Are crochet patterns copyrighted?

Crochet patterns can vary in details and the level of difficulty.  Well-made crochet patterns take a long time to produce as you must first write the pattern, take pictures while you are crocheting to embed in your patterns so that your customers/readers would have an easier time following your patterns. At the end, you must test your pattern just to make sure that you are clear in your instructions and that your pattern is free of mistakes.

So, after all the hard work that you put in, what stops anyone from taking your pattern and claiming it to be their own?

This is where the question of are crochet patterns copyrighted comes in.

Patterns that are written and published or posted are entitled to copyright protection the minute your work is created and is available in a fixed and tangible form.

In the USA copyrighting protects the “work of the author” and not the idea itself. Meaning, the text that you write and the images that you use are copyrighted but the process on how it is done is not.

For example: when making a pattern, if I were to write, in my words how to make a magic circle and use My pictures to explain it then my words and my pictures are copyrighted but the process of making a magic circle is not.

What is copyright

Copyright is your exclusive legal right as the author to print or publish your pattern and give others the authority to do so also. This means, once you write a pattern, no one can copy, share or download your pattern without your permission. While this is the case with patterns, it is not legally binding. 

Copyright law protects original intellectual property.  Meaning it protects the products of your creativity. This is automatically set the minute your work is created and is available in a fixed and tangible form.  You do not have to take any formal steps to trigger the copyright protection. 

 You will notice that in most patterns, the author will use verbiage such as “you are welcome to use this pattern and sell your products but do not claim this pattern as your own”.  By stating this, the author is giving you permission to use her pattern. Or the author will state something like “free digital download” pattern telling the reader that it is free to use this pattern.

In any case, free or paid, you cannot claim someone else’s pattern as your own. And it is only courteous that you give credit to the pattern maker when you use their pattern to make and sell the product.

Finally, when you buy someone else’s patterns to sell the finished products on online e-commerce sites like Etsy or Amazon, you cannot use their pictures to market your product.  This is called infringement and will cause you to get kicked out of these sites.  When you buy the pattern, make your own product.  Take pictures of your own work and use those to market your product.  And once again, do not forget to give credit to the author of the pattern in your description.  It is courteous.

If you want to formally get your pattern copyrighted, you will have to go through the process outlined in here. This is an expensive and laborious process but will protect the copyright up to 70 years after the author’s demise.  This applies only in the USA.

So, feel free to use the patterns that you have been given the permission to do so.  But always remember to acknowledge the author’s hard work in writing the pattern.

Feel free to visit my blog for tons of Free crochet patterns for you to use and sell

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