Copyright is a complicated and misunderstood topic. Most of us want to stay on the right side of the law but many of us are not sure where the line is drawn.
The National Needlearts Association (TNNA) is an industry group that has created a brochure about copyright to educate members and the public.
Although the association is based in the U.S. and refers to U.S. laws, it is helpful for all North Americans.
The brochure is written in plain English and begins by explaining the difference between patents, trademarks and copyright. Sharing patterns, copying patterns from magazines and giving them out, emailing downloaded patterns to others or posting them on the Internet, all are copyright infringements.
Since I am acquainted with so many wonderful and talented garment and pattern designers, I know how hard they work. And none of them are making a killing at it. They deserve to be paid for their work, just like the rest of us. And their work is what makes fashion sewing so enjoyable for so many consumers.
While independent designers may not have the resources to pursue violators, the U.S. authorities do. So be warned. This is taken directly from the TNNA brochure: "Although copyright is covered under civil law, violations involving more than 10 copies and valued over $2500 are considered a felony in the U.S."