More harm than good?

I believe in copyright laws. They have a purpose to protect the creator and the consumer. However, there is a huge amount of hullabuloo about them, especially in relation to PDF charts.

So, I am adding my 10 cents or 2 pieces or whatever you like to say…

PDFs are a godsend when you live in the middle of nowhere, and are relying on the internet for stitching inspiration. Whether they are freebies or bought, it doesn’t matter. They are a brilliant invention. But before I go on to talk about that, I want to first talk about our craft and community in Australia.

The cross stitch community worldwide is quite small. Those that are online are quite vocal within their groups about discussing issues about supporting designers, and keeping the craft alive and inspiring.

I live in Australia. Cross stitch, or most craft in general, in Australia, is aimed at the upper middle class. Supplies are expensive and sometimes quite difficult to come by. You have to be relatively internet savvy to be able to get to the designs that are interesting and more challenging.

The mark up (which according to craft shop owners that I talk to is due to import fees and the limited amount that is imported and not at all unreasonable) is enough that I don’t actually want to buy supplies within Australia. Example – Kreinik #4 braid is at least $7Au at most stores that actually sell it here. From online stores in the USA I have seen if for $4 at the most. That means every time I stitch something with at least 3 metallics I am spending an extra $9 to buy them… And that is nothing compared to pattern prices. Patterns (such as Mirabilia) which are $10-14 online sell in Australia for $25-35. This can not be blamed on exchange rate. Patterns that are $30 sell for up to $50.

This is where I believe PDFs are fabulous. I would rather pay $25 directly to a designer for a PDF, and print it out myself than pay that to importers that pocket the difference. I know there are unscrupulous people that share PDF files online, but how many of those people actually buy paper patterns and upload them anyway. Not having PDFs doesn’t inhibit those who would break the law!!!

(This is a bit like my discussion about mobile phones in Australia. Someone was saying you can’t get disposable phones in Australia as you have to produce ID, and sign up with it… however, if you are going to be bad, what are the chances you can get fake ID anyway???)

Are designers who carry on about PDFs and online sharing really going to stop the issue by not providing PDFs to paying customers? Or should PDFs become a standard part of buying a paper pattern (which is what some of the book companies have done)?

I think if designers want to keep and grow their business, besides designing beautiful, inspiring designs that we want to stitch, they have to provide extras for the people that actually pay. Not punish the people that want to pay.

So to go back to my title, are designers actually doing more harm than good by fussing so much about the few people who illegally share their patterns, when the majority of people that buy them treat them legally?

Why punish the majority for the transgressions of the few?

And I know they carry on about loss of revenue, but would the people that downloaded their patterns from the illegal sharing websites have bought the pattern anyway?

For a long time (as this has come up with all sorts of media shared on the internet) I have had the theory that besides selling online, designers and authors (and musician or any other artist) should also have a paypal button or similar on their website for people who want to send them money. There are authors whose books I get from the library (and yes, I know libraries pay for the books) who I would love to keep writing, but whose books I don’t want to buy, who I would send $2-3 every so often. If 2, 3 or 400 people did that, then the author (or designer) may get an extra $800 every so often, which might mean they can get another book or design out slightly sooner. It isn’t much, but it is something still. It also means that people who do download things illegally who may have their conscious shouting at them may also support them.

Anyway, anyone who buys legally should be encouraged not told off, or punished for spending their money!!! Or be made to feel bad for selling on something they have bought.


  1. Karen R in GA said,

    March 26, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    I agree 100%. It IS a huge problem, I am well aware of that – but I am not sure limiting availability is ever going to be the answer. And it’s just like your analogy with the cell phones; same thing with gun ownership – if you want to disarm the citizenry, you KNOW that’s only going to apply to the honest people, so the criminals will still be armed, and then have a defenseless populace to wreak havoc on. Which is a bit more extreme a situation that chart pdfs – but the same logic applies. Criminals will still be criminals, as they will just find ways to overcome the new limitations, while us honest folk will just learn to live without or be much more selective in what we spend our money on.

    I don’t think this issue will ever be settled, sadly…

  2. Joanne P said,

    March 30, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    You make some very good points on behalf of us law-abiding stitchers. But I think we all under-estimate the scale of the problem. Nicole has been doing some research, read her blog entry her for the true cost to designers. It is seriously scary when you read the true amount of illegal downloading being done.

    I never realised there were people making virtually a full time career out of stealing charts!

    Karen’s point on gun-owning is interesting too. Here in the UK we don’t have the same freedom to own guns are in USA. We don’t have gunmen “wreaking havoc” in general. Yes, there is guncrime (growing each year sadly) but it is still so unusual that it hits the front page every time someone dies. Even then it’s mostly in the inner cities not the small towns.

    ps Kreinik is over £4.50 in a LNS (if I still had one) so pretty much the same as you pay. Thank heavens for the online stores.

  3. Heather said,

    January 4, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Thank you for your insight, I love your patterns but I just cannot seem to manage to complete any of them! They are so intricate!

    I often copy patterns from library books to use for myself only. I never sell or share them online. I personally find this wrong and will not do it although I know many other are not so conscious ridden. I was told by one designer (US designer) that this was copyright infringement, which it is not (as far as I can see) since I am not sharing and using am it just for myself. Her strident objections were very off putting and I appreciate your tolerance. Thank you.

    The one thing I find ridiculous is that a pattern is only available for paper purchase and the shipping is more than the pattern (Charlescraft website is notorious for this). I will not make the purchase in this case, so the designer will loose out on the money. If it were pdf without shipping I would purchase it in a heartbeat. (the designer in this case of the particular pattern I was interested in was the same designer that lambasted me for making copies from library books for my own use).

    Thank you for sharing your great talents with us humble needleworkers!

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