A Question of Copyright

I’m a magazine junkie. I cannot resist leafing through magazines, particularly quilting mags, of course. I’ve always thought it would be quite exciting and–why not–an honor, to get one’s name published in a trade magazine next to one’s own creation. I personally know a few quilters who have had such well-deserved distinction. I think that is very cool!

However, I have noticed time and time again that many patterns get re-hashed over and over, with only minor “tweaks,” be it a different combination of colors or fabrics, some minor re-positioning of the original blocks, or by adding a different element such as an appliqued detail, a different border, or some other variation on the same theme; yet the credit for the design goes entirely to the quilter who comes up with the variation instead of the original designer of the pattern. How is this possible? I know that copyright laws are very strict, particularly with respect to quilting designs and yet… Perhaps all it takes for making a design one’s own is to put a different spin on an existing one.

I have great respect for the artistic genius behind original designs, because I can imagine the energy and creativity that must go into designing something–anything!–original. I know I couldn’t do it. But if all it takes to make a design one’s own is to make a few changes to an existing pattern, then maybe, just maybe I too can aspire to have a design printed in a magazine.

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