Saturday, January 29, 2011

"What Do You Mean I Can't Sell Your Designs?

They are in a magazine I bought so they are mine to do with as I please!"

Do you feel a soapbox coming?
You'd be right :-)

So, it was brought to my attention again yesterday by a very nice lady who, once I explained the situation to her, understood completely that though a designer publishes and sells their designs they are not giving you the right to sell what you make. (And she did not say my opening line)

The designs are published and sold so that you can make the jewelry for yourself or to give as a gift. Not so you can build a business/make a living on someone else's work.
Are there designers who allow you to sell what you make.....yes, and that is their choice. There are designers, and I'm one of them, who will give you, for a small fee, a licence to sell one of their designs and they typically advertise them as "commercial" patterns.
Why do some want payment? Because they are trying to make a living.

Just because a designer has work published it does not mean that designer is making the big bucks....I have had two patterns published one netted me $180 and the other $210 and for that I also had to give up the rights for an entire year! Could I have made more selling the pattern myself? YES
So why publish? Advertising, getting one's name out there and to contribute to the beading world.

Think of it like this...
You have a great cookie recipe, you send it to the local paper and they print it. Someone takes your recipe and opens a store selling cookies made from your recipe. How would you feel? Is it fair? Grounds for a lawsuit?
Someone buys one of your patterns. They then make copies for all of their friends. We all know about 'bootleg' music and videos...this is the same thing but it's probably a struggling designer who needs those sales to put food on their table.
You design jewelry and you publish your patterns, you have a store where you sell your jewelry. Someone opens a store next door and they are selling your designs for less than you do, they even credit you with the design. Where will most people shop? Where they can get it cheaper.

Let's roleplay :-)

Beader: Can I sell your designs?
Designer: No, I don't allow that, why don't you do your own designs to sell?
Beader: Oh, I can't design
Designer: Oh, so you think designing is a skill?
Beader: Yes
Designer: So, do you think design is a marketable skill?
Beader: Well, yes, I guess it is
Designer: Do you think people should be able to earn a living from their skills?
Beader: I guess so, I'd want to
Designer: How about I sell you a licence to make and sell one of my designs?

Support independent designers don't rip them off!


  1. I totally agree with you. I hate when a new magazine comes out and then see the exact same designs all over etsy, etc. Some people don't even change colorways.

    But what can be done? Is the question?

  2. Wouldn't it be great if someone could invent an ethics gene and it was implanted in everyone at birth. And if you went against it it gave you an electric shock or something.

  3. the key to the ethics gene is to live it in all aspects of your life. to not be afraid to say something when we see a wrong occurring.

  4. TGB...I am so guilty of that. Doesn't make you popular but I'd rather be ethical than popular :)

  5. I agree. SOme people just don't get why they can't seel someone else's designs.

  6. I agree with you. It is hard for people to understand this especially if they are new in the beading world. I love the patterns that are out there (as you know) and I have yet to sell other than 1 commissioned one because she insisted on paying for it. I will say that when you are new there are so many copies out there and sites to get free information you really aren't aware you may be "stealing" so research is a key when you really care about giving designers credit. I am not sure all that made sense.

  7. I agree with your right to sell a commercial version of a pattern/ design. I also agree with some choosing the option to not charge a separate fee, or any fee at all in some cases. However, therein lies the issue for the beader. In many cases they may not be aware that there exists a difference. Education will save the day
    Maybe more interested parties should publish information on the various ways patterns could be available on their blogs, FB, store sites, etc. Also, this would make a good learning article for a beading magazine/e-zine to publish as a way to reach more beaders faster.
    All that said, we must also learn to accept that
    there will always be some folks who will remain
    uneducated on these issues as well as those who
    will chose to remain unethical regardless of any efforts made. You then need to learn to balance your frustration with your willingness to educate. Thanks for all the effort!

  8. Beki....we have an idea brewing to help the magazines get the message out...they frequently publish articles about it. I think if you ask yourself these questions....did I create it? Could I have created it without a pattern or seeing the design in a photo? If the answer is no to those questions then you don't have a right to make money from it. If you want to, you contact the designer and abide by the wishes of the designer...because the design is THEIR property. We're not being's just designing and writing a pattern is the HARD work, reading and following a pattern is the easy work.

  9. Mikki, I totally agree with everything you've said in both your post and in comments. thanks for taking the time to write what you have, and your courage in addressing this topic again.

    there was no "beader's guild" in the Middle Ages, so there is no standard of copyright protection in the beading world as there is in the fiber / fabric / embroidery world. we need to make this stick, and this can only happen one beader at a time.
    Mary Alexander


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