As we enter the New Year, a step in the right (legal) direction would be almost as productive for most of us as changing our diet and signing up at one of the many gyms offering New Year discounts to get you in the door. I could use this time to reflect on what I've been doing and tell you about some new techniques I've learned, plop in a nifty How-to video, or share some freebee pattern that will gain new followers and admirers. But not today.
Today I want to discuss Copyright Law. No better time than now when everyone is fired up and ready to tackle those New Year's Resolutions and completing those UFOs (UnFinished Objects)languishing in the sewing room. We rummage through our pattern pieces, sketches and have sewn or stuffed dolls forgetting that maybe that unfinished doll wasn't something we created totally on our own. Many of us are eager to share our work and forget or ignore how much of that might actually belong to someone else. We believe that if we "tweak" or change someone else's work by some imaginary percent it becomes our original work/idea.
This is not the case. Although dolls are not specifically mentioned as is music, books etc., in Copyright Law, the creative process and finished product are still the original product of its creator and should be honored by anyone who decides to make a doll from an existing pattern, whether or not the pattern has been altered. A doll presented without referencing or getting permission from the original creator is definitely problematic.
I have many files, electronic and hard copy, of dolls and other images that inspire me. Pinterest is a goldmine for inspiration and worth dropping into periodically. But be aware that the creations presented there are the work of other very creative people and to replicate and claim ownership of such ideas is no different than if you were to copy the writing of someone else and claim it as your own. Think of it like plagiarism, just in a different form.
Here is a clearer definition to assist us from LegalZoom:
What Is Copyright Infringement?Copyright laws are designed to protect the creator of original works, which are creative expressions from others using and profiting from their work, without permission. The idea is that the author or creator owns the rights to the work and can decide if and how others use his or her creation. For example, music copyright would exist for songwriters on their lyrics. When songwriters allow artists to record their words, there would be an agreement outlining how the right to record is granted, thus avoiding copyright infringement. If another artist decided to record the same song without permission, the songwriter would be able to bring legal action for copyright infringement against the artist. If you believe that the copyright infringement definition sounds like stealing, you would be correct. Other examples of copyright infringement include: -Downloading movies and music without proper payment for use -Recording movies in a theater Using others’ photographs for a blog without permission -Copying software code without giving proper credit -Creating videos with unlicensed music clips -Copying books, blogs or podcasts without permission -Anything where you are copying someone else’s original work without an agreement
As a rule most dollmakers are very generous with their time, talents and designs. Compounded by chronically underpricing their/our work necessitates supplementing their/our income with a "day job" or other work to keep the lights on. To see other dollmakers promote work that is too similar to their/our own is disheartening and discouraging. One solution has been to just not create anything for public consumption. This is the most drastic approach to be sure. Over time many of us find it difficult to keep ahead of the crowd and just fade from the scene altogether.
I have taken a page from many of my peers in that I will create a pattern/process/teach one doll, but keep the OOAK (one-of-a-kind)to sell on commission or as a single creation.The OOAK doll is typically more complicated in design and is presented as a truly unique one-of-a-kind creation.
It's a matter of common courtesy and recognition of the artist that provided such inspiration that is most often neglected. It is generally understood that the human form offers limited variations that would make one doll uniquely individual from other similar dolls. However, it could be a process or "look" that is the identifier of the original creator that is mimicked that is the give away.
We must be cognizant of how we acquire our ideas and who inspires us to do our best work. We benefit greatly by this community of sharing. Social media, e.g., Pinterest, Instagram, etc. has definitely expanded our access to some of the best work out there and to be inspired is worth its weight in gold, don't spoil it.