Guidelines for Respecting Intellectual Property


There has been a lot of activity in my e-mail since Patricia at Zencrafting and Cassi at Crafty Crow focused our attention on a blog that was illegally pirating material produced by bloggers in our community and re-posting it. No credit was given to the original bloggers and worse yet, the pirated material was presented in such a way to appear as it if had been written by the pirate!

I felt compelled to participate in the effort to spread the word and hence the e-mails! So many of my blog family, including myself, have been victims of piracy - out right stealing of content. It was shocking and disturbing especially because so often the piracy was employed in the effort to make money on the internet .

Mulling over this whole situation of crafty blog piracy, I decided that since there seems to be little any of us can do to prevent outright, systematic, deliberate predatory behavior, I would try to at least do something positive and hopefully helpful. I thought it might be useful to provide guidelines for using and referencing craft tutorials for bloggers new to the community. And maybe for some that are not so new.


Image taken by Mega Crafty

And then, almost as if on cue, my friend Meg who writes MegaCrafty provided a perfect example of how to share a tutorial written by another blogger. Her post made my work so much easier!

Visit my recent Tutorial for Portable Saori Vacation Weaving. And now visit Meg's post My First Saori Weaving.

Meg has posted an image of her own Saori weaving, a link to my tutorial on the process, and clearly gives Gingerbread Snowflakes credit.

What is it they say - a picture is worth a thousand words? Meg has just saved you from a thousand words!

And while you are connected to my post, take the time to read the comments, please. You will see two readers who have written to request permission to make printed copies of the post and share them with children. Of course I gave my permission, and my appreciation for their courtesy and respect for my intellectual property..


What is not acceptable?

1. Re-posting the process images from the original blog. Even if credit is given. If you do not intend to make the item so that you can use a photograph of your own work, then write and request permission to use an image - one image not the whole set - from the post.

2. Recreating the process step by step using your own photos. When I choose to make and then share the work of another blogger, I show my finish piece and then refer to the original post as I did here when I made these adorable Tomte's created by Kathryn at the Pickled Herring.

I found these creatures so charming and adorable and not only could I hardly wait to make them, I wanted very much to share with my blog family. However, I deliberatly did not show my own step by step process - I sent readers over to Kathryn's post for that. This is entirely her creation.

I did make a little alteration on the beard material and shared that only.

I try very hard to always ask permission when I wish to use the image of another blogger on my blog - even when I intend to give them full photo credit and link to their blog.


Of course this process of asking to use an image would be completely unrealistic for some of our favorite linking sites like CRAFT, One Pretty Thing, the Crafty Crow, Stumbleupon. But they are and always have been quite clear about the fact that they are there to share as much crafty goodness as possible through linking to images and posts.

I personally see them as providing a huge service to the community, making it possible for all of us to access crafty inspiration and on occasion, when we are the lucky one to be included in a post, a bump in readership and thereby the opportunity to make new friends and connections. They are all about community. Pampoppiessit

OK. Now a few thoughts to share and then links to how a couple of my friends feel on the subject.

As many of you know, my profession is photography. My sweetie and I are very familiar with copyright issues. The thought has occurred to me that any blog which is designed with the sole purpose of making money by blogging (affiliates, sponsors, google ads, shop merchandise) and which places the intellectual property of another blogger on the site without permission is breaking the same copyright laws that are in place to prevent you and me from using a photograph of a person or of personal property in an advertisement without a model release - ie: permission.

Of course most often it comes down to just how much any one of us wants to and can invest in pursuing pirates. But believe me when I tell you that engaging in piracy could very well be an expensive risk if you use intellectual property belonging to someone with the time, means and inclination to pursue legal channels.

In the case of the blog mentioned at the beginning, it is to Wordpress's credit that they removed the offending blog almost as soon as the problem was discovered and brought to their attention.


One of the reasons I believe that so many new bloggers are unclear about what they can republish is what they observe regarding recipe sharing.

I see recipes reprinted all the time - some sites are completely built on republishing recipes created by others and printed in magazines and books. Apparently it is OK to republish a recipe (with a source reference) but not a collection of recipes. It is the collection for which copyright protection is written.

I was bewildered when I first encountered sites republishing recipes so freely and immediately went to my guru Diane at Craftypod, for help. She sent a bunch of links which I will happily forward to anyone who e-mails requesting them.

I think many new bloggers see this practice in action and don't differentiate between recipes and craft tutorials. But there is a big difference.

And FYI, I don't republish recipes - even if I can. If it is not my own, I link to it. But that is just me and definitely not a suggestion that you do the same.


Some more food for thought! Take a few minutes and read Joanie's (Nini Makes) thoughts here and Meg's thoughts and additional links here. And take advantage of all the links to information on copyright and intellectual property provided by Patricia in her post on Intellectual Propery Day.

And if anyone reading has written an article regarding this subject, please link to it in the comments.

Sock bootie#1

One last thing I must mention! As Diane will tell you is often the case, I have a talent for saying one thing that comes across as quite another!

In my follow-up post on intellectual property, I made a statement that apparently gave many of you the idea that I would no longer be sharing tutorials! Something to the effect that if I felt the tutorial or idea valuable, I would not publish it.

I was trying to make the point that piracy and predators are out there - constantly. Don't fool yourself into thinking they are not. It is completely in the realm of possibility that you or I might run into our most treasured idea in our neighborhood big box store one day or republished on a blog we have never heard of before.

So what I meant was simply this. If I have an idea for a craft project that I believe might be potentially valuable for making money (ie: book, e-book, on line sales, shop sales), I will not publish it as a free tutorial on my blog.

But I will always, always be publishing tutorials and other crafty stuff. It brings me great joy and I totally love the process. I love the people I have met, and the community I have become a part of. And then there is this - blogging and writing tutorials keeps me constantly crafting!

To those who were concerned, never fear! I am here! And I plan to stick around! And I have lots of tutorials on the calendar!

This is so great. I feel

This is so great.

I feel badly because I have posted a recipe or two on my blog, but because they were from big corporate sources thought it was okay. I can't believe I am such a doof sometimes.

this practice of sharing other peoples' work is rampant. I honestly think sometimes the person stealing it thinks it's beneficial to spread the love, or something. Sometimes.

Thank you for this post - you

Thank you for this post - you took the words right out of my mouth. It's very sad that these things have to be stated, but there are people out there who will rip off anybody for their own benefit given half the chance - and of course it's very hard to stop - although all credit to Wordpress for acting swiftly. A sad and murky side to something which otherwise enriches our lives.

My friend Teri who writes

My friend Teri who writes Teri's Painted Daisies recently posted about the risks of placing images of your artwork on the internet and suggest ways to protect your work.

Well worth reading.  I know she got my attention!  We are looking into ways to protect our images right now!

Here is her post.  Be Alert - FYI!

Thank you again Teri.

Pam, thank you so much for

Pam, thank you so much for taking the time to write up these guidelines for new bloggers. It's information that I would have loved to have seen so clearly spelled out when I first started blogging. You have a gift for being really clear and standing up for your rights while at the same time being encouraging and positive. A true gift!

Check out this interesting article from msnbc's Red Tape Chronicles, "That famous space shuttle photo: When is sharing stealing?":

Some interesting food for thought from the article"
"One face of Internet culture dating back to the advent of Napster holds that everything electronic should be free, and there's no harm in copying digital content."

That's an idea/practice we really need to combat!

Keep up the great work you do, Pam, and I definitely agree that the good in the DIY/craftblog world far outweighs the bad.

Patricia, thank YOU for

Patricia, thank YOU for sharing the link. I hope everyone reading will take the time to read the entire article.  There is much information to be gained about the risks involved in posting your images and ways to protect your rights.

My life has been so enriched by the images some professional photographers have shared on the internet - usually on their sites. I have visited so many parts of the world because these photographers have shared.  Usually of course the images are for sale.  Isn't it a shame that they must be wary of piracy?  Fortunately there are ways to make it difficult if not impossible to steal an image, but it is difficult and the programs expensive.

I have had friends tell me that their customers would rather download and print a very pixilated picture to avoid paying for an excellent professionally printed original.

Anyway - if you share images on the internet either on your blog or iphone - read the article Patricia so kindly linked to for us.

I sincerely thank you. I

I sincerely thank you. I have spent about 6 hours on my computer looking for the information you have provided and I am so grateful. I am very new to blogging but an old crafter. My blog is not up and running yet because I just can't get that confidence boost to "give it a go". Since I found myself redundant after 14 loyal years with my employer, I have been consoling myself with craft. I have some good crafting skills and can turn my hand at most things. Then I thought, I might like to investigate selling my products online. And that's when my research turned into this horrible dilemma. I don’t want to steal anyone’s wonderful ideas, I’m not interested in taking credit for the hard work of others either. But every night I lay awake thinking of what delicious idea I can come up with that no-one else has thought of and then share it with everyone. I’m not even that interested in making money I just wanted a distraction but I like the idea of using my brain, making a discovery and putting it out there. Each morning I get on the net and Google my idea with my fingers crossed that I’ve not been beaten at the post. Every morning for the past two months, I find that my idea is already out there and I must be just the most boring person in the world, if I can’t think of an original idea. And that’s when I get scared because I would never do anything illegal but I would hate to put an idea out there only to get a bully email telling me I’ve stolen an idea. My husband said just do it and see what happens. If it truly is your idea, after losing 4 hours sleep a night then if you happen to touch on something that someone else has thought of then – say sorry and move on.
This is the most talking IÂ’ve done in six months and my first comment on a blog, so I might have the wrong ideas but I have the best intentions. Maybe that should be the name of my blog.
Thank you again for the information and links. I will research them thoroughly and see if I can move on from this hideous predicament IÂ’ve got myself into.

Oh Christine!  I think you

Oh Christine!  I think you should listen to your husband!

First, there aren't all that many ideas that either haven't been already thought of or that aren't an adaptation of something that has already been published somewhere, sometime.   If I were sitting at your kitchen table right now, the first thing I would tell you is to stop googling and start writing!!!!

I didn't invent many of the topics I have written about.

I didn't invent Saori weaving and i didn't invent cardboard looms.  I am not sure if my idea of carrying the yarns around the back of the loom instead of back and forth across the front is completely unique either.  But I put them all together and shared step by step instructions that are all my own work.

And that is the point in this tutorial, make it your own work.  Do you have any idea how many tutorial there are out there for making beads from scrap paper triangles and glue? My great grandmother taught me to make them way more years before most of those publishing current how-tos were born. I even toyed with the idea of publishing a tutorial of my own recently and discarded it because I couldn't come up with a unique spin on it.  But as long as I made the tutorial from scratch, using my own words and my own photographs, I could have published. No body owns the idea of making paper beads!

What I and most bloggers in my blogging family do object to is outright stealing (republishing) of one of our tutorials.  I have found my tutorials published in their entirity on line on another blog with no credit given to me, or the credit so nearly invisible that the tutorial appeared to be the work of the blogger.  I have also seen tutorials I have written reproduced step by step using the bloggers own words and pictures but clearly following my tutorial and no credit given for the source. And it is this kind of careless disregard for the work of others that we object to and will take action against.

I hope this help you.  Feel free to e-mail me directly with any other questions.



Great post, Pam. I read a

Great post, Pam.

I read a great article a few days ago that talks about how social media helped one artist in fighting the theft of her intellectual property. It tells me that, while the Internet can make it easier for people to steal, it can also make it easier for us to catch and expose the thieves.

Here is the link:

Wow!  Amazing!  Thank you

Wow!  Amazing!  Thank you Genevieve!

I don't tweet or Facebook so I don't understand much of what was presented in the post but I did get that the blogging family can make a huge difference - especially when an idea is priated by a big company!  Very, very informative post and well worth reading.

Exciting to know when we are all working together, we can make a difference.

Again, thank you so much for sharing the link.

My own crafty endeavours

My own crafty endeavours always seem to be inspired by the AWESOME work of great creative minds out there in the interwebs. And I have posted a fair few projects heavily influenced by what is available through mere generosity of fellow crafters, but I think that so far, I have always managed to avoid the nasty trap of intellectual theft.
If I have simply reproduced something, I will say so and link to the tutorial rather than pretend it is my brain child- as far as I remember, the only kind of original thing my blog brain has actually given birth to so far were my wee ghosties, everything else was not very original and I wouldn't dream of selling it off as mine. There are a fair few tutorials for stuff I came up with all by my meek self, but they are rather documenting what I did than actually telling peeps to re- craft the items, as they are very ME, and hardly crowd- pleasing (as in the mad wind- chime and odd shadow- boxes)
It never ceases to amaze me how bold some peeps are- hey, if you wanna make money, come up with something yourself, for crying out loud!
I haven't had a spark of creativity in about a month, and even though there are loads of projects I have reproduced, none of them were my own, and I endeavour to post something at least half- original rather than litter blogland with the umpteenth repost of something not even remotely mine the next time Ihit blogger.
That's not even morals, that's PRIDE. I am nowhere near as talented as you, Pam, and nowhere near as creative as any given blog- writer I follow, but there must be something I can contribute. If not- shut the heck up and save a pixel.
Did any of this make sense? And should I openly admit to the fact that I am GAGGING to try out that weaving technique you posted? ;)

Another well written and

Another well written and thought provoking post Pam. It's clear that you put just as much effort into writing this post as you have any of your well researched and information packed tutorials; important subjects demand that extra bit of time and you've delivered - again :)
I've been offline a lot lately due to connection problems in our area, missed you.
Thanks for linking me too, you're ace!

Thanks for your thoughtful

Thanks for your thoughtful post, and brilliant example of blogging etiquette, Pam! I will have to revisit this post, as it has quite a lot of things to "chew" on! I loved the example of your tutorial, and then Meg's re-post. A wonderful example of living in blogging harmony!

Thanks so much for another

Thanks so much for another great post addressing the copyright infringement issues and respect for intellectual property!

I have a few random comments:

*I really appreciate you clarifying the intention behind aggregator sites like CRAFT, The Crafty Crow, One Pretty Thing, etc. I know I try very hard to encourage people to follow links in the post and then in turn love to hear from the post owners letting me know that they received a boost in traffic because they were featured - truly, it makes my day!

*I totally agree with the example you've presented on how to share tutorials written by someone else and MegaCrafty is a great one! I can't tell you how much it saddens me when I see someone sharing along these lines - "I saw this great tutorial over on XX blog, here's how you do it..." If you are going to use someone else's tutorial then the protocol should be to show one picture (with permission) from the original post or your own photo of the thing that you made. Link to the tutorial and only give instructions for any changes that you made that were unique to your process of creating it.

*Thank you for posting about how copyright works for recipes! I've always wondered about it. I know if you make enough tweaks to the recipe then you can claim it as your own but why not link back to the inspiration anyway? Everyone is inspired by others, why not share the inspiration as well.

Thanks again for taking the time to put a post like this together. I know it's not always easy to put these kind of thoughts into words but you always make it seem effortless :)

Cassi! Thank you! Thank you!

Cassi! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I can't help but feel this discussion should continue and I hope others will join in.

We are all so much richer because of the hours and hours and hours you and Rachel at One Pretty Thing and the editors at CRAFT put in in order to share the best of crafty goodness in the craft blogging community.

I think one of my most favorite series on your blog so far has been the series inwhich you hosted several International Crafters. Every single post in the series is tagged in my google reader! 

And you are right, it is not easy to put all these kinds of thoughts into words. It took much more time than anticipated and took a surprising amount out of me!  But it is so important that all of us who understand and practice good blogging ettiquette share our knowledge with others.

Thanks for posting about this

Thanks for posting about this Pam- and for the links to my blog (they are much appreciated). It's such an important topic that I think all bloggers and crafters need to know more about, both for the protection of their own intellectual property and so as not to unwittingly step on other peoples copyright toes.

And thank YOU Meg for

And thank YOU Meg for providing the perfect example of how to share the work of another blogger at just the right time!

I agree, we all need to know as much as possible in order to protect our own rights and - as you so brilliantly stated it - "not unwittinly step on other people's copyright toes".

Meeting you and getting to know you has been one of those joys I speak of!