Saturday, September 25, 2010

Got copyright?

I am a little confused and dismayed and I hope that some folks out there can clear things up for me. It has to do with copyrights on a jewelry technique.

Over the years I have taken a variety of metals techniques courses. There was fold forming with Cynthia Eid, weaving with wire with Munya Upin, Forging with Cynthia Eid, making texture plates with Michela Verani, Anticlastic raising with Michael Good and many others as well. Never in all of my classes has anyone ever said that I could not use these techniques to create and sell my own line of jewelry.
So it came as a great shock to me when I picked up the most recent copy of Beadwork magazine with an article by Marlene Blessing dealing with copyright designs in beadwork. Kathi Khaladkar designed a necklace using shaped peyote triangles. Apparently she had to ask for and get permission from the designer of the triangles to use them in her necklace design.

My question is: why, if the necklace was her own design did she need permission to use these elements? Why are beading techniques any different than regular metalsmithing techniques? Why are they proprietary? When I pick up a beading magazine, many of the designs look like other designs I have seen. But through the skillful use of color and perhaps different beads, the designer has made it his or her own.

In fact, with the triangles the designer asked permission from Phyliss Dintenfass whereas I got my instruction for the very same triangles from Diane Fitzgerald’s book Shaped Peyote”?

Does someone really own the copyright to this peyote shape?

Right now I am in the midst of designing a necklace using a variety of these shapes. The necklace is my own design incorporating the shapes. If I wanted to sell this, then is it possible I cannot sell it when finished? What is the point then of learning techniques if I cannot utilize them and sell my designs. I would never copy someone else’s design for a piece of jewelry on purpose. So where are the boundaries on this? Why is it only in beading? Am I missing something?

Do I need to contact the book author for permission to use these shapes in my work?

7 comments:

Carol Dean said...

I discussed the issue of triangles specifically with Diane Fitzgerald several years ago (before the wonderful book you're referring to came out), and she confirmed that they are a technique, not a design.

Lidia said...

Hi Roberta! Techniques and stitches cannot be copyrighted. No way, no how. The magazine just adds confusion to the copyright issue with that article. You do not need to ask for permission to sell pieces you design using this technique. After all, they are or will be your own design and that is what can be copyrighted.

LLJones said...

It's just so damn confusing, really. I wrote to Diane to see if I could use her method of constructing shapes for work I was selling. She was reluctant at first. Apparently she thought I was some huge corporate manufacturing firm! But the point is...
It's SO hard to tell sometimes!!!

LLJones said...

PS - This blog won't let me follow you! It says the URL is too big. Do I look fat in this URL?

Roberta said...

Thank you everyone for your comments and help. Sorry Linda, these blog following things can be oh-so-glitchy. I can only post in my own comment section if I am in Safari!

Firefox doesn't recognize me.....

Rebecca Scott said...

Roberta- in relation to copyright, I covered some of this in an arts administration course I did more than a few years back, but something like jewelry is impossible to copyright, as all you have to do is have one tiny variation- you use beads that are 1mm different, or a different shade, for example, and it's technically a different design. The copyright does not protect ideas, but their expression- and therefore you are free to use the idea or technique and express it in your own terms...if I was more awake I'd give a better explanation, but my opinion is- go for it!

beadbabe49 said...

Roberta, I too sell earrings using this technique and it IS a technique and cannot be copyrighted. I see it as similar to a stitch in knitting...no one can copyright a stitch since it is a technique.
I was confused until I saw this same technique being used by phyllis dintenfass, diane fitzgerald and laura mccabe...all did different designs but used the same technique. So I don't copy anyone's design but do use the same technique the others do.