Unfortunately in the online craft community copyright infringement of patterns and designs is a widespread problem. Around the globe everyday illegal copying is going on. Copyscape is an interesting search engine for anyone wanting to find out if any of their work has been plagiarized. Enter a URL of a specific page on your site. Frankly it opened up a can of worms for me as I ran a few pages through the search engine and found a good few people out there have copied directions and images from my site and published the material as theirs I am in the process of writing to them and taking action.
I do not mind if people use material from site for non-commercial purposes as long as they credit me as the author along side my URL. I have even allowed designers and teachers, who are commercial enterprises to use material from my site because they have done the right thing and asked me and full credit was published. The sites that have infringed are commercial sites that have ripped off both text and images and no credit has been given. So I am annoyed to say the least.
I can easily prove that the material is mine as I can point to the Internet Archive to prove that the content was published by me at an earlier date than it was published on the offending site. The Internet Archive aims to preserve and make available digital documents for researchers, historians, and scholars. Since 1996 Alexa Internet has been crawling the web, which has resulted in a massive archive of sites that have been published online. Fortunately my site was archived early on but if you want them to archive your site you can simply ask them to. Also since these people also ripped off images of my work I still have the original work in other words the quilt or item that the image came from.
Copyscape has provided some good guidelines as to how to respond to copyright infringements. Probably the most useful advice being to inform search engines such as Google that under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act an infringement has taken place and you can have the offending site removed from their search results.
With the aim of educating people about copyright the Skinner Sisters have published a CD on the issue. On their site Craft Designs and Copyright Infringement on the Internet apart from promoting the CD, there is a brief introduction to the issue, why it is important, why infringements happen and why it effects you. I encourage people to read it as the issue effects both designers and consumers.
On the same topic I found this article about Copyright Myths which many people will find useful.
Anyway I am off to write some firm letters.
I’m so sorry this plague has reached you. It is the dirty side of our beloved stitchery world. And thanks for the mention of the CD a group of volunteers from such diverse parts of the globe as Israel, Australia, UK, Canada and other interesting places created. We all need to be vigilant and encourage those about us to “do the right thing.”
Thanks sharonb for the information – my daughter is a comic artist/cartoonist who participates in a lot of ‘on line’ activity as part of her ‘community’. In the back of our minds we have always thought about the possiblity of her been copied – but of course unless one is actually confront with it one tends to become a little complacent…Thankfully she too most of her work as hard copy so the proof is there that it is hers…
I have read quite a few articles about copyright regarding textiles and what people interpretate as ‘theirs’…
It makes me wonder at times at the gall of others…
Rose I forgot about the creative common licence – I was aware of them.
For everyone else the url is http://creativecommons.org and they even have a blog that url is http://creativecommons.org/weblog/
Sorry, the Creative Commons link didn’t post. Sharon, I’ll email the link to you.
I’m sorry this is happening to you. You might want to check out Creative Coomons: They aren’t a legal organization, but your expectations of other peoples use of your work can be clearly displayed on your site, and I’m sure it would be useful if you ever needed to get into any real legal battles. Good luck!
I found this to be very interesting. I am considering having a web site and putting my cottage industry items for sale. It appears that I really need to do some research first; whether, I truly want to open myself up thieves or continue selling on consignment.
Sharon, first I have to say that you find the most interesting websites! Second, you really bring up some great food for thought. As a designer, I’ve spent way too much time chasing my copyrights, time that i could have spent working on new projects.
One thing I must mention, is that the last time I chased my copyrights, I ended up with a computer virus, a new one that my software didn’t have an update for yet. Once I realized what had happened, I spent over an hour trying to get rid of it. Was chasing my copyrights worth it in that particular case? No, because I had a looming deadline and didn’t have time for the virus non-sense. And because of the virus, I never did get the opportunity to confront the women who was abusing my property.
I guess what I’m saying, is that after all these years, I’ve learned to pick my battles. Although I truly appreciate it when one of my followers sends me a link to check out, I just don’t have time to follow up on all of them. And unfortunately, that’s why these people get away with it. Because there’s only so much time in a day.
Anyway, just my experiences. Thought I’d share.