Saturday, April 14, 2012

Loose Ends

One last post on the Leah Day diatribe.

Last Monday I wrote a lengthily email directly to Leah Day about her response to my comment and a comment by BMayer on her blog. It was an attempt to educate Leah about the industry outside her little blog. I haven't heard back from Leah, nothing, nada, zip. BMayer, who happens to be a friend of mine got the following response. "I think the most appropriate place for your comments, and this lengthy email, would be on your own personal blog or website." I'm not sure why Leah didn't make the same suggestion to me or why she chose not to respond to my well thought out, informative message. I do know that in my experience hot air tends to dissipate and has no real substance. I wonder if there is a correlation between the two?

I have received dozens of emails and phone calls about copyright, some of my comments in my last post and those that I posted to Leah's blog. Answering those questions and comments made me realize that I should save time by positing those answers right here on the blog.

I get credit for knowing WAY more than I actually do. The truth is, I've been in this industry for well over 20 years so I have learned a thing or two, but more importantly I know the people that DO have the answers and I'm not afraid to ask. So if you have a question about why things are the way they are or better yet, how to do something, fire off an email or post a comment right here and I will be happy to address it. If I don't know the answer, I will find out for you. Around here we call that Customer Service.

Lets start with something I addressed with Leah. The "personal use" statement that some designers choose to put on the edge of their fabric. This is what I sent Leah:

It would be helpful if you took the time to understand and explain the reasoning behind the "for personal use only" statements that some designers choose to print on the selvedge edge of their fabrics. Almost all quilting fabric is printed outside the United States. The countries where the fabrics are manufactured do not have the same standard of ethics that we do in this country. Fabrics are printed in minimum 3000 yard runs. On occasion a print run has a problem. It might not be the correct color or the print registration may be off. The contract most likely reads that the inferior yardage is to be destroyed. Often the defective yardage is actually sold "out the back door" to a manufacturer or jobber that sells the yardage to cheap outlets, discounters, etc with no compensation given to the fabric company or the designer. A fabric company or designer might never know that this was done, or it can turn up in obvious places after it has changed hands several times. Taking action against the print plant requires an international dispute. This is hugely expensive because the laws are different in each country and there may have been 3 or more countries involved. You might be thinking that letting it go and moving on is the best way to handle it, but what do you think the print plant will do with the next defective batch if there are no repercussions with the first? What is to prevent the print plant from printing an extra 1000 yards of a top seller and selling it on the black market? If a designer prints "for personal use only" right on the fabric, it cuts to the chase in their international copyright suit. That statement was never intended to prevent a consumer or designer from using the fabric for its intended use. Once again, personal use is defined as making anything for yourself or for sale or to give away as long as you don't cross the line into manufacturing.

Got it? If you are a consumer and you purchase fabric with the personal use statement and you intend to make something for yourself or someone else - even if that other person is going to pay you for your services, go ahead. Chop off the selvedge and move on. If you want to make a dozen of something to sell at your local craft shop, then you will need to call and ask permission. Chances are the answer will be "yes", but you have to ask. You have no way of knowing if the designer has a contract to produce a product that you may be infringing upon.

One other tip. If the fabric you are thinking about using is either Disney or NFL, don't bother contacting them, the answer is "NO". Don't think they won't find out about that one day sale in your church basement either. They might not, but if they do, they won't be happy.

Any other questions?


Nancy said...

Is there a statue of limitations on fabric design? What happens if I use fabric that is at least 25 yrs old? What about the feed and flour companies, can they sue because my mother used their sacks to make underpants for her kids? Quilting is getting to be a lost art and should be in the craft catagory. Pre cut shapes, put together on the machine, then quilted by someone else on another machine has no rights. Maybe I am missing the point of this whole discussion, but it's giving me a headache!

banjo795 said...

From what I've been able to ascertain from your posts and others I've read is that "personal use" means making something for yourself, for a friend, for your family, for donation to a charity, etc. It also means that if you want to sell an item that you've made, go ahead. However if you make more than a certain number (I've heard that the number is 6, but I'm not sure) of the same item for sale, then it becomes manufacturing, and you need to check with someone. Now, here is the part where I am fuzzy - If you plan to sell your products, do you check with the fabric manufacturer, the designer of the fabric or the designer of the pattern? Or all of the above? And can you make unlimited numbers of an item to keep or to give away?