Somehow, a group of knitting and crochet designers got wind of this database, although it's hard for me to imagine how their paths crossed. Over the course of a week, various knitting and crochet designers joined this list. Suddenly, more posts about copyright appeared on this list than you can imagine. It was fascinating to see the different approaches of the various designers. Some adopted the "take no prisoners" mentality: "You are breaking the law and must stop immediately, you stealer." Others tried to sidle their way in: "Y'all seem like a nice group of gals, I'm sure we can clear up this innocent mistake." Joan Schrouder in particular proved herself to be a class act, taking many substantive questions from the copyright scofflaws and very pleasantly and amicably trying to express her point of view.
The response of the warshcloth ladies was equally fascinating. The moderator got defensive and began banning people left and right. She set up some kind of shadow list, with a name like "[Original Group Name] 2" and said she'd delist anybody who didn't email her with their real name and email addy by the end of this week.
And of course there were the ones opining in great detail about copyright law. For example:
If I don't want someone to use my patterns I don't put it out there to be seen. If these people are putting the patterns on web sites or blogs, do they not except [sic] someone to use that pattern. ... I know people who put on their
patterns that they are copyrighted a[nd] think that they are. wrong!!! Unless the
have paid the fees, did the paper work and gotten a government copryight number
and certificate of copyright, that pattern is not copyrighted. Anyone who has
done all this should be able to show you they hold a true copyright. Until then
they are lying and should close their mouths until they do have what they say
My faithful readers know that the United States Copyright Office disagrees:
When is my work protected? Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.
Do I have to register with your office to be protected? No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section "Copyright Registration."
Some members delisted themselves in solidarity with the designers while the moderator banned all further discussion of copyright. She was backed by knitting sociologists like this one, who stated
I am so sick of girls, yes I mean girls. Not matter where you go in life this is always the problem. Girls never grow up. .... If I could find a job and a group full of men I would join and live happley ever after. Drop this now. ... Enough said, done, it is finished!!!
Shortly after the tempest began to rage, the files were taken down, then mysteriously appeared again in their original form. Designer members offered to help create links to any patterns that would take the readers directly there and to help purge the files but so far this hasn't been done.
In the meantime, it bears repeating that the person who creates an original pattern automatically owns its copyright; copyright ownership means the designer gets to decide where and how and on what terms to distribute her work. Even if it appears on the Internet, on a free or for-pay site, it still is the designer's prerogative to decide where else it can go. Stripping off the designer's name and copyright information is dishonest, not merely because of the legal ramifications but because it deprives the creator of the humble satisfaction of being recognized by all as the designer of that pattern. And in this crazy world of knitting, that is, sadly, sometimes all the designer takes home for her work.