What is the short answer to the long asked question “can I sell items I make from someone’s pattern?” It’s “Yes, you can sell crochet pieces made from someone’s pattern.” However, because I’m sure you’re wondering why I say that, how I know or if it’s actually true, I’ll be happy to share the research with you.
My personal experience
For the 13 years I’ve crocheted, I’ve wondered why it was that people didn’t do more with the patterns they owned when it came to selling crochet pieces. Most crocheters will create items from a pattern but sell something they create on their own. Oh, how much work that makes for us! So here is my true story.
A few years back, before I began my crochet designing journey I wanted to sell crochet pieces that I could make from patterns that were readily available. So, I called the Lion Brand Yarn Co. and asked if I had permission to sell pieces made from their patterns. The person on the line seemed almost baffled by my question before she gave me this answer:“Yes, you can sell anything you make from the pattern, you are just not allowed to sell the pattern as your own.”
Great! I started making a few pieces and felt comfortable knowing I could sell them if I chose. Then I got online and realized that in the crochet community there was an insane animosity toward those who made items from others patterns to sell. ‘How dare they sell those items’ was the pervading feeling. So I began to design even though I had confirmation from a major supplier of crochet & knitting patterns that it was fine for me to sell my completed pieces.
Fast forward a few years and I now have my own patterns on the market and someone asks me if they can sell items completed from my patterns. It felt strange, but to one person I said “not at this time” and to the next I said “yes”! I wondered if they actually needed my permission legally, or if they were getting my permission because of the pervasive belief in the crochet community that you cannot sell items made from someone’s pattern. That’s when I began to take a real look at the subject and came up with a few questions:
- How would I be able to police every one of the items made from my pattern? I would spend the rest of my life and the fortune I didn’t have on policing people who were making items that I’d freely given them permission to make by selling them the steps to make it.
- Why would I want to spend my time worried about those who were making items from my patterns to sell to make a living or build a boutique or feed their families? It just didn’t make sense to me that I would think I could and should police people when I clearly gave them the directions to make the items to do with as they pleased.
- What makes me think I should have a say in what people do with the items they make from a pattern I sold to them and therefore relinquished to their discretion?
All the answers to those questions came back as I don’t know how, I don’t know why and I don’t know what. So all my patterns come with the “blanket” permission to sell the items as you like, but please don’t sell my pattern as your own.
Now for the legal stuff:
First, most patterns are not copyrighted. . . I could go into all the details here, but Tabber’s Temptations did a better job than I could ever do so I’m going let you check the information out there.
Basically what it says is that a pattern is a tool used to create an end product. The end product cannot be claimed nor does the pattern designer have any voice in how the final product is used.
A pattern is a procedure, process or method of operation, for making something. The specific instructions for making the item might, qualify for copyright registration but that copyright only would cover the written instructions, not the patterns or what was made from the patterns.
Basically “No one can claim that the copyright on instructions on making and/or using an article gives the manufacturer the exclusive right to that article.” So, therefore, we as pattern designers really have no legal leg to stand on when it comes to what people do with the pieces they make from our patterns. I know that will bother some, but I’m quite relieved to know that I don’t have to spend my life policing the few patterns I’ve created. It frees me to keep creating and growing my business and providing a tool to help others grow and develop their businesses. Whew!
Now, as far as I’m concerned that’s enough for me. However, if you’d like more you can check what Copyright.gov has to say about it and you can even run more searches if you’d like to think there is more protection. I know there are pattern designers out there who are working under what they call a “Cottage License” where you need to pay them to sell a completed item you’ve made from their pattern. . . Well, that too is a made up “license” to make extra money. . . again, I could go into the details but why when Tabber’s Temptations does such a good job of making it plain.
Bottom line, when you buy a pattern the pattern maker has no right to tell you what you can or cannot do with any piece you make with their pattern. If they try to scare you, send them to list posting and let them know you have more of a legal leg to stand on than they do. I know that some people may be using these excuses to protect themselves out of ignorance, however, a little research would show them the error or their ways.
Have you ever come across a Cottage License? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Tell me if you’ve ever been told that you can’t sell an item you’ve made from a pattern. That would be an interesting story to hear.