This article is written as a guide for the knitter, crafter, designer, writer and reader. It is a response to the recurring theme of copyright on various mailing lists and discussion groups.
Growing awareness of intellectual property rights is encouraging, as it demonstrates an interest and an appreciation for other people\’s rights. On the other hand, sometimes a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Obviously there is the risk of relying on misinformation or incorrect assumptions about intellectual property; but there is also the risk of stifling creativity by telling others what they can\’t do but not what they can.
Therefore, this is written with the casual knitter (or crafter) in mind–someone who knits from both their own and others\’ patterns, and who sometimes borrows from outside influences. The first part attempts to explain copyright protection in general, with examples relevant to the art of knitting. The second part is in question-and-answer (FAQ) form.
If you read The Knitter\’s Guide to Copyright, you must understand that this is not legal advice and is not meant to replace legal advice from a qualified lawyer. The answers in the FAQ may not apply to your particular situation, and in fact, you may find they are deliberately vague. This is because the application of copyright law depends heavily on the facts of each case. Not only that, but the law and its applicability to this subject are not always clear. Courts in most countries have not had the opportunity to make many rulings relating to knitting.
Finally, this article is not intended to set out any moral or ethical position. If you take issue on a personal basis with the opinions expressed in this document, please do not take it up with me; and more importantly, please do not raise the issue in a forum not meant for legal or ethical discussion. However, if you find legal or technical errors, I appreciate and encourage your comments.
This is a reference based on Canadian law and therefore does not accurately reflect the law in other countries, although it may provide a good guide. Please read the disclaimer.