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Copyright and fashion
Get some interesting facts about what can be copied, sold, or shared
Baja Susana
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Date: 11/8/12 9:33 AM

There is a lot of confusion about what is copyrighted, and what can be copied.
Did you know that there is NO copyright protection for designs, patterns, or techniques.
There is no protection of a pattern once it has been sold.
The consumer can make and sell items from purchased patterns.
This has been tested in court and the consumer has won,repeatedly.
Here is a video by Johanna Blakely Video
And here is her bio with credentials .
As the Deputy Director of the Norman Lear Center (a media-focused think tank at the University of Southern California) Johanna Blakley spends much of her time exploring how our entertainment interacts with our political, commercial and social habits. She is especially interested in the surprising impact of intellectual property rights on innovation, organizing conferences around the lack of creative ownership in fashion as well as technology and the ownership of creative content.

Blakley has worked across a huge variety of media platforms -- producing for the web on a large scale, conducting gaming research, coordinating events for film festivals and executing consumer research on entertainment and politics. Drawing on this vast body of experience, she also lectures at USC and helped develop their masters program in Public Diplomacy.
And one of her quotes
One of the magical side effects of having a culture of copying is the establishment of trends. People think this is a magical thing. How does it happen? Because its legal [in the fashion industry] for people to copy one another.




Actually, the lack of copyright protection is one of the reasons this is such a profitable industry. Johanna has impressive credentials, has done many studies of thus issue.
She is an entertaining speaker with excellent information.
Until I found her, I also believed that patterns, techniques and designs were copyright protected.
It is important to understand what you can and cannot do with a pattern, technique or design.

-- Edited on 11/8/12 9:42 AM --

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Baja Susana
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Courtney Ostaff
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In reply to Baja Susana <<
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Date: 11/8/12 9:43 AM

Here's an interesting bio of Ms. Blakely:

http://www.ted.com/speakers/johanna_blakley.html

Valerie Jo
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Date: 11/8/12 11:15 AM

Thanks for sharing that. It is very interesting.

Just recently I emailed a designer (for a bag/purse pattern) and asked if I can make the bags and sell at craft fairs. She said to sew and sell away.

So, I would think bags would be considered in the fashion industry/category too? What about doll dresses?

I noticed they were playing with logos too (the video you shared). I am sure you have to be really careful there. What if you took a famous cartoon character and embroidered it on a t-shirt? Would that be considered fashion? I wouldn't try to sell them though.

I have always wondered about copyright law/issues. I have heard that ebay had some trouble (shutting some of them down because of breaking copyright laws).

quiltingwolf
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Date: 11/8/12 12:09 PM

I'm not sure this is quite true across the board. As these things can be copyrighted. You can't someone's else artwork and use it for you own purposes and make money off of it without the artist's permission. In some areas I think this is more defined then others. You try selling shirts with Disney designs and if someone sees you you can expect a cease court order from Disney. But this is so vast and so wide that I doubt the companies are putting in the effort or time or money to catch people. Most people just want these things for their own personal use not to make money off them. So if someone wants to put a Disney image they've digitized on their daughter's shirt. I see no problem with that. Same thing with printed licensed fabric. Joann's this past weekend had bolts of Raven's fleece and fabric and a few other teams around the area, Steelers etc. If you took this fabric and made stuff and sold it, that would be illegal as the fabric is licensed by the NFL and by purchasing that fabric you are agreeing to that as that would be part of the licensing agreement.

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PattiAnnJ
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Date: 11/8/12 1:11 PM

Quote: quiltingwolf
I'm not sure this is quite true across the board. As these things can be copyrighted. You can't someone's else artwork and use it for you own purposes and make money off of it without the artist's permission. In some areas I think this is more defined then others. You try selling shirts with Disney designs and if someone sees you you can expect a cease court order from Disney. But this is so vast and so wide that I doubt the companies are putting in the effort or time or money to catch people. Most people just want these things for their own personal use not to make money off them. So if someone wants to put a Disney image they've digitized on their daughter's shirt. I see no problem with that. Same thing with printed licensed fabric. Joann's this past weekend had bolts of Raven's fleece and fabric and a few other teams around the area, Steelers etc. If you took this fabric and made stuff and sold it, that would be illegal as the fabric is licensed by the NFL and by purchasing that fabric you are agreeing to that as that would be part of the licensing agreement.

You can make items from licensed fabrics and sell them without consequences as long as it is clear to the buying public that what they are purchasing is not a licensed product.

Think about what happens to items you make from a licensed fabric and give it to a grandchild as a gift. Then they outgrow it and Mom puts it in a yard sale and someone buys it and then repeats the gift/outgrow/resell process.

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mastdenman
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Date: 11/8/12 4:15 PM

The US Supreme Court is going to hear a case on this very issue this winter, so things could radically change (or not depending on how they rule).

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Marilyn

January 2009 to January 2010 81 yards out and 71yards in January 2010 to the present 106.7 yards out and 146.5 yards in. January 2011 to the present: 47 yards out and 69 yards in.

Plantwizard
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Date: 11/8/12 7:57 PM

So does this apply to knitting patterns too? Some are written, some are mostly charted and some are a combination of both. The local knit shop has a fit if anyone uses a photocopy of a pattern they borrowed from someone else.

Just curious.

Jan

Baja Susana
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Date: 11/8/12 8:32 PM

What Blakeley is saying, and what has been tested with the supreme court is that one cannot copyright a utilitarian item such as a garment, a collar, a zipper. Neither can sewing patterns or sewing instructions be copyrighted. Pattern companies have copyrighted pattern envelopes, but they cannot get a copyright for the pattern.
I can and knock off artists do, copy a designer item line for line. But, I cannot use the designer's name or logo to try and pass off my copy as the real thing.
The use of Disney items w/o a license in the purist sense is not legal.
The issue being tested today is the reselling of used items.
I have read a lot of Blakely's stuff, conversed with her and watched many of her videos. This has also been tested with some small designers, and the designers lost.
We have been told by pattern companies and designers that their designs are copyrighted. They are not.
But, you or anyone making and selling items needs to do their own research and feel confident that they are proceeding properly.
An interesting topic, no?

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Baja Susana
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talesofawannabe
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Date: 11/8/12 8:50 PM

The pattern itself is protected by copyright, so photocopying the pattern itself would be copyright infringement. Selling a sweater you made from the pattern would not be, as the law currently stands.

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Baja Susana
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Date: 11/9/12 7:51 AM

In my reading and research, patterns cannot be copyrighted. Once the pattern is sold, the end user may copy it and sell items they made. Utilitarian items such as clothing can not be covered by copyright, and neither can the instructions (a pattern) to make them.
Pattern companies large and small put that verbiage on their patterns.
Watch the Blakeley videos, and read her articles.
Fashion, including patterns are free market items.
What we have been told over the years was information for the self protection of big companies.
But again, before you make a decision about copying patterns, do the research, don't take my word or anyone else's word.

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Baja Susana
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Sewing on the beach, what could be better?

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