It’s a hot topic right now and there’s lots of discussion out there and not all of it’s accurate.

Here’s a link to a series of articles about quilts and copyright from Quilter’s Newsletter Magazine that’s fairly understandable.

Here’s a question for you – if you make a quilt from a published pattern are you allowed to post a photo of YOUR quilt on your blog or on a photo site such as Picaso or Webshots? And how many of us have seen quilts from published patterns in quilt shows? Read the above articles and tell me what you think.


  1. Too many words! There’s a reason I’m not an attorney. I can’t read all of that and try to absorb what it all means. My quilts usually aren’t made from patterns anyway. But my general impression is… way to take the fun out of it all! (not you, Mary.. I’m just venting at the whole conundrum.. although I do try to respect designers’ copyrights.) Uffda.

  2. OK, I just am getting caught up and see what Bonnie is up against. Is this why you posted the copyright article? THAT sort of stealing from a designer is completely disgusting. My previous message is more from this point of view: if I make a quilt from a pattern can I not even have the fun of hanging it in my local show? (I see that I can.. it’s just a little disconcerting when one tries to figure it all out, and the language is so long and attorney-ish.) I’ll stop taking up all this room in your comments now.

  3. I have made quilts from Marcia Hahn’s patterns online but only for family gifts. From the article I’m not sure even that is legal. What a tangled web! No wonder I have started free piecing my own designs. Then there is no question and they are so free form that nobody could copy them if they tried. Not that they would probably want to anyway.

  4. I wish there was something about the internet because this is where the problems seem to be growing. I know that when I went to a large show the program stated that photographs of the quilts could not be posted on the internet so I took pictures for my own inspiration but did not post them on my blog. And then I do wonder about posting a picture on my own blog of a quilt that I made from a block of the month – I didn’t see this covered. I always give credit, usually linking to the source where I purchased the pattern or book but is this enough? I guess I can only be responsible for my own integrity.

  5. I apologize in advance for the length of this, but every time this issue comes up, regardless of how or where or with whom it starts, in my mind I say, “Here we go again.” I remember it being a huge issue about this time last year. And there is never any resolution to it. I almost hate to comment, because someone will take this in the wrong way, but it’s directed at no one. I have more questions than answers, but this is just how my mind works on the subject. And Juliann is right, it’s all about personal integrity. I love to buy quilt books and patterns as much as the next person. I buy them because the designs or construction techniques intrigue me, and that’s the only reason; they are outside the norm and something I would not think of myself. (I have to admit that I rarely make a quilt from a purchased pattern or book, but I do keep them around for inspiration. Just as I keep around quilt magazines, links of quilts online, or pictures of quilts from shows.)If I read the QNM articles correctly, I find it interesting that the <>technique<> is not able to be copyrighted, but the individual designs and the text associated with it are. If I look at a quilt and do not need directions on how to make it, and I am confident that I know the <>technique<> used to make it, why can I not draw it up and make it myself? Years ago, I bought EQ so that I could create my own designs and to draw up, to my own specs, quilts from pictures I’ve seen. Even though I am inspired by something I’ve seen, if I can draw it up myself, or it’s a ‘no-brainer’ I would not have a problem with making it, selling it (if I were to sell quilts), donating it, hanging it in a show, or posting a picture of it in any online format. Chances are I am not going to make mine exactly like the one I’ve seen anyhow. I don’t want my quilt looking like a thousand other ones out there; I want to make it mine (which is why I dislike ‘finishing kits’ for BOMs). I don’t ever have a problem giving credit where I know it’s due; but if I don’t know, I can’t give the credit. I believe that part of the problem stems from the fact that, if someone posts a picture online or hangs a quilt at a show, or even just shows it at a guild meeting, *their* name for the quilt is given. If no credit is given for the pattern or the inspiration, how far does my personal responsibility extend to find the name of the original copyrighted pattern and the owner of the copyright (if there is one of either) to attribute credit? And just how would I search for that?? And how are shops able to sell kits of copyrighted patterns? Is this not an infringement? Or do you think they get permission to sell X amount of kits in advance? Are the shops reimbursing the pattern designer for the income the shop derives from selling the kit?I have my own EQ designs from long ago that are derived from public domain blocks and I feel my coloring or placement of those blocks made them unique. Recently I’ve seen one of those (what I considered unique) designs published in a new quilt book. So, someone had the same idea as me. The only proof I would have that I didn’t copy their copyrighted design is the creation date of my EQ file. And I know that no one has seen my EQ designs, so I know it wasn’t stolen from me. We both just happened to end up with the same design.I can purchase a great work of literary art or a technical book to study from; I cannot plagiarize the text and take the credit for myself, but I can resell the book. And I can write my own book about my thoughts of that book, giving credit for text quoted from the original. I look at my quilts the same way: writing my own *book* and giving credit for the original text. To say that *my* book cannot be sold, given away, or put on public display without the original author’s consent is what I find ridiculous. Must you also get the permission of the designer of the actual quilting design used? (I looked through a few quilt books, and it’s rare that the quilting designers are even mentioned, let alone a quilting pattern and the designer attributed to a specific quilt in a book.) And what happens if one agrees and one does not? Next we will have people saying, “if we must get permission and it must be credited, should we not also be compensated for the *free* advertising that the original designers derive from our use of their respective patterns?” Sheila in Ohio

  6. I think no matter what we do, we are all at risk of someone saying we misused THEIR pattern or design. How folks can say that a block that has been around for generations is THEIRS is way beyond me. How they can say that a mix of fabrics that is easily available to all is THEIR mix is another thing. But, unless it is a major manufactuer, who has the time or money to persue legal action? Just got to hope for the good in most people and go for it.I also have issue with restrictions on purchased patterns. If I pay money for it, the rights should transfer to me for the things I create with it. As long as I don’t make money from the printed pattern itself, my time and money for materials should make the finished product mine alone.

  7. If I post a picture of a completed quilt on my blog or any place else I usually try to give credit to the designer, etc. I’m never sure what I should or shouldn’t do so I just do my thing until someone gives me a good reason why I shouldn’t.

  8. Hi Mary! I agree with Shelina, the debate never ends! The reason I posted two different posts in my blog on the subject was because some of our quilters were actually sending ‘hate’ mail to some of the other quilters who commented on some of our quilter’s blogs and really and truly there could be no copyright on what some of them were saying…we’re getting into the grey area that “is terms of use” and not registered copyrights. All in all, the fact that no quilter has filed a sucessful lawsuit on this…at least up until 1998…says just how hard it truly is! It’s kind of like arresting people in the library at the Xerox machine with their reference books on the glass! BTW, if you saw anything in either of my posts that seemed ‘off’ to you, please let me know! Since everything is about interpretation, anyway. What got me involved in my research was that mean spiritedness was actually circulating on this subject with people being attacked and I felt so badly that the wonderful world of good hearted quilters was turning into a giant group of Quilt Police 🙂 Hugs to everyone from someone who only does scrap quilting for charity…can’t get in trouble that way!

  9. Hi!I agree with Norma. I believe that people need to use common sense…if you look at a person’s design and change just a couple of things…you are stealing.But, if I purchase a pattern you have agreed to sale to me…your rights for my quilt ends. I should not sale your pattern but my quilt belongs to me and I can do whatever I want with it. If I put the quilt in a show or post it on the internet…I should give credit to the pattern designer but that is it.My own opinion.Traci

  10. That’s why I stopped posting pictures of quilting I’d done for others on my webshots page. I had been getting permission from the quilt maker but then realized I also needed written permission from the designer of the pattern. Too much trouble so I just stopped doing it.

  11. It seems to me that when you make a quilt, tote or something from a published pattern, that you have purchased, and then post a pic on your blog or show it in a show, you are giving the designer FREE advertising. I would think that they would like it. I can’t tell you how many times I have purchased a book or pattern from seeing a pic of it on a blog or hanging at a quilt show.

  12. I don’t really have a strict opinion on the issue just a couple of things that occur to me. I think that people have the right to profit from their work, but I think that it gets to the point of silliness at times. One thought is why quilts, and not recipes (thank goodness) recipe book authors also work hard on their product.The other is, right after 911 after having read so many discussions about copyright laws on one of the forums (don’t remember which) there was a big discussion on how to sneak scissors onto the plane so that quilting could be done on the flight. It just seemed like some of the ladies were picking and choosing their lawfulness, and I think they chose the wrong one in order of importance.As far as Bonnie’s recent problem goes, I am 100% on her side. For her to be so generous and creative and then have someone steal her work to profit by it is a whole different can of worms.

  13. I think this one falls into the “technically, no” but “who’s going to enforce it” area of the law. While technically you would need permission (and really, some designers have given blanket permission to show items made from their patterns and have set up their own flicker pools to show such works) it is not necessarily in the designer/author’s best interest to demand it or prosecute that kind of posting. At most, you might get a letter from an attorney asking you take down the photos. Though, it might fit into a “Fair Use” context — especially if you are discussing the ease of the pattern and making commentary on how it went together. Also, by showing the work, you are providing a bit of “free advertising” to the designer — especially if, as most of us do, you provide information about the pattern, the designer and links to sites where they can be purchased. In that case, the designer may simply decide not to do anything about it — while, techincally, there is a violation — um, what kind of damages are you really going to get? AND who wants to pursue it. Unless the person who owns the copyright is losing money (or potential money) from the picture, no one is going to bother with it.

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