It seems there are some out there that didn’t like my post regarding designers thinking they can dictate what you can and can’t do with an item you completed from their pattern. You’ve bought the pattern, you paid for the materials, invested your time. Yet they think they can tell you that you’re not allowed to sell YOUR work or can dictate where you sell it? That’s like my LYS saying you can use the fleece you purchased here to make your own yarn, but you can’t sell that yarn locally or online because we want to reserve the right to sell ours there.
So I decided to send an inquiry to the U.S. Copyright Office to get the answer straight from the horse’s mouth. Sure, I did my homework and researched the subject thoroughly online. I just wanted to make sure all my “t”‘s were crossed and my “i”‘s were dotted.
This is the message that I sent to the U.S. Copyright Office:
Can you sell an item you have made from a pattern? Can pattern designers dictate what you can do with an item you have made from a pattern they have written? I purchased a crochet pattern and nowhere in the listing did it say that it was for personal use only. It was only after I was 3 rows from being finished that I discovered this. Am I legally allowed to sell this item?
This is the response I received:
Generally, you may do what you wish with your own personal copy.
The first-sale doctrine is a limitation on copyright that was recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1908 and subsequently codified in the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. § 109. The doctrine allows the purchaser to transfer (i.e., sell or give away) a particular lawfully made copy of the copyrighted work without permission once it has been obtained. This means that the copyright holder’s rights to control the change of ownership of a particular copy end once that copy is sold, as long as no additional copies are made. This doctrine is also referred to as the “first sale rule” or “exhaustion rule.”
If you have additional questions or need further assistance, our contact information is listed below.
U.S. Copyright Office
Attn: Public Information Office-LM401
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, DC 20559-6000
Phone: 877-476-0778 (toll free) or 202-707-5959
There it is. Don’t believe me or don’t agree? The information is right there to contact them yourself. Nowhere did they say that I’m not allowed to sell the finished item regardless of what the designer says in the listing or on the pattern.
As I had mentioned before, I won’t purchase a pattern from somebody who states their wishes in the listing that they don’t “allow” items made from that pattern to be sold. Even though I don’t always buy a pattern with the intention of making the item to sell, I do need to have that option in case things don’t work out the way I had planned. I want to respect peoples’ wishes. I would also much rather support a designer that supports their customers. Word of mouth is a powerful thing. If a friend sees an item I made and asked where I got the design, you bet I’ll send them to the designer. BOOM! Another sale for the designer. I also believe in giving credit where credit is due. I’m sure there have been a few sales generated from my finished pieces for those designers who encourage sales of finished items. That fuels their business and allows them to keep writing patterns. They help us help them help us help them…