Thursday, August 24, 2006

Whiplash prize! Copyright questions?

I received my whiplash prize package today. Isn't it pretty? Don't be surprised if my quilt block partner for this month ends up with some of these fabrics--she has a green/brown/pink theme. Thanks whipup!

Ooops! Almost forgot to thank the prize donators. Thanks to Tall Poppy for the leather handles (for a felted bag, maybe?). Thanks to the Fat Quarter Shop for the fabric. Probably bad form to thank a company in the same breath that you question its design process, but thank you Amy Butler for the pattern. All of these companies are supporting whipup, which is great. It's probably about time I clicked on that "donate now" button, especially given that they've sent me two packages from Australia.

My prize also includes the Amy Butler chelsea bag pattern, and It reminded me that I wanted to post again about this tablecloth. I hadn't realized, when I posted it, that the Amy Butler fabrics, at least the newer ones, have use restrictions on them. It makes it extra odd then, that a company that is very protective of its own patents and rights would make something so similar to another's work. Oodles of crafters and artists are inspired by vintage pattern, but how close is too close? True, choosing colors to match current sensebilities is a skill and takes a trained eye, and Amy Butler's colors are wonderful, but does that make it yours? What does make it yours?

I tried to find some answers about copyright and fabric and use, but my findings are fairly inconclusive. There was a recent thread on Etsy where I think they conclude that it's OK for small crafters to use AB fabric and sell on Etsy. (The company has different rules for different volumes.) There was also this in dioramarama almost a year ago.

For me, it's a reminder that I can use real vintage fabric when I want that kind of look. When I lived it DC it was way overpriced, but I live in central Illinois now, for goodness sakes! Good old stuff is not hard to find. I'd also like to try making my own fabric print a la Kristen Doran via this link at whipup. That would be really fun.


Blogger Tanya said...

You make a great point about the AB fabric and the table cloth fabric. I remember looking at your post and how remarkably similar they were. It might be a good question to pose to her. While I certainly understand her need to protect herself, I think it really limits people who want to create something (totally original) out of her fabrics to not be able to freely do so. I'd love to know if you get any feedback from her regarding this topic.

1:30 PM  
Blogger mo said...

Thats funny- I keep thinking about it ever since you posted that tablecloth. It does hold a certain amount of irony that she and her people are so aggressively protective of her prints when some are born of outright copy-catting. I would be very interested to hear what she would say to being busted. Good whiplash bootie!

10:02 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

Ditto on the great bottie!!

I think that AB and others have put that wording on thier fabric for a specific reason. I was led to this site a while ago and it is some interesting reading. See:

During my reading I came across a lawsuit they brought because the company stopped an Ebay auction to sell some left over fabric. The company stopped the auction and said it was a violation. These people won, I believe, because they claimed that when they bought the fabric there was no stipulation demanding that only THEY could ever use it or look at it, and never sell the left overs, or anything made from it.

That's why I think they started putting that one the fabric so that if you do buy it, it's now an implied warning they can use to stop you. "You bought it, you should have read it...kind of thing"

It's shameful though because your table cloth is IDENTICAL! I don't understand any of these issues. I think all these patterns are simply copying the standard quilt blocks so how can you copyright a 9 patch?

10:54 AM  
Anonymous kathy said...

I got my package last week and had the same thought about the AB pattern. Ever since I started reading about her limited fabric use tactics I've been a slight bit put off. She wants to make the cake and eat it too. It's just fabric for goodness sake, and now we know, someone else's design to boot!

9:20 PM  

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