'copying', but then again, very difficult to determine what that is!

In terms of the tutorial question, I'd be tempted to try and contact the person from which you originally were inspired, and let them know and ask permission to do a tutorial about it! In most cases I think they would be delighted to think that their work is inspirational to others, and see it as a great compliment. Doesn't happen in all cases, but in most I'd say. They'd probably enjoy that there is a tutorial out there (unless they were relying on it as an income means, then it might be different)

All in all, I think we all just enjoy creating and hope we don't upset people in the process!

Julie said...

I agree with so many of the other replies! I am so sorry for what happened to you in the past. That's messed up! As far as this and other ideas go I say go for it! Tell people where you got the idea originally, site your source, then have at it. I think if you can just look at it and figure it out more power to ya. We get inspiration everywhere and I think it's okay to use that for your own projects. I think a tutorial would be fine too. I do think that selling the pattern would go too far unless you changed it in a significant enough way that it wasn't a pattern of the exact same thing someone else is doing. Ya know what I mean? Just recently I saw a tutorial for a crochet bow. I liked the idea but tweaked it a bit. I used a different stitch. Alter the dimensions and changed the middle part of the bow. I think that's a significant enough change to write up my own tutorial. However, if I just saw the pattern for the bow and rewrote the pattern with the same stitch and dimensions I think that would be wrong. Also, so much easier to just link to the original person for other people to go check them out.

Good luck figuring everything out!

Jess said...

Something else I thought of, have any of you seen those selvages that have "For personal use only" on them? I've seen some at JoAnns. I don't buy them just because I'd rather not worry about it if some scrap ends up in something I sell at some later date, but it's interesting to think about.

This also had some info on it: http://info.legalzoom.com/can-make-items-using-copyrighted-fabric-21253.html

Pam Quiltaholic Biswas said...

My daughter used to get so tired of my "saying" when she was little. When we would go shopping and she would see something she would like, I would often say "I could make that". After a few years of hearing that she would even say it for me. "Mom, you could make that".

Unless something is copywrited, does it matter? A pillow could be made by anyone who can sew, right? Is it wrong to teach someone else how to make it if they aren't already as knowledgeable as those who are? I really think not. But, I guess we are a society of people who sue others on the drop of a hat, so better check for copywright first...

Esch House Quilts said...

You have a lot of great comments here and I didn't have time to read them all. My opinion is that it is definitely OK to see something you like and make your own version as long as you credit the original source.

It is my understanding with quilt patterns that it is your method that is unique to you and cannot be copied - like a pattern that uses a traditional block - not the block/design itself so you would still be OK doing a tutorial. I would not think it would be OK to sell a pattern for the exact same design. However, that sort of disagrees with what I said about traditional quilt patterns and methods - it is a fuzzy and grey area :)

Sandra :) said...

This is a great topic for conversation! I'd say that 90% of the items I pin are things I want to try making myself - for me, or for gifts, or for donation - not to sell. A few of them are so unique or unusual that I will actually buy the pattern - I like to reward the designer for coming up with something so cool (like the hexie zipper bag pattern I just bought) so even if I COULD make it myself, I buy the pattern :) And sometimes I just don't want to spend time working it out myself, so I'm happy to pay the designer for the time she saved me :) If I made a project inspired by something I saw online, I wouldn't do a tutorial for my own version if the person was selling a pattern, but if it's just an inspirational picture of something someone else created, I might, if I had put my own spin on it. I would certainly link to the picture/site that inspired me.

Ramona said...

Wonderful post. I feel it's when we're recreating with intent to sell that copyright issues surface. And part of the confusions is so many things we create are based on previous creations (which were based on previous creations...after all how much is truly and totally new?). I love bloggers such as yourself sharing their love of their craft and inspiring the rest of us (and each other). I'm in Louisiana USA and am inspired by people all around the world...how totally awesome is that. Thanks to you and so many bloggers out there for your generous spirit.

It's good that the copyright conversations are being held so we do have an understanding and respect of creative license. Knowing some of the basic limitations makes me feel comfortable when creating or recreating a project.

Ramona said...

I've read quite a few responses to this question and see that quite a few talk about giving credit when you're inspired by another's creation. TOTALLY agree with that.
Asking permission to use inspiration (such as reference in a blog). Other bloggers would more than likely love the free advertisement.

Of course, that doesn't seem to have been the problem you had, Maureen. Sometimes, people just get sideways...didn't I put that nicely. ;-)

Sam I Am...... said...

Ditto what Sandra says...is it a coincidence that we have the same thoughts AND the same name? Hmmmm....but I couldn't have said it better so thanks!

Maureen Cracknell Handmade said...

I think Pinterest is a whole other conversation, which happened a month or so ago, that I avoided because I didn't want to feel guilty for pinning! I LOVE pinning!!

DKB said...

I agree with gwenny penny about posting full tutorials. I personally cringe when I see tutorials the basically say 'heres everything you need to know to recreate this gap/gap kids dress without having to buy it from Gap'. I think it's great if you can recreate something you have seen elsewhere. I am fine with being proud and posting it on your blog for all to see, but I get uncomfortable when people post a step by step on how to avoid paying the big guy. I prefer tutorials that are either original or loosely inspired by.
So I think it's fine for Maureen to copy that pillow exactly for her own use if that's what she wants to do. And I think it's ok to post a how to do a ticker tape project, since that's what this pillow is, but i don't think it's ok to give a tutorial on how to make a narrow spaced shallow chevron ticker tape pillow as pictured

Rebecca said...

I think if you made something like these cushions and did a tutorial about them, all good! ( you could contact the person who made them and ask permission first so you don't feel like you are ripping someone off I guess.
All the blogs I read are very good at mentioning where the inspiration came from anyway.
If you decided to make them exactly the same and then sell them, not sure about that but you could gift them and write about them no worries!
If you buy a pattern for something and sell the product all good!I mean how many tutorials and items are for sale for the same products such as laptop covers, pillows, pouches etc? Your crowns are a good example, There are many patterns and ideas for these in books and I often see them for sale in various shops, markets etc and are often gifted. It is an item I first saw in a craft felt book and I have made felt crowns for my own children, long before I saw yours and they are not the same design and I don't sell them.
I am so grateful to all you bloggers who share your ideas and techniques so I can the re-create your beautiful things but i would not then go and sell that item as my own! I understand how you feel about the fox pillow, I made some beautiful handprints of my kids with embroidery when I was learning and got so many requests to make them for people that I now make them as gifts and I would be annoyed if I saw the the same thing for sale somewhere else but annoyed is all I can be because I would have no idea if someone else had made it before or thought of it before me. In other words no idea is totally original! Keep sharing and creating so we can too!

Tamie said...

This is a very interesting thread. What about making things to sell in a craft show. I'm not planning on doing one since I can't even find time to do my own things much less sew for others but... If someone does a tutorial about how to make some sort of pillow cover or wristlet or baby quilt and you make a few, can you sell those? I'm not suggesting that you say that it was your pattern or anything but the exchange of money seems to be an issue. But really, whose idea was a log cabin to begin with? Just wondering.

Danielle Hudson said...

You just opened a little can of worms. Haha. Watch this video. http://youtu.be/zL2FOrx41N0 It will put things in perspective a little bit for you. All of the copyright crap makes me sick. People have taken it a little to far. I think you should make the pillow. Get everyone to donate your those selvedges that say for personal use only, and make the chevron out of those. then post a tutorial. Ok, well, maybe West Elm is not giving you problems on this YET, so maybe you shouldn't be in their face about it....but it still would be great:)

Maureen Cracknell Handmade said...

Now that's a great question!! I often wonder that same thing when I see people selling or planning to sell their items that were made by following someone else's tutorial, pattern, or design. When it's something unique in design and more modern, it really makes me wonder? When it'd something as common as the Log Cabin block or even made using a new technique, I feel like that's up for grabs. I definitely feel that getting permission and giving credit is the right thing to do! But as a topic, this is where things gets confusing for me, too!

With that said -- any tutorial I make can be made and used however people wish, just as long as my original images and instructions aren't copied and shared without permission. Of course, it's always nice when people play nice and give proper credit!

Spoolhardy Girl said...

Boy have you struck a nerve. Clearly, this is an issue we all deal with. Just recently, I "pinned" a really cool pillow by Rita of Red Pepper Quilts. Hers is a pieced grid design in red and white solids. I made a similar pillow using the same grid design with prints and mine was appliqued and not pieced. I made the decision not to show the pillow on my blog or on flickr because, while I would of course link to RIta's inspiring pillow, I didn't want people to think or say I'm a "copycat."
Another example; I "pinned" a purse today. It is a Furla leather bag that has zippers down the side that opens gussets, allowing the bag to "grow." I thought it was SO cool, and definitely am going to try to create something along these lines with a fabric bag. So, is this "copying," or is it inspiration? I'm not sure.
My question is, do we need to consult an attorney before we begin every project? In these litigious days, we might have to!

Anonymous said...

I've been painting (and selling my work) for years, but just recently decided I'd like to start sewing. This post kinda scares me. I 've only purchased a few fabrics and haven't run across the "for personal use only" statement. So, if I see that, should I just leave it alone if I'm intending to make something that I'm going to sell??
Beth

Jeannie D said...

As a songwriter married to a retired music publisher whose new business is copyright licensing, I can tell you there is a very fine line between originality and "borrowing". I think, like a lot of others here, that as long as you are making it for yourself or giving as a gift to someone, it's OK. (Do you think the writers of "Happy Birthday" get paid every time someone sings it?:D)I have also seen purses/clutches for sale on a fabric Blog and the person selling them credits the pattern maker and her website. I actually purchased the pattern and made my own so that was a win/win situation. If you're really feeling conflicted, contact the artist and get a nod of approval...or not! BTW, ran this by my Hubs right now and he said "Everything comes from somewhere, the difference is making it your own...change a few things and your OK." Go for it!

traceyjay said...

When I was researching about copyright for publishing quilt patterns, I found out that you actually are only copyrighting your directions, and not the design itself. Because pretty much everything's already been done!

ritainalaska said...

we all see things posted on the web that we like and think we could make it on our own ... whatever the craft. it's there, so use it. some post that it's for personal use - o.k. with a hundred million or so patterns and pictures out there, who's to say aye or nay? that pillow is worth making. there's been a herringbone tutorial on a blog i follow that is just like that used on the pillow; there are zigzag patterns that everybody uses that need no patterns. my ideas folder is chock-a-block full of 'inspirational' pix i've seen on the 'net that i can make without a pattern. they're there 'cause i like them. and i might make them. and i could tell my friends how i'd make them. copy cat? it's like what's his name slapping a little paint on a canvas and 'founding' the school of modern art. look how many 'copies' his technique!

Jeannie D said...

PS...Did you see on Good Morning America a few weeks ago where "Princess" Kate Middleton's shoes are so hot they're being copied by various designers at all different prices? Just sayin'...

Anita said...

What an interesting post! I've been wondering about copying patterns because it seems like there are several patterns out right now that look almost identical to someone else's...maybe different size, but basically the same. Not to mention some of the blocks in these patterns are old (non copyrighted)blocks set in new ways or with alternate block/sashings. I think if I reproduced something similar I would not do a tutorial for the pattern but maybe only for a special technique. I've seen that done on several blogs and I feel that is fine because they are not taking any money away from the original pattern but are sharing their way of doing things. I'm sure you won't experience anything as bad as you have in the past, but there are always "haters" out there. Just keep doing what you're doing, 'cause it works for me :)

SewCalGal said...

Inspiration DOES come from many places, but I think it is important to recognize and give credit to designers, particularly when they are in the business. To walk a more professional path, I think there is a difference of sharing insights where you admire a design, recognize a designer, and leave it at that. But, to share insights on a designer, someone in the business, and promote that "we" crafters could make it, while feasible, to me just isn't professional. And, I can certainly understand how a designer could become defensive.

Inspiration of an idea that comes from a designer, someone in the business, as a grey area. Are you copying, are you adding enough unique value to truly make it your own, or to show support of the designer do you buy their pattern/book and then create something of your own?

For those that create their own version, they need to remember it really needs to be so unique that it doesn't take away from the designers original design (their income).

And, as bloggers, I'd rather we all try to recognize those in the business and appreciate. If we individually get inspired and create something based on what we saw, without buying their pattern, even if we don't sell "our" version, to me, it is unprofessional to blog about it without asking that designer for such approval.

You asked, that is my two cents. I'm just big on trying to remember and encourage we all give recognition to those in the business for their original ideas. Without them, our world of quilting, sewing, and embroidery just wouldn't be as much fun. I certainly couldn't come up with many creative ideas on my own.

SewCalGal
www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com

Rachel J said...

I'm an illustrator so I'm pretty defensive about copyright, but most handcrafts just can't be copyrighted unless they're really detailed and complicated and unique. Pillows have been made for thousands of years in pretty much the same way.

So I think when you do a tutorial on a type of technique like sewing, even if it's to copy something someone else has made, you aren't selling the actual pillow, you sell the tutorial. You wrote that tutorial took those photos? The writing and photos are copyrighted. The pillow? no. Not unless it was in an illustrative shape or a very original design that you could legally copyright.

This pillow's design that just isn't that original. It's super cute. But it's not an original shape, it's not an original design. It's also not handmade.

Especially for big companies like West Elm, they probably have the front fabric work made in a machine, and that bolt of fabric's what they would copyright. Not the design itself. They don't have to worry about us handmakers copying this design because they can sell it cheaper and to a larger audience because they have that fancy machine. This actual design, to them, is literally two squares sewn together it looks like. You can't copyright two squares sewn together.

In fact, the way West Elm makes this product is sooo completely different than the way you or I would--they use a huge factory--so it's not like you're telling any company secrets by making a tutorial.

Its, as you said--pretty easy to make. And if it's that easy, it's perfect for a tutorial without worrying that it's crossing copyright.

If you ever have a question about copyright--because I have questions a lot myself about what can and can't be copyrighted, You should check out the AIGA website, that is really helpful for designers : http://www.aiga.org/design-business-and-ethics/

Heidi Staples said...

I think a lot of us worry about these issues from time to time. There's so much uncertainty about everything from tutorials to Pinterest. Unless you're writing up a pattern and selling it to others, I don't see any reason why it's not okay to do your own version of something you see and even write up a tutorial for others. I've seen several projects even where you can find lots of tutorials to make essentially the same thing. Everyone teaches in a different way, and you never know what's going to work for readers.

You continue to inspire all of us, Maureen!

Teje said...

Hi Maureen! It's really good to speak about this now and then because all we think where to draw the line. I like Danielle's saying: 'you opened a box with worms'! As said also, most of the things and patterns are already made so who was the first one to create 'log cabin' or 'pinwheel'? I think you should make the pillow and if you like, show how you made it. If we know where the idea came, we should link and give the gredit, but often ideas are mix of millions of things we have seen. Selling is more sensitive theme. I think if the item is really unique, we have to ask permission or not even think to make something like that for selling. But if it's something that everyone makes, it's difficult to say who 'owns' the pattern or idea.
I do hope that people wouldn't care so much - just create, make and enjoy - anyway everyone of us makes differently even the first idea or pattern was the same.
Happy day to you, Maureen!
x Teje

Finch said...

I feel really strongly about this to be honest.
When you work really hard as a maker and try to come up with your own ideas and then they get copied directly for me isn't nice.
I know that's a very personal thing and some would see it as a compliment.
This has happened to me personally and they did a tutorial of how to make something of mine.What a kick in the teeth.

Being inspired is one thing to copy is very lazy.

rachael said...

love it!

Taryn said...

I have been wondering about this a lot lately! I feel like in the scenario you mentioned, it is okay to recreate for personal use. If one to were make a tutorial about it, I think they should definitely add their own unique spin on it. Of course, I wouldn't be surprised if West Elm got that design from somewhere else. I read this blog post from a designer who had their knitting pattern appropriated by a large department store. It is really interesting!

I totally understand the how hurtful it is to be accused of copying ideas! This is a bit of a ramble, but several years back I designed a Black Friday logo for my company. We sold big items, so I designed a gigantic present. Black Friday comes around and it turns out the retailer with a big yellow tag was using a gigantic present as well. My company was so mad at me and accused me of copying the idea the other company, even I obviously had no clue what anyone else's advertising department was up to. We sent the ad to press *weeks* before any of the Black Friday ads went live on the internet. Because of the above situation, I'm always nervous about making something original (well as original as anything can be these days!) and and then being accused of stealing the idea! With sewing I see so many projects, I am worried that I'll inadvertently copy someone.

Reecea Henderson said...

Right or wrong? Morally and ethically? I am not an expert. If someone sees something in the marketplace and makes their own version for personal use or offers a free tutorial or pattern, my opinion is that it is okay. If they copy something that is copyrighted and make money as a result, then it becomes a legal matter and will be worked out in the courts if the offended party chooses to pursue a claim.

Historically, it has been going on forever. My maternal grandmother, Nanny, would see fashions in the stores, go home, make a pattern, and make herself or her daughter a new, stylish outfit. My stepfather's mother was a dressmaker. She would actually make sketches from storefront displays full of the latest fashion dresses. She made her living that way. It was not uncommon at all.

In many industries today, products are copied and sold by one company, then a competitor brings out their 'version'. It is common practice for companies who manufacture sewing machines, automobiles, amusement rides, and beauty products.

Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. If it is not done for a profit or to hurt another entity, then I think I can live with it.

Katie P said...

My personal opinion is if you are recreating something for your own enjoyment then it is completely fine! I don't think there is a crafter alive that has walked into a store, found something they loved, but couldn't bear to pay a certain amount for an item they know could be recreated at home.
When you are selling something is when it becomes tricky. Sometimes you think you have a completely original idea and when you consult google to verify your originality you realize this product or idea already exists. You didn't go out with the intent to copy or imitate, you just had the same idea and could have possibly been inspired by the same things that the other creators were inspired by.
I think it's totally fine to make a tutorial, and I do think it will bring attention to the product you are recreating in a positive way. I'm sure not everyone reading your blog is going to try to make it, some might love the pillows in your beautiful photos and think...I need that! And then go buy them because they don't sew.

Back Porch Extras said...

I sometimes think that people are so afraid another is going to get one step ahead in anything they create. It is hard to make a comfortable living in a quilters world when there are so many talented artists. I can't believe that at one time or another one of these artists haven't seen a pattern or finished item and thought of a way to make it better or different. To me, this is why we see so many varations of an item. I see nothing wrong with a blogger writing a tutorial on their take of an item. At least they are doing it for free. I love them. I agree that a person who makes the items for resale needs to contact the artist, blogger to get permission but this is another whole subject. This will always be a touchy situation for many.

Meeling said...

It's kind of a gray area I think. If you're planning on mass producing something, obviously it's not ok, but if it's for your own use, or a gift for someone, I don't see anything wrong with it. Usually too when we "copy" something but we are making it handmade, it's not exactly the same anyways. And if you give credit as to where you got your inspiration from, they should be flattered. :-)

kristin said...

Such a gray area! I actually was going to leave a big long comment here but I think everyone else covered it! Haha. I see making as a challenge, though, and I don't really buy things for my house (like pillows). So it's not like I'm taking money away from Anthro for copying their pillow, because I'd NEVER buy a $100 pillow! You know? Definitely gets more gray with tutorials and even selling patterns; I think maintaining your reputation as a person with original ideas (or one who properly credits their inspiration) is a huge deal in blogland.

rachael said...

my comment is "ditto" ;) i've had this screen up since yesterday and thought about leaving a long comment too but everyone has summed it up so nicely!

holly said...

I dont' want to get into a long discussion here but my advice is that because you are making a living with what you are selling, etc. you really need to speak to a lawyer about your own patterns and about using other people's ideas/patterns, etc. Better to spend the money upfront rather than spending it on a lawyer for a lawsuit down the road.

The only other thing I want to add is that when people are saying that they don't have an issue with duplicating something from a large corporation versus an individual... ethics and law do not depend on the size of who you take from. Remember that corporations are made up of individuals doing their jobs and making their livings, same as small cottage industries.

pamb said...

Jessica!! Ragged strip quilting and chevron design are so big right now that of course I too was thinking of this very thing! I can't believe you are taking credit for my brilliant idea! And West Elm obviously took the notes right out off our night stands, where we do our sketches when we have our brilliant ideas in the middle of the night!!

Rachel Hauser said...

Great discussion, Maureen. I love Jessica's comment the most. Now I have a few other posts to read too.

Also, I think I'll make something scrappy appliqued for a journal cover. And I don't feel a bit guilty!

Sarah said...

Yes you can see something, think to yourself "I could make that" and then do so. My mum did that all the time with the clothes we wore as kids! If you write about it in a public forum and refer to the picture and say inspiration came from here I think that is okay too. Though, my advice would be to not write a pattern and sell it as your own design. And you can probably make cushions and sell them, as long as your tag on them doesn't say "designed by Maureen Cracknell", and you're not mass producing them. I haven't read the prior comments so I don't know if I'm just repeating others, or totally in contradiction. I'm not a lawyer, just a handy person that can make what I see and like!
sarahleighATinternodeDOTonDOTnet

Holley said...

This is true for me also...I read so much and have over the years that I question myself all the time. I really try hard to give credit where it should go. I truly enjoy your blog. Keep up the good work. When you can find time, visit my blog
holleysravesandreviews.blogspot.com

Holley Downs

donna said...

have any of you seen or heard of the book "steal like an artist; 10 things nobody told you about being creative" by austin kleon? it's a great book about how NOTHING is actually original. most things are remixed and reimagined from earlier people and ideas.
i immediately felt better about trying to use things other people make to create my own versions, mostly for gifts or my own personal pleasure.

ignore the sad, jealous women who had nothing better to do than to come after someone better than them!!

donna

Maureen Cracknell Handmade said...

Hi Donna! A few other commenters mentioned that book as a good read in the comments of this post or my follow-up post here -- http://maureencracknellhandmade.blogspot.com/2012/07/question-update.html I'll have to check it out!

I do think the major point of this whole conversation is to be respectful of one another, to give proper credit, and to ask permission when we can. It is SO important to be kind and courteous, always!! Being creative, in both what we make and even with our blog posts, is a very personal thing for a lot of people. Deciding to share so opening deserves those things! I believe that most people get that, and it's unfortunate that there are some that just don't!

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