Copyright Guidelines for Crafters - Copyright and Fair Use Information for Crafters and Hobbyist's
Fair Use and Copyright information for Crafters and Hobbyist's
I started my free online tutorials back in 2002 when I created this website and soon others followed in my footsteps with their own tutorials. Keep in mind that this page is merely a guide. It is not intended to serve as legal advice.
Copyright Guidelines for Crafters & Hobbyist's
Copyright laws are a confusing, emotional, and controversial
issue. As crafters you may or may not be aware when you violate
copyright laws (or perhaps you just don't care). There are many
crafters who might accidentally break the law & don't even
When you go online trying to research the subject you are innundated with so much information it's overwhelming causing information overload to most of us. For the average person like you & me who understands all the legal jargon unless you are a lawyer who specialized in Copyright, Intellectual Property (IP) & Trademark. What is interesting is that if corporate laywers can't decide what is right & wrong how can the layperson know?
Since 2002 I have had this website & I have been writing tutorials. I am always concerned about protecting my intellectual property & often I am not only floored when I discover that people have used my content in their own tutorials, but in some cases they have also used the titile "Pyrography 101" & use it for their own Pyrography tutorials.
When I write the tutorials I also want to make sure I don't abuse anyone else's rights as well. If I am using content from a manufacturer's website I try to make sure I have contacted them to ask if it's ok.
This subject may not sound important but it is THE most important thing you need to know BEFORE you start doing any type of crafts. Unless you are using your own original design you must know a bit about copyright law. Once an artist creates a piece of art (no matter what it is, even a photograph) they own the rights to it. Once someone creates a pattern they own the rights to it. The same goes for written material, photographs, etc.
Another important piece of information is that if you are interested in doing a website do it yourself. If you have someone design & develop it for you, they own the copyrights to the site, not you. That is unless you have signed a contract with the person releasing any rights to the design to you.
No, it's not a compliment to copy someone's work. Remember the saying "IMITATION IS THE SINCEREST FORM OF FLATTERY". Well it is usually said ironically when someone tries to gain attention by copying someone else's original ideas & in the case of art, etc. it is not a form a flattery & in most cases people will not be flattered when you copy their original ideas.
Anything copyrighted may not be shared or passed on to others. Even if you do not intend to sell it or give it away, if you used someone else's material you must get written permission.
I am not a lawyer but my nephew is now a copyright, IP (Intellectual Property) & Patent attorney who has helped me deal with Copyright & IP issues over the last few years. Unless you speak with a copyright/IP attorney & have his agreement that you are not infringing on any copyright it's best not to use someone else's material without written permission.
Please do not rely on me or anyone else (unless they are copyright/IP attorneys & willing to represent in court you when you get sued) for their "expertise". Everyone is willing to give you free advice except for the attorney who will have to bail you out of trouble as a result of advice gotten from someone who says they know what they are talking about. & it's not true that people will not sue you...they might. Do you want to take that chance?
Please take this seriously because it is a serious matter.
Copyright Guidelines for Crafters & Hobbyists by Ginger Davis Allman
Recently I discovered a wonderful infographic written by Ginger Davis Allman of www.thebluebottletree.com website. What I liked about the information she posted on her tutorials was her honesty & candor. If you cannot read the information on the image you can download it as a Copyright Guidelines pdf file.
Ginger explained copyright in very simplistic terms: "Many people think that copyright is a method of preventing people from making anything that’s similar to their work. That’s actually not true. Copyright is nothing more than the right of the creator to control the copying and distribution of his work. But it is an important and powerful concept that you really do need to understand as a polymer clay artist". This is actually true for all crafters & artist's.
One interesting thing I learned from my nephew is that while a title or name is not protected by copyright laws they are covered by "no compete laws". An example is if someone used the title "Pyrography 101" which is the title of my book & online tutorials which were published electronically & then in print back in 2002. If someone uses that title (& they have) for their own "Pyrography 101" pyrography tutorials or video's they are therefore "competing with my Pyrography 101 tutorials & book. In a case like this the person who originated the "title or name" can request that the tutorial be removed from their website, youtube, etc. You can also use legal action if necessary but in most cases the person will remove the tutorial or video rather than face costly legal action.
Copyright law varies from country to country but most countries do have treaties which honor the copyright laws of other countries. I ran into a situation where someone claimed that their country doesn’t have copyright laws or that the laws in the US don’t apply to them. In most cases that is not usually true. In most cases, local copyright law differs mainly only in details such as duration of the copyright. In most of the world, the fundamentals are just the same. If you create something, it’s yours, and others can’t copy it. In the case of the internet, it really doesn't mater what what country the person is in, they must follow the laws regarding copyright ownership.
Here are some good references to start you on your way of researching this subject. There is a lot more out there so do some research before you get yourself in trouble. The first link helps you understand with is not protected by Copyright.
Just because you are not selling something it does not mean it's ok to use someone else's design. An artist may not take it as a compliment that you have copied their work. Copying is not the highest form of flattery & believe me most artists do not appreciate your copying their work...unless you ask for permission. Ask for permission before you do it. Some actually will give you permission!!!
I hope you enjoy these tutorials and find them useful.