But it IS a Big Deal

Lots of people do it. Good people, even. Because they don’t think it’s a big deal. It’s hard for me to even call it what it really is.


I’ve been mulling something over and over in my head the last couple of days. I was pinged on Ravelry when “verypink” was mentioned in a group. Usually I visit these groups and I’m pleased with what I see. People I don’t even know saying nice things about my patterns and videos! This, of course, always brings a smile to my face.

But this time was different. I went to the group and read a post from a woman who purchased one of my patterns + video tutorials, found it helpful, and offered to share the file (for free, presumably) with anyone reading the post. All of my patterns are copyrighted and this isn’t okay – and it’s even worse in a public forum.

I didn’t know how to proceed for a few reasons. First, this woman isn’t really a thief at heart. She offered the pattern up to be NICE to the other folks in the group, not really thinking that it would impact the person selling the pattern. Second, I have to assume this sort of thing happens all the time, so I can’t really control it. Third, to say something in the forum against this could make me look like a raging bitchhog, and that’s not an image I want to be associated with me and my business.

Then I got pretty annoyed with myself. Why would I worry about looking bitchy when I’m only asking people to please not steal patterns? These same people would never consider stealing yarn or needles or row counters or stitch markers for a project. But emailing a copyrighted pattern to their friends feels different than a real five-finger discount.

So I ask on behalf of all of the designers that sketch an idea, buy yarn for it, swatch, cast-on, knit, rip out, re-knit, take notes, measure, calculate, bind off, block, size up, size down, type out, photograph, publish, and post. If you enjoy knitting our patterns, tell the world about it! But please don’t share copyrighted patterns with your friends. Even though it seems like no big deal.

I imagine most designers (myself included) would not be able to afford to do what we do if everyone continues to think it’s okay to share. This issue is huge for me as a designer, considering the weeks of additional work it takes to shoot just one video tutorial.

A follow up to the story – I asked my friend Kelly for her opinion on the matter of the woman on Ravelry offering to share her pattern. Kelly is a friend, a regular student, and a moderator on the Verypink Designs group on Ravelry. Kelly jumped into action right away, and posted a nice reply in the forum, reminding everyone that copyrighted patterns are for personal use only. I checked Kelly’s post a few hours later to see if there were any replies, and two people had hit the “disagree” button.

Makes me sad.

Okay, off my soapbox. Here is a handsome photo of Ike to lighten the mood. πŸ™‚

25 comments on “But it IS a Big Deal

  1. Hey Staci- I’m so sorry to hear that you had to deal with that! Your patterns are great and I have purchased many of them and wouldn’t dream of giving them out to anyone not only because it’s unfair to you, but I like being the one with all the really cool sweaters and hats and baby shower presents! Selfish, huh? haha. In any case, I recommend your site to everyone in my knitting guild as well as everyone who asks me about learning to knit. Keep doing what you’re doing because there are lots of us who do appreciate it and are happy to buy your designs and patterns!

  2. Asking fair compensation for work does not make one a bitch hog. I would challenge any of those dislikers to go to work for a few days and waive any compensation from their employer.

    Maybe next time this pops up in your forum, you can kindly remind the disliker of Ravelry’s own position on this issue.

    I’ve gotten a few requests via Ravelry to scan and send patterns from books. I always politely remind them that I consider that stealing and choose not to participate in such activity. And then I send them a link to where they can purchase the pattern — just like I did.

  3. You’ll be happy to know that my post now has 2 “educational”, 8 “agree”, and 4 “love! We’ll show those disagreers! You have tons of honest people who love your designs! Keep up the good work!

  4. I TOTALLY agree with you, and you are not being ill-mannered in any way, shape or form. This is your work! As a retired librarian, I’m a bit of stickler for copyright issues, and try to wave the banner whenever the subject comes up.

    So glad you have those sweet dogs to cuddle when things like this happen.

  5. Ravelry terms of use are very clear about users not infringing on copyrights through this type of offer the woman made, however in order to do something about it they need to be informed that it has happened. This is a situation where you should DEFINITELY use the Contact Us button found at the bottom of every page. You should also use the flag feature to flag the post and report it to that group’s moderator. Because it is clearly against Ravelry terms of use the moderator should speak to the poster and either have the poster remove the offer or else remove it for the poster if the poster isn’t currently online.

    This isn’t the typical “what is copyright and what does it really cover” discussion that pops up over and over on Ravelry, this is a very blatant case of giving away photocopies (or electronic same idea) of a pattern that requires payment to receive it from either the designer or publisher. This type of situation should not be ignored. It has nothing to do with attitude or perception but rather with facts. You aren’t just standing up for yourself, but reminding people that what they are doing/offering is WRONG.

  6. I’m so sorry to hear of this. I know that I for one am so appreciative of all that you do for a mere $8.00 or so per pattern. I use to work in my LYS and it is truly alarming that most people really don’t understand copyright issues…some never will. I hope that this doesn’t dishearten you as you are a true diamond in the rough of educational knitting sites and great patterns. Knit On!!

  7. I saw that post and Kelly’s comment today. I am happy that Kelly’s response led me to your group on ravelry but sad that it had to be said in the first place. Your video’s have been so helpful and following along with the pattern has been great. I also like how quickly you have responded to questions or comments on the videos or your patterns on Ravelry. Just wanted to say Thanks!

  8. You are right to be upset and have a right to protect your opportunity to make a living. People don’t expect to walk into Starbucks and get a free coffee so why do they expect they can pass out your ‘for sale’ content as they please.

    It sounds like you have good support, don’t get discouraged, it happens all the time – look at large manufacturers like Fendi or Prada that constantly battle the knock-off market all the time! The rest of us will continue to buy patterns and original fashion items and encourage you to continue to sell your terrific patterns and (sadly) battle those that try to take your ideas or pass around your goods for free.

    Thank you for the photo of Ike, I’m sure he gave you a good lick and made you smile after this unpleasant event!

  9. It’s sad to see that people still don’t seem to understand that just because they’ve paid the price for something it doesn’t give them license to distribute copyrighted materials. You were right in your comments about these same people not stealing raw materials or supplies to complete a project but don’t think anything of giving away someone else’s “children”, as it were. I am not a designer of patterns, however, I have been known to modify something to suit my own personal tastes. I do know the anguish, though, of having one of your babies either given away or outright stolen. Years ago, I did a bunch of graphics and didn’t put a watermark on them because I felt it could be considered bragging on my part. It didn’t take long for me to get over that as I was in a group where another took credit for several of my designs. After that, they had my watermark on them. Long and short of it? You did good, Kelly handled it well, but it saddens me, too, that some still don’t understand. Keep up the great work, Staci. I look forward to all of your new patterns and videos–my first stop on You Tube!!

  10. Very well said. You do a great job. I love your tutorials. You’re my go to girl for all things knitting. You’re right to say something.

    Love Ike, looks like he agrees with you too. He has a look of concern on this face. Look at that furrowed brow!!!

  11. It is a big deal. I am an elementary school librarian. I teach copyright and piracy. It really surprises the students that it is wrong.
    I am sorry that it happen and I don’t share any purchased patterns (just free ones).

    Keep up the good work!!

  12. This is the second time today I’ve run across this. Another woman’s entire blog post was copied and pasted and passed off by the thief. I don’t understand how these people don’t see this as just plain wrong. It absolutely is stealing and it’s wrong.

    I just want to join the others in telling you how much I like what you do. Your videos have explained things to me that I just haven’t gotten any other way. I check here often to see if you’ve updated. Can’t wait to see the pattern for the sweater you mentioned earlier.

  13. I would like to say that, though I LOVE your videos, and have purchased from you, I’m happy to see you’re blogging. I love getting inside the head of designers. πŸ™‚

    I totally agree with all the comments here, that you are completely justified in wanting to do something, rather than risk appearing bitchy. Likely, you’d only seem bitchy to those who think stealing is okay, but those of us who don’t, would be applauding you on. I’m glad your friend, Kelly posted, which was a less awkward way for it to be handled, I’m sure.

    I love your work, and I’m always recommending your site to others learning to knit. Keep up the good work! πŸ™‚

  14. Staci,
    I love your videos and just purchased one of your patterns. I understand your point and agree with you. It is good that your friend “stood up” for you and all the other designers who spend so much time creating these patterns so that the beginners like me and many others can enjoy learning the art of knitting! It is only fair that you are reimbursed for your time and creativity! I guess, like you implied, that perhaps the person really wasn’t thinking and just wanted to be nice–not realizing that it was at your expense. Got an idea–want to be nice?–offer to gift the person with a purchase of your pattern–now that is a good idea!!!
    Again, thank you for the videos–they are sooo good!! Keep up the great work!!

  15. You are not out of line or bitchy or wrong in your expectations.
    I have purchased many of your patterns and made every one of them.
    I will continue to purchase them because they are easy to understand, if there is ever an issue with the pattern or my understanding of it- you have always been great about following up quickly.
    I will continue to buy them because I feel they are reasonably priced- most other patterns do not have professionaly shot videos to accompany them!

    As some of your other comments state- I also ALWAYS reccomend your site to anyone whom I talk to about knitting and will continue to do so.

    Unfortunately, there is always a risk when selling a product; but I bet if you weigh the pros against the cons, the pros for your patterns and teaching and website and all the good you do will outweight the cons!

    Chin up and happy belated birthday!

  16. Staci- I am sorry to hear this.. You make a very GOOD point before reading this. I did not think it was a big deal either but IT is I can see that now.. I am sorry sometimes I guess people need two points of view to totally understand… Keep up your great work… I love everything you do for us Knitting people..LOL Thank you from the bottom of my heart.. If it was not for this site “verypink.com” an YOU I would have given up on knitting.. Thank you again.. πŸ™‚ P.S. your doggies are soooooo cute.. πŸ™‚

  17. I doubt that any of the disagree clickers are able to see the issue in terms they can understand. I suppose they might if they worked all week to earn a paycheck and instead of getting a direct deposit, the funds were just dispersed among hundreds of people who never lifted a finger to earn them. And sending a pattern to one person is no different than sending a pattern to a hundred people. It’s like getting pee out of a swimming pool. If everyone getting a “free” pattern sends it to someone else, the financial loss to the designer is unfathomable.
    Much the same way that ripping and burning music CDs for friends is a loss to the artist. How many “mix tapes” are out there? How many photocopied recipes from cookbooks, magazines, etc.? And in NYC, where I live, I can easily buy a DVD of a movie that hasn’t even been released yet! Not to mention the fake Fendi, Coach, Chanel, Prada, and Rolex watches and accessories available on many street corners, and from the trunks of many cars.
    As a quilt designer, I feel your pain. As a knitter, I love every pattern I have purchased. Don’t let it get to you too deeply. It’s the cost of doing business these days πŸ™

  18. So sad and so true that it happens in every form of craft and art. I only hope more and more people learn the ethics of being online. It seems that there is a way of thinking that encourages “sharing” or “taking” copyrighted material if it is online. The problem is if you haven’t learned basic ethics when young, it is easy to just let it slide.

  19. I’m the woman who offered to share the pattern to another poster, and I just saw this today for the first time (I haven’t been online, either here checking blog updates or on Ravelry for a while).

    I’m simply repeating what I posted on Rav, but what the heck…it can’t be said enough. I apologize for offering to share the pattern. It was with one person, and I was eager to help. Obviously I wasn’t thinking at all.

    I looked at it like lending someone a book.

    Clearly this isn’t correct, and I do understand that now. Very stupid of me. I’m always happy to pay you for your work and definitely do NOT want to cheat you out of anything. I also want to add that I wasn’t aware that I was violating Rav’s terms (I suppose reading them carefully would have helped!), and I certainly wouldn’t blame Ravelry if they took some kind of action like suspending or terminating my account. That would be fair. I’m a relatively new and infrequent member and should have taken the time to fully read the Terms of Use.

    My memory isn’t the best, so I can only say that I THINK this was the only time I have done this. You’ll be relieved to know that the poster I offered the pattern to didn’t take me up on my offer, and I have not shared it with anyone else.

    Again, I’m very sorry for the trouble this has caused (to say I’m “horrified” is an understatement). I love your work and think you’re worth every penny (and more). Please know that I will continue to refer knitters to your site. I was always quick to do this anyway, but perhaps now it will be my way of karmically fixing the problem I have caused.

    Sending you much love and hoping for your forgiveness, Lori

  20. Lori – thanks so much for the note! Very kind of you to apologize, and I appreciate it. But I completely understand that you are one of the nice folks who didn’t see any harm in sharing. I don’t blame you for anything. I realize there are plenty of people who don’t understand the copyrights on patterns, and that’s the main reason I decided to speak up.

    On the other hand, there are people (like yarn shop owners, for example) who do know the copyright laws, and continue to share patterns. These are the only people that I hold grudges with.

    Please don’t feel badly about anything. There’s really no reason for it. I’m certainly not upset with you! Thank you again for the very thoughtful note.

    S t a c i

  21. Staci is correct ~ until today, I was clueless on the subject. I figured if I paid for a pattern, it was then mine, and I was free to do whatever I wished with it provided I wasn’t making any kind of profit. Again, I felt it was like lending a copy of a book or a recipe. Consider it an inexperienced knitter’s mistake.

    In response to the rather harsh blog comments, I don’t defend those who “disliked” Kelly’s reply to me. Frankly, if someone explains why an action is wrong, and you argue that it’s still okay to do anyway, then there’s really no defense for you.

    However, that is not my position, so I don’t think it’s fair to assume I feel it’s okay to steal, nor is it right to question my ethics or the intentions behind my actions. I have never thought stealing was acceptable, nor have I ever stolen anything. It was a mistake made out of ignorance. We all make them. I assure you that had a moderator (or anyone, for that matter) contacted me privately and clued me in way back in January when I first posted that offer, I would have corrected the problem. No one said a word, and the only way I discovered this was by casually checking my Feeds and discovering I was the subject of a blog post. Yikes! I sincerely hope none of your mistakes end up on display and open for critique from the general public.

    Much as I’d rather not continue the comments on this particular blog post, I felt it was best to post my apology here so Staci knew that this wasn’t an individual who didn’t care about her work, her feelings, or doing the right thing. In fact, I’m quite the opposite. I also couldn’t let some of those comments go by without defending myself. I realize there are those out there who knowingly break copyright rules and probably deserve your scorn. Save it for them, and give those of us who make an honest mistake a break.

    Thanks for reading.

  22. Hey Staci! I’m a big fan and have recommended your site to knitters on several occasions, especially when students have asked where to go for high quality technique videos. I am a designer as well, so I can empathize with your feelings on this particular issue and thought your response to Lori’s snafu was kind and gracious.

    I’d also like to commend Lori for such a humble, and heart-felt apology! I certainly have the upmost respect for someone who accepts responsibility for a mistake, without defensiveness, and offers sincere recompense.

    You’re both “good people” in my book!

  23. I’m so sorry that this happened to you. I know I’ve been asked to share patterns I’ve bought before and I get quite offended by it, and I’m not the designer! I won’t even lend people books I’ve bought, personally I don’t know how libraries get away with it.

    Perhaps you could look at putting some kind of DVRM into your patterns, like sellers of MP3s do. It prevents them being copied to other machines/disks and so forth. Just an idea, I’m not sure how hard it would be to implement, or how expensive.

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