Saturday, October 1, 2011

Stings, doesn't it?

The beekeeper's quilt 
I suppose we shouldn't be surprised that a pattern called "The Beekeeper's Quilt" comes with sweet honey and some stings as well.

The backstory:  In July a pattern showed up on Ravelry from Tiny Owl Knits.  Despite the pattern costing $5.50, as of today, there are over 1,600 projects currently completed or in progress on Ravelry.  So, why are they so popular?  Well, it could be nearly insane cuteness and cavity inducing sweetness of the creator, Stephanie Dosen (emphasis on insane, I was mesmerized  by her v-log found here; very entertaining even for non-knitters), or it could be the nature of the project (it's very portable, quick to create, requires a minimum of concentration, uses up scrap yarn, is rather different from the usual knit blankets).  

Click for link to the about page
However, despite the warm and fuzzy statement on Stephanie Dosen's about page that says "it seemed the only thing left to do was to write down all of the patterns so that everyone could join in & knit along," it rings a bit hollow when you consider that 'everyone' is in reality those with $5.50 to shell out on a pattern for a tiny hexagonal pillow aka "hexapuff".  

But hey, if it's a relatively simple concept I can just make my own right?  Maybe even post my version for free; after all, it's not like I'm reverse engineering one that was made.  Still, give credit where credit's due and mention the source of the inspiration; afterall, certainly kudos goes to the originator right?  Oh no.  Turns out.

Purloined's Honeycomb and her cat Butters
September 28th and 29th:  Earlier this week I saw a pattern called Honeycomb by purl-oined; which from the description was a free version of a hexagon puffed pillow inspired by Tiny Owl Knits.  Now, I had seen the original pattern when it came out and dismissed it, not only due to the extravagant price tag (I'm still able to afford the high cost of living and therefore in no position to be buying patterns), but also to because of the fact that it uses sock yarn (I have yet to make a pair of socks, I like worsted weight yarn personally).  Since this one was free, and cited that you could use whatever yarn weight desired, I was intrigued enough to invest the time it took to click on the blog link, have it load, and peruse the pattern.  

Fran's non copyright infringing Sack-boy
So with passing interest, I went to the blog where this pattern was posted.  I perused the pictures and pretty much dismissed it as not my thing.  My interest really peaked when I got down to the comments.  A comment from 'Fran' (please see pic to the right) had been deleted by the blog/pattern author 'Purl'.  Purl responded with:

"If you'd like to leave a comment, please remember:That being a bitch is just going to get your comment deleted. Nobody forced you to come here, so don't be rude. This isn't the original pattern, but it is a version based on it, as I mentioned. If you don't like it, that's fine. You don't need to broadcast hate on a blog that is about sharing and love."

I kind of figured I'd encounter at most comment or two from people who were fanatical about the "beekeeper's" original pattern and the cutesy wootsie creator as well as well as some comments from those grateful for a free version.  Ok, that's a lie, I didn't expect very many comments at all, considering it had been posted for at most few mere hours before I saw it.  Being who I am (and grateful that we live in a world where inspiration and innovation can cause amazing things to happen), I immediately had to post my comment... about her cat, and lightly teasing people who were undoubtedly going to freaking out and start talking about calling lawyers, and "there should be a law!" and whatnot concerning vague copyright violation threats.  

I was looking in the WRONG direction.  Comments on her blog?  A few people did I guess; but the real venom is found in the comments section of the Ravelry post.  It makes conversations about politics and religion look tame.  At the start it seemed people were pissed about Purl's lack of mention of the designer of the original inspiration and accused the anonymous Purloined as trying to take credit for the design.  Her nearly immediate response was: 

Nope, I never claimed this was original.
Everybody should calm down. I realize you all have as much of a right to be annoyed as I have a right to make my own version, but you’re getting a little worked up.
You are all right. It is a great original; it’s fantastic.
So I made myself one like it. And a lot of people I know liked it, so I posted it here.
Nobody is telling you not to use the original pattern.
Use it! It’s lovely. I don’t have the original pattern. I have this one.
So be angry if it makes you happy, get totally inflamed. This pattern is different.
To the several people who pointed out that mine isn’t as symmetrical or has a different number of stitches-- please understand that is the point. This is not her pattern. I didn’t try to write her pattern. I did, however, try to write one based on the photos and inspired by her pattern.
So lighten up. If I’d wanted to try to claim credit for this idea, I would certainly not have posted a free pattern. Nor would I have used an anonymous user. 
And Now:  Purloined has actually removed the text citing the name of the pattern she was inspired by. This is apparently after getting contacted by Stephanie Dosen with the request to not mention her pattern's name. Also, to those in the Tiny Owl Knits group got a message from her.  A comment from Maddie cites that:

This was posted by Stephanie in the TOK group. I agree: purl-oined’s words were mean-spirited, but it doesn’t take back anything said for us to bring out the torches and the tar and have a witch hunt. Over a hexagon. Let’s all move on with our lives, K?

Things seem to be settling down since the original outburst, however this does bring up the endlessly debatable topic of Copyright and copyright infringement.  Apparently "Honeycomb" is not an exact replica of "the beekeeper's quilt", according to some of those who have seen both patterns.  My pathetic vague recollection of something someone might have casually mentioned once about copyright law is that something has to be approximately 10% different from the original.  Then again, if you want a more intelligent discussion of copyright violation, let us consider Regretsy's take on the subject.

Personally, I'm kinda torn.  I'd like to be able to charge something for some of the patterns I design (hey, I can daydream of being able to support myself).  However, there's something so warm and fuzzy about sharing something you created with the world; for people to customize as they see fit.  Besides?  Who am to call a pattern "mine" when the combination of stitches I'm using has almost certainly been conceived of before, even if it's not in EXACTLY the same way.


Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you Dania. I'm not a heavy knitter, but I know they shouldn't be so upset. :-( Seems like there was at least a 10% difference.

Ny Phoenix said...

People need to stop getting their panties in a bunch (or yarn in a tangle, whatever floats your boat) and stop freaking out. I fully support paying designers for their designs, but sorry, i'm not going to go and shell out $$ for patterns I don't absolutely love given that I am also one dealing with life expenses (those who've ever had to buy groceries for teenage boys understand! LOL!).
It's everywhere, someone writes a song, yet do what they call "sampling" part of a song that came out 30 years prior, one genre of books comes out and gets popular and all of a sudden there are dozens of people trying to get a bit of that success and submitting their own works (or what one can hope is their own work) that's so similar to the current popular one but changes just a bit and it can be great or be really lame.

The thing that gives me the biggest laugh is the patterns that at the bottom of the pattern say to NOT sell the items you make from the pattern. If someone wants to make a few and sell them at a craft fair, good for them... it's not like some big manufacturing company mass producing the item.... The biggest one I remember was Mazmatazz and the "Fat Baby" (adipose baby) from Doctor Who and BBC getting their knickers in a twist... SHE designed the pattern, SHE was giving it away for free. Some other idiot was selling Mazz's pattern online and bbc had a cow.