Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Eye Candy

I think we quilters are very visual beings. We love looking at pretty things. We see something lovely that someone's made, and we want to make it too. And, of course, that happens to us about 15 times a day, and after a couple days, who can remember all the things we've seen and want to make?

Reading all these new-to-me blogs the other day made me aware of a couple of controversies that hit close to home. First, there's Pinterest. I haven't really gotten into Pinterest, but I know a lot of people have. What a great way to collect visual images you can reference later for inspiration! With Pinterest, we CAN remember all those things we see and want to make someday. But the problem is that much of the time, users don't obtain permission to pin someone else's images to their boards, which can be a copyright infringement and result in litigation. There's a very interesting article HERE if you're interested. Some of it is legal gobbledegook (after all, it's a blog post by a lawyer/photographer) but you can still get the gist of it. And this concern has caused a lot of people to decide Pinterest isn't worth the risk of possible legal action, so they've left Pinterest for now and are waiting to see what happens next.

I also came across a bit of a controversy about copyrighted fabric designs. As I understand it, Emily Cier wrote a quilt book published by C&T Publishing, and a close-up image of one of the quilts in the book was used as a design for tote bags. Lawyers for Kate Spain, the designer of the fabrics used in the quilt and reproduced on the tote without her permission, threatened legal action. The matter was resolved by discontinuing the production of the tote, I believe, and setting up a program to educate authors of C&T books about properly attributing the fabrics used in the quilts to the fabric designers. All of that makes sense--you can read more about it HERE and HERE as well as on Ms. Cier's blog, Carolina Patchworks. (You can also see the controversial tote HERE.) What interests--or maybe I should say "worries"--me are the other issues this raises, as mentioned in C&T Publishing's blog--who "owns" the copyright? The fabric designer or the quilt designer? If you're writing a quilt book and you plan to feature quilts made from fabrics of many designers, at what point do you have to identify each designer? Of course, it's easy enough if your quilt is made of fabric designed by a single designer, but what if you used a mix of fabrics? And where is the line drawn? Would you have the same duty to identify a fabric designer in the description of the quilt you're entering in your local guild's quilt show?

In her blog post, Ms. Spain explained how she creates a design and licenses it for use on stationery, fabric, and gift wrap/gift bags, but fabric, unlike the paper goods she licenses, is intended to be a SUPPLY used to make something else--it's not the end product.

Perplexing, isn't it? It kind of makes my head hurt. Especially when all I want to do is look at and be able to remember the pretty things around me. Or design a quilt and write a pattern without stepping on a fabric designer's toes--something I've never before given a thought to!

Real candy can cause tooth decay and health problems; I guess eye candy can cause trouble too.

10 comments:

Suzan said...

Because I make things to sell from fabric, I always read the selvage edge before I purchase new pieces. If there is a copyright disclaimer that would prohibit me using the fabric for a resale product, I just don't pick it up. It's annoying but I have been burned once and it won't happen again!

Beverley said...

I've always thought that if you buy the fabric, you can make what you want with it. It's yours because you parted with money for it. It's weird.

Arlyn Parker said...

The issue was not that Ms Cier published a quilt made from Ms Spain's fabric, but that CT Publishing photographed the quilt, made it into a laminate and used the laminate to mass produce the tote bags to sell-kind of like if I lifted an image from your blog and made notecards from it and sold the cards to Hallmark.
Arlyn Parker

krislovesfabric said...

Been watching those tote bag pasts with interest too...could be some scary ramifications for quilters if it truly goes beyond the mass produced tote. As you say, it makes you wonder where the line is on giving credit for scrap quilts, how many sq inches of fabric = mandatory credit? Seems to have made some people consider solids rather than prints for future designs. My eye is drawn to prints often enough, including Kate's, that I expect I will continue to buy hers and others prints and will try to follow common sense guidelines...certainly making me think about it more!

Josie McRazie said...

I guess sometimes I am glad that I am 'thrifty' and buy no name stuff! LOL! (even though I do swoon over some of the pretties!)

Moneik said...

It's too bad that quilting has become a name game. I don't really care whose line of fabric I'm using or what pattern I'm making. If I like it, I use it. As a pattern designer I would be scared to use the fabrics of these designers, but as a quilter it also scares me a bit that what I make could come back to haunt me if I don't name every Tom, Dick, and Harry who put their name on their product into my final piece.

Anonymous said...

I have read about the issue you mentioned and wondered what the tote looked like. Thanks for posting a link to it.
cindy

Sinta Renee said...

I'm glad we had this discussion! My head/tooth hurts too!

Anna said...

I am a Pinterest junkie and found today's blog very thought provoking. I think I might need an emotional intervention to stop pinning....yikes!

Miriam said...

I suppose this makes me a terrible person but I'm just sick of the whole thing. Why does everything in the world have to come down to "How can I make money?" or "How can I prevent someone else from making money?"

I respect the work of designers and professionals who make their living from their creativity. But it's gotten to the point where everyone seems obsessed with the thought that some idea they had might someday be worth millions so we better copyright everything all the time. All the way to the point where I see people claiming copyright for traditional patterns like nine patch arrangements or for a style of tote bag I've seen 10 other places.

Quilting's history has always been one of sharing patterns and ideas. Now it's about money and ego. Everyone is focused on making sure they get money or recognition or both whenever possible. I think it's sad.