Monday, July 16, 2012

Why NOT Take the High Road?

This blog has been more than a year in the making. The initial title was "No Good Idea Goes Uncopied." While copying is the main topic, it's the true root of the issue that is the problem.
I work in a very competitive field. That may seem silly to say, but it is absolutely true. Small, boutique-style online shops abound by the millions. That is not an exaggeration. Everyone with a basic sewing machine and pair of needles sees the successful shops and seems to say, "Oh, I can totally do that!" So they try. And that's not to say they shouldn't. A very talented, internationally-known WAHM who happens to be a dear friend recently said to me, "There's room for everyone in this pond." She's right! Creating for many is therapeutic, as well as a source of income for millions. Some of the huge corporations we see today started in some one's living room, garage, or kitchen.
The problem comes when people stop relying on their own ideas and creative juices and start copying other successful designers/makers/creators in an attempt to snatch a piece of their pie. Or perhaps they want to cash-in on a world-wide popularity of licensed characters, names, or fads. Or maybe a small business STARTS by seeing some one else's product/design/idea and attempting to do the same. If she can do it, why can't I? It's called the free market in capitalism. According to Merriam Webster, free market is, "an economic market operating by free competition."

Then comes the old adage: Just because you can doesn't mean you should. And for many reasons!

Why shouldn't a WAHM create and sell goods using the likenesses of Hello Kitty, Superman, Twilight, etc? Well for starters- IT'S ILLEGAL. Companies like Sanyo, DC Comics and Disney did the legal footwork to have these things copyrighted an trademarked. To use them is infringement and illegal. It opens the maker up to lawsuits of up the three times the profit on said items. Believe it or not, yes, there ARE legal aides and interns who spend their hours searching for infringers and sending out the classic "cease and desist" notices. Haven't received one yet? You will. Even if you don't, does that make your actions any less theft or any less illegal? Nope. Is it okay to rob some one's house if the owners aren't home and there's no security system? Is it okay to run red lights if there is no intersection camera or police office standing by? For the record: Even if some one is not standing by forcing you to obey the law, you should still obey the law.

Why shouldn't a WAHM create and sell goods purposefully identical to the original work of another? For starters- respect. Where ever that WAHM got that idea she worked HARD to design it and make it her own original work, regardless of what it is.
Secondly- human decency. Her sales support her family in some way, shape, or form. When you steal from a WAHM, you steal from her children. Really now. You want to go there?
Thirdly- pride. Have you no pride in what you make? Does it bring you joy knowing you copied the work of another instead of creating your own masterpiece? If you are in this business then you MUST be creative. Do you not trust yourself to develop your own incredible works of art? YOU'RE BETTER THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE! TRUST YOURSELF!

Why shouldn't a WAHM create and sell goods from a WAHM-created pattern with terms strictly forbidding it? Once again we're coming across this concept of respect. I know it seems a long lost art in today's society, but it is vital to human kind. Patterns are another one of those areas where legally you CAN, but SHOULD you?
 I realize there is much controversy surrounding the licensing of knit patterns- and any pattern that is for sale. The battle of legal necessity versus ethics will probably never be over, but my opinion on the matter is this:
Being licensed to sell something from another WAHM's pattern is an issue of respect. I spent months- if not years working hard, took meticulous notes, spent hours editing, thousands of dollars in resources, and repeatedly tested to make my patterns ready for use. Do me the honor of becoming officially licensed to sell the knits made from my unique patterns and I'll list you on my store as some one who respects my work enough to do so. I'm truly honored when ANY knitter respects me enough to go that extra mile. 

WAHMS need to RESPECT one another's work, not steal from each other. We are already fighting the battle against cheap, imported goods in the corporate world and trying to prove ourselves as worthy of the dollars spent. When you cheapen your goods, steal because you can get away with it, and disrespect each other proves you have no pride in your work or yourself. Again- YOU ARE BETTER THAN THIS! The high road is not the easy road, but it is the road that leads to a better end. You may feel like the loan moral sheep in a pack of hungry wolves sometimes, but what is the point of being a WAHM in the first place? To stay home, raise your children yourself, and make a living while you're at it. We teach our kids that lying, stealing, and plagiarism are wrong. Wake-up call: This is not one of those 'Do what I say not what I do,' things. Your children are watching and learning all the time. Show them the high road. Show them it's okay to stand up for what's right even if you're standing alone. You will ALL be better off for it in the end. 


  1. See, and I'm so against licensing in general, seeing as that it isn't legal, that I will not even buy a pattern from a designer who requires it anymore.

    1. Actually, it's NOT illegal. :-) Without the thousands of dollars and countless hours of time invested in a pattern, you would not have it to use. The designer's investment is allowing you, the buyer, a limitless income. By paying a small amount extra(honestly, anything over $30 I see as excessive), you(the buyer) are simply giving an extra nod of thanks and acknowledgement to the designer for his or her intense investment that is allowing you the opportunity to make this income.
      Like I said in the post, a licensing is not REQUIRED- the designer does not have a legally-binding contract with a paragraph at the bottom of the page asking the pattern not be used for retail, it's merely a request for respect. If some one is found to be using a pattern for sale without purchasing the requested licensing, there is no legal recourse for the designer whatsoever. Again, it's an issue of respect, not legality at all. :-)