Copyright and The Farmers Wife Quilt

Nasty subject, copyright!  It always starts a big debate on any group I have ever read or been a part of. I am not going into copyright law, I'm not a lawyer, but I do have common since and have been on both sides of the publishing/selling - reading/buying ends.

When one publishes an idea, say a quilt pattern, series of patterns or books, and the idea is original to the creator/author, then the creator/author has copyright protection over their intellectual property, that's a given. They (the publisher/author/creator) expect that you (as the recipient of their work) to abide by the requests set in the article/book, to use the item for personal use, not to copy and redistribute to all of your friends or republish parts, pieces, or the whole book on the internet or in print, unless they give permission to use it otherwise. (wow, that does sound like lawyer babble!)

Anyway, here is where this is coming from, When I started the FWQ a  little while back, I started by drafting the blocks into EQ7 using the book (before I knew there was a CD with all the blocks)  It is not illegal or against copyright laws to draft these blocks as they are public domain and I am going to be using them for my own personal use.  I was using my very own copy of the FWQ book.  I was doing a little research as to groups I could join to make this quilt, and stumbled onto Karen Walkers classes on this subject. She suggested that you should have the book spiral bound, as you would be using it a lot and it would be easier if the book laid flat or folded back on itself so that you could work with just one page.

Sounded good to me, so I took the book along with my EQ7 book (which I use a lot) down to FedEx Office have them bound.  Figured it would take just a couple of hours, but when they said the next day, I was crushed.  I was in the middle of drafting these blocks and didn't want to stop.  So I started a search on the internet for the blocks..... here is where the copyright issue raises it's head.

I found FWQ blocks all over the internet, proud creators showing of their new blocks, beautiful, just what I needed,  I can use the pictures to continue to draft WITHOUT the book!  Without the book? Not good.  The writer of the book, Laurie Aaron Hird, was now not receiving a commission on her work, I was in fact 'stealing' her work, right off the internet!  Even though I own her book, I did not need it, as the pictures not only stated the name of the block, but the block number and in a couple of cases, the page number they were given in the book.  As I said before, the blocks are public domain as they were created in the 1920's and every one of them can be found in the quilt block bible - 5500 Quilt Block Designs by Maggie Malone - and are copyright free, but what is copyright is the block number and page number in the book. The copyright factor is the information that is unique to Ms. Hirds's Book, The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt.  If the blocks were just posted with names and didn't have the reference to a specific page in a specific published book, then they would be fine, but they referring to the specific book.

So many well intended quilters, all they want to do is to show off their blocks, show off their progress on this beautiful quilt.  They were and are in fact, publishing parts and pieces of her book  and showing the whole world, without the authors permission.  In a matter of 3 hours, I was able to find 75 of the 111 blocks in the quilt and draft them into EQ!  How many others had found the same thing as I have and are doing the same thing as I am?  Once the block is in EQ7, the program will create the templates, paper piecing or rotary cutting measurements.  If you are a quilter of more than 5 years, you should be able to figure out how to construct these blocks without the purchase of her book, but the book gives exploded views of how to construct the blocks, but why reinvent the wheel, when you can purchase it?

So, for that very reason, I will not post the page the block was published on, will will post the block number, but no construction information and I will not show the inside of the book! I will post the pictures of my finished blocks, but you as the reader, are going to have to figure out the rest on your own or purchase the book and CD.  I am sure that you can find the book and the CD's all over the internet, and I am sure, you can find them for sale from Karen Walker's site (link on the right).

If you feel that copying or giving pattern or book details is not a copyright infraction, publish a pattern and see how you feel when you find out someone is copying or giving away the secrets of your hard work for free!

Happy Farming!