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Can I Sell a Project I Make Using Someone Else's Pattern?

By: Maria Nerius, Resident Craft Expert

You've fallen in love with a pattern and everyone's telling you that you "should make those and sell them -- you'd make a lot of money." But there's some question in your mind about that -- the pattern says "for personal use only" or maybe "for pocket money". Maria explains what these terms mean.

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I think this article is particularly intended for printed patterns and doesn't specifically address all types of crafts. If you do find a pattern online and you aren't sure about the copyright the best in you can do is contact the author.

You know many people do not think about this when they see a pattern and make it and say I can make these and sell. This is a good thing for all to know. If I see something and decide I want to make it to sell I make it my own way without looking at that pattern so I do not copy theirs. My my friend made her porcelian doll mold of her doll and took it to the toy fair and the next year someone had made one that could have been hers she was told that as long as at least 1/4 of the doll looked different (like the mouth and the face turned different ) then it is not copying her doll. I do not know about now but that was about 12 years ago. Is that the way it still is? Best thing to do is make your own design from the ideas.

What about liscensed fabric? I understand about the copyright on patterns and books and such. But , for example Universisty fabric or Disney printed fabric. Isn't this the same. Can you legally use them to make items for sale, even if the design of the product is your own. I attend many craft fairs or have a booth at them, many vendors have product made from these items. What is everyones take on this.

'Can of worms' anyone? It's all so confusing. Perhaps if we could get articles geared to the different arts and crafts, it would help to clear up some of the confusion. Obviously there are differences between copying a work of literature vs using a dress pattern to make a wedding dress to be sold to a customer. And, at what point does a design become so distinctive from it's book pattern origins as to become a unique separate individual? Soooo many questions.

Copyrights have to be applied for and fees must be paid wheither it is a poem or a pattern. You can't put the poem in your own book as your work but you could copy it and frame it for a wall decoration with the authors name attached, patterns can not be sold as your idea but you can use the pattern to create an object. The creation is yours but the pattern belongs to the creator. A least this is what I have been told.

If i purchase a stamp from al's stampmart and use the stamp to make cards to sell at flea markets or other craft events can I without breaking the laws? I see the stamp as a tool, just as I used a certain colored pencil. Am I right?

I have started buying printed napkins and having them glued to ceramic tiles as coasters.I am not sure where I stand if I take them to market.It is my hobby but would like to get some sort of income from them.Can anyone inform me if I am infringing on a copyright.Thanks Wendy

How about finding a pattern that you like and make changes to create a similar, but not identical item? Not just color choice or size, but make the arms, legs, head, ears bigger, or smaller, or .... I do mostly animals and/or toys with some hats thrown in. What about seeing a picture and trying to do something similar without a pattern?

Copyright covers only the printed pattern itself, preventing you from making copies of *the pattern* and reselling it. Copyright protections DO NOT extend to finished objects created by following a pattern. That "for home use only" etc wording placed on patterns or in books/magazines has no legal basis whatsoever. This is a myth perpetuated by publishers, but they do not (legally can not) enforce it.


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