Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Can I Ask You a Question?

This has been a sensitive topic and I won't get too much into it.  I know Lorelei has had some posts about it and so have some other people.

My question has to do with "copying" someone else's designs.  When I get my issue of Stringing or Creative Jewelry and see a piece that knocks my socks off, and there is a list of materials and step-by-step instructions of how to make it, is it okay to make that piece?

I am talking about a necklace I saw in Creative Jewelry last summer and I fell in head over heels in love with it. I am in the process of making that necklace. However, I'm using a different pendant, different stones, different spacers, even brass instead of silver.  I am not planning to sell the necklace - I am going to wear it.  I don't sell my jewelry, anyway.  Is it okay to make it and wear it?  And is it okay to show you on my blog, if I tell you where the inspiration came from?

And then, to add to that, what if I see a bracelet on someone's blog and I say to myself, "oh, I like the way she has the bead over there like that and it's attached like that, and then there's that other stuff over there."  Is it okay to use my own beads and just kind of make a take-off of that bracelet, even if it's my own interpretation? 

I truly don't want to start a huge debate - really, really, really don't want to start a debate. I just don't want to break any rules of etiquette amongst the beading community that I may not know about yet because I'm new to the community.


  1. I use these kinds of things as inspiration only or a way of learning new techniques ("oh! THAT's how you do that-simple when you know" lightbulb moments) and then apply them to my own work putting my own spin on it. Is it copying? if you reproduce it faithfully, it is, but what else did the person selling you that knowledge expect you to do with it? I suspect these things are aimed at the amateur who will wear it themselves not professionals to go into production with and make money themselves out of. So as long as you change it in some way then I think it's OK.

    I wouldn't want to get known as someone who copies other people's work, I'm genuinely interested in techniques that I can apply to my own work.

    I've had customers hand me necklaces, tiaras etc and asked me to make them a copy - NEVER! I can use the piece as inspiration to give a look and feel but outright copying is wrong unless the originator says it's OK in my opinion.

    I've seen any number of tutorials that look like something else I've seen elsewhere or even things I think I've come up with myself! Very little is truly original. It's easy to see how two artists working in the same field can come up with very similar pieces.

    There's a saying that maybe applies here "originality is just undetected plagiarism".

    I don't want a debate either, this is just what I think about this kind of thing. I know Sarah Hornik got herself into a right old knot about it on her blog and in fora so I don't know what I'm doing by typing this but please, if this starts anything off, I won't be offended if you want to delete my posting.

    As far as the legalistics of this debate is concerned, the complainant in a copyright lawsuit can only claim from you the monetary amount they can prove they are out of pocket by your actions, ie they can get the money they would've charged for the piece(s), they can't get damaged for injured feelings or damaged reputation.

    Hope this helps.

  2. Stop right now! I have been in this quandry before and my best suggestion to you is to just go with your heart. You and I do not sell our designs and we love the inspiration others give us. Yes you should always give credit where it is due but that is as far as it goes. As for all of these "copying" posts I stop reading them entirely. I do understand that is upseting to others to have their work copied and I do not condone selling their designs as your own but if you keep reading all of these posts it will take the inspiration right out of you! If you need to talk further about it feel free to e-mail me.

  3. I will tell you from my own experience. Copying a piece from Stringing is not a crime. That's why they were put there. It helps people learn techniques, make something they might not have made and it obviously sells the magazine.The artists submit their work and expect people to make something similar for themselves.
    If someone see's
    your work for sale then goes out of their way to copy it exactly and then they p
    ut it up for sale as their own. The problem is it is actually stealing intelectual property. I went through the process, came up with an idea,put it together, put it up for sale and then BAM someone else is selling it.
    I really got this doing a blog hop. I came upon a blog and when the page opened I had the flash of a picture and thought I had somehow clicked on my own page. Nope the other blogger had made a necklace almost exactly like mine from the previous hop. It was lower on the page and maybe she thought I would never see it but there oit was. I left a polite comment so she knew I had seen it.

    Now I have to tell you the necklace I made was made for my sister in law - who's husband was shot last year in the line of duty - very specific things were chosen and put together that I would have a very hard time believing anyone put together exactly the same way - I felt violated. It's stealing plain and simple. Imagine someone was walking around with one of your kids and you walked up to them and said " Hey that's mine!!!" and all you got was, " Oh no it's just a coincidence.... it just looks like yours"- you would feel that way too.

    That's pretty much it in a nutshell. Mae it and make it your own - another color or metal or clasp and your good to go! XO, and thanks for asking! Patty

  4. I don't see any problem with making someone's work from a magazine to wear yourself. I don't think it is ok to sell it as your own design. I often start off with ideas from someone's design but change it up with my own beads and components. Like others said it is hard to come up with a totally new original design that isn't copied or inspired by someone elses work. Any piece of jewelry you can find simular jewelry by different people's jewelry--just like clothes it's all simular in some way.


Thanks for stopping by! I love your comments and will reply to you if you leave a way to reach you!