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Scarlet Quince Ramblings

Cross stitch ... art ... life

The very nicest pirates
Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

I’ve been quiet for a while — I’ve been visiting family, having friends to stay, preparing to protest my property taxes, working on getting a new roof, worrying about a sick cat.  Oh yes, and tracking down pirated patterns.

Here’s the funny thing:  I have found most stitchers to be the nicest, friendliest, most helpful, and most honest people around.  So why don’t they understand that copying patterns and “sharing” them is wrong?  I’m not thinking so much of the people who post all over the place that they will share with complete strangers, or the people who sell scans of patterns on eBay.  Those people know at some level that what they’re doing is wrong and have rationialized it — they’re helping designers by giving them free advertising, or the designers charge too much so they deserve it, or whatever.  I’m thinking of the people who would never dream of doing something like that but WILL give a friend a copy of a pattern they’ve bought (and then the friend gives another friend a copy…).   I recently found one group where people chip in, buy several patterns (all different) and then they each get a copy of each pattern.   And they admonish their members not to go sharing with people who don’t share their values, whatever those are.  Would they go into a needlework store and while one person pays for a pattern, all the rest stuff a pattern into their bags and sneak out?  Of course not.  That would be stealing, and it would be wrong.  What I can’t figure out is what difference they see in what they’re doing.

I realize that people don’t understand copyrights and copyright law.  Here’s the Cliff Notes version:  books, magazines, cross stitch patterns, music, movies, and basically anything else that comes printed on paper, on a CD, on a DVD, or that you can download, is copyrighted.  That means it’s dishonest as well as illegal to make even one copy, no matter how broke your buddy is, how urgently they need it, how over-priced you think it is, or how little harm it seems to be doing.

You CAN sell or give away a pattern you don’t want provided that you do it in a way that doesn’t increase the number of copies in circulation.  If your copy is clean because you can keep your place without marking the pattern, or because you never used it, go for it.  If you have a clean original because you photocopied it and marked up the copy, then you can’t give away or sell the original.  It’s that simple.  When you scan a pattern and upload it to the internet, you have effectively made an infinite number of copies.

The sad thing is that this hurts more people than just the designer (and some designers have had so much trouble with piracy that they’ve given up designing).  All the time I spend reporting copyright violations to web sites that enforce copyright (though they aren’t proactive about it) is time I can’t spend designing or adding tips and techniques to the web site.  And sadly, some web sites won’t do anything about copyright infringements, which leads to a great deal of angst and stomach acid.  I wish I could rise above it, but it’s hard.

I get requests all the time to sell patterns in electronic format.  No waiting for the mail!  No postage costs!  Well, this is the main reason I don’t and will not ever do that.  If someone is going to pirate a pattern, they’ll at least have to make the effort to scan it.

“Pirate” seems like such a harsh word for people who, really, are very nice and well-intentioned.  But what else would you call them?  Thieves?

Kind of a downer, I know.  I myself am very discouraged.

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