As I have been beavering away lately on new patterns, I have been thinking more and more about copyright issues. I always add the little © symbol on all the pages of my patterns and have thought no more about it. However, I have heard some stories about what can happen when people steal your ideas, either from the internet or from paper patterns and it fills me with horror.
Basically, I want my work to be acknowledged as mine. I don't want anyone, other than me, to make any money off my efforts. If I choose to make my patterns available for nothing, then I don't want to see that same item for sale elsewhere. With the advent of the internet I am sure that copyright theft is so much easier, but I am also wondering if it helps protect you a little bit as well.
If I want to provide evidence of my authorship, much of my thought processes are outlined in my blog. My patterns are uploaded via Ravelry. I can show receipts of payments I have received through Paypal. I can look up the projects on Ravelry that other people have made of my patterns, all of which are dated and form a wealth of evidence of my pattern being "out in the world and coming from me". However I don't think it is as easy as that, as courts will always say that digital records can be faked or tampered with. I'm sure they would say my blog entries could be faked and that I could get my friends to tweak their project dates on Ravelry.
Then, when I look at other ways in which to prove copyright, I find that it is very expensive. This is a hobby for me and shelling out £x a time to a copyright registry is not something I can afford to do. Joining ACID which promotes the protection of designers copyrights has the cheapest membership at around £125 a year. I certainly can't afford that. So where does that leave me? Do I go with that old stand by - posting my pattern Special Delivery and filing the unopened envelope? Why does it all have to be so complicated and so expensive? What thoughts do any UK designers have on this legal quagmire. Is there a way to protect myself that doesn't cost an arm and a leg, or do I have to trust the power of that little ©?
PS there is a new pattern on my Ravelry Designer page, it isn't listed on here because the item it was designed to be, is going to be a present. All I can say is that is uses yummy yummy wool! Have a look here if you are on Ravelry.