Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Alison's Soapbox {Plagiarism}

This post is about jerks.

While we have been thoroughly reminded that the world is full of mean jerks lately, unfortunately there are also jerks lurking in our quilting community.

About a month ago, when I was Pinterest-ing before bed, I clicked on a post bearing resemblance to a pattern that I both own and have made and got sent over to a blog I had never been to before. I was taken aback because this person was purporting this to be their original design and had made their version (identical to the original) of the pattern available for free on their site. Knowing that it was far to late to try to fight copyright infringement and plagiarism at 11 PM in my pajamas, I liked the post on Pinterest as a mental note to follow up on it.

Of course I forgot about it until Friday last week.

When I finally got back to investigating, I looked through the entire blog and realized that many of the free patterns posted by this person were outright copies of patterns by designers that I recognized. Just based on patterns that I recognized I found five instances of plagiarism in this person's blog -- four of which took for-purchase patterns and made their own free versions of the pattern.

Ain't nobody got time for that.

I emailed each pattern designer with the link to the blog post of the copied version of their pattern and all of the posts containing the copied patterns have since been taken down and removed from the blogger's website. One designer told me this person was rude and wouldn't apologize and one designer's business manager told me that they recognized additional patterns taken from another designer and passed on the website to them.

Side note: these aren't little pattern designers like myself either, we're talking people I would consider "big time" designers and bloggers who have fabric lines, books, you name it. I'm hugely surprised people didn't notice that the blogger in question was copying patterns before now because some of the posts in question were over a year old. This could be a function of this person being a relatively new blogger with a relatively small following but it's probably also related to the fact that people are jerks and like getting things for free.

Ready for the kicker?

This person, who has made a name for themselves by copying others, is going to be featured in not one, not two, BUT SEVEN upcoming quilt magazine issues.

Needless to say, this grinds my gears.

I've put in complaints via the customer service emails for each of the magazines or publishers that this blogger has said will be publishing their patterns.

But really, what else can be done? This person has gotten their "in" as a pattern designer with major magazines and they will likely not suffer any consequences. Magazines work months ahead of schedule and likely some of these issues are already printed.

This post is more of a vent than anything else since I don't feel like it is appropriate to start a witch hunt by sharing this person's name and blog because they have actually removed all of the posts as requested by the designers even if they have been plagiarizing with reckless abandon.

So I leave you with this thought: the quilting community is amazing 99% of the time. This 1% of jerks can't be allowed to succeed -- this is why things like May is for Makers is so important. If you see something that just isn't right, don't be afraid to say something.

Update 6-16-16 9 AM: I actually received a response from an editor at one of the magazines in question that they will be cutting ties with this person and will be removed from consideration from any future issues. Unfortunately with the way that the magazine process works, they may or may not be able to pull some of the patterns out of the fall issues, which is disappointing.

28 comments:

  1. I'm so glad you spoke up, pointed out the issue, and are doing your best to make a positive change. <3

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  2. While I've never seen it myself, I've heard of this happening the other way around too. People have taken free patterns, designed by others and sold them as their own - it's ridiculous that people think this is ok.

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  3. Thank you for taking the steps to change this. I'm sorry to read about this today.

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  4. Jerk is too kind ....sorry to hear this and am glad you did what you could.

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  5. That is appalling!! So glad you caught it and weren't afraid to confront this person. And the fact that he/she is getting recognition in 7 magazines is infuriating.

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  6. The biggest problem is that many designers are using pre cuts.....and squares, triangles, rectangles and triangles....and these items are very easy to have people come up with the same designs.

    "Back in the day" when I first started quilting you needed to use actual pattern pieces in order to make a quilt. Now all you have to do is make straight cuts.

    There are very few quilt patterns that I need to purchase....because it is too easy to figure out how they were made.

    Also, for instance, Swoon is only an enlarged "old fashioned" block that I have in many of my old pattern books.

    Now, a designer like Judy Martin makes quilts that are unique.....not just a resized version of a pattern that is already out ther.

    Copyright of the "new, modern, improved" blocks is really a tricky thing...because the thoughts are not really all that original.

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    1. I think the difference is in, do I make a block or quilt I can figure out on my own for myself, which is just fine and a part of learning OR do I declare it my 'original' work and offer it others under my name. That is where the problem starts for me.

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    2. The problem with all of these patterns is that they were exact copies of for purchase patterns that designers have copyrights on -- the construction directions were exactly the same. There is a difference between having a similar design idea and blatant copying which was the case here.

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  7. You did what you could. It really is the 1% that make it rough for the other 99%.

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  8. such a shame that she has copied other people when you and the others have gone to the design stage yourselves, hope it is not someone I follow and that I have downloaded patterns from if I have I am sorry about that too

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  9. Well spoken, Alison. And I would add that "free" is too popular a word with quilters which can make it too easy for unethical conduct to succeed. We all need to be more willing to support good design by buying it!

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  10. Well done Alison. thank you for having invested the time and effort in following this up. Such behaviour is damaging to all sewists and quilters. While it might be galling that the person will be featured in print, you got at least a response form one editor, which is satisfactory AND you alerted some of the business to the infringing person, which will be under more scrutiny from now on. You did well.

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  11. I am so glad you took action. I would not have even realized that what I was seeing was not original. Nancy A: rangerer@sbcglobal.net

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  12. I don't understand people that take credit for others hard work no matter what the work is and to benefit financially is the same a stealing someones lively-hood. I do hope all the magazines follow suit with the first and thank you for sharing. I'll try to be more aware of this as I surf the blogs

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  13. I know you don't want to slam the person, but could you email their name so I do not read that blog. I can't support that at all.
    I get free patterns form sites such as Crafsy and the blogger themselves (well, I guess so anyway) hmmm, I sure do hope it isn't any of the bloggers I read... :(
    Thanks for the heads up.

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  14. Thanks for speaking up and doing what you could do to make waves. Quilters are really the piece-makers.

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  15. I think you are more than justified in yiur "vent". I think you have been very calm about it.
    You know what makes my blood boil, is when I have purchased a pattern, and some so-called "friend" wants a copy of it. I explain, that I will ot copy it for them as this is what designer's live on proceeds from pattern sales. Needless to say, have lost a couple of friends.

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  16. Copying has been a problem for years. The EQ7 software is another tool for copying. There are only so many ways to use squares, circles, and triangles. Renaming a block is another thing that is used a lot. I quit buying magazines because it was the same old thing just done in different colorways. I do not sell patterns and I do not sell my quilts. Good luck with securing your work. It isn't easy with ruthless people lurking in the background. Chris

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  17. WOW! Thanks for the info...I would of had no idea that people were out there copying other quilt patterns. I am a card maker also, and a wonderful Illustrator called Mo Manning found out people were selling her images on Pintrest. She started STAMP OUT and had many other digital stamp creators join. I have included Mo's info at the end of this post it may help with some info about plagiarism. So glad to hear that one magazine did get back to you. It is such a shame. Here is that post if you are intrested-https://sites.google.com/site/stampoutstampthieves/

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  18. I applaud the steps you took. Totally appropriate and genteel reaction to a rip-off artist. It's true that it is possible for two people to come up with the same pattern idea on their own, but this is not what we are talking about here.

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  19. I am always disturbed when I hear about this, but at the same time I struggle with not just how someone can be so unethical to sell a design that was copied, but the original designers may not be comfortable publicly shaming the person. I think it is appropriate for us all to know, so that we don't purchase a design from such copycat designers.

    Not sure if you remember, but a few years back, Patrick Lose had an ex-employee who sold a pattern that was extremely close to a design he had worked on when she was in his employee. He posted about on his blog in a nice manner, showing the two designs side by side, with his feelings, but also asking others for their opinions. And, he publicly shared the name and link of the copycat designer.

    Now, I'm thinking I need to write an article about copycat designers. I'm certainly willing to publicly increase awareness of such designers.

    QuiltShopGal
    www.quiltshopgal.com

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  20. I am always disturbed when I hear about this, but at the same time I struggle with not just how someone can be so unethical to sell a design that was copied, but the original designers may not be comfortable publicly shaming the person. I think it is appropriate for us all to know, so that we don't purchase a design from such copycat designers.

    Not sure if you remember, but a few years back, Patrick Lose had an ex-employee who sold a pattern that was extremely close to a design he had worked on when she was in his employee. He posted about on his blog in a nice manner, showing the two designs side by side, with his feelings, but also asking others for their opinions. And, he publicly shared the name and link of the copycat designer.

    Now, I'm thinking I need to write an article about copycat designers. I'm certainly willing to publicly increase awareness of such designers.

    QuiltShopGal
    www.quiltshopgal.com

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  21. So glad you posted this...too many people remain silent and consequences seem to be "old fashioned." The lack of integrity in some people is just shocking. Kudos to you!!

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  22. I wish you had told us her name so we could boycott any of the new quilting magazines editions that publish her (7, OMG).....I do hope it's not someone I've downloaded from.

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  23. SO upsetting! Props to you for the efforts you made to right this wrong!

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  24. I am a relative beginner quilter who learns from blogs and magazines, there is no way I will know if these are copies of a copyright design.I understand why you probably cannot name this person. I wish you could though. Thank you for pointing this out.

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