Copyright law can be a confusing and intimidating topic. Heather Thomas explains many aspects of copyright law including when a pattern is considered copyrighted, what you can and cannot do with a pattern that is copyrighted and what it means to license a pattern.
From the moment a designer writes a pattern it is considered copyrighted. While some designs and patterns will have an actual copyright symbol on them and some might not, both are still considered copyrighted. This means that the pattern and design belong to the designer and cannot be copied and reproduced. Heather explains that when you purchase a design you are purchasing the rights to make that pattern for yourself. You can also make that pattern and give it to a friend, however you cannot sell what you have made from that pattern. Heather explains several other scenarios in which you can make a pattern for a friend and receive money and explains which break copyright law and which do not. Heather also explains how you can ‘date’ your patterns, meaning how you can prove how long you have had a pattern by either taking a picture of it next to that day’s newspaper or by mailing it to yourself so that the pattern is in a sealed envelope with a date printed on it. Having a dated pattern can be very helpful when needing to prove if a pattern is yours or not when it comes to copyright.
Heather also explains a term known as licensing. This is when you contact a designer and ask for permission to make their pattern to sell. If they allow you to do so, they will often either allow you to make the pattern for a certain period of time for a fee, or ask for some kind of percentage of what you make selling their pattern.