6 Ways to spot crochet pattern theft and how you can make a difference

Follow, Like & Share!

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how “We” are killing the Crochet industry. It got an overwhelming response that really surprised me. Most people that follow my blog understood exactly where I stood and were very supportive (you guys are truly awesome). Some people were offended that I said “we” or that I even “whined” about it some more. Well, if you’re one of those people, I’m sorry, but I’m going to whine again.

I have friends in the crochet industry who are working 40-60 hours a week writing patterns and creating pieces to deliver to you because they love what they do. I know they could all get 40-hour a week jobs, a steady paycheck and have less aggravation for it. But they won’t. Neither will I. We love what we do too much. However, there are some things that truly make the journey more bitter than sweet and one is the “theft” of patterns.

6 Ways to spot crochet pattern theft and how you can make a difference on Yarn Obsession

Yes, I said theft because there really is no better way to say it. I could use the word “borrow” but once borrowed the patterns are never returned. I could use the word “shared” but once shared the lost revenue is never recouped so the only word is theft.

Pattern theft is incredibly rampant and undermines the whole crochet industry because there is a domino effect to theft. Just like in stores they say that prices will be higher if people shoplift, it’s the same with crochet. The cost of doing business in the crochet industry is higher when there is theft.

But, because I know that it’s sometimes hard to know if it’s theft, I’m going to give a few “red flags” to look for and ways to be an advocate in helping the industry grow and prosper.

Signs of theft

  1. Where did the pattern come from – If you did not buy a pattern, but it’s a free pattern, were you directed to the designers shop or website? If not, there is a strong possibility that the pattern was “poached” from the designer’s website and is now being distributed improperly.
  2. Is it a photocopy – If you’re using a photocopied version of a pattern, chances are it’s taken from a book, magazine or a paid pattern from the internet. It’s actually illegal to distribute photocopies of patterns.
  3. Secret Groups or Societies to Share patterns – This is one of the worst. People who claim to love crochet and yet undermine the whole industry by creating secret groups or societies where one person will get the pattern then share them with other members. As innocent as this may seem, the number of people that receive the pattern without paying or going to the website hurts the designer. You may think it’s just $4, but when you multiply that $4 by the number of people receiving the pattern illegally, that’s an income the designer is not receiving in order to support themselves.
  4. Is the designer listed or acknowledged – Sometimes, patterns do not have a pattern designer listed or the copyright notice has been removed because the pattern was poached from a website and the pattern distributor doesn’t want those who buy the pattern to know who to report it to.
  5. Is the full pattern copied onto a post or generic document – If someone takes all the information from a pattern an copies it to past into a post on social media, a blog or another document, that is clear theft and should not be tolerated.
  6. Is the copyright under a different name than the person that’s distributing the pattern – if the pattern copyright name does not belong to the person distributing the pattern, chances are that the pattern has been poached or is being distributed without proper notice.

What you can do

  1. If you don’t know where the pattern came from, find out then go to the site to get your copy directly from the designer
  2. If a pattern is a photocopy, find out where the pattern originated and buy yourself a copy. If you are unable to buy a copy, contact the designer and see if they have free copies they are allowed to distribute
  3. If you find yourself in a secret group or society that is sharing patterns let it be known in the group that those practices are wrong. Leave the group and report it to the designers, the platform that’s being used or the forum/group/ society’s administration. Sometimes those who have created the group know what they’re doing is wrong which is why they have a “secret” group to begin, therefore, you have to go beyond them. But, to be fair, sometimes they just don’t realize that they’re doing something wrong and need information.
  4. If no designer is listed do no use, purchase or distribute that pattern until you can find out who designed it and the proper way to acquire a personal copy for your library.
  5. If you’ve received a full pattern via an email, post or other communication where the information was just copied and pasted ask where the pattern came from then report to the designer the theft. Chances are they posted a pattern for free in good faith and someone else, seeing that the pattern was free, took it and is now distributing it wherever they choose.
  6. If the copyright is under a different name than the person distributing contact the copyright holder and let them know you’ve received one of their patterns from someone you believe is distributing them illegally. The copyright holder now can decide what needs to be done. But you’ve done your part in helping keep the integrity of the industry.

The Domino Effect

I know there are those who think designers “whine” too much, but the truth is, this is only a small leak in a ship that’s gonna sink if we don’t all do something to plug the holes. Let’s take a look at the domino effect.

  • A designer creates a pattern for distribution asking a nominal price or listing for free and counting on high traffic to bring in advertising dollars
  • A crafter buys one copy of the pattern and distributes it to 10 people (that’s 10 people that won’t purchase the pattern creating less income for the designer) or A crafter downloads the free pattern and “shares” it with 10 people (that’s 10 people that won’t generate traffic for the designer on their website, diminishing the amount of advertising revenue they make
  • The designer then becomes discouraged because they are unable to generate income (and yet their patterns are everywhere) so they stop designing
  • Yarn companies are forced to find new designers and work to pay more per pattern to keep them designing (yarn prices go up)
  • Crochet magazines suffer from lower subscription rates (because theft happens when people photocopy magazine patterns and share), lower readership, and therefore lower advertising dollars, less pattern distribution
  • Overall, there are less quality patterns created and distributed so those who legitimately purchase or visit designer sites have less options . . . subsequently, so do those who steal pattern designs.

Ultimately, it means higher prices on everything in the industry. This may seem far-fetched to some, but overall, anything that undermines one area of an industry, undermines the whole industry. There are legal implications to copying and re-distributing and re-printing copyright material.

The goal is to have a stronger industry where everyone thrives and is able to prosper, feed our families, give generously and continue to enjoy the art we love so much. Every action, good or bad, brings about an equal and just reaction, I just want to be on the side where the crochet, yarn industry prospers and women who actually support it prosper everywhere.

Update: A few other things to look out for

  1. Sites that let you download patterns for “virtual” money such as coins or various gems are illegal
  2. Sites that explain various ways to hide your identity are encouraging theft and making it easy for it to happen
  3. Sites that require the upload of someone else’s pattern to gain points or to access other patterns are illegal

Additional Resources:

An Internet Presence

Online Pattern Piracy

STOP Guessing and be More Intentional when pricing your crochet!
Learn how with my book

“Hook Yourself Up: Pricing Crochet for Profit”

Learn to price your pieces to your services

Click here to Grab Your Copy Now!!