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Free Patterns and tutorials

Posted: Mon Nov 22, 2021 3:04 pm
by MrsTwosheds
Hi guys

Have been pondering over this for a while, and wondering if you could give me some guidance regarding online ‘free’ templates and tutorials, please.

This is, in this instance, about soft toy patterns in particular but could, I guess, apply to any kind of template or tutorial (including those on YouTube). I have spotted an animal template I’d like to use to make a soft toy. The template (and accompanying tutorial) is on a quilting website. It is offered ‘free’. I have searched the whole site and it gives no clue as to permissions or statements as to personal use or whatnot. There are a couple of questions, if I may please?

I’d like to make this for use in a tiny craft group of adults - it would not be my intention to make it full size (as it’s way too large) and I would be making it in plain calico fabric for purpose of decorating it with felt tip pens. I would be making it in its entirety apart from this, and it would be gifted to the attendees rather than sold. Can I do this?

As I’m making it and it’s not for resale, I’m guessing it may be OK, but not sure whether resizing it or making it decorate-able, constitutes some sort of mysterious copyright offence 😬😬. I’ve considered trying to contact the US website, but the only contact details are via a public forum (which appears congratulatory, rather than relating to ‘technical stuff’) and I’m not sure that it’s the right place to raise the issue and launch into details.

As always, any help really gratefully received. Thank you so much, everyone.

Re: Free Patterns and tutorials

Posted: Mon Nov 22, 2021 4:44 pm
by AndyJ
Hi Sally,

It's nice to hear from you again.

I don't think you need to worry about copyright in this instance. Althougfh copyright is likely to exist in the template itself, provided it is original (that is, it is product of human creativity and is not itself copied from an earlier work), due to the fact it is being made available specifically in order for people to make up soft toys, those toys will be covered by an implicit licence granted by the maker of the template. It is arguable that if you were intending to mass-produce toys based on the template, that might well exceed the terms of the implied licence, but since you aren't, I'm pretty sure you run no risk at all in doing what you describe.

My thoughts on this are strengthened by the fact that as this appears to a US product, it is covered by US copyright law. This means that the US doctrine of fair use can be applied. Since a made-up soft toy is an utterly different thing to the blueprint (so to speak) from which it is made, your use is transformative in a way that does not threaten or undermine the economic value of the template itself. This is a rather different analysis to the one which would be applied in the UK court which was considering the UK's fair dealing exceptions. Furthermore, US copyright law does not contain a similiar provision to section 17(3) of the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 concerning 3D copies which have been made from 2D works. This puts further conceptual distance between the template and the completed soft toy.

And you need have no concern about making your own alterations or adaptations to the basic template. Indeed the more of your own creativity you put into the finished result, the less likely it is that there would be any grounds for anyone to claim infringement, since your expression of the underlying idea will shift further away from the expression of the author of the template. As you know, ideas in themselves are not protectable with copyright, just the way an individual chooses to express that idea.

Re: Free Patterns and tutorials

Posted: Mon Nov 22, 2021 6:20 pm
by MrsTwosheds
Hi Andy

I knew you’d know the answer! Thanks so much - that’s really great news (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve talked myself in and out of the possibility of being able to do this). I shall crack on with it now - hoorah!

As always, grateful thanks for your speedy, erudite replies and just being there for us all.

All best