Copyright Infringement when Designing Kits

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@Jamie: Great List!!! Giving of yourself and experience is exactly the kind of community we want to build here. Thanks so much for sharing such valuable information with us. smiley

I saw someone mention that if you buy a book you can scan because it's yours. That's a misunderstanding. The book might be yours, but not the content. The content will forever be with the publisher or the artist until copyright runs out.
Like for instance the copyright of some books by F. Scott Fitzgerald has run out and now have become public domain which means you can download and read them for free. Unless the copyright expires that content is not yours and you can not use it unless you have permission of the owner.

I recently saw a kit with very cute Peter Rabbit theme and the actual Peter Rabbit elements. I'm pretty sure Beatrix Potter or her children still have the copyright on those images. So that kit was totally a no-no. It was being sold on Etsy and I think it still is.

The best way to use media, like images, music, video is making use of Creative Commons license.

I quote: What can Creative Commons do for me?
If you’re looking for content that you can freely and legally use, there is a giant pool of CC-licensed creativity available to you. There are hundreds of millions of works — from songs and videos to scientific and academic material — available to the public for free and legal use under the terms of our copyright licenses, with more being contributed every day.
Read more about them here: Creative Commons

And they also have a convenient web page that gives you access to search engines where you can search for images that you can use commercial without having to worry about licensing.

Hope this helps, if you use these sources you will always be on the safe side.

I saw someone mention that if you buy a book you can scan because it's yours. That's a misunderstanding. The book might be yours, but not the content.

I believe this is somewhat inaccurate. You can copy the material - for your own use (falls under fair use) - but you cannot distribute that copy to anyone else. For example, if I have a book that I want to make notes about certain passages, but don't want to ruin the book by writing directly in the book. I can photocopy the page, write on that, and keep that for my personal reference (I always did this with my textbooks - at $400 a book you don't want to ruin them so you can sell them at the end of the semester).

I was wandering around the internet and stumbled upon this site: My OWS and the particular page I've linked has some really good FAQs with pdf download with information particular to graphic designers. I haven't had a chance to read it, but it might be useful. Of course, its deals with US law, but as mentioned on their site, you can benefit from the site if your country has signed the Berne Convention.

Beatrix Potter is one to be very careful with, as some of it is public domain, but not all and some is protected by trademark. I believe I'd err on the side of caution and stay away from it.

Reference :

When you purchase fabric, you are purchasing the copyright to be able to use the fabric. Quilting, photography, and digital design are, to a certain extent their own art-forms. So when you purchase their material, you are purchasing the rights to their product AND copyright, to use and CONSUME the material. Making a quilt would consume the product that you purchased. But if you were to photograph the quilt you made, and from that photo designed a card or scrapping paper, would you be crossing the copyright laws?

I guess I would ask myself these questions:
1) Have I purchased their product and copyrights?
You have purchased their product, but NOT their copyright.
2) Will I, or my customers, be using/consuming their product in a way that is close to the intended use, and therefore easily falls under the copyright law?
It doesn't matter what THEIR intended use for the product is, once you purchase it, you can use it for what ever purpose you chose to use it for.
3) Have I created or designed something orginal enough from their product that I have made it my own piece of art?

If you are referring to purchasing a pattern or fabric, and creating your own quilt following that pattern, or using that fabric, it is your own piece of art. The copyright holder can not control what you do with the quilt you created. The copyright is for the is the written pattern, or the design on the fabric, not what you create from it.

When you purchase fabric, you are NOT purchasing the copyright to use the fabric. You are purchasing a tangible item, that you can use in any manner you wish. The copyright always stays the property of the copyright holder. If you wanted to purchase the copyright, it would cost a lot more than $9 to $10 or so for a yard of fabric.
What you can NOT do is copy the "pattern" of that fabric, and create your own fabric, or anything else, using that same design. The fabric itself is not copyrighted, fabric is a common item, so it can not be copyrighted, however, the design that is woven into or printed on the fabric is what is copyrighted. So you can not use the pattern with out permission.
With quilting, when you purchase a pattern, the pattern itself is copyrighted, but not the item you make USING the pattern. Just because someone states on their pattern that you can not sell something made using their pattern doesn't mean they have the RIGHT to state that, or enforce it. THEY CAN NOT CONTROL WHAT YOU DO WITH SOMETHING YOU CREATED.
I think there are a lot of designers that either are ignorant when it comes to copyrights, or they just plain want to scare people into thinking they can control what you create with their patterns.

Say you go into a store, and see all kinds of flower embellishments, you probably won't find any sort of copyright on them, as a flower is not something that can be copyrighted. You could probably find the same type of flower from many different manufactures. The materials they used to create that flower may be different, or the colors they choose to make them, but the concept of the flower itself can not be copyrighted. Since you aren't manufacturing flowers, you would probably be safe in scanning in a flower and creating a file to use for digital scrapbooking, since they can not copyright the shape of the flower. I would check with an attorney though just to be sure if you are doing this for commercial purposes.

Yes, I agree with you Diane, I would completely avoid photographing/scanning fabrics with specific patterns (the only exception for me is scanning/photographing for a specific texture...i.e. cotton, denim etc.). Again, also agree with your flower concept. The only exception that I've thought about is if you purchase a hand made item. For example, I don't ever scan hair accessories such as fabric flowers that I've purchased from other small businesses. Some outright say that they have a copyright on the arrangement of the hair accessory (whether it's possible to do that I'm not sure). It's just so much easier to make as much as I can from scratch and avoid any sort of conflict.

I thought I had already commented here - must be losing the plot!!
With photographs, copyright is a grey area, depending how rich you are to stop someone publishing something you don't want them too! If someone takes a photograph it is their art and their copyright, therefore you can photograph something and publish it. If you take a picture at Disney Land it is your picture and can be published, if however you were to sell a book containing photographs of Disney Land and have Disney Land in the title, that probably would infringe copyright. Whoever took the photograph owns the copyright. You can not adapt someone's design as if it has any resemblance to the original, it infringes copyright. If I sell a hedgehog design flying a kite, you can draw your own hedgehog flying a kite and sell that because you cannot copyright the idea of a hedgehog flying a kite, however if your design looks like a copy of mine, that's infringement. If you turn a fabric design into a backing paper, you are using someone's design and therefore it infringes copyright. If you make a bag with the material and photograph that, that does not infringe copyright. With stuff on wiki, you agree to keep the same terms, ie keep it free!

Public domain laws are easier. I prefer to stick with either public domains or copyright free work. Public domain law is not the same in every country and if you see something on Gutenberg it is not automatically Public domain. So I like to keep the TOU for Royalty free items. Anything before the 1920's is usually Public Domain, but there are exceptions, some artists live long lives!!

True, Su! My understanding is that Artistic License requires multiple and significant changes, not just one new spin. It cannot evoke the original copied material. I am thinking at the moment of the song "We come from the Land Down Under" in which there is a flute riff that sounds a lot like "Kookaburra sitting in an old gum tree". The lawsuit was huge and successful for the Kookaburra folk even though the flautist insisted it was not intentional and was embedded in an original song. So be careful there!!!

Basically, copyright exists because we need to treat artists fairly. Copying can be the sincerest form of flattery but it is also stealing if we intend to claim someone else's original work as our own - whether we are selling it or not. But when we try to sell it then we truly cross the line of integrity and the original artist has every right to cry foul. There is nothing worse in the artistic community than to get a reputation as a fraud.

Be inspired by others, copy them to understand their techniques or launch a new idea, and give credit - this is all part of artistic growth (all the old masters did it). But never claim something as your own when it is not yours to claim. It is just simple good manners, really. Original work is all we should ever sign our name to. smiley

Goodness, I have just sat and read all this information, its a mind bogglying stuff.

@Michelle: Yes, it is! smiley It has made me step back from possibly venturing into the design area, as I'd be too afraid I might accidently (without meaning to) violate a copyright or something.

What Michelle and Lizanne both say is why I decided I wouldn't even try to be a designer. I am such one who abides of all things to do with following rules, I would be terrified to make a mistake that would cost my family more money than I made. smiley