I’m a member of a few cross stitching groups on Facebook and every few months there are questions about copyright or a stitcher will post a request and wonder why they’ve sparked outrage. Here’s a brief guide to copyright plus some links to places with more information.
Q: If I buy one of your PDFs then I can do what I want with it, right?
A: No. You are able to print the chart off as many times as you need to stitch up the design once. You can forward the PDF to a friend but you must then delete your copy. You must not print it off and distribute it and you must not sell it on.
Q: I can stitch up the pattern more than once from the same PDF can’t I?
A: Yes, if it’s for your own personal use, eg if you’re giving them as gifts. If you are selling them to make money for yourself then you need to contact me and ask for my permission. Technically, the need to ask for permission also applies if you are selling them and giving the money to charity but provided you are fundraising for a registered charity you don’t need to ask – I am happy to give permission.
Q: I’ve seen a PDF of one of your designs on a website not listed on here – it’s still an authorised copy isn’t it?
A: No. If the seller of a chart that is one of mine (or looks like one of mine) isn’t listed in the where to buy section of this website they haven’t been authorised by me. As the copyright owner, I do have distribution rights. Please don’t buy from these unauthorised sellers: some artists licence me to produce cross stitch designs of their work and their copyright is being breached. That might cause me to have to withdraw designs.
Q: How long does your copyright last?
A: As I’m in the UK it will expire 70 years after I die so it’s definitely not imminent!
UK government guide
US designer Teresa Wentzler has some good explanations and these days there aren’t too many differences between copyright law in the US and the UK
Yarn Tree, also in the US, also has some good explanations of what is and isn’t allowed
Paris-based Creative Poppy has a great list of can and cannots, which is really easy to understand
It's from the plastic canvas creative world but in her ezine Kathy Barwick has an interview with a crafter who has been sued for copyright viiolation. Kathy also provides a very clear explanation of who owns the rights to copy and distribute patterns - definitely worth a read.
This is a blogpost I found from Nicole at Northern Expressions in Canada where she talks about some of the sums involved and the people copyright theft has forced out of business. It really does make a difference.