There, I’ve said it, the great big scary word. If you know me, you know that while I may talk a lot, I rarely get on my soapbox. When I do get on my soapbox, the topic is typically ethics in business.
I will assume you are reading this because you have some level of interest in needlepoint and what I do.
I do what I do because I love it yes, but also because it provides for me, my family and my four-legged creatures. It’s my job, my livelihood, something I am good at.
Most of what I do is no secret. It’s simply pretty threads on a pretty canvas in a pretty combination.
But then, there is what I sell. The documentation of those pretties. Hours and days go into documenting what I do and how I do it, so that you can follow along. Let’s not even get into the cost of the state of the art computers and software that allow me to make the document that you will follow. Then there are the photographers who get paid to photograph the pieces when I don’t and the web programers who created the website where all this pretty stuff is sold. There are expenses.
See where I am going. There’s lots of behind the scenes stuff that boils down to a very small profit margin.
There are many other designers and authors like me. Tony Minieri, Robin King, Kelly Clark and Brenda Hart to name a few. We all work quite hard hopefully bringing joy to your corner of the needlepoint world.
The documents that we create, print and sell are copyrighted. Which simply means that you can’t copy it and resell it. You may sell your original. We have no control over that. You can shred it if you would like. It’s yours. What you can not do is make multiple copies of it and sell those. (Documents that are sold as online downloads have entirely different laws behind them.)
What, you are aghast! People would do that?!!! Yes, there are people who will do that. It is sad. They are out there, making copies of various stitch guides and selling them over and over on ebay. We see it all the time. We have friends that look out for us and we see it. It’s not hard to see how many times one item has been sold by the same seller.
Sandy Gilmore designed a canvas for us for our anniversary, Beadazzled. Brenda Hart wrote the stitch guide and I market it. That guide has been sold on ebay several times by the same seller. Probably several more times if we knew all the aliases for this one seller. (Insert big sigh here.)
We as designers are spending a significant amount of time creating clever options to protect our work. There’s expensive paper that when copied will show a great big mark in the center marking it illegal and useless. There are embossers that will show a raised medallion so you the purchaser know if you have an original or not (No embossing? It’s a copy.) There is also software that will put the purchasers name and purchase date on the stitch guide so that if a copy is made and several copies show up we will know exactly where they came from.
All of these are bandaids and they take time, effort and money. Which in the end means that prices could go up and you will then be paying more for your needlepoint just because someone decided it was okay to make and sell a few copies of a guide.
We’ve seen it happen. As I said, I’ve seen several of my guides sold numerous times on ebay.
If you would like to see us keep doing what we are doing and making pretty things, buy guides direct from your LNS. You know you will get an original guide this way. If your LNS can’t supply the guide, contact the designer. We will most likely be happy to help you out. We will also know if the item for sale on ebay is a legitimate copy or counterfeit.
We understand you want a fair price for what you are purchasing but enabling those sellers with stitch guides on ebay has ramifications that will in the end increase costs all around.
And if you are reading this and copying my guides, please stop. It’s getting old.
Bravo Ruth. Well said.
The Chilly Hollow Needlepoint Adventure says
Catherine Stroup says
Ruth – I am sorry. This happens in every walk of life. I spend a lot of time thinking about spiritual matters. We behave morally and ethically because it is good for our souls, creates growth in conscious awareness, and is a respectful, compassionate, and loving way to treat others. We all make mistakes. However, it is sad to see people who don't believe behaving morally and ethically is important in life. They are hurting themselves more than they are hurting you. It's an issue I care about too.
Ruth, this is Monica. tell eBay and they should block them. try to get the IP address – regardless of the name they use the same computer probably each time – then you can make a DMCA complaint to their ISP carrier. I can discuss more with you when I get there this weekend on the 1st as whatever I write here the thief can be reading, too.
Well said and I am so sorry that this is happening to you and other artists. This is outright theft–obviously by someone who has no conscience and no sense of what it means to create. It is difficult enough to make a living from art (and you should be able to do that–artists are extremely important to our culture) as it is without someone stealing your work product. We need our artists and we need to protect them better. Good luck and believe me if I ever see anyone doing this, they will be sorry they met me.
Christine Norton says
Good on you for standing up and speaking out about this. Unfortunately I see this type of theft all over the place in creative industries. I was sitting in a class once and a woman announced to me that she was "just going to knock off” a pair of earrings I designed and made rather than pay me for them. People are unbelievable.
And I’ll tell you what – what you charge is a BARGAIN. I thought I had a general idea of how many hours go into just the business side of things…but what you are doing to make it all work…I can't imagine the hours. And the time that goes into the creative side of what you do? How can you even put a price on it? The hours and hours of working (and reworking…and reworking) design and stitches and thread selections and writing up guides and pictures and making EVERYTHING so, so, so special.
Ugh. I hate that this is happening to you. Especially you. You have given me so much happy this year…I want you to have the same without having to worry about/chase down people with no ethics.
Thanks for posting this. I have not personally been a victim, but I have seen some very questionable things on Etsy and eBay. It's good to remind everyone !
Ruth, When I was doing stitch guides, I printed them on a special paper that will not copy. It's available from large printing companies and paper supply stores. Comes in a light buff color and a lake blue. Gave everyone buying a guide two copies….seemed to do the trick!