The writing of this post was prompted because I recently had the displeasure of having my Patreon crochet patterns and pictures stolen and put up for sale on Etsy.
Initially, I was in complete disbelief. That disbelief was very quickly joined by several other emotions, the primary ones being anger, sadness, and confusion.
The fact that someone abused my hard work, my time and generosity almost left me speechless. It was not made any better by the fact that this individual claimed that they did not do anything wrong. They even went as far as to claim that I told my Patreon members that it was okay for them to take my project images and turned my pattern posts into a PDF to sell online. No person in their right mind would consent to somebody doing that. It was just outright theft, but this person wanted to lie and justify their actions rather than apologise and take the patterns down. I mean the audacity of this person has no bounds.
This individual even went as far as to threaten to report me to Patreon for false advertising and stealing their money. They were claiming that I gave permission to do this and so taking it back was fraudulent and wasting her money. This person was not able to provide evidence of me stating this because they were clearly trying to cover their theft by lying. Just to give more of an idea as to the kind of person this individual is, they were even selling free patterns from other designers in their store for over £12. Even though their words and actions make zero sense, that was their claim, and they were sticking to it.
Fortunately, long story short, after filing a copyright infringement claim with Etsy, they soon took down all seven of my patterns that they were selling in their store. I will not go into too much more detail about it because I am getting worked up again just talking about it. But those of my Patreon members who have been with me long enough are aware of the struggles that I go through trying to juggle the twins, keep my teenager focused on his studies and also find time to crochet let alone create pattern posts. This is why it hurt that much more.
Just a sidenote, because I know that some of you may be thinking my patterns are trademarked and copyrighted characters so how can I claim copyright infringement. It is for that very reason why I do not sell my copyrighted character patterns in any of my online stores. Though the characters themselves are trademarked and copyrighted by Disney, the actual crochet pattern and sequence of stitches that I used to create it can be considered intellectual property in that it is a creation of the mind. The pictures are those that I personally took of my creations and are therefore mine, so I alone have a say what is done with them.
This is why I chose to use Patreon. Instead, I provide access to my untested patterns as a perk for those who support and fund me as an artist.
Anyway, what I really want to discuss in this post are ways to protect yourself from copyright infringement. There is not much you can do because there is always at least one determined degenerate who is going to find a way to do things that they know they should not be doing – but that does not mean we have to make it easy for them.
1. WATERMARK YOUR PICTURES.
Covering your picture with your copyright information (not enough to restrict the view of the image but enough to see the information) can help to deter unauthorized copying. I really should have done this initially. I think I got quite complacent, and it was an oversight on my part.
2. INCLUDE A COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER.
I always included a disclaimer on my purchased PDF patterns, but it never even crossed my mind that somebody would take my pattern posts, copy it, paste it, turn it into a PDF, and then sell it online. Just another oversight on my part. Include the copyright symbol followed by your name and the year of creation to alert others that your work is protected by copyright. Also write a notice stating that the pattern is not for commercial use or unauthorised reproduction and any other important information in regard to reproduction, distribution and sale.
3. CREATE UNIQUE AND ORIGINAL PATTERNS.
Instead of recreating existing characters that are well known, you can focus on creating characters that are an original design. The more unique and original the design then the stronger your case if ever faced with copyright infringement. It will be easier to detect the theft because it will not be a design that is readily available as with known characters. You can even go as far as to investigate registering your character legally, though I am not sure about the requirements or cost.
4. MONITOR AND ENFORCE YOUR RIGHTS.
Utilize Google’s reverse image search and any other methods to detect fraudulent activity. You will be able to see if there are any websites other than your own that have used your images. As previously mentioned, it never even occurred to me to do this. Implementing some proactive approaches and regularly keeping an eye out in online marketplaces, websites and stores is a good idea to detect those who might be selling your designs without your consent.
5. BUILD A COMMUNITY.
Though my community is not very large, I was fortunate to be made aware of the theft by another designer who also had their work stolen by this Etsy seller. Luckily, they recognised my work and notified me immediately. Establishing yourself within the crochet community can help aid and deter others from selling your patterns. If you as a designer and your patterns are well enough known, then it would be riskier and not as beneficial to someone to sell your patterns, because there is a higher chance that somebody would recognise that it has been stolen and report it.
6. FAMILIARISE YOURSELF WITH THE COPYRIGHT LAWS IN YOUR COUNTRY.
In many countries copyright protection is automatic, but it is still important to understand the specific rights and the duration granted to you as a creator. Research the legal framework to gain a clear understanding of what is covered and what is not. This knowledge will clear any ambiguity on the topic and make protecting yourself easier.
7. EDUCATE OTHERS ON COPYRIGHT PROTECTION.
Spread awareness about copyright protection in the crochet community. Encourage fellow crochet enthusiasts to respect intellectual property rights and promote the importance of obtaining permission before sharing or reproducing patterns. By educating others, we can create a culture of respect for original designs.
Just remember that protecting your crochet patterns is crucial for preserving the integrity of your work. By following these steps and staying vigilant you can safeguard your creativity and continue to contribute to the amazing world of crochet with less worry on your mind. Please do not be as trusting and as complacent as I was and let us not learn things the hard way.
Until the next post, get busy protecting your creations!