“Intellectual” Property Idiocy Infests Knitting

Sunni's picture

I can’t really say I was surprised to see it; after all, as information dispersal transitions from (relatively) expensive and slow to essentially free and fast, people need to adjust their thinking as well as their business models. But I was surprised to see how much control some designers think they should have over their knitting patterns.

Being an enthusiastic new knitter, I spend a fair amount of time on Ravelry, Knitty, and other sites looking for patterns to attempt. I’ve already found some amazing patterns that result in textile works of art; other patterns are so basic and simple they barely deserve the name. I mean, how many ways can one knit a basic sock, for example, or a hat or sweater? Each of those things requires some fundamental steps in order to create the final object; and while some patterns can become quite intricate, the fundamentals nonetheless remain. If a designer writes down and publishes only the fundamental steps, can that truly be called her pattern? After all, it’s a virtual certainty that the “designer” in such cases isn’t the first person to have put together that specific sequence of steps, since these items have been knitted for hundreds of years.

And yet, I’m finding that some people not only publish such basic patterns as their own, they stipulate what a knitter may and may not do with the results of their handicraft: viz., some patterns state that a knitter may not sell items made from the pattern; some require seeking the designer’s permission. I shake my head at how those designers think they can enforce such folly.

When a pattern is so straightforward that it contains only basic concepts such as “hat–ness” and the two fundamental knitting stitches, how can it be anyone’s property? If any newish knitter can devise the same pattern for creating an object, how can any designer prove that “her” idea has been stolen? It’s the same problem as arises sometimes in cooking: a fundament of tools, materials, and processes exist, and have been used for millennia to create items people enjoy. Trying to stuff those things into the current context of ideas as property simply does not work.

Controlling—or just attempting to control—people’s creative explorations is an excellent way to find oneself morphing into a pariah, it seems to me. Who wants to fuss with checking the IP Repository™®, then proceed to begging some “designer” for permission to use a certain seasoning combination or stitch repetition just to make dinner or a freaking sock? I’m just not gonna play that game. Good luck trying to force me into it, too.

Silly, silly...

How silly to fuss about that sort of thing. Reminds me of the story of the famous restaurant where a lady asked for the recipe of their special cookies. They gave it to her, then charged her credit card $150. in addition to the meal! When she protested, she was told "tough luck."

So, she broadcast the recipe and gave it to everyone she could find, posted it all over the internet, etc. When the restaurant protested she told them, "tough luck." LOL

These folks plan to send knitting or cooking inspectors to your house to make sure you follow their dictates? If they want some sort of exclusive rights, they need to sell the pattern to individuals - not publish it on the internet for all to see.

Such dummies.

I've seen those copyright

I've seen those copyright statements, too, "you may use this pattern, but please don't sell anything you made from it." Of course they believe in copyright, but it astonishes me that they think they've invented something new instead of simply twiddled with something that someone else figured out before them. Thank goodness this idea of intellectual property is relatively recent ... imagine if we had to pay a royalty to build a fire, bake bread, weave, plant seeds, raise chickens, etc., etc.

What should have happened

imagine if we had to pay a royalty to build a fire, bake bread, weave, plant seeds, raise chickens, etc., etc.

Actually, that is what SHOULD have happened, since had it happened, those types of people promulgating such insanity would soon have been extinct!

Change is coming to this country, and to the world, and while I do NOT, ever, advocate violent revolution, the actions of those in Washington are driving otherwise law-abiding citizens to this point. I foresee a day when many lampposts will be decorated with the rotting fruit of a decadent and tyrannous system: politicians, lawyers, and bad cops in particular. Sadly, it is their own fears and deeds which will bring it about.

I dunno about that

Actually, that is what SHOULD have happened, since had it happened, those types of people promulgating such insanity would soon have been extinct!

While I like to think that’s what would have happened had IP idiocy taken root long ago, does not the history of mankind show that too often, too many of us submit (or at least resign ourselves) to the worst ideas available?

Sunni, you're right in that

Sunni, you're right in that too many times humans take the worst possible road, but when you start telling someone that his family will die if he doesn't pay up, one of two things will always happen, depending on the type of person involved. One is that he will cave, doing anything, no matter how craven, to protect his/her family. The other is that the person will decide that paying up is actually conter-productive, and in the context we're talking here, put a spear in the blackmailer as soon as possible. Also, the first will often become the second, once the blackmailer's demands become excessive. In fact, it probably says a LOT that IP only became possible once the world started frowning on duelling and other forms of creative retribution.

In fact, if you really look at most of the IP suits today, especially the RIAA ones, once you get to the meat of it, the industry is saying you OWE us our mega-rich, wasteful life-style!

IP is older than that ...

Actually patents began toward the end of the medieval era in the 1400s I think ... and the Greeks even had a form of them 2500 years ago. And besides the patent based on invention, Europe had during medieval and even early modern times monopolies based on royal grant. Dueling was still around then! It seems to me that when the state apparatus is very powerful people put up with, or sneak around the edges of unreasonable laws, until it becomes worth dying to resist.

What you said about the RIAA suits does resonate with me ... I've felt that very same thing before, that the lawsuits seem to be about a right not necessarily to get "fairly" paid but to get really rich off a song.

p.s. Hi Sunni, when I commented earlier on what life would be like if we had to pay a royalty to light a fire, I didn't intend to be anonymous ... just an oversight.


p.s. Hi Sunni, when I commented earlier on what life would be like if we had to pay a royalty to light a fire, I didn't intend to be anonymous ... just an oversight.

I did notice that it was you, and wondered a bit about that ... but was too busy trying to work (while using procrastination on some work as a means to get other work done) to think to inquire. [Also, thrips have apparently given several of my tomato plants some kind of wilt ... being a fool, I saw the insects but didn’t take action immediately. I appear to have the bugs on the run, but am still waiting to see if the plants will recover; I don’t know if the wilt is due to their activity or from a virus they introduced to the plants. I’m almost heartsick over it all!]

tomato plants

I'm so sorry to hear about your tomato casualties! Are the pots well drained? Sometimes too much water can cause wilt, especially if a fungus gets established. The bugs could be a sign that the plants were already weakened in some way. Last year my parents experimented with tomatoes in buckets which my dad didn't want to "ruin" by putting in drainage holes and the results were very sickly ... not that I think you treated your tomatoes that way, but sometimes potted plants can get too much water or the container doesn't drain well enough to handle normal watering. I hope they recover for you! We have 8 plants I almost let die myself for the opposite reason ... I left them out on the porch for two very windy days and didn't remember to water. Fortunately, they did perk up again.

Hi, I came across this post

Hi, I came across this post googling for some patterns, and I really have to agree with you. But this is just the modern mindset these days, brought on by the popularization of copyrights and patents and trademarks and intellectual property. People think they should get paid for just their basic ideas rather than their work.. which is kinda weird. I'll never put restrictions on any patterns I make, or even sell them, that's for sure, and that's coming from a knitter AND a chef.

An intriguing distinction

Hi, FerretBrain, and thank you for your comments. I’m intrigued by the distinction you seem to want to make:

People think they should get paid for just their basic ideas rather than their work...

My first inclination was to agree with your calling this “weird” ... but then I thought about the individuals for whom creating ideas is work, for which someone is willing to pay them. Is that not the primary value many find in novels—weaving ideas together into a great story with interesting characters? Similarly, how can one separate “ideas” and “work” for software developers?

I don’t have any good answers for how to sort those two concept categories out more cleanly, so I’m interested in others’ thoughts on the matter.

Idea v. Creation

Oh no, another creation debate!

Seriously, though. Maybe the difference is in creation as opposed to simply ideas. I have ideas for stories or maybe even books all the time, but the work involved in the creation is quite a different story (as my output can act as evidence). Creating a design or pattern likely involves some work also, but the novelty of such things fade fairly fast if something can be reverse-engineered, so to speak, making it less and less unique. As the design becomes less unique its value drops with its availability in the market and - recalling my calculus and limit equations - can eventually go to zero. This is the difference in selling someone a design or creation and claiming all rights to all facsimiles, etc. for ever and ever (or until the law says so). And it's not like reverse-engineering isn't work.


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