With sites like Etsy pumping out cross stitch patterns by the thousands, finding a quality cross stitch pattern can be hard. We helpfully went over a few tips for making sure you get a good pattern, however one of those points was about copyright. Copyright in cross stitch is a massive issue, and if you haven’t yet been involved in something to do with copyright, you’re lucky. However, the biggest issue is with selling patterns.
Why Should You Care?
This is probably the big question we need to look at first, after all, why should you care about copyright in cross stitch? and I’m not going to say you should (even if I think it). Instead, I’m telling you it’s in your best interest. If the pattern you’re looking at is copyrighted, its either going to be bad quality, putting the real designer out of business (and stopping them creating more patterns you love) or its a trap.
What do I mean by a trap? PDFs are a great way of spreading malware and viruses on your computer. Downloading a pattern that abuses your desire to get a cross stitch pattern is just one way of giving you a virus.
Does It Only Matter When Its A Known Character/Theme?
Whilst the vast majority of copyright infringement happens on well-known characters, etc, this advice is actually a good tool generally. By following it you know you’re going to get a good pattern, and aren’t going to get the stiff end of the deal.
– Is it a well known Character?
As we said above, well-known characters are a big issue, and if you’re seeing things like Disney characters on sites like Etsy or eBay; it’s copyrighted.
There are outlets for well-known characters, but these are sold in legitimate shops or are turned into books. I even wrote one myself for Disney, Star Wars, Star Trek and Hello Kitty. However, all of these books cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase the rights. Etsy stores just don’t have the capital to afford that.
Disney Classic Cross Stitch Book Kit & Star Wars Book Kits by Lord Libidan
– Are there loads and loads of patterns in different styles?
One of the first things designers work out is their signature style. If you see a website with loads of different styles, it’s a dead giveaway that there isn’t one designer involved. The source of these patterns is probably stolen.
– Are the cross stitch patterns super cheap?
Price is an interesting point for cross stitch patterns. Places like HAED can charge a big sum for patterns, however, you can pick up some for less than $10. However, if you ever see a pattern for less than $5; buyer beware. These margins make it almost impossible for sellers to make money, so if they’re charging for less than that, then you know selling quality cross stitch patterns isn’t their goal.
– Is there licensing information?
If someone is using a great looking piece of art to make a pattern, they need to say who did the original art. Now, if a pattern doesn’t say any licensing info, then the likelihood is that it’s being used without the original artist’s consent. From the artist’s point of view, this is annoying, but for the buyer, it means the pattern designer is willing to cut corners and give you a cut-rate cross stitch pattern.
“Octopus” counted cross stitch pattern. Designed by Vik Dollin.
– Is it clearly scanned/photocopied?
You actually find a lot of these type of patterns spread across sites like Pinterest and eBay, and yes, the patterns are probably good, they come from great designers. However the photocopied version is not only an illegal copy, but it’s putting the designer out of business. If you like their pattern; buy it from them. Otherwise, they’ll have to stop making awesome patterns.
– Is it from a questionable website?
The last tip is probably the biggest one. There are loads of websites out there that just deal with a lot of copyrighted patterns. Only use the ones that are well known, and other cross stitchers use.
Places like eBay, Etsy, AliExpress, and Amazon have MASSIVE issues with copyright. That isn’t to say every pattern on there is bad, but you need to be careful. Checking to see that sellers are well known, they have good ratings on the sites, and they aren’t breaking any of the other rules above means they’re probably OK. But you need to be careful when purchasing from these places.
In addition, you can find massive online stores that look to be from China or Russia selling super cheap cross stitch patterns. It’s a good chance that these are built to spread malware. Whilst that is a very general term, I am yet to find a website like this that isn’t just spreading malware. If you’re ever unsure; check with other cross stitchers on Facebook groups, or cross stitch forums.