Tuesday, November 13, 2012

On carbs and copies

Have you ever had these? 
If you haven't DO NOT, else you will be captured by their crunchy, addictive goodness.  I love these things and could easily sit down and eat a whole bag...all by myself.
Aside from the pleasant flavor and incredible crunch they are great as a sewing snack.  Not greesy!  Nothing stays on your fingers.  The same can be said of Twizzlers...however
Twizzlers have a bunch of sugar in them that pita chips do not. 
Oh, carbs, why oh why do I love thee so much?!
Wasn't that a nice bit of randomness for a chilly Tuesday.  (Really the chips are that good.)
I've been thinking a lot lately about quilts and patterns and originality.  (Not surprising is it.)
I have recently completed several projects that can easily be linked back to my source of inspiration.  I've written directions for them and shared them via Moda's Bakeshop.  No one is making any money off of the patterns directly - they are free to anyone who takes the time to go get them.  I am quite certain that the powers that be at Moda desire to inspire us with those patterns....inspire us to purchase their fabrics.  I don't really think they care what we make with them. 
As I wrote the directions I tried to give credit where credit was due.  I tried to give you a hint at where my mind was when I was making the quilt.  I did my best to be both honest and entertaining while sharing my recipe.  I did however, occasionally wonder where the line is.  At what point does inspiration become plagiarism, and time relegate something to eminent domain?
I believe the answer has to be more complected than a quilt block pattern, and  I suspect that the following list might be a good place to start....
  1. Is the item an exact replica of something else?
    1.   Does it use the exact same fabrics, dimensions, and techniques displayed in the "original"? 
    2. To me this would be called a copy.  It would be fair to call it plagiary.
These two blocks are copies of each other.
  1. Have the dimensions been changed? 
    1. In the world of quilting everything revolves around the size of the pieces.  If you change the dimensions you pretty near have to change everything.
    2. If my source of inspiration is a mini and I make a king sized quilt I don't think it can be called a copy....even if I used the same fabric lines.
  2. Have the fabrics been changed?
    1. If all that has been changed is the fabric - leaving relative color values the same - I'd have to call this a copy too
    2. If the values have been moved around, changing the impact of the blocks I'd have to say no.  It is an original work.
These blocks, although both nine patches, are not copies.
  1. Has a new technique been used?
    1. If everything about the quilt appears to be identical, but the quilt was made in a different way, I would have to say that this is a new item and not plagiarism.  This would be like two people taking a trip to Alaska, one takes a cruise the other goes by land.  They visit the same sites, take the same pictures, and come home with the same souvenirs.  They didn't take the same vacation.
    2. A nine patch created by English Paper Piecing is NOT the same as one that is made from 9 squares sewn together, nor one that is made by strip piecing.  The directions for each of these would be very different.
  2. Is the item elemental?
    1. After all of the other questions have been asked (Is it a copy?  Has it been re sized?  Does it use color differently?  Is it a new technique?) I have to decide if the project is basic enough to belong fairly belong to the mythos of quilts.
    2. There are probably thousands of blocks that belong in this category; however the most basic,  nine patch or half square triangle definitely would be common property.
    3. Like wise there are probably thousands of settings that fall here as well.  If it is common enough to have a name that most everyone recognizes than it is probably public property.
 Do you have any additions for my list?
 Please do not take my ramblings as legal advise.  They are not intended to be.  They are only my thoughts on the topic.


Lynne said...

Wow! What an interesting post. I love it. I am sometimes concerned by copyright issues ---usually as related to knitting because that's where I get paid!

I can't think of anything to add but am curious as to what went on to bring you to the point of writing this post?

Susan Standen said...

Yum! Haven't had Twizzlers in years. You just took me down memory lane.

Quilt designing must be a mine field as so much has been done already and finding the fine line between that and original twists on things would be hard. But you do a brilliant job!

Patti said...

Thankfully we don't have those pita chips here, however, we do have Cheezies and I am a complete addict! There is nothing healthy about them either! Twizzlers I can take or leave.
I really liked reading your take on the copy issue. There seems to be a lot of discussion on it lately.

benta atSLIKstitches said...

That looks like a comprehensive list. I hadn't thought about it before. I am inspired by other peoples creations, but don't much follow directions and being self taught have my own methods ? My oldest daughter is studying philosophy, and she tells me there is no such thing as an original idea, everything is inspired by something else!

Janine said...

This is definitely an interesting topic. I'm not very familiar with different quilt blocks but I would expect most are common property. As an example, after reading this: I pretty much concluded the most original thing about the swoon block was the name...Then again, the feather bed pattern: seems to me to be original (because I've never seen a feather block before). I don't think it's possible to copyright a technique or process, although laws vary between countries and states. If you want to write patterns to sell (which would be fab!) I'd really recommend you to take legal advice to make sure you.

Fabric Warrior (aka Amie) said...

Great post. Being in the library world, copyright is one of those things that we always have to consider (and can quite literally make me crazy!).