With the explosion of the internet came the belief that content on line should be free, and a casual attitude towards using copyrighted material. If you use or download copyrighted digital content without paying for it – you are stealing from the creator. In the knitting world, I have seen patterns created by designers; knit by others claiming to be their designs and sold in venues. This behaviour is often innocent enough, but is also stealing – pure and simple. My work has been posted on sites without my permission. And until you have felt the sting of this behaviour you can’t know how the creator feels.
I strongly believe that all creators, including designers, writers, and musicians deserve the recognition, as well as the monetary benefits from their creations because designing is their job. You certainly would not expect to be unpaid for the work you do. Having a university education, I have also come face to face with academic plagiarism. I am going to tell a story about an experience I had as an undergraduate student.
I was taking a textile surface design class, and one evening I was painting my fabric in the lab. I decided to leave my portfolio of design samples (I was using them to paint from) out overnight because I was returning in the morning to finish. When I returned the next day, my samples had disappeared. The one good thing was that the portfolio had been marked, so I didn’t have to redo the samples; but I was upset none the less considering mine was the only one taken. As it turned out, I never did find my samples. Move forward to a year later, I was sitting in a graduate seminar, in which students presented their theses topics. As one student was presenting her design portfolio, I watched in shock as my design motifs appeared before me on the screen. I was livid, and I went to the Graduate Students Association, but as it turned out, there really wasn’t anything I could do. I resolved my anger by believing that what goes around comes around. Here’s the thing about designed material; all one has to do is tweak a detail or two and claim it as one’s own. It is very difficult to prove. What this student should have done was ask for my permission to use the designs, and I would have been more than happy to oblige. So before you decide to use copyrighted material, get permission and acknowledge the creator for their efforts. They deserve it!