28 Dec

This perplexes me


I bought this cool house fabric because it was on sale and had houses. I bought it online, so what I did not realize was that it appears to have come with strings attached. I’m not using it to make up cute dresses for a little girls’ boutique, or coin purses galore for an Etsy shop, but there is a small chance that it will find it’s way into one of my art quilts which could, potentially, be sold one day.

I’m not going to worry myself too much about this as the chances that someone’s lawyers will track me down in 10 years is pretty darn slim. And, in digging into some of the related issues blogged about in the last five years or so, this all appears to be more bark than bite. But why then print the disclaimer at all?

All things tech and cool blog Boing Boing delved into the issue here in ’06. Fabric-centric blog True-Up followed here the same year. A rather vitriolic post about another designer is here, covering ’05 to ’09. I thought this had all blown over, but now there’s been a more recent episode that sounds very odd. I understand not wanting Crafter A to pass off handbags (or whatever) made from a pattern by Designer B’s pattern as his/her own, I sort of get not wanting to flood the market with things made from Designer B’s pattern when the designer would rather have more people buy the pattern directly and make the item themselves, and I understand the separate issue of designers using older textiles as inspiration (with a fuzzy line between inspiration and appropriation), but trying to restrict how Crafter A uses Designer B’s fabric in Crafter A’s creations is beyond me.

And what are we to do about these fabrics with restrictions? Not buy them (hard to identify them when buying online), segregate them in our stash (totally not practical), return them (not possible), not use them (such a sad waste of fabric)?

I do not want to stir up a hornet’s nest. This is just me thinking out loud about the strings attached to my new fabric.

9 thoughts on “This perplexes me

  1. Is it possible they want to sell commercially used product for a different price/have a different width, etc for such use? The issue of “copying”is blown out of proportion by some people. Must read those links. Cherrie

  2. I’d heard about these issues and had read some of the previous posts. The new one about Carolina Patchworks is beyond bizarre. Most designers are thrilled when someone features their fabrics because it may translate to more sales. Hopefully common sense will prevail before this progresses too far.

    Love your house fabric too! They have a “churchy” feel to me.

  3. The First Use doctrine prohibits the manufacturer from controlling the use of an item purchased by the end user from a retailer. Period. They just can’t do it. I always find it insulting when a manufacturer attempts to do it when they know full well it can not be enforced.

    They can enter into all kinds of binding use agreements with customers they sell directly to. That’s a real contract that both parties have to agree to in order for it to be binding. Doubly ridiculous that they attempt to imply they can enforce a contract by writing something on the selvage.

    The Tabberone website (http://www.tabberone.com/Trademarks/trademarks.shtml) has lots of information and lots of examples where they’ve prevailed in using licensed fabric (Disney, John Deere, etc.) to make things and sell them on eBay. Their stories give an amazing example of how these attorneys attempt to bully small makers when they don’t have a legal leg to stand on.

    On another point, since I sold you that fabric I’m sending you a gift certificate for the value. Can’t believe we’ve cut almost the whole bolt and never noticed the selvage!

  4. Lisa has started designing fabrics and I asked her opinion of this trend. She thinks it is utterly ridiculous – sort of like shooting yourself in the foot. Why bother designing and selling the fabric if you are going to put such restrictions on it. Just stoopid in my opinion!

  5. I agree with Gerrie and Lisa. So many times I am in my local shop and see women who want only the exact same fabric that is featured in a book, a pattern, or shop sample. To me, that says that the manufacturer is selling more fabric and will ask the designer to create more designs. A win win for all involved. I think some people are just a little too full of themselves. It is a wonderful fabric and I would have bought it in a heart beat.

  6. These sorts of ignorant decrees made by some manufacturers/designers on selvedges make me livid. And I can only assume that selfishness on their part is the excuse. So sad.

    Nice fabric, though!

  7. I don’t understand this either. If a designer is that worried about someone using a print they’ve created in a project, then clearly fabric design is not for them.

    Fabric is made to be USED and enjoyed and I would find it exciting to see all the things that people do with it if I were one of them. Would love to hear an explanation from the fabric companies that agree to print that kind of disclaimer on the fabric they distribute. As a consumer, it would stop me cold from buying the fabric even if I was madly in love with it.

  8. Agreed. This will do nothing but reduce the sales of the fabric, which sort of, you know, seems like that might have been why they designed the fabric in the first place.

    And, BTW, isn’t Kathy Pink Chalk the best? Great information and generous to boot.

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