Sep 03 2010

Copyright and Chainmaille

Published by at 12:10 pm under amy's head,crafty,jewelry

Now that I have had a few days to reflect on all of this, and read through other’s comments on copyright in chainmaille, I thought I’d outline my thoughts on the matter.

This has raised interesting and valid copyright questions. If a weave is freely available to all, because it’s a “construction technique”… then at what point does one’s designs become copyrightable?

I think a few of the ones Sara copyrighted qualifies, but not all. One of the copyrighted designs is just a length of the Stepping Stones (SS) weave hanging from a chain. If she states that the SS weave itself is not enforced and belongs to the community, then how could that that particular piece be copyrighted/enforced, if there are no changes made to it other than hanging it from a chain? (I am in no way trying to state that she is attempting to do so, I’m using this recent situation to discuss the copyright issues at hand.)

But I mean really, when we are all using the same weaves as our starting point, at what point after that does ones pieces become copyrightable?

Is the answer, “when no one, or very few other people would be able to come up with it on their own”?

That makes a lot of things not very copyrightable in the chainmaille world.

There was an article in the Lapidiary Journal’s Jewelry Artist about jewelry design and copyright that I keep thinking I need to go re-read through. The part I remember though, is Designer A copyrights his technique and designs (I think it is Michael Good and his anticlastic techniques to raise/move metal, but don’t quote me on that). Designer B comes up with a copy that uses these same techniques, and varies very little, and is asked to stop making/selling these pieces. After being outraged, Designer A gently prods Designer B into developing his OWN personal style rather than copying someone else’s.

The whole point of the story was, a) come up with your own designs, and you won’t have a problem

But it was also:

b) If you are designing things that everyone else can come up with and try to copyright them… its’ not going to be enforceable.

Dang, I really need to go find that article.

The problem with chainmaille is there are hardly any new techniques. It’s all still opening and closing rings around each other that has been done for centuries. New patterns may emerge, but it is all based on this same simple technique. We may all get together and discuss pliers, aspect ratios, inner diameters, different metals, spring back, as long as the cows come home.. but in the end, we’re opening rings and closing them again.

Yeah, I still can’t wrap my head around all this copyright business (as you can see by reading above!!)


3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Copyright and Chainmaille”

  1. Susanon 03 Sep 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Very very very well played my dear! Even in your bitchiest hour you composed yourself quite well. I knew I ran to the right girl when I was having drama with the ex.

  2. amyon 03 Sep 2010 at 3:24 pm

    LOL, cute sis 🙂

    @everyone Sara and I have come to an understanding on the previous matter, so please note that I am discussing the merits/implications of copyright and chainmaille, NOT our previous disagreement. That has been resolved, and I see no need to keep beating a dead horse. If you feel the need to comment on it, feel free to email me privately.

  3. Legba3on 03 Sep 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Hi Amy
    copyright is a very complicated area and I found myself in the posistion of being piggy in the middle with the mailling community, my publisher and then you. Publishers will copyright (or ask for things to be copyrighted) anything they publish and this is how I ended up in the position I did with you. I had to negotiate with them over what they would and wouldn’t allow to let slide. In the end they were happy with a credit mentioned but they could have pushed for more.
    My point is if you (or anyone reading this) ever has anything published try to remain calm and not get over excited by it. It’s very dangerous ground and you could find yourself in the position I did with everyone at your throat.
    My copyrights stand but I never had any intention of enforcing them, that was the publisher’s want/need. Now they are talking to me before taking any kind if action and I’m not going to let them bully me into taking action or allowing them to do so unless it is legitimate.
    As you say some of the designs are enforceable and rightly so, as any designer has a right to do. But the others are too generic and the publisher will just have to live with that.