Copyrighting Your Craft Designs
If you are a crafter, copyright is an important issue to avoid other people copying or passing off your work as their own. You also need to be aware that you aren’t infringing on anyone else’s copyright when you make cards or projects or even use rubber stamps.
What is Copyright?Copyright is a policy which is designed to prevent the unauthorised copying of forms of expression, literary, dramatic, artistic and musical for example.
Creative works, such as songs, books, films and illustrations are protected by copyright. Authors’ work is protected under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act of 1998 until the end of the 70th year from the author's death.
How Does This Affect Crafters?For card makers, the most relevant category under the 1998 Act is 'artistic work'. This includes a graphic work, photograph, sculpture or collage, painting, drawing, engraving, etching or any ‘work of artistic craftsmanship’.
What is Plagiarism?This is when someone copies your work and declares it as their own. This may be intentional or not. This is an infringement of copyright and the copyright owner will usually want to stop the repetition or continuation of the plagiarism, and will want compensation. The easiest way to avoid being guilty of plagiarism is not to copy other people’s work or, if using other ideas, ask permission first and fully credit the author.
Is My Work Copyrighted?To be protected under copyright, any work you produce must be original (not copied from anywhere else), complete (not half finished as you cannot copyright an idea) and owned and created by you. If you create work for your job the copyright belongs to the employer, unless you are a freelance designer or cardmaker, etc. Copyright doesn’t affect people who accidentally produce similar work through their own efforts.
Do I Need to Include the © Symbol on my Work?Anything that you write or create is your copyright, assuming that it is not copied from someone else’s work, as soon as it is produced. You don’t have to put the © symbol on your work but if you do it may help to make others think twice about copying it.
Can I Use Materials in My Work?For crafters another copyright dilemma is whether or not items like rubber stamps, punches and peel-offs, which are the work of professional designers, are protected. Many card making manufacturers, particularly those selling rubber stamps, have now come up with a policy that they are happy to allow crafters to use their products freely, even when making cards to sell, as long as all images are stamped by hand and not by any sort of machine.
Rubber Stamp GuideAs a quick guide, here is what you will probably be ok with in terms of copyright and rubber stamps. This is not a definitive list though, and if you are in any doubt at all, contact the manufacturer.
- Use it to design your own work.
- Use it to create cards to sell at local stalls, local craft markets and local shops.
- Copy or adapt a rubber stamp from one purchased.
- Use it for printing.
- Use the images as business logos.
- Use images to sell cards through a national chain of shops.
- The Patent Office – www.patent.gov.uk/index.htm
- Design & Artists Copyright Society – www.dacs.org.uk
- The Copyright Licensing Agency Ltd – www.cla.co.uk
- The World Intellectual Property Organisation – www.intellectual-property.gov.uk