I was working on a Community Quilt yesterday (separate blog post to come), when I happened to turn over to look at the stitch tension on the back. I was close to the edge, and this is what I saw on one selvedge:
This is what I saw on the other selvedge:
Now, I don’t know about you but my immediate reaction was ‘What the…?’ I can understand the copyright on the fabric (though how on Earth a ship’s wheel and some stripes relate to The Wizard of Oz movie is beyond me… And yes, that’s ALL that design was – just more of what you see in the pictures above), but the ‘License is required for any use beyond individual consumption’??? What’s up with that?
So I researched it a little bit and found some interesting articles on the internet, none of which I can take as more than opinion, though the Tabberone one looks reasonably authoritative:
- http://carolinapatchworks.com/blog/2011/11/17/an-interesting-read/ (this one goes further and the author talks about being sued by a designer for using one of their fabrics to make a quilt that features in a book!)
- http://www.quiltingtreasures.com/faqs-b2c/#fabricsmention (from the manufacturer of that fabric pictured)
I still don’t know what all this means for the consumer or for the shop owner that sells these ‘licensed’ fabrics. I particularly don’t know what the ‘license required for any use beyond individual consumption’ statement means to either consumers or shop owners. And whether the licence is for just one country (which one?) or many (which ones?) or all? It can’t be ‘all’ as every country has different copyright and trademark laws.
What does ‘beyond individual consumption’ mean? If you have purchased fabric for a project and have cut it up and used it, does that mean you’ve individually consumed it? Or if you sell that item or give it away, is that still classed as ‘individual consumption’? Or are the lawyers having a lend of us all and scaring us into submission with words that sound scary but may well be meaningless and unenforceable?
Personally, if I saw that ‘personal consumption’ statement on the selvedge of fabric I was intending to buy, I’d ask the shop owner to explain, and if I couldn’t get a satisfactory explanation, I’d refuse to buy it AND I would ask the shop owner to tell the manufacturer’s agent why customers weren’t buying it. If I was able to remember the manufacturer, I’d also drop them an email asking them to explain what it meant AND telling them why I wouldn’t buy it when the meaning is not at all clear.
And what if the fabric had been cut by a store into fat quarters and offered for sale without selvedges? How is the purchaser to know that some weird restriction or limitation may exist on the use of that fabric?
This sounds like a legal minefield! Surely designers want to design fabrics and manufacturers want to sell those designs, but if they start putting restrictions on the use of the fabric, then they won’t have a business. And only the lawyers will have won. Again.
It’d be like buying a dozen eggs and then being told that legally you can only use them for yourself and no-one else. Stupid.
If anyone can shed some light on what these printed license and copyright statements on fabric mean to the final purchaser of the fabric, I’d appreciate it if you could add your comments below.