Posted on

Copyright Laws & Quilting

Lotus Amazon BlogQuilting and the copyright right laws which apply to the subject come up every now and then in magazines and online. Each attempts to summarize and explain the law often with different interpretations. If you are anything like me, it just takes a little bit of “legalize” for my eyes to glaze over. Protecting the rights of others is important but sometimes it is a little difficult to figure out what it all means. A recent post found on the internet brought this all to mind.

Ginger Davis Allman came up with this wonderful chart of copyright guidelines.

Copyright-Infographic-craftersJust as a lawyer would, I will start this with a brief disclaimer. I am not a lawyer, never dreamed of being one and know very little about the law. Nothing I am about to say should be construed as legal advice. I simply want to talk about what is fair and considerate to others.

A copyright is a form of legal protection granted by the legal system to protect the original work of individuals. According to the Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA), “Works eligible for protection under copyright include patterns, diagrams and instructions for making quilts, written materials that talk about quilts and the making of quilts, and quilt designs, regardless of whether those designs appear in a pattern or diagram for the quilt, in a software program that lets the user make the quilt, or in the quilt itself.”

Many of us design our own quilts whether we do it professionally or just for our own enjoyment. Let’s use my Lotus quilt as an example.

Lotus green center

The center of the quilt consists of a large Lone Star. This is a traditional design and I certainly can’t lay claim to that. I carefully chose each fabric making sure they shaded nicely to get the effect I wanted. Around the Lone Star is appliqué which I also designed. This is my own creation.

Lotus green applique1If you make my Lotus quilt, I would hope that you let people know it is my design. If your friends want to make one, you can let them know where they can obtain a pattern or a kit. It is not alright to take the pattern, make copies and distribute them whether for free or certainly not for money.

If you want to take parts of this design and incorporate it into a work of your own, give credit. If your work includes anything for profit, you should ask permission of the designer.

I would hope you would stop and think for a moment of all which goes into the creative work of others—endless hours of design, pattern writing, pattern testing and copying costs. There is an old saying about giving credit where credit is due. Let’s always try to remember this.

18 thoughts on “Copyright Laws & Quilting

  1. when I make a quilt I usually make a letter stating when it was made, who the designer was, and the name of the pattern. Even if it is all my creation that way the recipient knows something about the quilt. Lavania

  2. I like that you talked about traditional designs such as the Lone Star in your pattern above. How you used the traditional design in your quilt is yours. Instructions are not as clear. How to make half square triangles, for instance, can only be done a few ways. Many many many patterns use half square triangles.

  3. I often hear that if you change something 10% you can then call it your own. I have known quilt shop owners that do this then sell ‘their design’ for their own profit. I do not know the legality of this… but it does not seem tight. Seems to me, they should have permission of the original designer… and credit that designer. Should they even be able to make a profit off their altered design???? Doesn’t seem right to me. I hear this often, so assume it is a widespread notion.

  4. Thank you for posting this and thanks to for the very nice flowchart. It has long been a concern of mine. How do I tell the difference between what I learned in a class and what I create using those techniques? This helped lots.

    1. A basic technique isn’t covered under a copyright but the text of the technique is. You should not use the text of the instruction as your own for a class, pattern, etc. Simply learning a technique from someone and using it is what we like our students/customers to do. However, if you use someone’s technique, wouldn’t it be nice to give them credit for it?

  5. Dear Jinny. I consider myself a student of your at 100 percent. Lately I began to receive offers to teach hand piecing. I find it difficult always in such cases, because I can only teach to what you taught me. I have long been trying to invent my own learning block, so that it was on the content of the same as well as your excellent learning block Genesis. Would not this in violation of your copyright, if I teach someone to sew using your block Genesis?
    I always tell everyone that you are my teacher, because I’m proud of it. Thank you very much.

    1. Hi Lena,
      Jinny said this would be fine for you to use this pattern as it is a great lesson for hand piecing. Thank you for asking!

  6. I buy a pattern but I need to in large it for the block size I need can I in large it without permission

    1. You sure can enlarge it. Many patterns come with the instructions to enlarge.

  7. I have been trying for months to get copyright permission to show, and use in a book, a derivative design of M.C. Escher’s ” Rippled Surface.” I have sent several emails to the Escher estate which is in charge of copyright permission but have received no reply. Any suggestions of how to proceed?

    1. Unfortunately I’m not sure if I can be much help. All those permissions were handled by my publisher and they went through the Escher Copyright permission process. Is there a number that you can call?

  8. I love this quilt. Searched your web site but couldn’t find a pattern or directions. Do you sell the pattern for this?

    1. Yes, this is the Lotus quilt which you can find here.

  9. I have been trying to buy this pattern.
    Can I buy this pattern it is so beautiful!

  10. I would like to buy the pattern only!

    1. All of our available patterns are on our website here.

  11. Can I donate your Lotus quilt (made from your kit) with a few changes, to a charity which will sell it, giving you the credit?

    1. Yes, as long as credit and the name of the quilt is given, you may certainly give to a charity.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.