Wednesday, November 07, 2007

classes and ethics

I have been pondering Bonnie's and Judy's frustrations and heartaches with use of their designs without attribution.

I have been teaching for about 10 years now, and have tried to do so ethically. Most of my students are new to quilting and are there not so much to learn a pattern as to have their hands held as they try new things. My weekly classes are with 3-8 students who work on individual projects with my assistance. Many of them are using commercial patterns, or something they have gotten from a magazine, book or the internet. I don’t believe this interferes with copyright as my class in not to teach that pattern, but to assist the student’s interpretation of it.

I try to use traditional blocks in my workshops, drafting my own patterns and instructions, and including a list of websites and books where students can look up related/similar patterns for future use. I encourage people to purchase the patterns or books themselves, to not copy another’s.

On occasion, I have an out of print magazine pattern I do copy, and I am afraid, this does infringe on copyright law. I don’t know if teaching for a non-profit educational site gives me any coverage for this or not. I’ve taken a workshop on creative use by a quilter/lawyer. It answered many questions, and brought up many more.


Jan said...

This is a very, very confusing issue, despite repeated attempts by people with various interests to clarify it. I think that the very history of quiltmaking...the sharing of patterns, the personal tweaking of traditional blocks and sets...contributes to this. While some infractions are quite obvious, there are many complaints made that I, personally, think are a bit of a stretch.
Several months ago, there was a lively *discussion* about this over on Whipup, prompted by a post by Weeks Ringle. Many excellent comments were written from various viewpoints. Did you see it?

julieQ said...

I am sorry for any hurt feelingsthat people have. I don't use patterns that anyone else has made for anything but my own personal use. I like to make up my own patterns, anyway. Makes for a lively blog discussion, anyway.

Slim Johnson said...

Thanks, Lynn -- this is always an issue in an art class. Usually I am outside painting or using my own photos of places I've been if I'm working inside. In my evening art class I sometimes use photos from a book and while I know I am using my own color scheme (the photo could be black + white or a color one) and making a different composition than the original photo, I just don't feel right about selling the finished work.

Rebecca said...

I appreciate your explanation of how you use patterns in your class, as this is a difficult area to sort out. That said I do think there is a world of difference between using a copyrighted work to TEACH someone and SELLING patterns which are taken from a copyrighted work, even if it has been changed in one or two aspects. While it's true that sharing, tweaking and migrations of patterns has been part of our history the stakes are much higher now since quilting is such a big market.

Jenni @ Fairybread said...

Most quilt patterns you see are nothing new anyway, IMO. How people sell a pattern that is basically a 9 patch or something similar, then get upset if they see what they feel is a copy, beats me. I don't sell quilts, so I don't feel too worried about it all. If I am inspired to make something similar to something I see on a blog, then I put a link if I am writing about it on 'my' blog, to show what inspired me, but I really do this to illustrate how we can all make a quilt that is personal to ourselves from an idea. If you offer a free pattern, then surely it is free without strings attached?