Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Copyright and the Rose of Sharon

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 Roberts that the quilt was originally made for?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!!


Michelle said...

I just got off the phone with AccuQuilt (and then Googled "rose of sharon copyright" which is how I found your blog post)

What they told me is that it's the blocks that Sharon Pederson owns copyright to and not the shapes on the die. So I can use the flowers to make a tutorial for something else entirely -- which was my question to them.

Makes me feel a *little* better about the whole thing, but I wouldn't want to have to sort out which blocks are traditional and which are hers. And which someone might have come up with on their own that look like hers...

Marjorie's Busy Corner said...

What a is something we shouldn't have to worry about. I buy the die or scissors; or whatever...I'm using it. The chance of me copying hers or anyones exact block....not going to happen...there are too many patterns out there to use...or make my own....if we can't use them; we may have to not buy them...

ritainalaska said...

enjoyed reading your post! you have the right idea about this. there are a jillion patterns and quilts out there; i follow a few of them, but mostly just follow the idea. i don't sell or enter my projects so i don't worry about all this, though.

Angie said...

Honestly people throw the word "copyright" around whether a copyright has been applied for or not. You see it on just about everything now, and on some things that I know you can't even copyright.

paulette said...

The Accuquilt people better sort this out or people won't be buying their dies! I agree with's baloney!!

Marjorie said...

I'm so happy you found this book - I looked at a couple of mine, but the flowers weren't the exact size. This is the perfect solution.

Anonymous said...

I have the go cutter, but not the ROS die. I won't get it either, until the Accuquilt people get their ducks in a row, so to speak. sheesh. If I make a 9 patch, can I "copyright" it?

Linda Horne said...

On Accuquilt copyright policy page at the bottom it now reads
*For Rose of Sharon licensed designs, Nine Patch Media owns the copyright for the Rose of Sharon Block patterns. For more information about the copyright user guidelines for the Rose of Sharon Block Patterns for commercial purposes, contact Martingale & Company.
So now we have it, she can't make us pay for using our die cuts....YEAH

jdqltr said...

The one problem I have with the 800+ ROS designs Sharon has copyrighted is that they were submitted by individuals in an Electric Quilt contest. It was stated upfront is what would happen with them but... many of those designs were copies of designs already published in books and other media. Sharon appears to be treating these designs as if all 800+ designs are original designs which can be copyrighted. Many are not. She is trying to make money from the designs for a good cause, but I think her good cause is causing her very bad press.