This whole thought process was more complicated that just a yes or no answer to several types of questions. It made me think about why I do what I do, especially these days, when I’m up to my eyeballs in social media and blogging during the day for work and can’t bear the thought of doing more of the same when I get home.
I like creating. I like producing something tangible. I like having a hobby, and it’s a hobby that can also make a lot of other people happy. I feel like that’s how I’m contributing to society, in a way. I’ve met great friends. I have an online social life (as opposed to my almost-non-existent-real-life-social-life). I like being creative. I think those are all good things, but then I come face to face with real life and realize it isn’t all rainbows and unicorn farts.
Although this (blogging, crocheting, crafting, etc) isn’t my full time job, I do earn a supplemental income from the ads on my site. Whenever someone visits, I get a little something. (A very little something). But you add up one person and another person, and I earn enough that I might actually get to pay a babysitter so Drew and I can go out and pretend to be adults with real lives who eat adult food and watch ..uhoh, I was going to say adult movies, but that’s not quite right… I mean, movies that are not meant for the 5 and under age-group. So, I need to protect my work. I work hard to create my content. There’s the idea, and the execution, but don’t forget, there’s photography, and editing, and writing, and more editing, and marketing and replying to questions, and all the fun tax things that can get involved. I don’t feel that I should do this work for free, do you? I don’t sell my patterns, I don’t ask anything of my readers before giving them access to what I think is purty durn good stuffs, so that’s why I use ads. And that means I depend on the traffic that my posts bring to this website. But here’s what happens.
People take my photos and call them their own. Sometimes, people will copy my entire post and call it their own (not even bothering to cut out the personal stories). People crop out my watermark. People print my patterns and distribute my patterns as PDFs and thru email. Would you believe it, people even take my free patterns and sell them on Etsy? Truth can be stranger than fiction here.
Before you think I’m being mean and ungrateful, first let me state that 99% of my readers are wonderful. You share with me the joy you feel when you craft and inspirational stories of what a handmade gift can bring to someone’s life. I assume that all of your intentions are pure and you genuinely just want to share a good thing. Many of these cases are due to just not knowing the rules of intellectual property and internet etiquette, and that’s to be expected. We are all ignorant until we aren’t. There was a time when I was ignorant about blogging and copyrights, until I wasn’t. So here’s me sharing what I’ve learned.
All of my work is under my copyright. I created it. It belongs to me. Regardless of the reason I make something, or share something, that something is still mine. Taking parts of it, or all of it, and passing it off in any way as anything not belonging to me is stealing, plain and simple. I’ve always said that you can create finished products and sell them, but you need to give credit back to the original post. You are always welcome to share the links to my patterns and tutorials with your readers, your friends and your networks, again as long as you give credit back to the original post. I’ve allowed a few translations in the past, and that’s one thing I’m changing, starting now. I will no longer allow translations to be made from any of my free patterns. Obviously, if you need to translate a pattern for yourself, I can’t stop you. However, you can’t distribute it to a wider audience. What I CAN do is publish your translation on my site, linked from the main pattern post, and credit you (and your blog) as the translator. That’s a win-win for you, me, and anyone who wants the translation.
I’ve also received questions about printing and PDFs in the past. Anyone who distributes PDFs or prints of my patterns is taking away traffic from this site. Traffic leads to a small income which leads to me being able to produce more crochet patterns and fun crafts to share with y’all. Distributing my work cuts off that funnel.
Just because I live in Silicon Valley doesn’t mean I don’t know there are people who don’t have internet access as constantly as I do. I get that there are occasions when you want/need to print a pattern, but please keep that to a minimum and don’t share complete patterns online, even if they are free.
Unfortunately, short of getting my lawyer to go after copyright infringement, I can’t stop you from doing whatever the heck you want in your own home. But hopefully, I’ve explained why it’s important to understand that there’s a real person and a real family behind the crochet patterns, craft projects and tutorials that are available to you, free of cost. And it’s not just me; it’s a lot of other bloggers and designers too. I know I’m always amazed at the talent I see everywhere and am so grateful to those who share their work and their ideas. I’m sure many of you feel the same! It’s easy to assume that just because you see it on the Internet it’s free for you to take. We all have to stop for that one moment and realize that somebody created this content and then be respectful of their efforts by giving due credit when sharing a project or idea.
Thanks for understanding!