Are crochet Stitches Copyrighted?
You are here for a reason. You’re wondering, are crochet stitches copyrighted? This has been a huge debate in the crochet community. I’m here to sort out all the misinformation and get down to the facts.
Are crochet stitches copyrighted? Crochet patterns are copyrighted, STITCHES are not. It is not necessary to register with the U.S. Copyright Office. In the U.S. as soon as you write a pattern it is copyrighted.
But it’s a little more complicated than that. In this article I will go in depth about copyright, copyright infringement and how to protect your patterns.
What is copyrighted?
Many people confuse copyright, patents and trademarks in the crochet world. But they are not the same. According to the dictionary;
Copyright is the exclusive legal right, given to an originator or an assignee to print, publish, perform, film, or record literary, artistic, or musical material, and to authorize others to do the same.
Trademark a symbol, word, or words legally registered or established by use as representing a company or product.
Patent A patent is a form of intellectual property that gives its owner the legal right to exclude others from making, using, selling and importing an invention for a limited period of years, in exchange for publishing an enabling public disclosure of the invention.
According to the U.S. Copyright office, “The copyright in the book, which comes into effect the moment the work is fixed in a tangible form, will prevent others from publishing the text and illustrations describing the author’s ideas for machinery, processes, and merchandising methods. But it will not give the author any rights to prevent others from adopting the ideas for commercial purposes or from developing or using the machinery, processes, or methods described in the book “
Let me simplify this for you. U.S. Copyright Office state that crochet is a “Works of Visual Arts” that means they are copyright protection as a visual work. In the United States as soon as you put pen to paper (type) it is already copyrighted. You don’t need to hop through extravagant hoops just to have your crochet pattern copyrighted.
You can go the more formal route to copyright your pattern. It requires you to register your pattern with the U.S Copyright Office. I’ll go into further detail in the next section.
Once copyrighted, you can not copy, share, download or publicly display the pattern without permission.
How to copyright crochet patterns
Many people believe you have to jump through a million hoops to get your work copyrighted. According to the United States Copyright Office, your work is copyrighted the moment the work is fixed in a tangible form. It means as soon as your thoughts become written, your pattern it is copyrighted.
This includes self published patterns. You don’t need to be attached to an official publishing company to have your crochet pattern copyrighted. Copyright is free & automatic, but you have to pay to if you register with the U.S. Copyright Office.
If you are looking for a more formal way of getting your crochet pattern copyrighted, such as receiving a copyright certificate, I can tell you the process that you will need to complete.
Go to the Copyright & Trademark Online Registration Once there you will Click the “Apply Now” button.
To register online it will cost $55 copyright. If you are the copyright holder and filing for one creative work then it will cost $35. Paper filing will cost $85. It can take 6-16 months to a year to receive your copyright certificate.
Your crochet pattern will be copyright protected for 70 years after the author’s death. But this is only covered in the United States and its citizens.
Scenario: Sally publishes four patterns a month with a catalog of 200 patterns. She claims she has officially registered ALL of her crochet pattern with the U.S. Copyright office. I highly double it. It would take here years and a lot of money to register them all. The time and money it would take the average Sally to complete this task is almost impossible. Once again that’s why in the U.S, copyright starts when pen hits the paper. Can you imagine how backed up the office would be?
What to do when someone steals your pattern?
You will need to file suite & you need proof. The Copyright office does not enforce any claims of infringement. You will have to file a civil suit in federal court. In rare circumstance you can file a criminal suit and it would be processed by the U.S Department of Justice.
According to U.S Copyright Office, it is advisable that a registration be made as soon as possible in order to secure the opportunity for valuable remedies and litigation advantages available for timely registration under the Copyright Act. If a work is registered prior to infringement or within three months of publication, statutory damages will be available as an option for monetary relief, and the recovery for attorney’s fees may be available. In addition, a registration made before or within five years of publication of the work provides a presumption of the validity of the copyright and the facts stated within the registration certificate. A certificate of registration (or a rejection of an application for copyright) is a prerequisite for U.S. authors seeking to initiate a suit for copyright infringement in federal district court. See Circular 1Copyright Basics, and sections 410, 411, and 412 of the copyright law.
Can I sell the finished product?
I see this a lot from many designers. You will see a disclaimer at the end of their patterns that say, “Do not sell any item created from this pattern”. Well I’m here to set the roamer straight. They can’t do this. Yes their pattern is copyrighted but what you do with your creation after the pattern is done is not up to the designer.
You have paid for the pattern, the materials and labor. It is your right to do as you please with the finished project. The pattern’s text, pictures and instructions are protected under the United States copyright laws. Your completed project does not fall under this protection. But if you were to resell the written pattern, you are able to be sued by the designer.
I’m sure you don’t believe me. You heard that your friend’s aunt was sued for selling crochet item at craft fair. Well to date no publisher has filed a suit and taken it all the way to a trial.
I hope this article debunks the confusion and myths about crochet and copyright. Have you ever have your copyrights infringed? Leave a comment below and share your story.