Selling Handmade: Pattern Copyright and You

Selling Handmade- tips for people who want to sell the stuff they make from someone who sells stuff they make.

Important note: This information is for entertainment purposes only. Any questions about copyright law should be referred to a copyright lawyer.

I design and write the patterns for most of the things I make. I put patterns on my blog for free, and I sell patterns online. Every so often, I get a polite message asking me if someone can sell the items they make from my patterns. The answer is yes, it’s very sweet to ask. But it’s not just me who says so. Back in 1879 (Baker v Seldon) the Supreme Court basically said that copyright of any pattern only covers the pattern and not the finished item you create from the pattern.

There seems to be a lot of misinformation around the internet about how you need permission to sell a finished item made from someone else’s pattern- some indie designers include language to that effect in their pattern. This is untrue (except in cases of trademark or licensed characters, but that has to do with the trademark and licensing, and is a different animal than copyright). If you’ve ever bought a commercially released pattern book, you’ll notice that there’s usually a standard disclaimer about not reproducing the written material and photographs and charts, and that’s all. And they have legal departments filled with copyright lawyers.

If you don’t want competition for stuff you design, don’t publish your patterns.

I’ve disabled comments on this post. Questions about copyright law should be referred to a copyright lawyer.

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