Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Blog-o-sphere drama!

Every once in a while, the whole quilting blog community finds something to get up in arms about. I find these situations very interesting to follow because quilters are generally a very polite bunch, so it's very interesting to see how everyone reacts to these volatile situations (I am reminded of last years "tradition vs modern" hullabaloo).

This past week, it has been an issue over copyright related to fabrics and quilt patterns. Here is my interpretation of the facts:

-Blogger Emily Cier published a book of quilt patterns.  One of the sample quilts photographed for the book was made completely of one designer's fabric line (Kate Spain).
-The book publisher, C&T Publishing, decided to choose that quilt to print on tote bags that they make up to promote many of their books.
-Kate Spain's lawyers asked C&T to not print the totes as it violated copyright.  Overreactions and miscommunications ensued on all sides.

Now there's plenty more to the story, you should read the following statements before you draw your own opinion:

Emily's posts:
C&T Publishing's post:
Kate's post:

Many quilters are upset and are saying they will now boycott Kate's fabrics.  Kate points out that she is just trying to protect her livelihood.  Quilters are mostly concerned about where the line is drawn between what uses of fabric are copyright violation and what are not.

Here are my thoughts on the issue:
  • Ignoring who is right or wrong, I am very confused as to where the line is drawn between what is copyright violation and what isn't.  Why is printing a photo of a quilt using a single line of fabric okay for a book but not for a tote?  Both items are mass marketed for profit of people other than the original fabric designer. 
  • As many have pointed out, what are we to do when a quilt is composed of fabrics from many different designers?  Where is the line drawn that you need to cite the fabric designer? 
  • And, most interestingly, the CEO of C&T posed a question that I will quote here: "Who is the copyright holder of an original quilt design? Is it the person who designs the quilt, or the person(s) who design the fabrics used in the quilt? Is it a percentage of both? Does the photographer who takes a photo of a quilt own the copyright to the photograph?"

All food for thought.

Here's another food for thought:  I'm currently reading Heirloom Machine Quilting by Harriet Hargrave.  In it she goes on a rant about people who don't quilt their own quilts: "A growing percentage of quilts at quilt shows are not quilted by the person who made the top.  Many are quilted similarly, on longarm machines.  Where is our guide and inspiration for quilting all of the tops we've been lured into making based on pattern, design, and color? So often, out of frustration, we neatly fold the top, and start another pretty project...What happened to turning beginners into quiltmakers, not topmakers?

Ooooh...them's fighting words! Anyways, this paragraph really made me sit back and think about how I'm approaching quilting. She really advocates for thinking about how you will quilt a quilt before you even begin with the pattern.

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