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Copyright and Ethical Considerations in Beading

There is so much confusion about patents, copyrights, and ethics regarding what you can and cannot do. Getting a patent for an invention or design is a costly process, but getting a patent pending might be within your means. Regardless, the real cost of protecting your invention comes from the legal process. Most people do not want to pay that much to gain a legal win over trespassers.

A copyright comes easily enough. Using the © symbol will get your work copyrighted, but the issue is the legal costs to protect your copyright. Most beaders do not want to pay those fees. Instead, they rely upon people’s honesty.

Most of the protection comes when the designer calls upon the ethics and honesty of the person infringing. Everyone makes mistakes from time to time, and the best course of action is to contact them if you think they have infringed upon your copyright.

Recently, it was late at night, and I should have been in bed instead of going through beading groups on Facebook. Someone asked a question on how to do a loop for a Kumihimo bracelet, like the one shown below.
colored_necklace

I had researched for tutorials on how to do this and found a great one at Carolyn Haushalter’s blog. Wanting to give it a try away from the computer, I printed the blog entry as an Adobe .pdf file. I had great success on my first try. Turning the blog entry into a .pdf file by itself is an infringement, as I did not have the copyright on what Carolyn wrote. Printing out her instructions is another infringement. (Don't believe it? Check out this excellent post on copyright and scroll down to the section on copyright in cyberspace.) Most designers, including myself, do not mind people doing this if someone asks permission. I made a bigger mistake when I posted my .pdf file in the group files so that people would see how I did this.

So I really went wrong with my actions because of one thing: I did not ask permission. When Carolyn contacted me a few hours later by messaging me, I realized that in my haste to help someone else, I had committed a huge faux pas. I immediately removed the file from the group and apologized to Carolyn. Very few people saw it, but I was mortified anyway. I know better than to do something like this. Being tired is no excuse.

With breaking copyrights so easily done on the Internet, I urge everyone to ask themselves these questions before posting:

  1. Is this my photo, illustration, graphic, or writing?1.
  1. If yes, go ahead and post
  2. If no, do not post until you have permission
  3. Sharing a photo on Facebook is considered OK. You have not posted anything.
  4. If I have permission:
  1. Are all the details worked out by you and the copyright holder?
  2. How many times can you use their copyrighted material?
  3. How long does the permission last?
  4. Any special restrictions on the permission?

 

Carolyn’s blog is an excellent one, detailing and showing samples of cording, thread, and different beads. I am certainly going to refer to the voluminous information she has posted; however, no more copying anything beyond her blog link!

When writing up directions for a pattern, have nothing but pen and paper and your work before you. This way, nothing that is not yours will make its way into your directions for construction. On the other hand, do not shy away from asking a designer for permission to use his/her copyrighted material. Most of us give permission, or at least an explanation of why he/she will not.

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