Monday, April 25, 2011

Tries Too Hard

I think that is my American Indian nick name.
The full version being "Tries Too Hard, Cares Too Much"

I thought it would be a good idea for designers to come together and form a strong group to protect our rights....strength in numbers.
I thought it would be a good idea to have a central location where bead store owners could find reasonably priced designs that they could teach, so they would have no need to infringe copyrights.
But this is not something one or two people can accomplish and without there being some strong support for it, failure would be a given.

I got carried away.
After the awesome support I recieved after my pattern was used without permission I got the idea people really wanted to do something about the unethical things that are going on.

Maybe that is true, maybe there are enough people willing to do something about it...I know there are three or four besides me. But something like this takes a lot more people than that, it's been tried before and failed and I'd bet my bead collection that it was due to the lack of support.

So...what's the solution?
How do we stop our designs from being used other than intended?
Well...the ethical among us will buy a commercial pattern if they even think they're going to use it for more than personal use, the unethical will buy as cheaply as they can and do as they please....thinking that either, no one will know or they won't be able to afford the legal fees to do anything about it.
Sadly, they are right, the law has not caught up to the new wave of self employed designers...and it will probably take a landmark case before it does.

Personally, I'm looking at just hiking my prices and making all my designs into "make to sell" tutorials.  It wrecks me to do that, because I really want the people who are honest to be able to buy a personal use pattern at a reasonable price.  The only way I can see around this is to have some kind of club discount for people I know are not going to violate personal use editions.

I put so much work into my patterns, I know every designer does, and yet it seems we have to defend our right to make our living from our hard work. Some designers do offer the rights for free....those people obviously have other areas of income. I'm actually sick of hearing that. To be honest, they don't help those of us who don't have other areas of income....just as the hobby beader selling her work for cost makes it hard for the professional beader who needs to charge a decent hourly rate for the work she does.

If you have to ask the question "Why can't I use your pattern to teach or sell?" Then I suggest you sit down, design something original, take good photographs of it, then write and illustrate the pattern, market it and then see how you feel when someone starts making money from it without your permission....copies it and undersells you, uses it to teach so they can sell beads, makes it up and puts it in a store on the same site as you for less money and you don't see a penny or even get credit for the design.
And if you don't have the talent/ability/skills to do that then please gain an appreciation for those that do and realise copyright theft takes food off the table of the independent designer.
No one deserves to make a living off the work of another individual without that individual's permission....I don't care who you are or what your sob story is.  Trust me, I have just as good a sob story as you.

I can see my followers diminishing as they read this but c'est la vie. I am struggling to make a living and if it weren't for my living with my mom I'd actually be homeless.  I need to take care of me, now and for the future, I know I have the talent and skills to do so, a passion for what I do and the willingness to work extremely hard for it.
But I get so depressed and disheartened by all the lack of integrity and ethics I feel like quitting frequently.

If you are a designer and/or you want to support a group effort for the rights of the designer and to give an ethical option to bead store owners let me know.


  1. Well I appreciate your stand on this. I currently don't make jewelry patterns, but if/when I do, I would be outraged if some store was copying my pattern for their gain.

    I even have a hard time with shops online who days after a pattern is published in a magazine, the online world if filled with the design ideas. Almost always credit is not given. I wish I could help with the database/website idea but can only cheer you on from afar.

    I"m sorry that this has happened to you and wish you good luck! And I won't be a follower who leaves just because you have expressed your opinion and thoughts.

  2. Mikki...I think there are store owners who would use such a site - and many who wouldn't. The truth of it is that a lot of people think the internet is a kind of Welcome Wagon. If it's in the cyber basket, it's theirs. This attitude and the infringement that results is very hurtful to a lot of designers and while it may be possible to launch a movement to stop it - it would just about be a full time job. I think that raising your prices - with the assumption that your work will be taught or copied is a sound idea. You shouldn't lose money through copyright breech and if you go forward with issuing license to teach each time you sell, you can leave this issue behind - and as you always do, go on to the next lovely and original work.

  3. People will do what they are inclined to do- if they are honest that is how they will operate, if they are dishonest that is how they will operate.

    While reading your post I couldn't help but think of the music artists and how they do not benefit from their work- the music industry takes the larger share and many of the people who appreciate the work download it from others. As a culture we are developing a mindset that we do not have to pay.

    On the other hand, I know from personal experience that reputations matter. I know the local bead artists who do not respect copyright and the local bead store that has a similar lack of respect. I do not share with either. I am still a firm believer that people care about their reputation even if they act like they don't. The proprietor of your local bead store, even though she did not change her methods, is likely at least bothered by the events and may hesitate to repeat her mistakes. That may be little consolation, but it is some.

    As for your proposal to centrally locate a repository for protected work, you are speaking about a costly endeavor with regard to time. It is easy to get enthusiastic commitment at the start of such a project, but it is difficult to maintain that level of commitment over the long haul that this project would require. I cannot speak for others, but I have a set of commitments that I am already meeting and cannot take on others.

    It is good that you proposed a solution; I am sorry the response was supportive but disappointing.

  4. I think our society may be past's the norm now to reward bad behaviour...give them a TV show, pay for their rehab, double their paycheck. I guess I'm a die-hard optimist with too much hope. When I get very realistic I can see how slim a chance we have of changing things....we're swimming against a tsunami.

  5. Mikki,

    I've had several times in the last few years when I too have thought, Oh to heck with it! Why am I even bothering?

    I too have considered just offering "for personal and commercial use" patterns and forgetting about "for personal use only" editions. But when I think of upping the price of a peyote cuff pattern from $7.50 to $18.50 (or even $15), I become sad...because I know that there are many who will then decide to turn to the $4 mass-designed/never tested patterns.

    Every time I have come to that dark night of the designer's soul - and it happens once or twice a year - I give myself time to let the pain and frustration of the last episode sink in...and then I come back to believing in the business model I have worked so hard to create, one that has really worked well for me.

    There will always be those who won't follow the rules. And then there are those who would follow the rules if they knew them. I think the internet is helping us reach beaders (those who friend us on FB, for instance) and to educate them as they see us confront these issues in our lives.

    *hugs* Please don't be too discouraged, Mikki. Continue to design beautiful pieces. If you need to do this for survival, then follow the lead of others who do: offer your patterns only in kit form. That's where the money lies or at least so I have been told by those who know. My problem is that peeps won't buy kits with just delica beads...and I'm rather a one-trick pony. LOL :)

    Again, you have my *hugs* and my respect!

  6. We are not past saving, not even close. (And I am old and have seen lots of progress in the wrong direction.)

    Continue to be an optimist, you may not succeed but you will be happier in the long run.

  7. Thanks for the support.
    I think I'm living in Murphy's world right now, whatever could go wrong, is!
    Putting kits together lately has been an absolute nightmare with beads being backordered for over a month, researching the whole book thing was totally depressing and even mail is getting seems like even the little things are taking twice as much effort as normal.
    It takes a great deal of money to be able to do kits, it's always a risk as to whether they sell and as I am struggling financially (take the income regarded as poor and half it). I'm trying to quit doing things that don't pay well and are high risk and opting for things that pay better and are a better use of my time....patterns. I love designing, it's my passion. So to have them stolen, used without permission or just having to tell people over and over why they can't use a personal use pattern to make money from is distressing and tiring.
    CD...I wouldn't put the flatwork patterns up but more use them as a base for pricing the other patterns...the ones that require illustrations and so much more time.
    I'm working hard to stay positive and usually that means throwing myself into something that I think helps everyone but maybe that is not what I should be doing.

  8. I wish I knew the answer to this one. It's very depressing to work so hard and make far less than minimum wage - I put a lot of time and effort into trying to educate people and get some of the worst offenders shut down, to no avail.

    Somedays, throwing it all in and taking the position of "Walmart Greeter" looks very, very good.

  9. Mikki,
    I agree with everything you've said. I think a central repository would be too hard to administer ... but I think that as people like you and Carol Dean continue to raise the issues surrounding copyright infringement, the issue will staya in front of all beaders and store owners.
    I agree with someone's post that there are people who are going to steal no matter what we do. But I'd like to be offered the choice between personal and commercial patterns.

    I've referred folks to your site and to Carol's site who I know will not sell their finished work. they would benefit from your continued offering of "personal use only" patterns. On the other hand, I won't buy a pattern unless I have a "commercial" option available because I sell my work. I can't predict when someone will see something I'm wearing and want to buy it. So I want to be sure that you get the money to cover your hard work, and that I give you credit for the patterns you've created.

    that having been said, do what is right for you. if you need to change your pricing to "commercial and personal use" for all your patterns, or for some subset of them, then do so. I'll still buy them. they are beautiful. I want what is right for your business, not for my convenience!
    Mary Alexander

  10. It is so discouraging, Mikki, I agree. But I am usually an optimist as well.... and I think CD's idea/method of coping is something that works. Well, it works for me, anyway.

    I think your idea of the repository is a good one; but I also agree that it sounds like it would be a full time job to keep it up, and you are so passionate about your lovely designing that I fear taking that on would step on what you love to do... and how could we find someone who would be willing to do it full time, who wasn't as passionate about it as you/we are??

    Upping your prices and having a discount for those you trust seems like a very good compromise on your time, to me. On the other hand, simply raising the prices and leaving it at that would save you time and trouble and give you more time to design and bead....

    I suppose I'm not that helpful... but I am behind you 100% and hope that no matter what you decide your answer will be that you WON'T give up, because the world needs your talent - there are too many people out there who are willing to give bad things out to the world, and not enough who give out beauty and goodness. Hugs, my friend, and all the good wishes I can give.

  11. I am sorry you are feeling so ripped off. I have never designed a piece, never taught a class but I've bought plenty of patterns off the web. I don't have much money but I love to bead. Please remain optimistic. The only way to shine a light into the darkness is with the goodness of your soul. Others will cheat and steal, but there are many good people out there. The way to fight the darkness is to make it easier for people to stay in the light. Keep putting out the good word. You will not reach everybody but you will reach many.


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