It has happened AGAIN. Yep, stealing patterns, stealing content, copying pages from books.
This time, it’s in a Facebook group known as the Worldwide Quilting Group. The administrator, Sandy Stubbs, has been scraping tutorial and pattern content from other sites, stripping it of attribution or links to the original source, and posting it. MANY of our well known designers have had their content stolen, some even had pages of books copied.
The image below is a tutorial that was stolen from Jacquie Gering’s site:
STEALING IS WRONG. We all learned this as wee kiddos, and it’s still the law of the land. Yes, this IS stealing. I know a lot of people think it isn’t because, hey, it’s all free on the internet, right? But no. If you take something that ISN’T yours, it’s stealing, plain and simple. And there is no polite euphemism for thievery. If you stole a car you’d go to jail.
So I imagine that a rationalization could be that it’s not stealing if the content was free at its original source. But here’s the thing… we post free content to be traffic drivers to our sites. WE ARE IN BUSINESS. Being in business means we aim to make a living, to earn money from our talent and skill. It’s a well-known business idea to offer tutorial content for free to bring customers to our site and hopefully get a sale out of them – it’s the loss-leader concept of internet commerce, and it operates on the similar premise of the deeply discounted stuff at a big box store on any given weekend. I know that some people think that sullying the sweet face of crafting with bold business marketing is somehow unsavory, but for heaven’s sake! All who work in quilting are businesswomen and men. We are here to earn a living.
And while our living is in jeopardy every time someone copies a pattern, or steals content like this group above, the people who really lose out are our customers. When we find out our work is stolen we get closer to quitting in disgust, and it certainly makes us pull back on our generosity. When we quit, our customers lose the ability to find great patterns to make. We are the Geese that Lay the Golden Eggs, and when our eggs are stolen, we die an inch at a time. Eventually there will be no more eggs.
EVERY SINGLE ONE of our customers is responsible for protecting the rich content we make.
Think hard about that.
Just about every quilt made relies as much on the pattern as it does on the fabric. And I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard “I spent all that money on fabric, I’m not spending another $10 on a pattern too.” And all I can say to that is, “Would you buy all the trimmings for thanksgiving dinner, and then steal the turkey?” No, you wouldn’t. And if you did, you’d be arrested.
So again, please:
- Support us by paying for the things we make that inspire you.
- Don’t steal by copying. (How not to be an accidental content thief)
- Don’t let your friends copy things you’ve paid for.
- Help us by linking back and attributing the source of anything you share so we get an opportunity to market to new eyes.
- Tell us when you see our stuff being stolen.
- Don’t blame us, the victims, when we come after you with legal measures.**
**The above group blamed and attacked the content creators when they were challenged, and have since blocked anyone who brings up that this content is stolen. They have also hidden the group now. This is so very disappointing, and I hope that other members in the group continue to report their crimes outside the group. A classy group would have stayed public, apologized, deleted stolen content, and attributed/linked up free tutorials.
And to those of you who DO pay for everything… blessings upon you and may your threads be never tangled! Thanks for hanging in with another post about stealing patterns. And yes… I’ll stop writing about theft when it stops happening.
Great post! It makes me so sad that this continually happens in our craft world.
Thank you Cheryl!
Great article, Sam! I support this wholeheartedly! I have shared your article on my FB page as well. Unfortunately, there will probably always be the ones who ignore the facts and “justify” stealing.
Thank you for the share – and yep… thieves are pretty slimy.
Thank you for sharing this! Silence does NOT make it go away, contrary to what many sewists may think.
I’m never going to be silent. I’ve had people write me about how harsh the word “thief” is, but it IS the appropriate word for people who steal. part of being so vocal is to educate those who truly don’t know, but I have to believe that if you spend any time on line you can’t remain ignorant of the idea of theft on intellectual property.
I am so sorry this had happened and KEEPS happening. They know better they just don’t care. ????
I agree. They plead ignorance, but I’m just not buying it.
I am all for free patterns but I’m not into stolen goods! There is so much free stuff on line that you should never have to steal it. I also have subscriptions to several magazines where I eat a variety of authors all for one yearly subscription fee!
I’m with you on the stealing. I have other thoughts on the plethora of free stuff online, but I’ll save those thoughts for another day 🙂
I’ve shared your post in the FB groups I admin. Completely agree!
I appreciate it!
Can’t this group be reported to FB? What they’re doing is a crime, isn’t it?
I would certainly classify it as a crime. As for FB, I’m not sure what can be done. I hope the people whose work was stolen have found a way to take action.
I posted on my facebook page, I am a sewing teacher and I talk about this in my Demystifying Patterns class. It’s not ok.
I appreciate it!
Thanks, again, for the well written post about this unfortunate topic. It is really disappointing that the group decided to “hide”. I have seen a few people comment elsewhere that they are still members and keeping a wary eye out.
I agree. The hiding makes it ever more suspect. Maintaining an open transparency would really be the better, and more honorable way to go.
I agree and thank you. Reminds me of one of my dearest neighbors when we lived in Sunnyvale, California. That whole valley was once covered with orchards…apricots, plums, etc. By the time we lived there in the late 1980’s it was mostly houses, office buildings and parking lots. Alas. Our front door neighbor had owned the land and ran the orchards. She finally sold her land and retained a double lot on which she built a new house. My Dear Clara told the stories of olden days. One of the main roads had always been nearby and ran along the edges os her apricot orchard. She told how people would stop and pick her apricots from trees nearest the road. When she saw them she would go out and ask for their paycheck. They had no idea what she meant OR that they had done anything wrong…..just this woman ranting about paycheck a. She explained that when they picked her cots, they were taking her paycheck…so she wanted their pay checks. They went on their way shaking their heads……Then she told me that if they. Had just come to the house and asked she would have given them some apricots.
Now, this has to do with stealing…and Clara and her story comes to my mind every time the subject comes up.
Sadly, your story doesn’t surprise me at all. Just because it’s there, it doesn’t mean you can take it.
Terrific post – you are so on point, and we need to spread the word!
Thank you Tammy! And yes… we DO!
Excellent post. I’m so over the way people behave when they are called out. I left the group in question because I was disgusted with the mentality of so many defending stealing.
Same here Darrel. Sandy Stubbs wrote me and claimed that she had no idea what she was doing was wrong. And she defended making the group private with “you nor anyone else need to worry about anything going on in our private group as it truly was a mistake and I have not only educated myself but also anyone else who shows an interest in learning.” Frankly, going underground makes it infinitely more suspect to me, and I told her so.
It looks like this particular incident was about ego. It would have been so much easier to just link to the tutorial than to copy it all, edit the content and turn it into a pdf. I just don’t understand why people can’t celebrate others work and share it as it was intended..linking it and crediting it, instead of trying to boost their own worth by stealing it. So so sad. I love finding new things to try and am always willing to pay if I want it.
I think you nailed it. She wrote me and claimed ignorance, but I responded that when she took the time to strip the work of its attribution, that implies some smarts.
I have designs rolling around in my head and computer and I wonder if I actually want to publish anything because of this. I don’t want to see my work stolen. Past and present board members of my guild steal patterns under the guise that you can’t copyright a technique. Bit of you needed the book to learn the technique and you turn around and teach it without requiring others to buy the book and don’t even mention the original book, that’s theft. And I have notified designers when I know it’s happened.
Hi Brandi – sadly, everyone’s work is at a risk for being stolen, all the time. The best we can do with it that is to swiftly and firmly respond to it. The larger question I think is do you need to make these things more than you want to fear the chance of being ripped off? I always feel that art MUST be made when it comes asking for you to be its maker. If the drive to create is that strong, then the world really needs your art. And if your satisfaction rests on making it, then get making… thieves be damned. I read a quote years back (can’t find the source anymore, but I think it was either Chip Kidd or Chuck Close) and it was along the lines of “you have more to worry about when they quit stealing your work.” I’d say get those patterns made 🙂
A guild I was in at one time used to share and copy patterns. Please note this years ago. Now we realize that this wrong and now anytime we do a workshop we always purchase a pattern for each person. If you ask one of your local quilt shops they can sometimes order the patterns for you, which also helps their business.
Yep!! And back when, a lot of us used to copy things… and hopefully we’ve all learned!
Just this week a friend asked for a copy of a quilt I was making. I bought her a copy of the pattern for a birthday gift and then was able to have a conversation with my small friendship group about this issue.
[…] I shared this post by Hunter Design Studio’s called “Why Pattern Stealing is Like Killing the Goose that Laid the Golden Egg” on my Facebook page but it deserves sharing here as well because it’s so relevant, so well written and such a timely message. Click here to read more. […]
This really sucks ! I just don’t understand why they can’t just link to the tutorial or free pattern ?? It really doesn’t make any sense unless the person is trying to fob off as her design – so pathetic really !
She claimed she was just ignorant, but it takes skill to strip someone out of a tutorial.
I just posted this on my guilds facebook page. This is a message that needs to be said over and over again. Great article! Keep fighting the good fight!
Thank you! And yep… I’m the fighter for this!
Well said! Too bad it has to be said, of course, but you said it well.
Would you mind sharing your insight on a related topic? What about people who don’t credit a designer when they show pictures of their work?
I was dismayed recently when Creativebug showed winners of a monthly award and I recognized a project from a book, executed exactly the way the author had done it but not credited to her. On the other hand I have accepted compliments on food I have served to guests without disclosing that I didn’t cook it but bought it prepared.
Ha – tricky ground! I think we go with the accepted protocol for each discipline… In quilting, WE ACKNOWLEDGE. Creative Bug should have asked for inspiration source in the their entry docs, and the maker should always cite. On food, we don’t have such rules… we can ‘fess to buying it, or cite the recipe if asked. No one expects attribution cards at a dinner party!
Totally understandable. I saw a post on Pinterest of a picture of a block. I could not see any seam lines as it just looked like a drawing. I did hand draw the star and used it a memory quilt for my son and his wife. There were no directions, nor any credit to the designer. So I created the star on graph paper, then figured out how to put it together. When I shared my finished quilt at my guild, they asked me to teach them how to make the block. So back to the drawing board and research. I was finally able to find the designer and found she had paper pieced the block. I had completely pieced my block and it was much bigger. So the pattern I made and the directions I created were very different. When I went back the second time to get the creator’s name to give credit for my inspiration, I could not find it. Would this be considered as copying?