The Free Motion Quilting Project: Copyright Law and Quilting

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Copyright Law and Quilting

Hello My Quilting Friends! I have a new quilting friend for you to meet today. Heather Kubiak is a copyright attorney and quilter, which is a terrific combination in my opinion! In our conversation, she helped clear up a lot of confusion about copyright as well as opened my eyes to a lot of crazy implications for sharing images on public sites like Pinterest and Facebook.

Click Here to find this episode.

I know this is the second podcast we've done on copyright, which isn't the most fun of topics I'll admit, but please understand this is a major concern for quilt pattern writers and designers.

I see a lot of misinformation wandering around in the world as well as a lot of bent out of shape quilters that seem to think techniques and methods can be copyrighted (sorry, they can't). You can watch all the free motion quilting tutorials I've shared, teach yourself the designs, then go teach them yourself and use the exact same information I've taught.

That's perfectly legal and that's a great thing because otherwise we would all be stuck in little boxes standing perfectly still because walking, running, talking, and every form of stitch work imaginable would be protected by some form of copyright and we'd all have to pay royalties to someone for breathing.

Methods / techniques are utilitarian. You cannot copyright methods.

I've personally experienced bullying a few times from tutorials I've shared and even recently received a take-down notice from a quilter who didn't like that I used her tool in a video. Hello? Free advertising? Fair use? Did you not create this for quilters to use to make quilts?

That experience just left me shaking my head in absolute wonder at the crazy pills some professional quilters seem to take. Please don't fire off copyright claims and take-down notices unless you actually know what you're talking about!

So if you've ever experienced copyright bullying or excessive copyright claim, I hope this podcast helps you feel better. If you're still feeling confused, contact Heather Kubiak and get her help mediating the issue. Yes, it is worth it to have peace of mind and the issue resolved once and for all.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. Going to listen right now! Btw, on Just Wanna Quilt, one of the guests made an interesting comment. Copywrite was created to protect large scale production. Charles Dickens had his work published in the United States withought getting royalties. But it was never intended for the small artist or user. Unfortunately I find that creative people want a business but aren't willing to work as hard as you and your family do. So they think that by invoking copywrite, they can be a tiny pattern publisher and no one else can use 'their' pattern.
    Also, Just Wanna Quilt interviewed Virginia Postrel, not a quilter, but a very creative person. She had interesting comments about how copywrite is stifulling the creativity of small people, in her book, it was the big publisher that wouldn't allow her to use images from smaller artists, who would have loved the publicity.
    On a similar note, a famouse quilt pattern designer is selling a log cabin pattern. She isn't claiming that she is the only one with the rights, not at all. But more power to her, if someone will pay $10 for that pattern, good for both her and the buyer.

    1. Thank you for sharing Leah! I also had a log cabin quilt in my recent book. I came up with the sizes and shapes, but yep, it's based on the traditional block.

  2. I would love to read your post about your friend the copyright attorney, but half the post is covered up with links to your classes.

    1. Thank you for letting me know Sherry - what internet browser are you using? I'm using Chrome and the list of links should pop to the left side of the page in a narrow column. Obviously it's not doing the same for you. Can you let me know what browser you're using?

  3. I don't know if others have mentioned this, but only a part of your blog is visible. A good portion of it is covered up by the items you have for sale (or whatever). Maybe it's my server. I looked at a number of your archived articles and the most recent and it was the same. New to quilting in the last 5 years, and enjoy reading others' experiences.

    1. Thank you for letting me know! What internet browser are you using? This is a glitch in how it's displaying and hopefully I can correct it!


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