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Recycled textiles

Posted: Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:21 pm
by MrsTwosheds
Good evening everyone.

Was sorting through my textile stash this evening, with the intention of starting a new sewing project and pondering on the amount of fabrics I have which are (or will be, I hope) recycled.

A dread thought has struck me - I have been gaily using second hand curtains and duvet covers for my craft work for some years (sometimes hand dyed, sometimes not) and it has never crossed my mind that the manufacturers of these items may object to their recycled use. I am now wondering whether Ikea or Laura Ashley could deem my use of them an infringement of copyright? There are a fair few pairs of Laura Ashley curtains and Ikea bed covers strutting their stuff on the boards at several local amdram societies, I fear!

I am assuming that most of the fabric would be fair game (as it would, presumably, also have originally been sold as a separate line for home needleworkers), but I’m wondering about distinctive items that are produced as say, designer bedlinen, and never intended to be sold or seen independently of the product. Am I allowed to recycle/repurpose used bedlinen and old curtains to create garments for stage and carnival use?

I am assuming that there must be some sort of restriction (or old and distinctive items from, say, Disney or Burberry could be used to create new things which might fall a long way short of the brand standards)?

Thank you, guys.

All best

Worried of Ramsgate

Re: Recycled textiles

Posted: Sat Mar 09, 2019 9:55 pm
by AndyJ
Hi Sally,

Worry no more. Repurposing fabric in this way falls within the doctrine of exhaustion of rights. This doctrine says that copyright owner's rights (to reproduce and publish) are exhausted once the work has been lawfully sold. This allows you to re-sell or give away an item, re-purpose it or destroy it and the rights-owner has no way of preventing you.

Exhaustion of rights covers the author's economic rights. However the moral rghts of the author or artist are not extinguished and in theory at least, an artist responsible for designing the fabric could object to a derogatory treatment of his/her work which impugned his/her honour. But even if the anonymous Ikea artist ever found out what you had done with the bedlinen they designed, you can't be sued! The reason for this (apart from the fact no court would seriously consider such a claim) is that in all probability the artist would be an employee of Ikea or some other manufacturer and so section 82 would have effect. This section says that section 80 (the so-called 'integrity' moral right) does not apply in the case of employees where the employer becomes the first owner of copyright, and thus the moral right never actually comes into existence, and it certainly does not transfer to the employer.

Re: Recycled textiles

Posted: Sat Mar 09, 2019 10:11 pm
by MrsTwosheds
Ah, that’s good to know!

Thank you so much as always, Andy, for your excellent (and speedy) reply. I can blithely continue to clothe our carnival group in Ikea costumes without fear of retribution ( least from Ikea, anyway....the carnival group themselves may be a different matter!).

Best regards