Sunday, June 10, 2012

PDF Pattern Sharing - A personal look at why it matters

If you are in the sewing, quilting, creative world, the subject of sharing PDF patterns unfortunately comes up from time to time. Aside from being entirely illegal....just as copying and sharing music, software and movies's just plain wrong. Most people wouldn't ever consider making photocopies of a paper pattern to share with others, understanding that this would be in direct violation of copyright, yet PDF sharing is often done with an uncomfortable casualness that in some circles, has even sadly become accepted.
 Recently, I witnessed a social media group that was created with the sole purpose and intent for swapping PDF sewing patterns. Having many creative friends, blog sponsors and designers whose work I love and enjoy creating with, and want to continue being able to create with I might add, this bothers me deeply. Today, I have asked a friend and pattern designer to share her personal perspective on PDF sharing, as a human being with feelings, and as a designer with a design business used to help provide for her family. Please take a moment to read through our short interview and do your part in protecting the integrity of designers who share their gifts and talents with us.

Q: What is your name and the name of your business?

Meagan D'Stasio, The Mean Princess

Q: How did you get started with designing patterns?

Well my daughter needed an art apron for kindergarten so I got it in my mind I could sew and make the pattern……and I did. So then I started buying PDFs here and there but I always found myself altering them and never using them as they were sold, which lead me to "HEY, make your own silly!". So I bought some fancy French curved rulers and started my own.

Q: Since design is so much more than "a job" and also more than "a hobby" how would you describe your passion for what you do, and why you do it? 

It's like air for me, I can't imagine not designing! I am slightly obsessed and it is responsible for my insomnia. I do it because A: I love it. B: I want to create unique stuff for others to enjoy making and C: because I have a daughter with Aspergers who really has her own taste and it's not found in stores.

Q: In general, how do you feel about PDF patterns versus paper patterns?

As a customer I love the instant gratification. I love that I can print each size as I need them and that I can store them on my computer. As a pattern designer, I love that it can reach people all over the world. I have several ladies who shop from Australia. The down side is you always have people who are dishonest and want to share your hard work with others. 

Q: What are your personal thoughts and/or experiences on PDF sharing and the effect it has on designers?

My thoughts are simple, it makes me sad. Sad that I work for days or weeks on something, I put my heart and soul into it. Then someone thinks it's ok to put it on a sharing site and give it away to thousands. There is no grey area, the fact is it's stealing. We all know that it's illegal to go to a music sharing site and download albums we haven't paid for right? Piracy is a federal crime. This is piracy! The only thing that makes it worse is that those musical artist your stealing from have concerts, clothing labels, perfume, tv ads and other forms of making money. Most of us designers, we have designing, that's it. You steal our designs there is not concert tickets to make up for the lost revenue. It's just gone.


Sunday Girl said...

Thanks for posting this Kristy! I hope it reaches everyone and that it helps stop this kind of activity.

Pam @Threading My Way said...

It hadn't occurred to me that people would actually give the patterns they'd purchased to others, let alone create a sharing site... very sad, but I suppose if people have the mentality that sharing music is OK, then they'll feel the same way about a pattern. I've seen this topic a few times in the last week or so. PDF patterns (for us) are so cheap in comparison to paper patterns.

Melissa said...

Thanks for putting this together Kristy. I am fairly certain that this happened with my first pattern, and while it does make me sad, I am also trying not to let it stop me. It is one of those things that only stops if we make an effort to stop it.

Poppy (xperimentl) said...

I could never understand why someone who admires a pattern would not want to give the full credit and profit to the designer. As a beginner I only use pdf patterns because of the wonderful tutorials that accompany them, I hope this doesn't discourage designers from continuing to offer them. Thanks for raising awareness of this problem.

Cindy (Applestone Cottage) said...

I wouldn't share a pattern on a site etc.
But my Mom, sister and I have shared paper patterns for years. So I am not totally sure that paper patterns aren't shared between friends and relatives.
Especially if you not longer need them or use them. I have been to garage sales where there are stacks of patterns they are just giving away for free.

Kristy said...

Hi Cindy!
Thanks for your comment! I think this is a thought a lot of people probably have. The main difference here, as I see it, is that when you loan a paper pattern, it is tangibly gone from your collection. You have the one copy of it and that's it. You wouldn't go and photo copy the entire pattern before loaning it. With digital patterns, even if not intentionally copying, a copy of the pattern remains on the original person's computer/storage device even when shared.

One example that helps explain this is books. If you have a book on your shelf and loan it to another person, the book is gone until they return it. Many of the on-line book sharing sites have developed a similar way for people to "share" their digital books by using an on-line storage library so that when your digital copy is loaned, it's unavailable to you and others until returned, making the situation more like a tangible book.

This is a topic that is always good to discuss, especially in the creative community where it can often and easily be misunderstood, thus harming and even violating designer's copyright, livelihood, and ultimately future designs. Thanks again for commenting and sharing in this dialogue.

Toby said...

Unfortunately there is no copyright for patterns/templates so if you don't want it shared don't put it out there in circulation. An idea or method is not copyrightable.

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