Thursday, August 22, 2013

Warning: How to React to Pattern Thieves

Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion. My opinion may change from day to day, so this may be updated as I think of other things that should be mentioned and I welcome discussion on this topic. However, I do request that comments not be made in regards to laws/legal as I am avoiding that topic altogether. Also, please do not comment on this post with specific examples.

This post requires no introduction. If you have been in the Fiber Arts world for any amount of time, I bet you can quickly think of a pattern theft...whether it was a pattern-sharing ring or someone creating a free design for a paid pattern. Theft is theft. My personality type (INFJ) is known as the protector. I have solid moral values that I cling to and I have a strong desire for justice. This righteous anger, as it was once referred to, is a good thing, but needs to be guarded carefully.

At some point, you will see thievery and you need to know how to react. The first part is who are you? Are you a fangirl or a designer? And, second, what was stolen? Was it a photo, a copycat pattern, pattern ring, etc? The answers to these questions will help you figure out how to go about resolving the conflict.


If you are a fangirl (or fanman for you guys) and you see a stolen pattern or photo, here is how you should react:
  1. Copy down the link of where the theft occurred
  2. Send that link to the owner of the design or photo
  3. Move on with your life
There are no circumstances under which a fan girl should ever confront a thief. I have personal experience in this area. I guarantee that the thief has friends and they can be as brutally mean to you as the most evil person you know. Trust me on this. I have experience. :( Stay out of it and let the designer handle it.

I have been aware of a situation where a photo was presumed to have been stolen. Actually, the designer had permission from her customer (a crochet artist) to use the crochet artist's photographer's photo. The crochet artist had a good heart in letting the designer use it. She should not have had to have thousands of fan girls blasting her for using a photo that is hers. I repeat: Let the designer handle it!

Designers: How to React When a Photo is Stolen

Edit 8/23/2013: This section is in regards to using a designer's photo when selling a completed piece. You should always make and photograph your own work to accurately represent the final product to your customer. You are allowed to use the designer's photo when writing a review or including the design in a pattern round-up, but you should always have a link back to the designer's blog or a place where the pattern may be purchased. When in doubt, ask if you may use their photo.

Let's assume the best and say they are using your photo without permission and they don't understand that they have done something wrong. This one is simple. Here are a few things you can do:
  1. Send them a private message requesting that your photo be removed. Only escalate to the next step if no action is taken on their part.
  2. Comment on the photo stating it belongs to you and may not be used for any reason without permission. Only escalate to the next step if no action is taken on their part.
  3. Report the image to Facebook, Google or the admin for whatever page where the photo appears.
  4. If they refuse to co-operate, send them a cease and desist letter.

Designers: How to React When Someone Copycats Your Pattern

These situations are very sticky and very dirty and makes me think of this George Bernard Shaw quote:
Never wrestle with pigs. You both get dirty and the pig likes it.
Obviously, you have two options: fight or flight. The simpler choice is to flee the situation. The kinds of people who steal designs are typically not nice people. And those who are nice people have, coincidentally, had the same idea you had. It happens. Here are snippets of a conversation that happened on Facebook that I would urge you to think about before entering into battle.
You are the ones who are constantly coming up with the ideas, executing them, marketing them, and profiting from them. So instead of spending the time and wasting the energy trying to maintain exclusive control over your creations, why not spend the time creating?
And this was my immediate response:
Very well-stated. The thief has already stolen a design...and we tend to just crawl in a shell and surrender our creative spirit. Or worse, we waste our energy arguing and protecting. They can steal a design, but we shouldn't surrender our creativity.
I think that I have personally resolved to not confront thieves any more. Because, like I said in the fan-girl section, I have confronted a thief before. I never, ever want to make a choice that leads me into that again. It ruined a week of my life (or more?) and almost made me not even want to be part of the crochet community at all.

If you decide to fight it...

  1. Give yourself time to calm down. I would recommend 24 hours at a minimum.
  2. If multiple fans are posting the theft on your Facebook wall, then you need to write a generic status update. Dear fans, thank you for your concern about a pattern of mine that may have been stolen. I have deleted the comments from my facebook wall. Please message me privately any time you think something of mine has been stolen so that I may also deal with it privately.
  3. Delete comments on your Facebook wall that direct attention to the thievery. 
  4. Do not participate in back-and-forth messages with your fans regarding the incident. They may be able to tell you a mile-long list of other designers that this same person has stolen from. If they do, then refer back to the George Bernard Shaw quote...and read the section below regarding, "The pig likes it!"
  5. Once you have cooled down, send the presumed thief a private message.
  6. Prepare for whatever it takes to calm yourself. It will not be pretty.
  7. You must swear to yourself that no matter how bad it gets, you will not make it public. As soon as you go public, so will they. Do not defend yourself if they go public first. They are the one at fault. Assuming you were nice and calm when you confronted them, they should not react like this. 

How to Recover from the Theft

Having a pattern stolen can drain you mentally, physically, emotionally and creatively. You may lose your desire to design. In this, I would strongly urge you to be sensible. Take as much time as you need to cool down. You'll probably decide that it isn't worth going through again. But, please, keep designing! Do not let one person's knock-off of one of your designs cause you to surrender your creative spirit. Keep going! I'll be your cheerleader if you need me! :)

The Pig Likes It!

There are people who thrive on controversy. Every single click to their blog where the free pattern is posted generates revenue through ad sense. The more famous the designer they steal from, the more controversy brews. And with that controversy comes an influx in blog views and therefore the larger their AdSense payout will become. My personal choice is to ignore them and never ever do anything at all to promote them.

Other blog posts you might find interesting relating to originality/legality...


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you. I wish this weren't a problem that had to be talked about.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Love it! They may steal our pattern, but they can not steal our creativity!

    I have found there are people out there who do not realize that cutting and pasting someone else's content is a no no. They think that they are doing something nice by sharing your content, and they usually were it came from. I gently explain (privately) that ads on my blog generate income for me, and that they are welcome to post one photo from my pattern, a little description of it, and a link back to my pattern. This is usually met in a positive manner.

    1. Excellent point! Photos can be used for promotional purposes and referring back to the original blog post.

      If a person is selling a finished product, they need to photograph their own work so it is an accurate representation of what the buyer will receive. I'll make sure that is more clear. Thank you :)

  4. Very well said! I wish no one had to worry about this, but in these situations it is great to have support from people like you. Excellent advice!

    1. I know! It really is too bad that designers have to spend time combatting these things.


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