Friday, May 3, 2013

Pattern rights

Maybe a year ago, I saw this adorable quilt on Pinterest and pinned it.

A couple of days ago I got a reminder in my daughter's backpack of Teacher Appreciation day and re-visited my pin. The pin takes you to Better Homes & Garden's blog where they mention this as a pattern in an upcoming issue. After some googling & reading of comments, I did find out that the pattern was expected to be in the Spring 2012 issue of Quilt Sampler, but I could not locate the pattern anywhere on their site, nor could I find any place to order a back issue on their site. Which I don't want to do anyway - I can look at the quilt and tell what to do. I just don't know what the legalities, or the moral issues are for this. Since a pattern was published, am I obligated to either purchase that pattern or not make it?

I mean, I'm sure if I looked at some pictures of popular patterns, like Swoon for example, I could figure out the construction easily enough, but I wouldn't do that. If I wanted to make Swoon, I would purchase the pattern just out of respect for the person smart enough to design it. But how much effort am I expected to put into that? If the pattern was in an old magazine that I no longer have access to, am I ok to just copy it by sight?

Maybe since I'm a graphic designer by trade, I'm a bit more careful about creative rights than the average person. Maybe because I have a better than average idea of what the creative process entails or maybe all the class lectures surrounding what all someone can get sued for - you'll never see a picture of Mickey Mouse on this blog!!

What would you do?


  1. I used to work in intellectual property. I am a quilter too :) You can copy it. If you can figure it out yourself, it's okay. If you had the pattern and you made copies (paper or pdf) and gave them to your friends, that would be a copyright violation. It's somewhere along the lines of parody, e.g. Weird Al can copy songs rearrange them and make up new words. But in quilting, if you are making an exact replica, that's fine too. Just give credit where credit is due. You won't get sued for it anyway, and if you did, you'd win. I wouldn't make it exact anyway... I'd change up the fabrics to make it part mine :) Good luck with it!

  2. I'm with Mike if you can figure it out yourself you will be fine. It is a great quilt for a teacher's gift!