Copyright discussion

I’m going to add to the discussion I’ve been reading about on other blogs and on the Stashbuster list.

I bought two books last week in Virginia – Big ‘n Easy by Judy Hopkins and Bundles of Fun by Karen Snyder and both books had a version of a half log cabin quilt. I also made a quilt using a half log cabin block last year. I posted a picture on my blog after some discussion on the Stashbuster list about a pattern called Bento Box which uses a half log cabin block AND Jeanne posted a picture of a Mystery quilt she did which was basically the same quilt.

So who gets credit for *designing* this quilt? Is everyone else (including me) guilty of *stealing* the design?

I am inspired by quilts in books, at shows, in magazines, and on the internet but 9 times out of 10 when it comes time for me to make a quilt I sit down at my computer, open EQ5 and design my quilt.


  1. Oh, Mary, that purple and red is gorgeous!! I did the same mystery quilt as Jeanne, its posted on my blog on May 27. They are all so similar…wish I had an answer for all of us.

  2. I am always amazed at how many quilts I see that appear to be the same design. I mean “new” designs or layouts. If you are making them for your own use the copyright thing is a non/issue. The published patterns I question. I saw one recently by a popular designer that was the same as a quilt in Love Of Quilting Magazine a few years ago. Also, Bento Box and Half Log Cabin have got to be fairly recent. How is it that they are public domain? I think that most designers either don’t get worked up about it, or don’t pursue it. I would like to think it is the generous nature of quilters!

  3. Mary, I’ve followed that “discussion” not too closely and pretty much just roll my eyes (again). Every time I see the same quilt (not that one) in a different book or magazine, I have to wonder about the copyright issue. EQ is my friend 😉 And thank the heavens that listmom spanks when the Stashbuster discussion veers that way time and time again!

  4. If I design a quilt from an idea I’ve seen somewhere, I try to use the words “inspired by . . . .” on the label and when I display it in a show. I have no idea if that is in line with the copyright law or not – it just seems to be to be the right thing to do. I know I’d appreciate it if someone else did that if they were inspired by something I did.

  5. Hmmm, I don’t know the answer to this, either!When I specifically start from a published pattern, I give credit for that, even if I veer away from the pattern as I go along.But many of my projects just start in my head, and I really don’t know exactly where all the sprouts of idea in my head have come from.I guess one of the big issues is whether someone is going to make money using someone else’s design.Jeanne

  6. Jeanne, said it best – the issue is whether someone is going to make money using the design. Most copyrights protect the “text” of the pattern, at least that’s my understanding from my legal education.I also will give credit if a pattern “inspired” me.

  7. Mary, I’m so sick of copyright. I guess I’m mostly sick of people using simple blocks that have been around for years, or variations of blocks we’ve all done on our own a million times, and then claiming them as their own and claiming copyright. And, some of the “quilt designers” are not even wanting pictures of quilts made from their designs shown on the web or in shows without their permission and if the quilt wins a cash award, they want part of it.Where does it all end??Judy L.

  8. I agree with Judy–so many of the blocks are “tweaked” or done with a different sashing and all of a sudden, that quilt designer thinks she owns the whole thing! You wouldn’t believe how many quilts are done from old magazines, written with new instructions and now it’s theirs! What about the first person? It never ends. As far as sharing pictures on the web/blog of quilts we have made from patterns, well, I guess the designer better quit making patterns then. I figure it’s MY quilt at that point, I’ll show and share it. I won’t copy the pattern for someone, but I’ll show the picture. I get kind of tired of all the talk of who owns what!

  9. Oh Mary, I don’t understand any of this! But I do agree with what you said. I figure that once I BUY the pattern I get to do whatever I want with MY quilt that I make from it. I saw someones “copyright” thing the other day that said: “you can use it for personal reasons, but you can’t sell the quilt” Umm excuse me? If I make 6 quilts and decide I only need 4 of them, I will sell the other 2 and that person can go right ahead and sue me. My fabric, my time and my quilt is what we are selling. NOT the pattern! I saw a version of a very old block the other day and the pattern maker wrote it up and now calls it her own pattern name and sells it!!By the way, I have that Big and Easy book and LOVE it. I have all my fabrics bought for the Quartered Log Cabin and it’s one of my next few quilts on my list to make!

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