Copyrights and Ethics

I am quite fond of antique hooked and shirred rugs. I enjoy working on rugs because it is a very peaceful occupation. Although to be honest, the thing I like best about rug hooking is that it gives me a great reason to dye wool.

Last night I was reading a book that one of my sons gave me for Christmas, entitled Creating an Antique Look in Hand-Hooked Rugs by Cynthia Smesny Norwood, ISBN 978-1-881982-59-3. It’s an excellent book that I highly recommend. As I was reading, I was reminded again how very scrupulous rug hooking books and magazines (in particular Rug Hooking Magazine) are about copyrights.

Cynthia Norwood has written a very detailed, yet clear and easy to understand definition of what copyrights are and how they pertain to you as a craftsperson, whether you sell your work or not. She also discusses copyrights as they apply to antiques. Page 17 of Creating an Antique Look in Hand-Hooked Rugs should be required reading for any and everyone who creates any type of art or craft.

By now, I’m sure that you will have noticed that I am very careful to only sell patterns and finished dolls that are based on antiques that I own, or my original designs. This keeps me out of the murky waters of possible copyright infringement. Even though antiques no longer have copyright protection, you should give credit to the original artisan. Also be aware that the current owners of the antique item do have rights as well.

Speaking of antique reproductions, another thing I should mention is that you need to sign and date your work. Obviously it would be a miracle if we were able to perfectly recreate an antique doll or antique doll clothing. Knowledgeable collectors are going to be able to immediately tell the difference between a newly made doll and a genuine antique. Even so, you want to make sure that you very clearly mark your work. People that do not know as much about antiques could be deceived, especially if your work should ever be sold on the secondary market.  The more hands an item passes through, the more chance there is that information concerning it will be garbled or lost.   Remember what happened when you played “Telephone” as a kid?

My husband Brian and I run into this all the time with antique carousel horses. We find reproduction horses that are being sold by people who honestly believe that they are antiques, due to their inexperience in the field.

~ by paulawalton on February 22, 2009.

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