Thursday, October 27, 2011

Obedient Yet Perplexed

One of the most important aspects of being an editor is protecting copyright. Funny enough, often this copyright rarely is for me nor Irish Quilting's material.

We promote quilting and we share information. Irish Quilting is a window into the Irish quilt lifestyle, as well as it is a window into the quilting world for those in Ireland.

My expertise is in writing and managing content and a team--not in patchwork nor techniques--this is one of the bigger misconceptions of my job. It is however, correct to say, that my primary focus is to surround myself with expert patchworkers and quilters. And, it is their copyright material that is my top concern.

Can I print it? Is it ok with them? Does the content convey accuracy and relevance?

Whenever quilts are submitted, I find myself repeating..."we CAN ask". Irish quilters, new to the quilt business, frequently say, "it isn't original, it can't be used". As a business focused on promotion of quilting, I urge exploration and compliance. From Eleanor Burns in America to Annie Downs of Australia, we have been permitted to print copyright material other than our own. I like to believe these professionals believe in the same promotion of quilting. However, as proprietors of unique property, it is only correct they be given credit and compensation as they wish. And yet with such righteous entitlement, there has yet to be an owner of copyright material say no.

However, we have had a professional deny permission after the fact. Oye vey. Permission was given in writing--as it should, which makes the encounter sour more. Making matters worse, this copyright is for 'technique'--a gray area in itself.

Before print--we know this particular professional and her views--we sought written permission, despite that many would argue whether technique is even covered under copyright. The professional has since surfaced exclaiming permission extended only to a photo of the quilt. A photo? A photo of a quilt made by a technique that is purportedly covered under her copyright? Now, why would I do that? Only print a photo of quilt that was made with one person's design and another's technique? The quilt design is not hers and lordy, I haven't the heart yet to tell the original designer about the professional's absent mindedness...did I mention, initially, the professional originally denied ever writing to me. I had to send a copy of her own correspondence back to her! Oye vey.

Meanwhile on other places on earth, there are oodles of creators replicating works. The TV is bursting with these 'Ink' reality shows--every episode the artist is inking some Disney or Harley Davidson tat. And just the other day I watched a restoration show where the artist refurbished a Hershey's candy dispensor, logo and all. The artists are accepting payment for these works and, you know, the Discovery channel is writing them a check.

I wonder, who is minding those copyrights?

At the very least, they should mention copyright and how it's handled--it would make those of us, obedient and tortured in compliance, feel better.


Rafael's Mum said...

I am glad you brought this up Sherry. I have long wondered about copyright... A lot of techniques are, and have been through the ages, common knowledge. Just because one person has written about it somewhere, that does not necessarily mean they have the world wide copyright? Take e.g. constructing a six sided square die out of material. These blocks are made for children the world over. So who has the copyright to a pattern to something like this? Common sense in sewing I would think... it's not rocket science after all how to put this together.. I have long wondered how this works and would welcome an article about what the (international?) laws are regarding patterns, techniques, and reproduction of heritage pieces are.

krisgray said...

Uggh - the "C" word! I was an archivist in my former life and this always popped up with UNpublished letters, manuscripts, photos, etc. In planning a conference program we (archivists) found that there were attorneys specializing in copyright issues. What I remember is that none of us wanted to deal with the "C" word.

Catherine Smith said...

Thank you Sherry. I was beginning to think I was the only copyright
aware person on Facebook or elsewhere. No designer or professional wants his work stolen,
copied, or used for another's profit. That is what copyright is for: protection of ownership of original/artistic property. Don't be perplexed. You are right on target.Those who own the rights must protect them.