Monday, August 06, 2007


A little bit of interestingness is going on in blogland at the moment, centred around the issue of copying. You can read a little more about the situation over at the Meet Me at Mikes blog.

I thought I'd flag this here on my blog also, given that it's an issue that's quite close to home for me at the moment. Shannon, Kristen and I have talked about it at some length recently - about blog etiquette in general and the sharing of ideas.

I like to think that I'm a fairly open person. I like to share information about my ideas and processes - how things came to be, sometimes even step by step tutorials. If someone emails me for specific information, I am usually quite willing to divulge.

I'm also quite sensitive about potentially copying someone else's ideas. If something I'm doing seems to close to someone else's, I like to flag it, like the birch forest design. And funnily enough, the other day when I was worrying about my notebook kit being too similar to another kit I saw at the trade show, it was the very same crafter (as in the issue above) who's "sew your own" kits I was referring to. Her packaging and the way she'd folded her fabric was just how I had done my prototype, and I was really worried that mine was accidentally too similar (until Shannon told me I was being silly).

Anyway, my point is, when you act/think a certain way, you sort of have the good faith that others will act/think similarly. When someone uses a large information that I give them on my blog or in an email (eg a tutorial), I implicitly expect that they'll give me credit somewhere along the line, because that's what I'd do. I don't expect this in all instances, but definitely ones where I've divulged specific information that you might not be able to get elsewhere.

But, unfortunately not everyone thinks this way, which is a little upsetting. Which raises the question - what is the correct blogging/crafting
etiquette? How similar is too similar? When is credit due? What are your experiences and what do you expect from your blog readers and peers?


Meet Me at Mikes said...

Aww hi! Here i am over here.. but i just wanted to say.. that if you are honest from the get-go. If you saw someone else do something gorgeous with a packet of tissues.. and it eventually led to you doing something wonderful with an empty toilet roll... cool!

If you saw someone do a lovely print of humpty dumpty falling off the wall in green.. and you reinterpret the same exact print in orange.. you're probably not the sort of person to fess up to the original inspiration... are you?! So we're all wasting our breath.

Just be honest and tell the truth. Simple. Similarities happen - it's completely inevitable - collective consciousness etc. I think that's fine. We often share a similar aesthetic. It's why we like each other.

But I just appeal to those people desperate to be creative.. find your own niche.. don't hijack someone elses. Dig deeper and you might surprise yourself with your own ideas!

And as for credit.. well.. if you've carved your own path to a lovely creative outcome.. of course you don't need to document each and every step... because the majority of you crafty gals would never dream of copying.

Probably those that do would never even read these blogs properly anyway. They just look at the pictures!

xx pip

nicole lecht said...

I'm so leaving a reply post to this today! i was waiting for you to dive in and now i will as well. for just now, i've seen some copying going on with some FB stuff.

we should make some type of banner for our blogs. about "anti-copying" or "don't clone, it's bad for your health" lolol

Victoria E said...

This is a very interesting topic with special significance to all crafty mediums. It's hard to drawn the line between being inspired by someone and downright copying their work.

I'm with meet me at mikes - if you clearly copy someone's idea blatantly (such as a particular print or design), then that is plagiarism in its own right. Of course, if you choose to make a sew your own book cover set from you own fabric, and you mention in your blog that it was inspired by another designer's success in using a similar kit, I don't see anything wrong with that because the materials you two are using are clearly different in design and style.

I personally can relate to the issue of it being difficult to find your own niche when all it takes is a simple blog search to find oodles of designers and writers out there already doing what I want to do. Still, that doesn't mean that each individual doesn't have something unique of their own to contribute - the key is taking the time to find what that something is instead of just resorting to faking someone else's work.

Florence said...

The question you ask... is wide and difficult !!! I will have a look on your readers' answers... Copying seems to have no limit, neither does arguing...
And... I take the opportunity to leave a comment here... because I read each of your articles ;-)

Christie said...

I think it is a very sad situation. There are so many amazing crafters out there generously sharing ideas & tutorials- it isn't hard to give credit where credit is due & there is a big difference between being inspired by someone's work & just plain ripping it off!

Kevan said...

A timely post, and I agree with your etiquette. I recently discovered that someone has copied my entire short film and is currently using it as promotional material for their own creative services, with no credit given.

: (

Siany said...

Hi! Ive only just come across your blog, but this post jumped out to meet. I have used a few online tutorials, and adapted and changed them in several ways so they are quite different to the original tutorial - however, I still feel the credit should be given to the person where I saw the original idea. I think its fair to say "this is where I first saw it, and this is how I adapted it".

I have recently been making my own bags, and made up a few patterns, but then Ive come online, and found several bags that look quite similar - but I never copied from them or 'stole' any ideas. So I think its just a matter of courtesy, and people should be nice enough to reference where they got the idea from!

Hollabee said...

You came up with the idea for the cover, and you only found out about someone elses after...that's ok I'd didn't steal and you certainly didn't copy.
But it is definitely a difficult topic...I draw patterns for a lot of my things and find similar designs somewhere else occasionally...which is a bit scary, although there are little differences. I think it's hard to avoid in a world where pretty much everything has been invented. The copyright issue is a thing though...just keep a good record (just in case) of what you made/designed, with a date etc.

There are millions of copy cats out there and all we can do is be informed of how to protect ourselves. Might look into some copyright docs & statements.

Hollabee said...

Back again...there's some very handy info on (that's if you're in Australia)

It says that it is a good idea to print/mention copyright on your products/designs. i.e the circle with the c, then your name/company name and the year it was designed/made. It is not necessary as all original artworks/designs are automatically protected as soon as it is created and you can prove this by having original sketches/drawings/designs.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Some designs are simple and have been around for along time and others are extremely orginal. We live in an age when we have to cover ourselves. Use copyright symbols, date designs, create a flickr group and take photos of your work with your name attached in the photo eg Heather Bailey.

As for the crafty community we know who came up with the original designs.

As a teacher, I am passing the word on to my students.

Lara said...

I am a crafter who creates only for myself (and family and friends). I adore the creativity of people such as yourselves, who inspire, write tutorials, post photos of your work, and generally give me all sorts of wonderful ideas as to what I can make! Yes, I do copy your work - but only for my own use, and with changes where appropriate, and if I post it on my blog, I always give the appropriate acknowlegements. I love the way that you share! I am not an inherently creative, original person, but I love sewing and crafting, so I thank all of you who enable me to make fantastic things! Where you have patterns for your work available, I purchase them. But I rather make the finished item myself than buy someone else's - for me, the process of making the item is the fun part, as much as (or more than) owning it!

I think that copying someone else's work on a commercial basis (without any acknowledgement of the original) is completely wrong. Although there is very little that is completely original nowadays such blatant copying in my opinion is obvious and immoral. Those of you whose crafting is your income do need to protect yourselves as much as possible.

And although I have the same name as the author of this blog, I didn't copy her!

elly yap said...

Wow, the plagarism issue that was raised at meet me at mikes blog is so disappointing.

I guess different people have different ideas of what defines copying but for me at the end of the day it always comes back to the saying "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

I doubt any crafter would appreciate being uncredited and blatantly copied for profit like poor Angela. :/

Heather Moore said...

This issue makes me feel so unhappy. I start to feel frightened of putting pics of my work up on my blog for fear of being copied. However, I really hate to see blogs where people have copyright notices on their photos, and don't want to go there because it seems to be totally at odds with the generous spirit of the blogs I like to read. It immediately sends a fearful and litigation-minded message to the reader that seems totally contradictory to the joyful sharing of blogging.

Oh dear, I feel very upset, but I guess I'd better just live with it.

Ali said...

o boy! That post at Meet Me at Mikes is not cool.

This is what I think: there's a fine line between sharing the same aesthetic, and copying. It sounds like the Miss Button's Incident is a case of blatant and direct copying. That's dishonest.

Where things get blurry is where craft meets commerce. Craft has grown out of a tradition of sharing and teaching. Commerce assumes people operate completely alone. If you want to make a living out of craft, you have to accept the nature of commerce and that other people will have similar ideas and make similar things to yours. If there are several people making and selling similar things to yours, that's a trend, and the more all of you make and sell, the more you all benefit. [Note I said similar, not identical].

When it comes to the internet, I believe that putting something on the internet is publishing, and just like publishing a book or writing an essay for school, you need to acknowledge your sources, and you don't pass someone else's work off as your own. Full stop.

Amy said...

Inspired from and blatant copying is very much different. It's simple, really, to me--if you'd have to look at another person's design so many times to get yours right, well, then it's copying.

And they're selling her designs too? Wholesale? Now that's really too far. They might even have bought her pattern as well to make sure they copy Miss Buttons right. Talk about a stab in the back!

Anonymous said...

good one lara (and pip)!

shula said...

You follow your heart.

A person knows when and if he/she is copying.


Anna said...

I work in fashion- the industry where everyone rips everyone else off (even the designers). it can be quite hard in this situation where there is quite a fine line between 'inspired by' and a blatant rip off! Some compnaies do eventually run into legal trouble for this.

How ever the situation is a little different with craft as there is often a level of personal sentiment and care attached to an item of work. i would be gutted if my work was copied without a reference of some kind.

Heather Moore said...

Hey, Lara! Thanks for the looooong comment on my blog. I'd love to email you though and chat about stuff. I'm at heapau[at]iafrica[dot]com. Cheers, Heather

Caroline said...

It's a hard topic.
It's hard when there are so many crafty people and we all thought we came up with the idea.
I love to share my ideas or ideas that were inspired from others.. I just think the main thing is to link back or give credit to where you saw it first. I always try to do that and I appreciate when people do that for me.
Nice thoughts.. thanks for sharing

EC (Lisa) Stewart said...

I, too, have issues about actually posting some of my work-in-progress projects on my blog due to the flagrant plagiarism that occurs. One day, I'll learn how to meet that happy medium of showing my inspiration and the results of my work before actually creating a product to sell. Meanwhile, I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that someone gives credit where credit is due.

Best of luck in your pursuits.

ambika said...

I'd rather err on the side of over-crediting than risk offending or upsetting someone--or worse, come off as a thief.

With jewelry, it's *really* hard not to do something someone's done before but it's still imperative to make clear where your inspiration is coming from. Great posts all around on this topic and I'm glad to see everyone's 2 cents.

tiel said...

I think that no matter what 'industry' you work in, you are always going to have those that are original, and those that are not. But even the original ideas come from somewhere, something, someone. It is a process. If you choose not to acknowledge that you have created something that is similar or influenced by someones else's ideas than you are a fool. Because people know.

Hey, Picasso was influenced by Cezanne.

But yes, people should own up to being influenced.otherwise they just aren't worth knowing.

i'm going over to read that post from pip.

perfectbound said...

Hi Kirin,

I have a bit of a technical question about your blog. I'm new to blogger and I'm still finding my way around. I'm wondering if there's some sort of special code that you did to get the white of the center to continuously run from top to bottom with the pattern on either side. Or is that just standard with the Minima template?

Anyhoo, I love your work. Especially your pattern work with the Gocco. I hope to pull something like that off one day as well as you do.

Best, Julie