Common Crochet - Fair Use or Copyright - DMCA

A false accusation towards me, has led me to the following thoughts. The person has apologized but it got me thinking anyway since the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) has been a hot topic of conversation.

My main goal from the start has been to teach people how to crochet. You crochet because you love to do it. People don't get rich from selling crochet items or patterns. Maybe the publishing companies might make money. If there is a way, someone please share it with me. I did some research and found that under "Fair Use", people teaching can use copyright material. I am doing nothing more than teaching and sharing my knowledge of crochet. I choose not to use copyright material. I teach basic stitches, shapes and concepts, in addition to the patterns I create.

BUT...................................... how can a basic shape or basic set of increases be copyright? The art of crochet is estimated to have been started around the 1800's, somewhere between Europe and the Middle East.

I could look at a fabric article of clothing and create something crochet. Does that mean I am in violation of copyright since I may have used common rounded features to create my neckline, circles to create my armholes and a horizontal hem on my shirt? There is a basic common set of rules when it comes to crochet increasing and shaping. There are bound to be more similarities in common shape pattern writing, than not. The combination of increasing and stitches used in hats, sweaters, flowers, anything rounded is very common. I have seen baby patterns from the early 1900's with yoke's similar to the yoke I created for the baby dress, so the concept of the rounded crescent shape is nothing new by any means. A yoke is just a simple crescent shape with common increases. The stitches can be juggled around to any numerical equation with the end result looking like something that someone else may have created. But how may other someones are out there, that created an identical pattern, prior to the sensitive someone. Example-I create a pattern, someone else has the same pattern they created 15 years ago setting in their closet. How am I supposed to know that? How does that constitute infringement from a basic concept? In fact, my Grandma loved the Workbasket magazine. Workbasket is where I saw the first rounded crescent yoke on a baby bunting from a picture in the magazine about 20 years ago. I was not at all good at crocheting back then and I sure was not writing patterns. The shape stuck in my head. There would need to be some outstanding original differences for anyone make an accusation of copyright infringement off of a basic common shape concept.

On top of it, how can the author of a pattern dictate whether or not the end user can sell the finished piece of work. I understand not selling the pattern, but the author didn't create the finished piece of work. That is very selfish in my opinion and I really don't see the point. All a person would need to do is change the pattern stitch so it has strayed from original pattern. What if you get distracted and you crochet 28 instead of 24? Once again the original pattern has been changed. If you don't want it out there, don't post it on the Internet for people to use. Don't submit it to a publisher if you don't want people using it or God forbid photocopying it.

If anyone ever wondered, you are more than welcome to sell your finished projects, that you have made from a pattern and video tutorial, that I have created. You may distribute, post and share the links to my crochet blog and video tutorials as well as print out instructions for your friends, family and co-workers. I do know that there are a lot of people who don't have computers. We want to share instructions with them too.

Copyright infringment is a big problem so we must respect each individuals right. There are gray areas so when in doubt, ask for permission.


  1. Hi teresa,

    I just wanted to make sure that it's fine that i have given your link on my blogspot.I had done it so other people who like to but can't crochet can be made aware of these video tutorials.Also, i made this baby dress with chain 60 and made some changes like picot at the arms and at the border of the dress along with satin.I will be posting the photo soon on my blog and would appreciate if you can have a look and give me your valuable comments.

  2. Seema,
    Yes it is alright that you share the links on your blog now and in the future.


  3. Hi Teresa,

    You make an excellent point and you put it better then I did in your comments on youtube, I am sorry if I came off harsh to the other women, But I am just so sick of people always saying "hey thats mine", well if it came out of my brain and I have never seen yours, am I any less the creator of it as you are?

    I a sorry if I sounded mean, It wasn't my intention.

    I just wanted you to know I agree 110% with what you are saying.

  4. I don't think you sounded mean or harsh at all. What she did was uncalled for. She did is based off of sight and shape, which is what I address in my blog. I do appreciate your comments and fully agree with you that some of these people are silly in jumping to conclusions for being so paranoid that someone might be using a pattern that is really common crochet knowledge. Thank you for writing.


  5. Hi Theresa,

    I'm sorry to hear about what was said. And I agree that there is only so much a crocheter can do that doesn't look like what the next person or the person before has done.

    Like Seema, I too have put up a link to your blog on my blogspot and the members from my craft group knows about your tutorials teaching people how to crochet.

    Keep going (I'm learning much from you) and thank you once again for doing what you do.

  6. Simplified answer from someone who's a law student specializing in intellectual property law:

    In American law, you can't copyright a crochet pattern, just as you can't copyright a recipe. However, if you publish a compilation of patterns (or recipes), then the collection can be copyrighted. And any accompanying text that you've uniquely added to the patterns (or recipes) can be copyrighted.

    Films of yourself demonstrating crochet are copyrightable. So are any photos you take. (Likewise, cooking shows and the photos in a recipe book are copyrightable.)

    If someone uses one of your photos, videos, or descriptive text without your permission, then they're violating your copyright. Nowadays in America you don't have to put a copyright mark or text on the work that you wish to copyright. But it's a good idea to put some kind of notice up, because it will help your case if you go to court.

  7. Hi Teresa, I just found your blog while trying to figure out how the heck to perfect surface crochet!

    This is a really interesting topic to me, as I have been accused of "ripping off" people's crochet ideas, when I have also felt "ripped off" in certain ways.

    I really love your personal outlook about what you are accomplishing here. I think it's really admirable.

  8. Hi Twinkie Chan, I have learned a lot on this subject. There is even more information in a message thread at It is a complex subject and hard to interpret at times but there is a little more with crochet that is considered public domain, that no one person can claim a copyright on. There are going to be a lot of similar pattern shapes and ideas. Similar common shape patterns may fall in the area of public domain unless a person can show some really original and unique about the pattern. Stitches fall under public domain.

  9. Teresa, for a long time i wanted to say how wonderful teacher you are, so i'll do it now: you have one of the greatest personalities on the entire web and you are a great teacher! Thank you for all of your blogs and deeds!

  10. Anonymous,
    Thank you very much for your kind words. I really appreciate it.

  11. What are the rules? I've been looking everywhere for information about what can be done and what cant. I dont follow any patterns to crochet I just look at stuff then make my own that copywrite infringment? what about selling stuff...I want to sell on etsy and I dont know what I can and can't do. I dont WANT to get in trouble with anyone.

    For the pacific science center in seattle and saw they sell plush microbes and now I can't wait to buy all the yarn I need to make my own! If I make those patterns and toys and sell that infringment?

  12. SlipStitchWitch,
    I would suggest that you read what Michale Grant wrote. Maybe you already did.

    Some people will add a statement that they don't want people to sell the finished product, from the pattern they wrote. If that were on a pattern for purchase, I would not buy it. Most likely you can find another similar pattern without that statement.

    No person can lay claim to crochet stitches, patten stitches or techniques. A lot of the simplistic shapes are so common, that anyone with the slightest bit of crochet knowledge can write them. As Michael wrote, how you write your pattern and images, are what has the copyright. If someone comes along and copies and pastes a pattern that you wrote to their blog, that would qualify as infringement. Lets say they take and use your picture. That also is infringing. It is no different than English class where you have 100 people writing about the same thing. You write it in your hand writing.

    You can make and sell crochet patterns and finished projects that you have written yourself. As you mentioned with the Science center, you may run in to infringement if you use a trademark name. You would need to research more about trademark names. Since microbe is scientific, I don't imagine that it could be trademark. If you use Pacific Science Center Microbe, that could be trademark.

    One area that is very clear to me is with the video and YouTube, which I apply to writing and using patterns. The rule of thumb is "If you did not make it yourself, do not use it." A lot of people are going to have the same idea and that is acceptible. Example: There are thousands of cat videos on YouTube. That does not mean that you are infringing because someone already uploaded a cat video. What that means is, make your own cat video. Don't take a cat video from someone else and upload it as your own.

    I am not an attorney or legal authority. Hopefully it is cleared up a bit more for you. I know it is confusing.

  13. Hi teresa, First off I have learned so much just from watching your video's. I have been crocheting for almost fifteen yrs and I learned more just watching your wonderful tutorials. This has inspired me to write my own patterns. I think I may be very good at creating them. However, I do really want to make sure that if I use a stitch that was in your tutorials so to speak. For example.. (the magic circle) I think that is genious. I use it in almost every stuffed item or rounded piece now. Is this ok, I would be more than happy to refer them to your wonderful tutorials, etc... in fact I have recently started a blog.
    I posted one of your videos to share with others I hope that is ok. Back to my other topic. The patterns I create I will end up copyrighting them, because I did create the item in whole. I just wanted to make sure that if I termed a certain stich I may have learned from you or my own grandmother way back when, that I was inflicting any problems, copyright whatever. I just love crocheting things and making something that was in my head come to life. It is a wonderful feeling. I just wanted to be sure and do my homework on these little things people tend to overlook.
    Thanks for your wonderful tutorials and keep them coming. You made it easy to understand how the stitches work together to create these things of beauty.

  14. jf331, You are free to use the magic circle any way that you would like. It is a crochet technique so it is not copyrightable. Just like the single crochet or any crochet stitches are not copyrightable. I am thinking the magic circle may come from Japan since it is a common technique used with amigurumi.

    When you are creating patterns, you can think of it like writing that English essay. Creating in your own way is permitted. There will be hundreds of essays about pollution, like there will be hundreds of granny squares or hundreds of bear patterns. You just do it in your own way. The chances are great that a round or sequence of stitches may be the same as someone else. That does not mean you copied. Many people could write the same paragraph about pollution.

    Your set of patterns are what is copyright like my set of patterns are copyright. Copyright is for the body of work. Once you have completed your writing, it is copyright by law. You do not have to go purchase anything to claim a copyright.

    You are welcome to link to me anytime that you would like to with patterns and videos. I have a FaceBook page if you would like to share your blog link, images and pattern links. People are always looking for different patterns so the more, the better.

  15. AMEN to all of that. I blog myself and if someone has gone on and one about how you may not use their free pattern for this and that, I don't share it or create a back link for the them, I move on to the next person. You will not tell me what I can and can't do with the things I make. Once I turn my yarn into something, what I do with it is none of anyone's business. If you want exclusive rights to finished goods from a pattern, don't share the pattern until you are done using it for yourself. Very simple stuff. All I ever ask is that you never steal my pattern and post it as your own. Even if someone made a youtube video teaching someone how to make one of my patterns, I would not mind as long as they link back to me. That's the name of the Google game. If you want a good Alexsis rank you need back links and if you are so uptight that no one can share a watermarked picture of your work and provide a link to your awesome pattern then why are you even here. Just my opinion :D

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