Copyright Violations

I detest copyright rules!  I know they serve a very useful purpose but they’re so hard to understand.  For those of us who design using basic, public domain blocks, it’s very hard to know that you’re not designing a top that is too similar to something that has been designed already.  Several times I have written other designers and asked if a design I created looks similar to something they’ve created and if it’s too close for their comfort.  On every occasion, I’ve been told that it does not look similar enough that it would concern them.

In November, 2010, while doodling in EQ, I came up with a quilt that I thought would work for a Memorial Day Challenge.  I wrote all the step by step instructions and saved them as draft posts on the blog.  In January, Mary posted almost the exact quilt on her blog.  She hadn’t seen mine.  I hadn’t seen hers.  No big deal — that’s what happens when using simple, public domain blocks.  I will not use my pattern since Mary had hers up first and there’s hardly any difference at all in our two designs.

But, here’s a real copyright violation — plain and simple!  Earlier today, a blog reader sent me a link to a blog that is using a picture from my blog as her “Grab the Button” image.  She even has the photo named the same name as my quilt.  I could not find contact info for the blogger, which I can’t complain about that because my own contact info is missing right now, so I left a comment on her blog and will see what happens.

Please folks . . understand as much as you can about copyright and do not copy images from the blogs or writings of others!

I’m not upset.  I’m not mad.  I will continue to do what I do.  Any time you put info, including patterns or pictures out there for public use, there’s a chance someone will use it in violation of copyright, as I understand copyright.  I always say that I can’t change some people and I’m not going to let some people change me.

I do appreciate the reader who saw it and reported it to me as I surely can’t see everyone on the internet.



  1. 1


    Judy, this happened in another blog I read, PS I Quilt, too. In that blog Rachel talked about google alert that she uses that will alert her when something like this happens. You may want to check it out!!

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    Hi Judy, I hope I am not in trouble – I have a button on my right side bar from your blog that links to your blog. I don’t think that is what you are talking about but I will remove it if I am confused about what is going on.
    I also saw the google alert information on PS I Quilt, too but I couldn’t figure it out. DH has a lot of firewall/security stuff on my machine so I just moved on.

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    Hopefully it was just an error on their part in some way. You are right, when you use traditional public domain blocks it is possible that more than one person could have “divine inspiration” and come up with the same or a very similar quilt.

  4. 4

    Mary says

    This is one reason I’m glad I don’t sell patterns because as you said, when we’re all using the same blocks, quilts are going to look similar or be similar.

    So far I haven’t had anyone come to me and claim that I’ve infringed upon their copyright with one of my instruction sheets but I imagine it will happen one day. What gets me are those people who use traditional blocks and then claim that everyone is copying their quilt when there’s nothing unique about them.

  5. 6

    JoAnne says

    Judy, more power to you! I have a friend who told me that she met a quilt book author at Houston who told her that she, the author, only gets about 50 cents per book sold. My friend said that was awful but she is constantly making copies of quilt patterns from books and magazines to give to her friends and thinks nothing of it. She borrows books just to make copies.

    I learned long ago, when I taught computer classes in schools, that you do not lend any software or books to anyone because they will be copied. I let friends look at my books and magazines when we’re together but they do not leave my sight. If they request copies, I just remind them that the books are under copyright. Each one of us must stand up for those who create for us.

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    It’s not always blocks. Several years ago i came up with a simple design using 4 fat quarters. Named it ‘Fat 4’s” and shared it with several friends. 6 months later Ricky Timms came out with his Convergence pattern. Hey – that was my design! I purchased a pattern and saw that his method of getting to the same place was completely different than mine but we both arrived at the same finished design. I’ve heard that in quilting there is nothing new. This showed me that saying is correct.

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    Joan says

    I know what you mean about using public domain patterns. I design using graph paper, so I am sure that there are many out there who draw designs like mine, the possibility that someone else comes up with the same drawing is always a possibility.
    One incident comes to mind. A friend of mine taught a class in the late 80’s or early 90’s that uses the same idea as the stack’n whack technique. Even self published a small booklet using the idea. Then Bethany came up with the idea and published it, Was it copying? Absolutely not, as she had not seen my friends work. In fact they live several thousand miles apart, so not a possibility that either saw the others work.
    Like you, I do not get upset when I see something that is in one of my sketch books, coming out in a book or magazine. I have over 50 sketchbooks so it doesn’t surprise me that others use the same public domain pattern and comes up with a similar quilt.

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    The great, newly retired, quilt designer and teacher, Sharyn Craig, told a class that I participated in that she never bought quilt books, patterns or magazines and never attended quilt shows just so she wouldn’t be accused of copying anyone’s designs. How SAD! Quilters are generous, they share. If I ever decided to publish patterns, I’d remember that and be OK with it.

  9. 10

    Sharie - Moss Bluff says

    When I sit down to my EQ7 and design a block and someone in New York sits down and designs a block and someone in California sits down and designs a block it would be so easy for all of us to design the same block or one that is very close. I would guess that there is probably at least a million people using EQ7 or one of the EQ’s. Copyright is really a difficult thing. Domain blocks such as the log cabin; how many ways can you design a log cabin. I would imagine that it has been done every way possible and none of those people intentionally designed one like someone else’s. I think people have to try to be honest and not copy intentionally.

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    Hi Judy

    I know the issue of copyright is a thorny one. My understanding is that if you are using public domain blocks you don’t have copyright over your quilt design unless it is substantially different in some way, eg you have used the blocks in an innovative way. Even then the blocks themselves are still public domain. In my opinion there are a lot of people who would like to put public domain stuff back into copyright. But I think it is killing creativity. Taken to its logical conclusion one should not even make a quilt from a pattern written by someone else because that is “copying”, which is, of course, absurd. And the logical conclusion to that is that no one would buy patterns!

    The copyright issue is not the same thing as attributing a design when you have made a quilt.

    You do have copyright over the instructions you write and any photographs you take/illustrations you draw for the instructions.

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    Judy, watermark all of your photos. It should stop some violators. I know that several cross stitch designers will no longer use clickable photos and people steal their designs if the photo is large and readable.

  12. 13

    pdudgeon says

    a lot of quilters don’t know it, but if they make a quilt from a copywrited pattern and then publish photo images of that quilt on the internet, the photos themselves are in violation of copywrite law, even if the copywrite holder’s info is published along with the photos.

    in other words, you can make a quilt for yourself or to give away, but you cannot publish pictures of that quilt.

    that’s why, in spite of continual requests for photos, my blog, “The Egghead’s Coop” no longer features photos of what i’m working on, nor will it for as long as the law stays the same.

    I’ll still make my quilts from copywrited patterns and give credit and include links where i can, but i won’t knowingly break copywrite law just to show curious quilters what they look like.

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    Copyright issues are really confusing and people printing articles on copyrights or issuing statements about them make it more confusing. I came across this website once, out of curiosity, and it turns out a lot of what you read is incorrect information.

    I’m not affiliated with them but they’ve fought for their rights in a federal court of law several times, even though they are not lawyers, and seem to have some experience with these kinds of things. Basically, what it sums up as, is you have the right to the pattern you develop and print, including photos and graphics, but quilt blocks and patterns themselves cannot be copyrighted because they are a useful item. So go ahead and post your instructions, it doesn’t infringe on anyone else unless you use their photos or original work.

    Of course, this is just my opinion and will probably stir up the pot more.

  14. 15

    Chris says

    On other blogs refering to craft blogs there are a couple of people who do steal ideas pictures and names of other bloggers. They use pictures and content off of their blogs. Sad to say, but some people are ruthless and try to gain attention from your ideas. Many are anonymous and their info is never found. I feel for your loss. I guess post on the blog that you are the owner and maybe it will stop.

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    Mel Meister says

    Publishing a photo and uploading a photo are two entirely different concepts. I completely disagree that if you make a quilt and want to post a photo of that quilt to show what you have made, that you are violating a copyright. That action is not “publishing”.

    Now, if you were posting that photo to SELL the item, I might agree there is a coyright violation.. IF.. the pattern’s author didn’t give any sale rights to the purchaser. Most authors will allow you to sell a couple of quilts made from the pattern and will request that you contact them for permission if you want to make more.

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    If it is a photo that you are using you can make a watermark through a program on Google. Lay this watermark over all of your photos that you post and people won’t be as likely to repost them, especially as something like a “Grab the Button” image. I am pretty sure that you can even overlay a PDF image but am not certain.
    I enjoy your blog and creativity! Thanks for sharing.