Copyright Update

I loved reading all your comments about the issue of copyright in my blog post about Emily Cier v. Kate Spade–who does own that copyright?

A Passionate Quilter wrote:

For those of us who have been in the quilting world for more than a few years, the trend is very clear: fabric manufacturers have been marketing “designer” fabric. The emphasis is on ‘insert-designer’s-name-here’ latest line and quilts are being made, often exclusively, from that line. Fans, or devotees, can’t wait to get their hands on the latest designer’s line! Fabric manufacturer’s love and encourage this, However, does this not lead to the kind of legal questions now erupting? I think every quilter should be aware of these issues. Perhaps it is time for the quilt world to resist the lure of designer fabrics and start challenging themselves in the way they use fabric.

She makes a great point.  In a class I took once from Joen Woelfrom, she said she only bought 1/3 cuts of any one fabric as that forced her to use multiple fabrics across a quilt, visually enriching the surface.  Perhaps, as A Passionate Quilter noted, it’s time to return to this for so many reasons.

Yesterday Todd Hensley, CEO of C & T books posted on his blog the details of this copyright story.  It was interesting that things only got a bit heated when the legal profession got involved–not that I have anything against attorneys, I don’t–but I recognize that their job is to uphold the copyright law, and perhaps they push a bit harder on where the line is.

Dmdezigns wrote:

With regards to fabric, I see the designer’s point in this example, but again, it’s a slippery slope. If I have to be worried about how you’re going to react about how I’ve used your fabric, I won’t use it. . . . What does concern me is how we define publishing and whether or not that includes my blog.

I liked that she brought in the idea of blog publishing as a potential sore spot, although I try not to think about that when I’m writing.  Perhaps we quilters are just experiencing in our corner of the world the explosive change wrought by the advent of the internet.

So, to wrap it up with something quilty, here is my latest rose window block.  And yes, I noticed that I used Dena’s fabric exclusively in the fussy-cut sections of the center, but have reverted to my stash for the dark outer pieces.

(Excuse the business part of the pin wall.)

I would hope that there might be a Daddy Warbucks somewhere who could step in as a friend of the court, on the quilt industry side, and let a jury adjudicate this to its end.  I think of my Lollypop Trees quilt (a summer project) that uses Kaffe Fassett fabrics exclusively.  Or the blocks above.  Or my Christmas Star Quilt.  At this point, since I’m a not-for-profit quilter, I needn’t worry.  But if I were a published quilter, I’d for sure would think twice about using a complete line of fabrics from any one designer.

3 thoughts on “Copyright Update

  1. Thank you for this information. It has been great to get me thinking. I asked Bari J.about selling things I made from her fabric and she said “I hope so.” I may never sell anything but I do intend to buy her fabric. Like you suggest I will add other fabrics to my quilts.

  2. The whole issue is pretty interesting. To an extent I can see both sides, although to be honest I’m much more on Emily Cier’s and C&T Publishing’s side. Moda gave them the fabric to use – what were they thinking, that it wasn’t going to be used? Of course they wanted it to be used, it’s called Free Publicity! So here is Kate Spain getting upset that Her fabric is being shown? I don’t get it. I bet that if the C&T had contacted Kate originally – she would have been all over it with a yes. It’s all about who’s getting paid.

    Incidentally -about the whole trend in Designer Fabrics. I don’t get it either. I’ve only ever made one quilt from a ‘line’ and that was from a request from a friend. I don’t follow designers and I don’t get all excited when a certain person comes out with the next big thing.

  3. Trueup.net has had a great discussion about this and Fair Use today which had some links to great information about what is considered fair use. Then I was directed to this site http://www.tabberone.com/Trademarks/trademarks.shtml . Especially look at the doctrine of first sale, and the links for licensed fabric. Even with Disney/NCAA etc the court has not allowed the copyright holder to control what was made from the fabric. Once a fabric has been sold, the copyright holder can’t control what’s done with it. You can resell it, make something with it, sell what you made, etc and they don’t have any control over it. What I find most disturbing is realizing that some lawyers will intimidate people into following their clients wishes even if the law doesn’t support that view. They do it because they know that most people will cease and desist instead of fighting back. In Emily’s situation, I think the lawyers were out of line to attach the book to the threat. It was about the tote bag, they through in the book to add more fear and intimidation.

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