My focus for Fall For Design is to keep up with design trends. I learn to streamline my business and my blog by learning from others mistakes. I recently came across a very popular graphic designer’s copyright delimma that closely relates to where I stand on Pinterest Copyright issues.

From what I understand, the copyright dilemma started because a quilter used one of Kate Spain’s fabrics to create a tote bag. The quilter was also going to publish her tote/quilt design in a how-to book. The quilter is Carolina Patchworks.

What I understand from Kate’s statement on the issue, is that Carolina Patchworks should have seeked a license from Kate Spain to use Kate Spain’s fabric to design a tote bag, or a quilt blanket, to resale the how-to-quilt design. Kate pursued legal action because her fabric design was being used in a how-to book without her consent. The verdict of her business decision to pursue a quilter resulted in the loss of loyal customers. The loyal customers are afraid that they too, can be sued.

In the end, Carolina Patchworks has decided to give credit to Kate Spain for utilizing her fabric to create the book. Carolina Patchworks stated that the “designer” has withdrew her legal pursuits. Kate Spain made a statement that she is happy with the outcome.

It took a lot of time for me to “read in-between the lines” of what the original issue was that prompted the threat of lawsuit. I couldn’t make heads or tails as to why Kate Spain allows her fabric to be made in how-to books, but she wouldn’t let her fabric be used in Carolina Patchworks how-to books. What I do understand now is that Kate was not happy that her work was not given proper credit. Kate’s statement on her blog was confusing and controversial for me. Other people left comments on Kate’s blog stating that they are no longer going to buy Kate’s fabrics because they don’t want to be threatened for a lawsuit [for creating and selling a product that is used with her fabric].

What other people are not understanding is that you can’t claim an item as fully yours unless the rights are transferred to you by the designer. Since crafters use fabric, the rights are not fully transferable and therefore you cannot claim the whole entire product as solely yours. You have to give credit to the tools and resources you used.

I don’t speak on behalf of Kate Spain, but I have to encourage you to continue to buy from Kate Spain fabric. Kate Spain was trying to get Carolina Patchworks to give Kate Spain credit for her fabric design being used in a book.

Your take-away from Kate Spain’s copyright dilemma is to give proper credit to your resources and tools when due. When is proper credit due? It’s due every time you talk about a specific product that you created. You should elaborate about the resources and tools you used.

As for Kate Spain fans (or x-customers for that matter), I don’t believe your etsy business will be held liable for reselling a tote bag or a quilt how-to design. You should not be afraid to continue to use Kate Spain’s fabric.

However, your business will be held liable for not giving proper credit to the tools and resources you use.

My take-away is, if I do design for the textile industry, that I must copyright my designs so I can be given proper credit when due.  Some designers will have commercial licenses available, where a user can use a designer’s product or artwork exclusively as their own.  This should be your take-away too.

The moral of the story; remember to give proper credit when it is due!  Don’t think a design belongs to you, unless you have purchased the legal commercial license to claim it as such.