Lately there has been a lot of talk online about copyright and how it pertains to fabric designers, pattern designers and die designers etc. Who has the rights to what and how it affects us as the end users of products. I don't want to re-hash everything that has been said in the blog-o-sphere. I just want to add my $0.02 in on how it affects the users of the Rose of Sharon die.
As many of us know the Rose of Sharon (ROS) patterns have been around since about the 1840's. Lately we have been hearing about how Sharon Pederson has copyrighted her die and how we would have to accredit her as the die designer and give 10% of any winnings or profit made from from said item to her charity. Really I thought?
So I pulled out my book The Best of Blatimore Beauties: 95 patterns for Album Blocks and Borders by Elly Sienkiewicz copyright 2000 to check out some of the patterns using the ROS images. This book is a "best of" from her series.
Page 211 I found this ROS pattern and compared it to my die.
Looks very similar huh?
I cut out some of the shapes that looked like they would fit.
Hmmm, the smallest circle is EXACTLY the same!
I placed the small leaf and the medium flower on the pattern and WOW! They are exact! So which came first? The chicken or the egg? The ROS quilt units or the new copyright?
You might want to increase this picture to see the explanation about the block. The pattern for this block was taken from a quilt, on display now, that was made in 1847-1848.
So what do we quilters do about this? Does Sharon Pederson have the right to copyright images that are exactly the same size and shape as those produced in the 1840's? If she does - shouldn't she have to give a percentage of HER profits to Elly Sienkiewicz? Or to the family of the Rev. Dr. Roberts that the quilt was originally made for?
My answer - no! The ROS units are in public domain if I cut them with a die or scissors! Does Sharon Pederson have the right to copyright the designs that were submitted to her for the block contest she ran a while back? If people relinquished their rights to the blocks of their creation - then yes she does.
If I produce an award winning quilt made with ROS units will I give anything to Sharon Pederson or to her charity? No. I can simply say I made templates from The Best of Baltimore Beauties book - done. Maybe I did - maybe I didn't - this sure would be hard to prove when exact images are in a book that was published well before the die was made.
This type of senseless copyrighting is not doing anything for anyone except causing needless paranoia and making quilters feel that they don't own the rights to their own creations. So, what am I going to do? I am going to use my dies like I use my rotary cutter or my scissors - as a tool to bring what is in my head to life. Will I copy other people's designs/patters? Maybe, but I would give credit to the designer like I always do. But, I will not let give credit stop me from creating or adapting or having fun! And, I don't think it should stop anyone else either.
End of the day - I'm just one quilter and these are my thoughts - I'm not a lawyer.
Happy Quilting All!!