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Scarlet Quince Ramblings

Cross stitch ... life ... art

Why we may not have your favorite painting
June 13th, 2013

I received a suggestion yesterday that we add a pattern of Edvard Munch’s The Scream. It has been suggested many times before and I wish we could use it. I’m sure it would be popular, particularly in this day and age when there seem to be so many good reasons to scream. But it is still under copyright and we inquired several years ago and could not get permission to use it. I explained this and the lady responded that she knew of at least two other cross stitch sites that have it. I’ve seen them too, but they are using the art illegally. I don’t know that 100% for sure, but I like to think our patterns are at least as good as anyone else’s, if not better, so it’s not likely that these other designers got permission to use the work while we were denied it. Maybe they negotiated the exclusive use of the work, but generally when someone has an exclusive, the rights holder says so. So it’s my belief that these designers are either ignorant of copyright or just don’t care. They’re small and apparently not worth the rights holders going after them. It’s really frustrating but much as I would like to offer a pattern that others have, it would be illegal. And wrong. I don’t think Munch (or his estate) would be injured by a high-quality cross stitch pattern, but it’s still their right to deny the use for that purpose.

We have also been denied the right to use the work of Pablo Picasso, Rene Magritte, Henri Matisse, Andrew Wyeth, Jackson Pollock, Marc Chagall, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Salvador Dali. If you see cross stitch patterns based on work by these artists, they are not being used with permission and the designers are not paying royalties. Then there are the artists (actually their representatives) who don’t bother to respond. These include Jack Vettriano, M. C. Escher, Thomas Kinkade, and Peter Max. Some of these may still be possible if I’m persistant enough, although I read somewhere that Peter Max made a decision several years ago not to license his work for anything anymore.

I often tell people that licensing art is a time-consuming process. Some of that is negotiating terms but most of it involves requesting permission, waiting, following up, waiting …

The good news is that Edvard Munch’s work will become public domain January 1, 2015. So we’ll be all over The Scream then!

13 Responses to “Why we may not have your favorite painting”
  1. From Hallie Wake
    9 years ago

    I commend you for your ethical stance on getting permission to use the art. Your patterns are by far the best available, so if anyone gets exclusive rights, it should be you! I am disappointed in the ones who won’t respond or give permission — it would be wonderful to have those patterns available.

  2. From Jean Cowling
    9 years ago

    I visited Dublin at the weekend and saw the Book of Kells. Some of the decorated pages would make beautiful cross stitch. What do you think? |I’m still stitching your A Mon Seul Desir – 18 count. A year and a half in so far, and probably another year to go. Damn the day job! Will send a picture when done.
    Many thanks for your lovely lovely website.

    Yes, I think this or similar things would be beautiful patterns. It might be tricky with the paper (parchment, I suppose it is) so yellowed. A few specific pages are on the list of suggestions. It’s so hard to choose.

  3. From Lynda Orme
    9 years ago

    Greg Olsen would be a great catch. I know him personally, so use my name. I discovered a piece of his on a website, but it turned out to be illegal. They couldn’t do anything because it was through a foreign company not bound by our laws.

    I may do that! Regarding law, there are international treaties on copyright and most countries have the same or sometimes stricter laws, but it is very difficult to prosecute someone in another country. China does not enforce its copyright laws at all and Chinese hosted sites generally will not respond to requests to remove copyrighted materials. Russia is another problem but sometimes copyrighted material will be removed. Almost anywhere else, hosting companies will act on copyright infringements if they are notified about it.

  4. From Laraine Harris
    9 years ago

    Thank you so very much. I am 72 and spend a LOT of time cross stitching. I love your patterns. I like to follow the colors. I work in a space of 10 stitches by 5 rows. That way I do not have to change my needles as often. I do have a proiblem when I do this, my stitiches are not all the same height. The lighter colors seem to be squeezed in. Even though they were already there and when I add a color in front of them they seem to loose their bounce. Somehow, I will need to fix this problem. I do not expect for you to answer this email. I know that you are very busy and I have bothered you a lot. I will might put this on the web site under questions. Laraine

    It is really hard to insert a stitch neatly especially on higher thread counts. I stitch from top to bottom and never place a stitch unless the one above it has been made. (I do leave gaps within a row.) You do need to park and potentially use a lot of needles (depending on the piece) or go insane. You might see if that gives you a better result.

  5. From Jo
    9 years ago

    Have you considered a cross-stitch made from a customer supplied painting. As well as stitching I paint, and I have wondered if I could stitch from my paintings. I don’t have the skill to convert, but I would be interested to know if some of them would, and if they may sell as kits.

    It’s a possibility. It would depend on the the painting. You are welcome to send me a few of your favorites to look at.

  6. From Fran Fooks
    9 years ago

    How about some cross stitch with flamingos.

    I have put this down as a general suggestion. If you have specific ideas, please email me.

  7. From Natasha
    9 years ago

    I have just received your Bosh, Garden of Earthly Delights 3rd panel and it looks wonderful. I am going to try it in a needlepoint canvas with DMC stranded floss, having practised on a scrap of canvas it should turn out fine. Cant wait to get started.

    Maybe, maybe please – by the time I finish it you will have the other two panels charted, it would be lovely to have the Heironymus Bosh Garden of Earthly Delights complete three panels.

    Thank you for this wonderful site, every time I look at it I see more and more I want to do, my husband says we will have an entire museum gallery if I had my way :) Natasha

  8. From Laurie Kizlyk
    9 years ago

    Good a.m. Fellow Stitchers; Thank You SQ for your explanation. I understand the frustrations that we do have. When we have a favorite designer [s] , we do tend to gravitate to those we trust. We choose our Designers for a reason ……………. for the quality of the art work that we wish to stitch. Yes, I have seen other Designers work on producing chart-work of a specific piece – BUT, in the end – are we completely satisfied with the end result ?? Sometimes you can compare a side-by-side view of a finished product. Sometimes it is not so easy to chose the designer – finished pieces are to be hung with pride on our walls or given as gifts. Since copyrights are often infringed upon, it is most unfair that some designers do not care. Supporting a Designer with Principles is important.. To me, A quality reproduction is very much a compliment to any designer who is has done their homework and spent hours to perfect that chart-work. Thank You SQ for all your LEGAL PERMISSION to use a piece of ART to produce a Beautiful Project for all of us who don’t have the time or resources to do it on our own. WE MIGHT NEVER FINISH A PROJECT WITHOUT THE ASSISTANCE OF DESIGNERS SUCH AS SQ. I know, I tried something on a smaller scale. Time is of much importance. … Laurie

  9. From Carole Rogers
    9 years ago

    Having stitched your things for some time–my husband, too–I’d expect nothing less than your stand on this or any other issue. And I certainly can’t imagine that any other website could offer the quality and helpful additions yours does. Clearly, there are people all over the world who feel the same way I do!

  10. From Amy Moore
    9 years ago

    Your column is very interesting and am appalled at the amount of illegal patterns out there. I do so want to do End of the Trail, but understand better now why it is not published as a pattern. If you ever do – remember me! I’m 72 years old and am working on Monarch of the Glen. Am only a couple of weeks into it, but am really excited and the recepient is patiently waiting for the presentation. Don’t have the heart to tell him how long it may take. Your Scarlet Quince is a class act in every way. Thank you and God bless.

  11. From Evelyn Falkenstein
    9 years ago

    Some time after discovering a rendition of my current piece, Vermeer’s View of Delft, from another designer, and much smaller, with no mixed thread colors, I made one last check on Scarlet Quince’s website and since it was not there, I went ahead and ordered the small chart. I figured that they had the copyright and that you would not get it…Less than a month after it arrived, it was your new chart of the month. I PUT THE OTHER CHART AWAY AND IMMEDIATELY ORDERED YOURS. I’d like to unload the smaller one from the “bad” company but I couldn’t in good conscience put it over on any of my friends! No one in my family has the love affair I have had with this painting since I first saw it in The Hague in 1964. In the late 90′s I flew from CA to DC to see it for the fourth time. Guess I raised my children wrong. It’s been quite a while. I stopped to make a second Lascaux horse after they started competing for the first one. Now I am back to it after about a year and more, and I still love it absolutely. The only way I can communicate with my friends about what I am doing is that it’s my zen time (What do you expect? It’s California). My only criticism is that framing pieces that large is prohibitively expensive. If it could be done on 14 count, it would approximate the original in size! But of course it can’t. I would suggest more small paintings. There was a very small (4×8, I think) painting of apples by Cezanne in the recent traveling Impressionist exhibit I saw in CA and it would make a gorgeous little project. It was very closely shaded, perhaps in the book of the exhibit, perhaps not. After Lascaux Bis (the Aurochs, horse and deer that just came out) I am going to do the interior only of the Tree of Life by Henry Dearne (?) and a part of a landscape without the portrait below it.

    Please tell me whether you have eliminated some of the paintings you offered in previous years, and whether you can possibly warn us before you are going to do that. If you have, do you keep the ability to make up and sell individual works? Do private owners ever give you rights to publish their paintings in cross-stitch? Evelyn

    We have not eliminated anything. The only reason we would do that would be if our license expired and we couldn’t renew it, and we would announce that. Are there things you think we used to have that you can’t find now? Most likely, you saw them somewhere else. Owning a painting is not the same thing as owning the copyright and most of the time they are not in the same hands, but if a painting is privately owned it may be difficult to find an image of it.

  12. From vicki covington
    9 years ago

    I am sewing the lady and the unicorn, sense of hearing (larger). it’s been 2 years into the project and I have been considering finishing it as a tapestry instead of framing. I would encase the raw edges in a band of velvet or velveteen. Do you have any recommendations on how this technique could be accomplished? I really need to know if a stiffener of some sort should be attached to the aida to reinforce it. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

    Yes, I would use an interlining — probably something fairly heavy, like a stiff Pellon (not fusible). I have a piece I plan to finish this way — see The completed alphabet!. There are some thoughts there about what I intended to do. I think you will want to have a backing, and you could even attach it as a pocket, insert a piece of foamcore, and then close it up. There is also this. I think this demonstrates the need for some weight at the bottom — probably another rod (which would not have to show — there’s a kind without knobs) and maybe some curtain weights too. If I ever get mine finished I will blog about it.

  13. From Teresa MJW Snyder
    9 years ago

    I applaud and support your stand on respecting copyright.

    So I will ask a question about a painting that I would like to do in cross-stitch: Sir Thomas More by Hans Holbein. Is this also under copyright or some other law with similar effects? I look forward to hearing your answer.

    :) No, anyone who has been dead more than 100 years is out of copyright. In most cases it’s less restrictive than that and there are a lot of special cases but it’s safe to say that works by anyone dead that long are public domain.

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