In this extremely overdue post, Sarcasm talks copyrights, more specifically about being bullied by other like-minded beaders and crafters who are (like I am on most subjects) a little confused by copyrights and how they apply to their particular craft. You all (hopefully!) read my reviews of the bead boards I did a while ago, and how two particular makers of said beading tool has been sending ummmm well frankly, threats in the form of emails, public social media posts, you get the drift, threatening legal action, claiming that the bead board was originally their own idea, yours are just knock-offs, yada, yada, yada.
I really owe all of you apologies for not posting in such a long while, but I am having some pretty intense health issues, to the point that I am unable to even beading on a regular basis . In fact, if trips to the emergency room and doctors earned frequent flyer miles I could have circled the globe a few times over! The new medication that the doctors want me on is so new, my insurance doesn’t cover it, so that means you just “might” want to click on the “Donation to Paypal” button at the very top of the page! I can not afford it. Plain and simple.
Now, back to the copyright issues for any type of crafter. To, again use the bead board tool as an example, I received tons of messages, emails, and comments about how some form or another of the bead board had been around by other makers, and for that matter, literally centuries. There is even an authentic Native American bead board in the Smithsonian Museum’s National Museum of the American Indian. (Sorry Bead On it and Silaba, but you did NOT invent the bead board tool.) I even have a picture of my Cherokee Great-Great Grandmother using hers. Fortunately, I have been informed by what has turned into a literal network of crafters and bloggers that I am not the first (and there have been more since) person literally bullied about copyrights. As it turns out, the one who hollers the loudest about it is the one who never got one to begin with, because it was turned down by the U.S. Copyright office several times.
There is a HUGE amount of misinformation about copyrights floating around the crafters and artistic communities, and why we have copyrights. In Article 1, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution, congress is empowered “to promote the progress of Science and Useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors, the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” To understand U.S. Copyright law, it helps to understand their purpose, as presented in our Constitution. It isn’t about promoting the individual artists and poets. It is about promoting progress, by limiting rights to ONLY creators of certain works, for a limited time something that is in our society’s best interest (even though that limit is 70 years past death of the original artist)! Progress is a GOOD thing, remember?
It is also helpful to understand exactly what can (and cannot) be copyrighted. According to the U.S. copyright website: “Copyright does not protect ideas, concepts, systems, or methods of doing something. You may express your ideas in writing or drawings and claim copyright in your description, but be aware that copyright will not protect the idea itself as revealed in your written or artistic work.” To be more precise, Section 102(b) of the U.S. Copyright Act states: “In no case does copyright protection for an original work of authorship extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.” In plain English: Your words and your pictures are your own, and no one has the right to censor your own expression of an idea, but a craft item, tool, or procedure is NOT copyrightable!
There is plenty, and I mean PLENTY of circulars and other helpful information about copyrights HERE. I strongly encourage you (especially if you are a designer who writes and illustrates tutorials) to familiarize yourself with as much copyright knowledge as you can squeeze into your brain.
In a nutshell, if you or the original crafter/artist/designer have been deceased for 70+ years, and you come up with something new or not so new, PUBLISH IT right away. Whether or not you have the little “c” in a circle does NOT matter. It’s yours – claim it! From the moment you publish it – anywhere, whether it be in print, the internet, or written on a scrap of paper, it is YOURS and will remain so until 70 years after your death, unless your descendants file for an extension. Period.
Until next time (and it will be a few weeks due to hospitalization), say smart or stay smart sassy!