Tuesday, July 22, 2014

But I'm not stealing.....


It would never occur to us to steal a loaf of bread, nor nail polish, but every single day, people steal and do not even think twice.   We steal when we copy a movie for a friend.  We steal when we copy a cd for a friend.  We steal when we copy patterns for friends.  In our minds, there is some disconnect.  We tell ourselves that we paid for the pattern we should be able to do with it what we like.  When we buy bread, we can share it with our friends, what is wrong with sharing a CD or a pattern?

Well here is what is wrong.  When you share the bread, some you eat, and some your friends eat.  The bread is a limited resource.  Now lets look at a music CD.  You play it for your friends when you are together.  AWESOME!  You shared your CD.   One of your friends loves it and asks for a copy.  You copy the CD for them.  Now, instead of going into the store and shoplifting the CD from the store, you stole it by making a copy for your friend.

It would never occur to us to copy a Rembrandt nor any other artist's painting.  We would see how wrong that is.  But we never consider it wrong to copy the fiber artist's patterns.  I am sad at how prevalent this behavior is.  It is not just a few that are doing this.  I see it in LYS (Local Yarn Shops), knitting groups, crochet groups, Facebook craft groups, and individuals.

So, now we know we are basically shoplifting, but we aren't taking any money from the store, so what is the problem?  Well lets look at the process it takes.   The designer (or songwriter or script writer) works hours often weeks and sometimes months or years, writing and rewriting, editing and refining their pattern (song or script).  The designer has individuals test the pattern to make sure there are no errors and that the instructions are clear.  The songwriter works with the publisher to find someone to record the song (or if the songwriter is also the singer, he finds a band to help him record his song).  The script writer takes the script to a find someone who wants to film it.  So, whether a pattern, a CD or a movie, hours and hours have gone into creating it.  Sometimes a lot of money has gone into creating the design, the cd or the movie.  At least one person makes their livelihood -- earns a living by writing these songs, or patterns, or movie scripts.  That is how that person feeds their family.  So when you copy it and give it to another, you took food off that person's table.  

Each time you copy something that is copywritten, you give away something that was not yours to give.  You become a thief.  And if you are using a stolen pattern (ie copied pattern) to make money, you have now become a fence.   So not only are you guilty of theft, but you are guilty of selling stolen property.

I was not going to say anything, but my heart is heavy.  I stopped selling patterns because of theft, and the large amount of people who sent nasty messages to me about how selling patterns was wrong and harmful.   They berated me.   Yet these same people had no idea how many hours are spent writing a pattern, and how many hours are spent working with testers, and how many hours are spent editing and adding photos to the pattern (and/or videos), just so the user has the best pattern possible.   I don't design like I used to.  My heart isn't in it.  But my husband is still a songwriter.  And I have hundreds of people I love and admire who make their living either writing patterns, or songs, or scripts.  It breaks my heart when I see such flagrant disregard for their work.  It breaks my heart when people think it is no big deal to steal from these hardworking individuals.
So, each time you choose to copy a pattern you bought, or ask a friend to copy a pattern they bought for you to use, you are saying that the designer's time, talent, efforts are worth stealing.  You are saying you don't mind being a thief.   And each time you copy music or movies you are saying that you don't mind stealing from the writers and everyone else involved.  You have no problem stealing.  I doubt this will change anyone's behaviors, but if it gets one person to reconsider their actions and stop, this is totally worth it.

What are your thoughts???


  1. What a great post Valorie! I completely agree and appreciate the time & thought you put in to writing this blog.

  2. I agree wholeheartedly!!! What a great post. Thank you! The other day I ca to work gushing about a new book and meeting the author. I bought my book and had it signed. The co-worker asked for the name a few times over the week but the next week asked if I had it and she could borrow. Before I said a thing she said...oh it's only for a day. A day? You must be a fast reader! No, I'm going to copy it. What?! No. I told her flat out no with a serious look. She was appalled. Why, she asked? I said it's stealing plain and simple. I'm not stealing! Of course you are dear you just don't think about it that way. I explained about my patterns and YouTube videos. All the time and effort designing (all above mentioned) plus shooting video and editing. To make a copy and not honor the maker with a small exchange of monies for their livelyhood is wrong. Thanks for posting!

  3. Completely agree with you and you spent time and energy writing this.

  4. I too have suffered a heavy heart recently as a result of seeing the flagrant abuse of the designers, and other artists. In this business, we just never know, we make $100., or in the case of my last pattern, $2.00. But the hours that go into it are the same. Thank you for your efforts to educate; I will be sharing a link in every social media I can. Be blessed

  5. Thank you for writing this. I hope it spreads across all the pattern sharing groups and sites so at least a handful of people will realize what they're doing. I've seen designers get verbally "beaten up" on these sites for being so "greedy" as to object to their patterns being shared. It's sad.

  6. Thank you for this! The mentality of entitlement is a spreading disease with no moral compass and as a pattern designer, it breaks my heart--and sometimes my pocketbook. This experience of being stolen from has caused many tears and sleepless nights, but it has also caused me to pause and consider my choices--all of them--that I may justify somehow as ok. It has driven me to become considerably more aware about my own honesty and integrity. It makes me want to be PERFECTLY honest in all that I do. Thanks again!

  7. This is a great article. I can't wait to share it!