Crocheters Break the Law Every Day. Surprised?

Last night, I was casually perusing my Facebook feed – you know how it goes, glass of wine in one hand and phone in the other…chilling after a long day of crocheting…when I came across a viral video for a new crochet pattern series.

That’s awesome!” I thought…ever the entrepreneur…”I’ll repost this video to my page, my followers will love it!” Even better, “I’ll post repost this to my page with an affiliate link, my followers will love it and I’ll make some money!”

Pinterest graphic for the 5 common ways Crocheters break the law every day by crochetpreneur

<< Whooahhh, wait a second! Insert the sound of screeching tires>>

This is where I slammed on the brakes and had to check my impulses to share.

You see, that video was for a set of patterns for superhero blankets…much like the mermaid, owl, and shark bite blankets that have been popular the past few years…except with comic book characters. Cool right?

Well, not really.

(Note: since the video contained no statement about licensing those images and logos, I assume the designer didn’t have a licensing agreement with Disney, Marvel, or DC Comics, but I will edit this post if I learn otherwise.)

I couldn’t share the video on my page.

I, especially, couldn’t share it with an affiliate link.

Why? Because integrity is one of the core values of my business and sharing that post would be blatantly encouraging copyright infringement. Adding my affiliate link would be my willing participation in that infringement.


All of those patterns…the patterns for Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, the Hulk and more…each one of them is infringing on the copyright belonging to Disney, Marvel, and DC Comics.

Did you know the fine for each instance of copyright infringement can be up to $150,000 PER INFRINGEMENT?

That means, if you were to purchase all seven patterns, the person profiting from those patterns could be fined for seven instances of infringement. Then, when you make the products and sell them, you could be fined for infringement for each product you sell.

It’s too much risk…it’s not worth it and it’s not right…it’s a crime.

Not only could you be liable for legal fees and fines, but (and this has happened more times than you’d think) your Etsy shop could be closed down at the drop of a hat…are you willing to lose everything you’ve worked so hard to build for a quick buck?

I didn’t think so…but just in case you didn’t know…

Ignorance of the Law

Oftentimes, crafters commit these crimes because they don’t know about copyright law. (Hint: as a business owner, it is your obligation to know about copyright law.)

Other times and I’ve seen this over and over again on Facebook, handmade business owners will angrily defend their decision to sell copyrighted items even with the knowledge that it is illegal because “Disney is making millions of dollars, I’m not hurting them” or “John Deere doesn’t own green and yellow…I can do what I want in my own business” or “”I said “inspired by” in my Etsy title so it’s not infringement.””

(I admit, I was guilty of that one…until I learned better.)

Oh, the things we’ll say and do when money is on the line, right?

If you fall in the first category, those who are selling out of ignorance, please know that I’m not judging, I’m simply educating and hoping you’ll make the RIGHT choice for your business.

If you fall in the second category, just stop it, you’re giving yourself a bad name…maybe not to your customers, because they want what they want and probably don’t know the law, but you’re giving yourself a bad name within the maker community and once your name is tarnished, it’s hard to recover.

Integrity is everything. (Well, maybe not everything, but it’s a lot.)

OK, so we’re on the same page now, right? We don’t want to be breaking the law with our business. And yet, I was witness to each of these infractions within the maker community just yesterday…multiple times.

Might you be breaking the law and not even know it?

The Top 5 Ways Crocheters Break the Law

Designing and Selling Copyrighted Products

OK, we’ve got that covered, see above.

Don’t do it. (Caveat: it’s OK to design a Disney character pattern for personal use. It’s not OK to profit from it) Additionally, if you purchase a licensed pattern…you’ve seen them at Barnes and Noble, right, the mini Star Wars patterns and such…unless specifically granted permission, you can not profit from the finished product.

Feel free to make as many as you’d like as gifts. As soon as you make a profit…you’re in dangerous waters.

Sharing Images That They Don’t Own

  1. Other Designers and Crocheters Images:  When I had a pattern go viral, I received report after report of crocheters using my images to advertise their own business. This is wrong on so many levels – if you can’t stitch up a one-hour hat and take a quick photo to advertise your finished product, I have little confidence in your ability to make a quality hat. Again, it’s easy to fool your customers…until they receive a product that looks nothing like the picture. Even if your product is beautiful in the end, it is still infringing on copyright to use another person’s image without her permission. Yes, even though you may believe that if you “found it on Google and, if Google can use it, so can I.” That’s just not true. That’s not how the internet works. That’s not how any of this works.
  2. Images from TV and Movies: Makers have fallen in love with Outlander. Seriously, there was a time there when I watched it, just for the designs. They’re amazing and, simply, beautiful. I wanted to make them all! When I designed the Sassenach Cowl (yes, I checked that the term is not copyrighted and if you have info that it is, I’ll change the name immediately), I was so tempted to use the Outlander name in the title because…well, more searches/more sales, right?  But, having already gotten caught up in the Katniss craze of 2013/14 (back when I was ignorant), I was careful not to use a term that could get me into trouble. Interestingly, though, when I did a search on Etsy for Outlander Cowl, Highland Cowl, Sassenach Cowl and such….the site was filled with copyrighted images taken directly from the show! Ugh…don’t do this. I haven’t checked recently, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Starz and the show’s producers haven’t come down hard on that kind of thing. Make your product, take your pictures, and save yourself the heartache of a DMCA notice and possible loss of your shop.

Just as an aside, yes, it’s ok to share images by clicking a “share” button. I’m talking about downloading someone else’s image and then using it to advertise your own business.

Similarly, Sharing Images They Don’t Own…and Using Them to Drive Traffic to a Monetized Blog

Alright, I’m not convinced this is so innocent, but I have seen instances where it just may be.

What this illegal practice looks like: A person builds a crochet/knit/DIY website (much like this website). It is filled with posts sharing links to free patterns along with images of the finished products (much like this website). They monetize the website with ads (much like this website). The drive traffic to their website using stolen images and pins (yikes!) and make passive income from those stolen images.

I can’t tell you how many Pinterest accounts and Facebook pages are owned by people who are stealing from the original designers. You can spot infringing accounts easily – they will be sharing an image with a particular watermark (a light colored logo, URL or business name superimposed on the image) and linking that image to a completely different website.

For instance, all of my pins say “” at the very bottom. If you click on a pin that says but takes you to a site called (or whatever), that pin has been stolen. You’ll find that the URL has been overwritten by an unscrupulous website owner who is simply profiting from the work of independent designers.

It is similar to Facebook. If a page owner “shares” a post about a particular pattern (that she didn’t create), but links back to HER OWN site instead of the original designer’s site, she has absconded with the image and using it to make a profit.

(Please note: On occasion, a reputable website owner will get permission from other designers to share posts, such as in roundup posts and other legitimate pattern sharing sites. In this case, they would indicate, “images used with permission,” or some such phrasing.)

Sharing Patterns (they didn’t write)

Yes, yes, yes, it’s OK to share a link to a free pattern that you found on the internet. In fact, please do!

(Go, right now, check out my patterns and click on the social sharing icons….pin, share, tweet….do all the things!)

What isn’t legal is for anyone, other than the designer, to copy the text of the pattern (free or not…in full or not) and share it…anywhere. If you’d like to share a free pattern, simply click on the social sharing buttons provided – almost every website owner has easily accessible social sharing buttons.

Additionally, there are sites specifically created for others to copy the entire text of paid patterns and give them away for free. The comments on these sites attest to the gratitude of crocheters who are so excited to get the pattern without having to pay for it…but it’s still theft.

(Yes, I think these people – the sharers and the users – are creeps.)

The problem for designers is that most of these sites are hosted in foreign lands, have no contact information, and designers have no recourse. Even if you are a lover of free patterns, please stay away from these sites.

Editing Patterns to Claim as Their Own

Take a look at the most recent pattern that you purchased. Check out the copyright blurb that the designer has carefully crafted. Did she state, “do not alter and claim as your own.”

I mean, it’s kind of sad that she’s got to cover herself and protect her design by using such language, but in the age of the internet and the plethora of copycat ‘designers’ trying to cash in on the promise of passive income, it has become a rampant problem.

Though, sometimes, it’s not as blatant as it may seem…

This is a tricky issue and I know it’s one of the things that brand new (ethical) pattern designers are most concerned about. We all know that there are only so many crochet stitches to go around and you can only configure those few stitches in so many ways. In reality, it’s hard to come up with a pattern that is revolutionarily unique.

The difference between a pattern that has been inspired by another design and a pattern that has been infringed upon can be a fine line.

If you, as a designer, are concerned that you’ve infringed on another design, then just don’t. However, if you’ve seen a beautiful image on Instagram of a new shawl shape, for example, and you design your own in a similar shape but with different stitches and a different configuration of stitches, but the same shape…you haven’t infringed.

Again, it’s tricky waters, so I’m having my buddy, Joey Vitale of Indie Law, pop on over and write us a more detailed post about this issue. It’s coming soon.

Ultimately, your heart will tell you when you’re doing the wrong thing…check your gut and you should be OK. If you have doubts, come check in with our Crochetpreneurs Club and get a second opinion.

It’s always best to err on the side of integrity, though.

(BONUS) Ignoring Safety Standards

Did you know, particularly in the US, that there are guidelines that need to be followed if you are a maker of wearables and toys? If we’re being honest, I must admit that this is an area of which I am not well-versed. There are safety standards for children’s items, labeling, buttons, and safety-eyes….so, so many rules that it’s easy to be out of compliance without even knowing it. If you don’t understand these standards, you’re probably out of compliance. (Yikes, again!)

What To Do Instead

  1. Trust that you have the talent and skill to design, market and sell original products. Let Disney sell Disney products and you do you. It’s that simple.
  2. When advertising your finished products, use your own, original images. In this way, you get to show your customers just how amazingly talented you are.
  3. Always ask permission. If you’re doing a roundup post or you’re wanting to link to someone’s pattern online, just send a quick note to the designer and ask permission. Most people are happy to give permission to use one image from the original post, as long as there is a link back to that post, too.
  4. Don’t share the text of a pattern anywhere. If you have a question about a pattern, just contact the original designer and most will be happy to walk you through anything you’re having trouble with. Yes, there are FB groups to help, but no one knows the pattern like the designer.
  5. Be original. You know in your heart if you have been inspired or if you’re copying. If your heart is a little faulty, let me be clear – looking at someone else’s design and writing a pattern to create that product is copying. (This is fine to do for your own use. But don’t do this if you’re planning to sell the pattern.)
  6. Get in the know. If you want to learn about US Safety Standards, be sure to join the Facebook group, US Safety Compliance. For more personalized help, contact someone who knows. I recommend Misty Henry, a Product Safety Consultant.
  7. Contact a Lawyer. For specific questions about copyright infringement and your crochet business, schedule a discovery call with my friend and lawyer to creatives, Joey Vitale of Indie Law. Be sure to join his Facebook group, Friends of Indie Law, too!

See, easy peasy. I know some people aren’t going to read this far.

I know some people will read and be angry.

And I know some people will say, “Duh!”

Really, once you know, it seems like common sense, but in the amazing, beautiful, talented, awe-inspiring, wide world of crochet, many people just don’t know.

Now you do. So, go do right. 😉

Won’t you share your thoughts, below? And, if you know some crocheters who might be putting themselves at risk because they don’t know the law, please share this post with them and drop some knowledge on them….with kindness. K? The more we know and do the right thing, the better we make the whole maker community experience.

(Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer and I do not claim to be. I am just sharing what I understand about the laws surrounding the products we make and the images we use to advertise them. If you have a question, please seek the counsel of a certified lawyer.)

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  1. This is one reason I’m not getting into the business of writing patterns (besides the fact that I do not have the patience at this time to make myself sit long enough to write one out). The lines are blurry. Sometimes I’ll buy a pattern to see how the designer did the V neck or seamed the shoulders or did the sleeves. And then I customize with my own favorite stitches.

    1. Hi Peggy! I get it. I think it’s great that you can support designers by purchasing their patterns and, then, use them to create something beautiful for yourself. I’ve seen your work and you make beautiful things! 🙂

  2. Great blog. Great points. Makes a lot of sense. People don’t really think about these things. They are staple rules in any type of business big or small. Be aware of your conscience and what you know is ok and not ok to put out there.
    Very happy you posted these points.
    Good job Pam!!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment, Cristy! I really do believe that people want to do the right thing…they just don’t know. Hopefully, now they do.

  3. Thank you for so much great information. I am slowly working toward making items to sell. This gave me so much good information that I didn’t know. It also makes me wonder if I should even pursue my ideas.

    1. You’re so welcome. It’s important to stay informed when you’re a business owner, but please don’t feel overwhelmed or discouraged. The only takeaway from this post should be…you do you. Don’t don’t copy and don’t steal….that’s so easy! I trust that you have what it takes! Be sure to sign up for the business resources library and you’ll stay up to date and encouraged in your journey. You can do it!

      1. I’ve noticed that a lot of designers do allow you to make their designs and sell the finished items. If this is the case, they will have a disclaimer that states that. Typically, they ask you to include the designer’s info, like their website, etc, along with your finished product in order to give credit for the design.

        1. Yes, that’s true. Just to clear up any confusion, if a designer has made an original design (that isn’t of someone else’s trademarked image), you are free to do whatever you’d like with your completed product. Some designers request that you don’t sell…and I’d honor that request out of respect, even though there is no legal obligation not to sell.

          However, if a designer creates an unlicensed pattern that includes a trademarked image or copyright protected item of some sort (like the one I – assume is unlicensed – in the video that prompted this post), then it doesn’t matter if you purchased the pattern or what the designer has requested, without a license, your completed product cannot be sold legally.

          I know it’s confusing. I hope this helps!

  4. Thanks for sharing your experience and thoughts on this. As a crocheter still learning and growing my skills I try to be cognizant of these issues. It’s so easy to go astray, sometimes without realizing it. Or to rationalize, even when you know better. Thankfully, there are plenty of makers and designers who graciously share fantastic designs for free. But honestly, if there is a design you absolutely must have that is not offered for free, most designers are pretty good about keeping the price reasonable. And really, for something you and/or your loved ones will treasure, it is a small price to pay.

  5. Thank you! I have only been crocheting a few years, but have been cross stitching for decades. I have seen wonderful designers stop working because they have lost so much business to illegal copying. It’s sad and hurts the business in general. I used to work at a music publisher and relied on people purchasing instead of copying in order for me to get a paycheck, small as it was.

    I was wondering about the “altering,” too. I’ve just started to crochet clothes and thought about creating my own design, but left it alone. I purchased a great chart for a hooded poncho, but used a different stitch and changed the sides so they’d be less wide and sewn up for armholes. So, it’s not the original, but I used the original to get there. I won’t be creating my own written design to sell, but will use it to sell (hopefully!) finished product – and the original, which is great for poncho-lovers.

    1. Thank you for taking the time to comment! What you’re doing sounds appropriate to me. You’re using someone else’s design to create a design of your own to sell the finished product. That’s cool. It doesn’t sound appropriate to, then, sell that pattern because it may not be sufficiently transformed from the original pattern to have created a new, unique product…if that makes sense. But, you’re always free to sell the product you’ve designed and made (that doesn’t include trademarked logos…like the Superman symbol).

      Sorry that I always use so many parentheses, I just want to give as accurate of information as I can. 🙂

  6. I have always wondered how crochet designers, pattern designers and digital designers ignore copyright laws! Great post that really needs to be brought to the forefront and discussed more often. Thank you.

  7. This is a great write up! One of the things that bothers me most is seeing makers who just blatantly don’t care. I think if makers worked more towards educating their audience like you have it would go a long way!

    1. Hi Melanie,

      I know it can be so frustrating – I like to think that those who are infringing on trademarks and copyrights just don’t know any better, but we can just keep educating our own people and keep plugging away. Thanks for taking the time to comment and best of luck with your business!


  8. Thank you for the shout out, Pam! I loved reading this article and agree with everything you’ve said! I found you because someone joined the FB group and linked this article. <3 <3 Many, many thanks for sharing all of this information so we can all of sustainable businesses!

  9. I was guilty of this till I read your post. I just went and removed the offending items from my Etsy shop. I will stick to my own unique designs from now on. Thank you for the insights.

    1. Yay for you! I love to hear this. I know there are so many crocheters (and other makers) who just don’t realize they’re infringing.

      Best of luck to you as you grow your business!


  10. Hi.
    Thank you for a very informative post! I do have a question, though. I am not a crochet-preneur yet, but I’d like to be. I have a personal Pinterest board (will not be used for my business, whenever that starts) that I titled “Barbie Crochet Inspiration Only”. Now, obviously that is copyright infringement if I use Barbie in my business, but my question is about the contents. How do I find out if my posts are actually from just pictures or taken from a pattern page. Most of them come from Flickr, and a lot of them are from Russian (I think) sites. I do not want to copy someone’s patterns, but I do want to use just pics as inspiration for my own designs, with changes. So, like, a sleeve here, a fringe there, the shape of a skirt from this one… if that makes sense. I do not want to make the exact outfit.

    So, finally to my question. How do I search the pic from my board, so that I can make sure it has not been stolen from another crochet-preneur? And, similarly, can I make my own design using a pic only from a designer who does not sell their patterns (if the actual item is not for sale) – like someone who posted a pic they made to one of the art sites? Should I try to get in touch with the designer to ask their permission, or if they bought a pattern?

    I hope that isn’t too in depth. I just love looking at people’s ideas, and I’d like to make some of my own. I created a pattern of my own, but I am afraid that there are so many close patterns that mine would be accused of using someone’s pattern. I did the pattern in my head, as I worked it up, although, I got the original idea for the outfit from looking at some pics. Of course, it needs much more work before I even thought of posting it anywhere.

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Hi Daniele,
      Well, that is a complicated question, indeed.

      First, as far as searching to see if the image has been stolen. The first way to check is to see if there are any watermarks on the image and ensure that those match the site to which the pin is linked. Secondly, you could download the image and, then, use Google image search to see if the image shows up anywhere else on the web.

      As far as reverse engineering a design from a Pinterest image, you are free to do that for your own personal use, but to, then, sell the pattern seems to be crossing the line. I don’t think it is, officially, considered copyright infringement because you can’t copyright an “idea”…but the spirit behind reverse engineering and then selling the pattern seems to be ethically problematic.

      Ultimately, I’d suggest you contact a copyright/trademark lawyer if you have concerns about moving forward. I’m not an attorney, so I can’t speak to the specifics of the law or, really, guide you much further than giving my opinion.

      I hope this helps a little bit, though. I wish you luck! Pam

      1. Hello Ms. Grice!

        First of all, thank you for the post. As a crochet-prenuer I try to be extremely conscientious of things like this.

        Secondly, I have a question kind of going off Ms. Danielle’s. I do kind of the same thing, taking inspiration from pictures and stuff and divining patterns from those pictures. As long as there’s nothing overtly copyrighted (Superman’s Crest, Batman’s mask, R2D2, Cap’s shield), it wouldn’t be illegal to sell the finished product from said tweaked pattern, would it? It’d only be illegal if one were to sell the pattern itself?

        Thank you again for the post and your time!

        1. Hi, you’re so welcome!

          As far as the scenario you describe, no that’s not illegal. You are free to sell anything you create – from a pattern, from a reverse-engineered pattern, or from a tweaked design. As long as the finished product does not include any copyrighted images, you should be fine. Of course, it’s always nice, when sharing photos of your products to say something like, “I was inspired to make this hat from the by but tweaked it just a little bit.” Or something like that. 🙂

  11. Thank you Pam for this post, I am guilty of making and selling finish product from patterns I found on the web. Now I know ask permission first,
    One question how can I know the original owner of a pattern. For instance I find a free pattern on a website,then on another site it is for sale.
    Question the patterns from the antique library can you make and sell those.
    Thank you

  12. I ran across a pattern for grinch inspired scarf. Then suddenly within a day it was removed (but I have the pattern saved). I am assuming that any type of “grinch” patterns or products made are infringements???

    1. Hi Rollanda, Yes, basically, any time a commercial product or copyrighted image (in this case) is reinvented by someone without a license to do so, it is copyright infringement. The Grinch and its image belong to Dr. Seuss’ estate so they would have to grant permission for a pattern (or product) to be sold with that image on it.

  13. Hi, I had a specific picture of Scooby that I copied from Pinterest in order to create a graph to make an afghan for my brother. So far, I would assume that is legal. I had been wondering if I could give (not profit from) the graph for others to use on a site like Ravelry.

    1. Hi Diane,

      Gosh, it’s such a tricky question, isn’t it? While I’m not 100% sure of the legalities of what you want to do, I heard that Ravelry is cracking down on copyright infringement and not letting people post patterns for copyrighted images, particularly graphgans. Ultimately, my when I have to ask myself that kind of question, “Is the thing I WANT to do really the RIGHT thing to do?” I already know that I’m just trying to do something that I know is probably wrong. If that’s the case, I just wouldn’t do it. I know that may not help, but if you listen to your gut…it will tell you.

  14. I have a question for you! If someone designs a pattern and uses stitches designed by someone else for a portion of it, is that considered okay? To elaborate, these stitches are free “stitch patterns” not a sweater or a dress but a collection of stitches that can be used for anything.

    So if someone creates a sweater pattern or a dress with “sections” and there were a couple of 3 inch sections using this free stitch pattern, is that “unique” enough to be cconsidered a new item and not infringing on creative integrity? The rest of the sweater would have been created by the individual wanting to sell the pattern.

    1. Hi Soda,

      Well, this sounds like a very specific scenario and, while I don’t know all the specifics, it sounds like it is not an issue of copyright infringement. Very rarely is a stitch so unique that it’s never been done before. Additionally, as far as I understand the law, the stitch itself is not copyrightable, just the way the stitch pattern is WRITTEN is copyrightable. So, by creating the same stitch pattern, using your own words, you are not infringing.

      If, say, you didn’t use this stitch and the sweater designed is, in all other ways, designed by you…the schematic is yours, the measurements are yours, the grading is yours, and you’re the one who worked out all the numbers….your design is yours. Switching up some stitches in order to add interest does not, then, make it copyright infringement.

      The ethical controversy would come, say, if you had reverse engineered someone else’s design (or simply used someone else’s numbers and grading), added this stitch pattern to make the design “just a tad” different, and then called it your own…that may not, technically, be copyright infringement but the ethical concerns would be troubling.

      I hope that helps!

  15. Hi! This was super informative and helpful. I do have a question (it might be stupid haha) but do specific stitches themselves have a copyright on them? It seems like people create their own stitches, and I would just like to make sure before I claim a pattern with any stitch I found on the internet and call it original.

    1. Hi Emilie,
      It is my understanding that individual stitches cannot be copyrighted, only the written description of how to form the stitch can be copyrighted. If you want the most reliable answer, though, I’d need to refer you to a lawyer who has experience with copyright law.

  16. Hi Pam! Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful information! I am in the process of building an inventory to start my business. After reading the above posts, I am still confused on infringement. Specifically, I have a free pattern from a craft store for a child’s toy that I have tweaked. Is it ok for me to sell the finished product from this pattern? I checked the pattern to see if it sated anything. It does show the store’s name and a copyright symbol.
    Thank you for all you do!

    1. Hi Lisa, You are free to sell any item you produce provided that item is not trademarked. So, if the free pattern is for Mickey Mouse…no, you can’t sell it. If the free pattern is for a plain old cute mouse, you can sell it. See, Disney owns the trademark to the likeness of Mickey but not the likeness of every mouse. Likewise, you can’t sell a product you make that looks like Superman or Pikachu or Ronald MacDonald. But you can sell a made up super hero, a made up fantasy creature, or a clown of any sort.

      I hope that helps! The store name and copyright symbol are referring to the written instructions and photos on the pattern you received.


  17. Hi Pan. Watched you on the Handmade Summit last month. You were awesome! It was a fun two days. My question is about patterns in magazines that have been discontinued. I am making a baby blanket from a pattern in a discontinued magazine that I have saved all these years. If showing my finished blanket on my fb page, someone wants the pattern for themselves, how would I be able to give them that information. I have the original pattern in the magazine. (Hooked on Crochet #22 July/Aug 1990). It was a paid subscription I had from 1988-1992. I know I cannot post the original pattern on my page. What would I have to do for them to have the pattern? If that is even possible. Thank you for this article. It has so much useful info.

    1. Hi Donna, My first inclination would be to track own the designer listed in the magazine. Often, when a designer creates a pattern for a magazine, the copyright returns to the original designer after a certain amount of time. It is likely that the designer has the pattern for sale in her own shop. Hope that helps! Pam

  18. Hello! Great post! Thanks for the info! My question is, can you put your business label/clothing tag on a product you’ve made (to sell) if you’ve purchased the pattern? This is after your own pic has been posted, and credit has been given to the designer, and linked back to all her social media. I see people doing this at craft fairs and their items are purchased designs. Is this okay?

    1. Hi Heather,

      Yes, it’s absolutely fine for a maker to add their label to any product they’ve made whether or not they are the original designer.

      I hope that helps!

  19. Hi Pam, this is a great article and has really helped with a lot of questions I had! I wonder if you have a chance could you help with this – I have recently made a baby blanket but I changed the pattern so that I did it in the round instead of going back and forth. It looks fairly similar to the original but I obviously had to change things in order to start from the centre and work outwards. I posted some pictures on Facebook and instagram of the finished article and have had lots of requests for a link to the pattern. I’ve never written a pattern before so started writing it up but then started thinking it might not be ok to release this and opened a whole can of worms with what I should and shouldn’t be doing! I replied to some of the comments I got saying that I wasn’t sure if writing out the pattern would be a copyright issue and everyone said they thought not but I don’t want to take their word for it! The last thing I want to do is upset another designer or break the law! What are your thoughts on this? I see so many patterns that are similar to each other but not exactly the same so I’m thinking it might be ok but I may be being naive!! Help!!

    1. HI Lisa, It sounds like what you’re working with is a derivative work and, as such, walks a very thin line in terms of intellectual property. My suggestion would be to point interested people in the direction of the original design and take joy from your creation. Because you would never have created the pattern without the original design to work from, ethically, I would not suggest you write up the pattern for sale (or for free). Hope that helps! Pam

  20. I found this article very informative. Thank you for the information. I do have a question. When you’re talking about pattern infringement it seems you’re speaking of claiming the pattern is you’re own design. How does this apply when you’re using someone else’s pattern to create a piece (not speaking of licensed products) and then sell your finished piece? I’ve thought about selling before but haven’t since I don’t create my own patterns.

    1. Hi April, If you’re using someone else’s pattern to create a product to sell, you are welcome to just sell the product without mentioning the designer. However, sometimes designers ask that you share link to their website inside our online product listings. In that case, while it’s not legally necessary, it is kind to go ahead and include the link. Otherwise, you’re totally covered. You are allowed to sell anything you make yourself provided it is not a trademarked character or the like.

  21. Thank you, Ms Pam. I’m a crochet novice. I’ve only been crocheting for three years, and I’ve retired from my job to spend more time with my new craft, and love. I’m so happy you shared this information with our crochet community. I’ve recently been asked to make items that are copywritten for a few sororities. I declined. As much as I would like to create an income opportunity, I can’t do it illegally. One, I can’t afford it. Two, my integrity is too important to me. But, again, thank you because this just reinforced everything I’ve been telling my clients.

  22. Hi. I have a question. Is it illegal to crochet items based on book characters. I am thinking yes but not completely sure. I have made some nursery items for a friend as a baby shower gift and I now how people wanting to buy these items from me for their own nurseries or to give as gifts. It is all based on the book The Very Hungry Caterpillar “. I haven’t done so because I thought it would be illegal. Am I right?

    1. Hi Cindy,
      Because the characters in that book, I’m sure, are trademarked (or at least copyright protected) as the artwork of Eric Carle, it would be an act of infringement to sell either a pattern or a product in the likeness of those characters.

      Hope that helps!

  23. Thank you for this article. I recently retired and planned to start my own crochet “business” for extra income/fun retirement. I do buy patterns and books and crochet those items. I have also made items from individual websites of designers that offer free patterns. All of this crochet has been for gifts for family and friends. Now that I want to make it a business, can I crochet these items to sell as long as I credit the designer? I have never made a licensed item such as Disney or other characters. I have made a scarf or two “on the fly” ( without a pattern – unplanned, nothing written, made up as I crocheted) but I am not artistic and cannot design or write crochet patterns. Any help would be appreciated before I begin this chapter of my life.

    1. Hi Mari,

      Thanks for connecting. You can make whatever you like from a free pattern and sell it with or without crediting the designer (provided it is not a trademarked character or copyrighted item).

      Best wishes to you!

  24. Thank you for your article. It is very informative. I agree with you that many people are not aware of the intricacies of copyright & trademark infringement.

    So, I have a question. If I have a vintage sweater (1970ish) purchased from a thrift store & I recreate it, I would assume that I cannot write & sell that pattern. I would essentially be stealing the original creators idea, correct? I did recreate a vintage sweater & loved the experience. It made me want to consider pattern writing, but I am not sure I am really that “creative” 🙂 The sweater I crocheted was pretty original & I have not seen anything similar.

    Thanks again for the information.

    1. Hi Cheryl,
      Hmm, that’s a pretty complex question. I’d suggest you chat with a lawyer that specializes in copyright law in order to get the most trustworthy advice. Sorry I couldn’t help more! Pam

  25. In the mid-90’s I designed and sold about a dozen of my crochet designs to Annie’s Attic and Needlecraft Shop. So I understand that they hold the copyright free and clear. However, today I found one of my patterns being sold online in an Etsy shop as a “vintage pattern”. Is that legal for them to make a profit by selling my pattern? Do I have any recourse as the designer of the pattern?

    1. Hi Delores,

      It is my understanding (I am not a legal professional) that a copyright holds for the life of the author plus 70 years when the designer holds the copyright. For works that have been created or sold, the copyright lasts 95 years from the first publication or 120 years from the date of its creation, whichever is less. While you don’t have any recourse, as the copyright holder, Annie’s could file a DMCA takedown with Etsy for this particular pattern and could pursue legal action against the seller.

      Hope that helps!

  26. I just recently started a business of sell lovies. Some of the patterns don’t say anything about not selling the item, one being a Yoda lovey. would I be able to sell it?I am planning on putting them in a friends store to sell. Would that be okay?

    1. Hi Grace,
      No, you can’t sell a Yoda lovey without infringing on the trademark of the Disney Corporation. So, while you can create and sell from any US pattern without express permission, the fact that this particular pattern is, itself, infringing on a trademark means that you would not be able to sell it without breaking trademark laws. Likewise, if you paid for the pattern, the design is, themselves, breaking those same laws.
      Hope this clears things up!

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