Friday, March 01, 2013

My feathers got a little ruffled today...

I started making birds way back at the end of 2007.  I made more. Then I started selling them on eBay. Then Pokey Bolton asked me to submit an article and pattern for a Quilting Arts special magazine called Quilt Festival Quilt Scene. Then she asked me to tape a segment for Quilting Arts TV and show how they are made. The pattern is still up on the Quilting Arts TV web site here, and apparently people are still making them. Here is how they looked in Quilting Arts magazine.

 
I run across them every so often on the web and it always makes me so happy to see that someone else has made one of the birds. I started a Pinterest board of the ones I have found.

This morning a friend directed me to the FaceBook page of a woman in England named Angie Hughes, who had posted this photo.


Yes, they are birds made from my pattern. Ms. Hughes, it seems, teaches workshops at a local shop on making the birds and these were the latest flock. Cute.

I was surprised. I didn't know about all this. Although the pattern has been published, it clearly states that the pattern may be reproduced for personal use. Reproducing for sale for workshops is not personal use, but this was not what really surprised me the most. What really surprised and disappointed me was that nowhere that I found Angie Hughes versions of the birds—not on the FaceBook page, not on her own web site, not on the shop web site where the class was listed, was there any credit given to me as the designer. My name appeared nowhere.

I'm not going to get into the issues of copyright violation, though there is that (she is also selling the birds on her blog and web site).  This happens and it is hard to stop and, honestly, I'm not interested in tracking down and punishing anyone doing that. I simply think that when the pattern is used in a public way and/or published on Facebook, blog, web site, etc. that the considerate, honest thing to do is to give credit to the designer. So, I am not angry, but I am disappointed that this person is representing this design as her own, if not by actually claiming it to be, at least by failing to give proper credit and letting people assume it is her original design.

Though the bird pattern looks simple, I put a lot into its design. I made dozens of birds until I got the design the way I wanted it to be. I drafted the pattern and wrote the directions and I am thrilled that people like it. I'm proud of it. Maybe you can understand why I want credit for it, or maybe you think I should just be flattered that somebody likes it that much.

By and large the fiber art online community are incredibly generous with their ideas, their techniques, their sources and their "trade secrets." I like that and I have tried to give back as much as I have gotten. The other side of that coin is acknowledging and giving credit and appreciation to the people who share their gifts and their work. Maybe Angie Hughes just forgot. I'd like to think that's the case.

21 comments:

  1. You have every right to be both disappointed and angry at a violation of your intellectual property rights. Those birds are seriously cute and I can just imagine how much effort you went to in order to get them just right for publication and sale. Have you communicated with Angie Hughes about this? I'd be interested to hear her response.

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  2. Yep, she wasn't very nice to not give you credit and I agree there is not much point in trying to do anything about it. I hope, however, that you did send her a note or a copy of your blog post to remind her that the nice thing to do is acknowledge the source of any design. There are several books out about fabric birds, but I don’t know if they have copy catted your birds (see Amazon books/"fabric birds". I’m glad my crow is an original Terry Grant bird! Love, Del

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  3. I don't know either you or Angie personally but I do read both of your blogs and follow Angie on Facebook and she does acknowledge that you are the originator of the pattern (viz. blog of 20th February). Hope this mollifies you a little. However, I agree, that there is a lot of unattributed 'imitation' (or just plain copying/piracy) at the moment. I think that a lot of people think that once a pattern/technique has been published in a magazine or they have seen it on TV/DVD it is in the public domain and so they can do what they will. PS. I have used your bird pattern (for my own use!) and with additions it came second in a regional Embroiderers Guild competition.

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  4. Angie Hughes has apologised on Facebook, and publicly acknowledged that the birds are of your design.

    From my own perspective, Angie's own work was always absolutely stunning and gorgeous and uniquely identifiable. Perhaps the people she teaches in her classes struggle with producing pieces they are happy with, and she decided to offer something more easily achievable. Or maybe, being in another country, she decided to offer the class because it's unlikely that you would travel that far to teach it? Who knows?

    I have spent the last year wondering why she is making little birds, as they don't seem representative of her body of work - no matter how cute they may be. I like your little birds better, and I like her Klimt and Hundertwasser inspired work and use of velvet, foils and machine embroidery better than I like her version of your little birds.

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  5. Angie has posted a public apology on her FB group. She sent a link to here so we can all see your blog post. She didn't mean to upset you or make you angry she just forgot to credit the pattern on her site. She says she tells everyone though that it is your design. So settle your feathers, we all know that it is your beautiful design. Did you contact her first to let her know she had forgotten? Sometimes a small polite reminder is helpful =D

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  6. I had something to say and then checked her facebook page and she apologized.
    She does credit you in her classes.

    Teri

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  7. Actually if you scroll down Angie Hughes' blog there are several references back through february giving credit to Teri's birds - I didn't go back further. I don't work from anyone's patterns, not even my own, so can only imagine Teri's frustration. But as I see it, when a drafted pattern and full instructions are published, at that point it's poised to go far and wide, and I think those disclaimers on patterns for personal use only have little real meaning or impact. Publish/or freely share and let it go where it will, or don't publish/share, and yes, I do have some basic instructions on freehand cutting and template-free piecing which I share with anyone who asks. Anyone teaching or designing for publication has decisions to make in this area.

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  8. Good for you in making this public and you did it in a very dignified way. I saw where Angie made a public announcement about it on Facebook and she sounds truly sorry. What I'm shocked is at some of the people responding to her announcement that it was wrong of you to handle it publicly. I so don't agree. The more we make this type of situation public, the more we educate.

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  9. It seems Angie has posted an apology to you on her blog, and rightly so.

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  10. There is an apology to you on Angie's blog. I was glad to see that!!!!

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  11. Check the offending blog now. She has said she was wrong.

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  12. I have my dear Emma bird, handmade by Terry Grant, sitting beside my computer and I enjoy looking at her every day.

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  13. It has been said that you can know the integrity of the person by what they do when no one is looking.. (paraphrase)
    It was wrong of her to "forget" the artist who designed and produced the pattern for those birds. A late apology is hallow. Harsh words... perhaps, but we ALL know what is right and what is wrong, whether it is a small handmade fabric bird or electronic components for a smartphone.

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  14. Your birds have been on my bucket list of things to make - i'll be sure to credit you when I finally do!

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  15. I think you have a right to contact her and ask her to stop selling the pattern in workshops and selling birds as it clearly states on the website "for personal use only". I would be mad.

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  16. It's a tough situation and you handled it well. Unfortunately some people will always operate under the assumption that it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission. Without a doubt, we ALL know what "personal use" means. I'd like to think that this thief–sorry, but that's how I see it–will now do the right thing ... but I fear she'll just be sneakier about using and selling your intellectual property.

    I have the QA issue with your birds and lately keep wondering if I could adapt it to make some colorful Roadrunners ...

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  17. I completely understand your frustration, and I am glad to read that Angie also understands this and has apologized.

    As Terri S said, the more we speak about this openly, the more we educate. Many years ago, I designed some paper piecing patterns, but I have moved on stylistically and motivationally, so I am no longer selling or teaching them. One of my colleagues from back in the day just contacted me to ask how she could offer a class using my patterns and make it amenable to all parties. My answer, since she is the one doing the work now of guiding students through creating the quilt blocks, is to receive a sort of royalty. She can set the price at something the students are comfortable with, she gets the bulk of the money for her efforts, and I get a token plus credit for the design (it's already printed on the pattern). Of course this is on the honor system, but that's where I think the karma of giving as much as we get comes in.

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  18. I have one of your beautiful birds and it makes me smile every time I see it. Glad she said sorry. This sort of thing seems to happen so often lately it makes me wonder about human nature today...but then, I'm doing a lot of wondering about that these days.

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  19. I am surprised by the comment that this person “forgot” to credit you. I think you have addressed a difficult and awkward situation well and I believe it is your right to present it publicly. My sister has a very successful online business and has had to defend her creations many times with documented evidence that the designs and products are her own. She has to deal with competitors actually enlarging photos of her work and counting the stitches on her hand knit items, then reproducing them and selling them at a reduced price. Pursuing these people is not only impossible but implausible and it is a thorn in her side that her designs are so blatantly reproduced and sold as someone else's design. At some point you hope integrity will shine through. Good for you for publicly claiming your work as own.

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  20. Your bird is the perfect shape, perfect attitude, just plain perfect. I've been looking around and none compare. Thank you.

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