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Subject: Copyrights-Very Important!

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Date Posted: 15:14:57 03/15/01 Thu
In reply to: K 's message, "Designs" on 15:38:20 03/10/01 Sat

I would like help in finding a pleasant way to word the issue of copyright. People obviously do not understand exactly what this means. I would like to know:
How do you all explain this issue to your customers?
Also (anonymously): Does everyone here pay for their designs? When does influence become theft?

-Here is how I might word it.
There is a non-refundable $500 fee for the custom design that I am creating for you. This $500 fee must be paid before any work will begin. The fee is for my services in creating the design, however, the design remains my personal property. If you decide to break your contract for the dress(es), then I may sell or use the design for another client. If you decide to use a different company for production of my design, there will be a $50 per dress fee that is due immediately upon completion of the said dresses. If you decide to use a different company for production of my design and they alter my design, there will be a $50 per dress fee that is due immediately upon completion of the said dresses. If you fulfill your contract, then I would not use the design for any other client. Thus your original costumes will not be legitimately copied.

I would show my completed designs to the client, but I would be very reluctant to release copies to them.

I've only used my own designs. The last dress I made reflects my daughter’s interests right now, which happens to be Harry Potter. I did not use any of the illustrations from any of the books, just the inspiration. I also listened to Karl Orff while I sketched, for inspiration. I don't consider inspiration to be theft. Another dress I made for my younger daughter evolved from a design she wanted initially from 7 gates. The teacher didn't approve the design because she thought it was too simple. In the end my own, design in no way represented or even looked like the seven gates design, although that was certainly the first inspiration for the direction we headed. If you put my design next to theirs you would see absolutely no resemblance.

If I were going to use someone's design I would get their permission and pay them their required fee. I think it is theft when you just slightly alter someone else work. Theft is looking at one piece of art and basing your design on it. Inspiration is having a bunch of designs and photographs of things you are considering including and laying them all around you and doing one small piece of the design while looking at all those pictures. It takes hours and hours to design with inspiration. It would take no time to simply copy and rework someone else's design.

-How much does it cost to "buy the design" from the more common company's? I am not talking about a costume design or even a "whole dress design"...just a set of designs from a company like Seven Gates, or somewhere like that for the embroidery or applique? (are there other sources like that for dress designs?).

--The prices at Seven Gates range depending on how old the design is and whether it is available as a transfer. The newer designs are more expensive. For the designs without a transfer, the company charges the same for a letter of permission for use as they charge for their hand stenciling service. In Irish punts the range is approximately 20-50 punts.

---In US$ it works out to about $25 for a transfer or $60 for the stencil fee/letter of permission. The catalog tells you which are which.

-Yes!!! I always pay. The majority of my dresses have been based on Seven Gates stuff. Even tho I've taken split panel and created singles, designed completely new borders and sides and bodices, I still pay. It is cheap protection for myself and my customer. Besides the cost is passed directly along to the buyer.

-A few of us just had a problem with this over on the AOL Irish Dance message board. On Friday I read the newest posts on the AOL Irish Dance message board where a gal was asking for people to click on a link to see the design she's come up with for her new dress. I clicked, and there was a photograph of a dress I'd designed and made, retouched with a couple of changes! Here is what I posted in response, after not getting through to the person responsible.
"Recently on this board, a dancer tells about a dress that "she" has designed. Out of curiosity I checked out the link to see it, and realized that four copyrights had been infringed upon in this design -- possibly more. Not one of us has been contacted for permission to use three of the designs pirated, or the photograph which had been altered. After contacting the dancer, and nicely explaining how all of this works -- (After all, she is young, and seems like a nice kid, but probably didn't realize that what she's doing is quite illegal.) -- I received an e-mail back from her apologizing, and with a new link to the picture. Now there is a disclaimer stating :
"This dress design is copyrighted. If you wish to borrow/use any items or characteristics of the dress, please e-mail me at the above address for permission. "
This is false. Only the individual or company who holds the copyright (or in this case, copyrights) can legally give permission for use. Copying a design and then changing it does not make it your original design to do with what you'd like. Many of us use the Seven Gates Designs for example, as they are, or with changes, but pay the copyright fees to receive a legal letter of permission from them. This is only meant to be a tidbit of information for those having fun designing solo dresses. After all, it is and should be fun, though a bit of work is involved. Just respect the hard work of a designer if you happen to choose a set design or a portion thereof. Most likely we'll be tickled to give permission if the right avenues are followed. Now, back to designing your dream dresses girls! I'm sure many of you have wonderful ideas!"
What do you think? I don't seem to have gotten through to this girl at all, and she's still calling the design hers. The picture was the same photograph that a friend had taken of the front and back of my dress when she sold it for me on eBay. The only changes made to the photograph were a different cape and part of the box-pleat design. She then e-mailed our photograph to quite a few seamstresses asking for a quote to make it. Any of you hear from Dana (aka Daisey Ciz) for a quote? If so, please disregard it, as she does not have my permission, nor the permission of the other designers or the photographer involved. It was very comforting today to hear support from several of you here who know about what happened, and got the e-mail from her. A customer who was in my shop today - who turns out to be a Judge in our courts here - tells me that there is absolutely no way, even with changes, that the girl can use my design or the parts she pirated from some of the rest of you, legally. It is clear-cut copyright infringement. You know though, the thing that really bugs me is that the girl knew EXACTLY where the design had come from, and never even bothered to ask. If she had, I'd have probably said "use it with my blessing". But, since she didn't I'll be darned if I'll let her now, especially now that she's trying to copyright it for herself.
Okay ladies, I'm done now, and feel much better after venting to you. I'll now step off of my soap-box (taking my design with me).......

-If I bought a Seven Gates' design but redesigned some of the knotwork to fit my dress (like taking out an animal and putting in knotwork), would that be copyright infringement?)

--Yup, pay the fee and be safe.

---I did pay the fee. So it's all right if I move the design around to fit my dress?

----I asked the company this question. I was told that once I had purchased it I could re-do it as I saw fit. What they don't want is someone taking a design, re-arranging it somewhat and claiming that it is original because of the changes. If you use the design in any printed matter, you should give them credit.

-I make dresses too and sometimes I start from scratch and make something up completely or I base a design on something I have seen (a dress perhaps hanging on a wall) IN PART only. I may like a particular knot or shape and then incorporate it into something I have made up. Is this ok? I really don't like the Seven Gates stuff so I am really not too interested in buying an iron on pattern that I wouldn't use because I would want to make so many changes it would not be useable. I am fairly new at this so any input would be welcome. There are lots of Celtic art sights on the net that offer copyright free images to use for whatever you want. You can be inspired by these as well.

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