The needlework industry is amazingly interdependent. Designs are created, produced, distributed, and offered for sale. Paper, printing, packaging, shipping, and retailing are required. Piracy hurts designers, but every owner, worker, and stitcher in this chain suffers when a chart is illegally copied. Where will the chart pirates get their fibers and fabrics when the local shop closes? Where will the honest stitchers get their supplies when the local shop closes? Who will you talk to when your colonial knots or queen stitches don’t look just right? And what happens to the framers and finishers?
In some circumstances, it is permissible to reproduce a copyrighted document you purchased if the copy is for your personal use. For example, if you want to cut out a template or customize a chart for yourself then it makes sense to do this on a copy instead of destroying the original. If you are vision impaired or if you can’t quite see a detail in a chart you purchased, then making an enlargement would be helpful to you and does no harm. The key test is this: if you purchased the original and a copy will aid you personally in your work, then it’s fine to make a copy. But if it enables or aids someone who hasn’t purchased the product, then harm will be done and copying is not permitted. In no case is it permissible to copy a product to circumvent a sale.
So, please think again if you’re ever inclined to scan, copy, print, post, or distribute any copyrighted material. Please don’t accept copies offered to you by other people or download copyrighted material from the internet. And please report illegal postings of charts to the copyright owner.
A note from Ellen
Tom wrote the note above last week. I have since learned that Cynthia of The Drawn Thread has posted a note on her blog about the same sort of thing. Sadly, the posting of pirated charts has become rampant with more and more sites popping up. Almost every designer I know has been affected.
Another issue that affects designers is the posting of photos that are so large and clear that you can see all the details on a piece. Of course, it is so much fun to post photos of your stitching for your friends to see, but please take care as to how large and clear they are. Sometimes other stitchers are stitching from those photos. I've even heard of a designer who mistakenly posted a very clear photo of an upcoming product on her website, and a needleworker stitched the project from the photo before the chart was released. Can you imagine that?
Also, please don't post photos of the assembly process unless it is your own technique or a generic one. We spend a lot of time developing what we consider to be excellent assembly directions, often with lots of figures. All too often I've seen stitchers assemble my projects and show the step-by-step procedures in photos. It makes me wonder why others would want to buy the chart if someone is showing them exactly what I did. I know a few other designers of three-dimensional projects who have had the same experience.
Also, as Tom wrote, if you see any pirated copies on the internet or in person, please let the designer know so that she (or he) can handle the situation. We all need to work together to keep the needlework industry strong so that it can successfully continue to thrive.