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You, me and the law - copyright and intellectual property in the UK

Updated: Dec 3, 2019

* Caveat - this post is for guidance only and if in doubt you should seek legal advice.

If you make things and are in facebook groups then copyright and intellectual property comes up time and time again.

I've been making lace for over 30 years and have seen this topic appear every few years.

Everyone has an opinion.

  • If you change 10% of the design then it's not a copy and you can sell the design as yours

  • If you change any of the design you are breaking copyright

  • The original designer is dead so I can use it.

  • If you 'borrow' someone else's design and make it for 'educational purposes' then you can sell it to teach others.

  • You can only copy 10% of the patterns in a lace book

  • I didn't know it was copyrighted so I'm ok.

All of these statements are FALSE

  • Changing a bit of the design still means that you are using someone else's intellectual property or copyright

  • You can change a design for 'personal use' so you can interpret a pattern in your own way but you can't then sell that change

  • Just because someone is dead, copyright doesn't stop. It continues after death and you have to go check

  • 'borrowing' and 'eductional purposes' linked to 'selling' are just other words for 'stealing'

  • If you have bought a book of lace patterns you are expected to use the patterns to make lace so making copies of all the patterns is expected by both the designer and the publisher

  • Not knowing the law is no excuse. You are expected to make yourself aware.

The UK Government have published a great document on intellectual property and copyright in how it relates to the fibre arts. Check it out for further guidance.

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