Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Starting the Discussion

Over the past few days I have started having the discussion with people about 'copying'.
I am comforted about how passionate people in small business and creative fields are about this subject. Some of the statements and thought threads that have come out of these discussions...

"Knowing that (insert business name here) are watching me shits me to tears, why can they not just go get a life and get their own ideas."

"People and big businesses who copy are bullies."

"Copy cats are just ugly human beings."

"I feel sorry for people who have to copy, especially when they tout that they are 'creative' but all they are doing is plucking ideas of the internet..."

"The copying thing is rampant. I can't stand it when (insert creative business) copies another (insert creative business) and thinks they can get away with it, you can do a google search and similar images pop up from (insert creative business)....

Out of all of the discussions and responses not one was positive from the first group I spoke to that were all currently working or had walked away from the creative industries and had come from a trained background. By trained I mean they have all been through higher education in their fields. Degree, Masters, Phd's etc.
An education in your creative field gives you the understanding of idea creation and the importance of idea protection. You are also trained to seek out original solutions and work to your own creative responses. You are also taught about the importance of copyright.

I had a similar discussion with people working in creative or crafting fields who had not had a formal art/design education and the some of the views were surprising. Many responses were like the first group but about a third were interesting.

"I can do what ever I want I paid for that pattern"

"I saw it and liked it and thought why not"

"I only sell at markets and a few stores here and there, no one will notice"

 "Changing the colors makes it different"

"Oh yeah its crap, but what can you do about it, nothing so you might as well join them"

Are these comments from a lack of understanding of copyright and how it works? Or are they from the fact that it's rampant and we are just so used to it?
Or is it that we no longer partake in critical discussion about this issue as aspects of social media have made it very difficult to tackle without it turning into an online social media war.

Yes, we can argue the point of view that nothing is new, or that trends and themes are re-hashed and updated and renewed in times of change and progress. We can also refer to 'collective conscious' where if you are presented with similar materials and have a similar skill set you can derive from that a similar out come.
But you cannot take the view that it's ok to mimic other businesses/designers/works for financial gain as your business model. Cause, ya know, its not all unicorns farting rainbows out there, some of us need to pay our mortgage and make a living and if you have a bigger bully copying your work and selling it for cheaper to the masses you don't stand a chance.

So how do we start to fix this known problem? How do we start to do this without it getting 'ugly'.
How do we start the discussion?



  1. I think the collective conscious thing is what gets me. Time and again I see books etc. where there is a similar feel to another's craft and I don't get the impression that the writer even realized. I myself have made a quilt block that I thought was 'original' (not for money, just for myself) and then later realized it was almost a duplicate to a pattern I'd looked at in one of my sisters books more than 2 yrs. prior. I think that is one of the biggest things that hinders me from going ahead with making my own patterns. On the other hand, it freaks me out to think of the people who are so controlling that they want to copyright simple patterns like a sawtooth star etc. that's been around forever! Hello? That was around before we were born!! So where does it stop? And where or what is the point of something being truly creative and original? I have a lot of questions about this topic. Best of luck to you in your endeavors.:)

    1. Hi Audrey, lets 'discuss'… copyright is a bit different where you are to here, the laws have differences in scope.
      I think this most important thing is to be transparent in what you are doing. And, no, you can't 'copyright' a block thats been around for ever and a day. But in saying that, if they have created a new way to make that block with a method or tool, then yes they kinda can to an extent.