Just out of chance, Nikki Foley, designer, colleague and friend, met me as I was on way to Gail's booth to beg and plead my way into her forgiveness. In times like this, everyone can use a little friendly support.
Plus, Nikki knew Gail and she was certain Gail would understand and work with us as we unravel and re-attribute this design.
It was a brisk and busy Saturday at the FOQ, and we soon found the Lawthers happily greeting visitors. Gail was busy signing copies of her new book, Glimpses of New Zealand, as I introduced myself to Chris. There was no indication that he had seen my email or known of the caper, so the next best explanation was to simply open and display the stolen Starry Night to the designer herself. "Oh, dear," she said. And yet, her smile did not entirely fade. Indeed, Gail was familiar with copyright infringement.
(I am too, but when you see the offense fully glossy in a magazine that YOU YOURSELF promote, it takes on a whole new--scary--meaning.)
Before FOQ, the submitting designer had insisted she was innocent as she had not owned or seen the book. Having now the original book in my hand, I knew this designer was incorrect in her recollection. Red stripe fabric and more were too select and exact to be by chance. The fact that the second designer stood by her byline would only infurate any original designer, so as I spoke with Gail, I focused on publication steps that would resolve and re-attribute the design for her. In the most gracious style she said the four words that would put an end to my nightmare:
"Just print a retraction."
I vowed to do more than that. This mistake had to put out there. Own it. Use it. What better way than to use it as a prime example? What Not To Do. There will be an article that provides guidelines and more for copyright compliance in the next issue. In fact, Gail went on to share with us even more odd and blatant copyright problems she's encountered and several of the resolutions.
One thing is certain when dealing with copyright: If you are unsure if you have created something which displays more likeness of an inspiration than might be allowed, ask for permission. Imitation is the best flattery, but if you intend to promote or benefit from such creation, you must have permission of the original designer.
What began two weeks ago as a nightmare is now business as usual as we write to inform and educate quilters of the ins and outs of credible designing.
Tell us what you think.
What copyright catastrophes have you been involved in?
How do you protect your designs?
Do you worry you might "copy" your inspirations?
You may be wondering about the submitting designer? Once we were able to show her Gail's book, she agreed it must be her recollection that is not right. She is heartfelt that she would not wish to copy someone's design and sell it off as hers (all fees relating to design were void). As a supporter of the magazine, she also was equally concerned for the legal predicament created with such design. Though she does not own Gail's book, it is assumed it must have been passed around at a quilting group session.
Finally, our copyright tip: Use your quilt's label to include your source of inspiration. The correct notation, had it read "Made By Mary X. Inspired by Gail Lawther's Crib Triptych", well, there is no doubt, it would have spared us this misery.