Today I have a post about something less fun. I usually try to bring happiness and positivity through the things I create….today might be the opposite. At the moment, I am in a state of mind where I realize I am walking on a very thin rope to keep all things running the way they are supposed to be. Still, something like the one I will talk about makes it even harder to keep walking on that rope – which might be too thin already.
As a crochet designer in this virtual world these days, it can be an easy one. With the online world, we can bring our work to the public in just a few clicks – instead of writing a book and selling it. However, it doesn’t change that the effort put into designing a pattern, writing it, and even filming or drawing it – is less work. On the contrary, it is mainly the opposite – the number of hours made to create it can’t be paid. And that’s fine; partly, a pattern is born out of creativity and a hobby.
On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with asking a small fee for your work once it is done. When a meal is prepared for you, you pay the price to eat it. When you want a haircut, you pay the price asked for a new and fresh look. The same goes for a pattern, in my opinion. And gladly, the crochet community mostly doesn’t have any problems with that. But, sadly, this whole process also has a darker side these days.
In this virtual world where we, as crochet designers try to sell our patterns, we often use third parties like Ravelry or Etsy. Leading websites are based on a profit system where a small fee is asked on each transaction made for the item offered. An excellent way for most of us to bring our work into the world with not that much administration or complex tech stuff. But, these third parties also have a downside. Some buy a pattern with a different meaning instead of crocheting/knitting the project out of it. They use it to copy it, maybe change up a few things and offer it under their conditions and name. This is what we call stealing and violating the copyright of the rightful owner. And you can guess what’s come next – it happened again.
This is the fourth time it is happening to me. The first was a copy of my charts and images on Pinterest. It took me weeks to take it down on Pinterest due to the many pins made there. Secondly, there is a massive market in the Middle East where people who don’t have sources to get significant designs on their own – ask foreigners to buy them and send them by email. There is no problem there, but most of the time, these patterns end up by those people who start giving crochet and knitting classes in a communication app called Telegram. They collect a group of paying followers in their country, and they teach and offer a paid pattern of another designer in parts. They contain a fee on it, which has become an enormous thing. I infiltrated into this Telegram app under a false name and have seen this happening with my own eyes. But, the moment I started asking questions, I was banned. This is a thing that is still going on and will never disappear as Telegram is an app that is based on a Russian server. As Russia offers different conditions to the virtual world, this can happen freely without consequences. The third time was on a Russian website where you can make an account and access hundreds of paid patterns. Once again, no luck in getting it down. And the fourth time is going on right now as we speak…
At the moment, there is a host who holds a few websites on which they offer crochet patterns from different designers. They have copied all the photos, descriptions and even the comments made. This is all copied out of Etsy stores. They even let designers’ names, watermarks, and images of persons up in the way they originally are, making it even more brutal. And they are still going on as this is the biggest steal so far. Five patterns from my hand are already on it. I am talking of a website called Devotiat (which can be found under devotiatorv.com). They offer patterns from many designers in the knitting and crochet world. They offer the designs a bit cheaper. I also ordered one of my patterns to take proof, and guess what? I received my pattern in the original state as a download. Even my copyright section was left into it.
As many designers are alerted in the meantime, this whole thing starts to awaken on different social media accounts. And many of you try to come up with solutions and advice. But, it isn’t that easy as most of you might think. So, let me explain something about this whole situation. I have tried to reach out to them by email. No reply so far, and the email looks already like a fake one. They use all kinds of separate emails to contact the different stores. Then there is the contact information; there is no address or host given – so a dead end as well. I made an account as it seems you can get help from the customer service through your account – so far, a dead end as well. The next option would be trying to get them through Paypal. Well, Paypal can shut their payment options down, but it is straightforward to start a new account under another name and connect it to the store again.
Then there is the copyright validation. Many of you told me and others to take notice of the violation. In Europe and most America, there is a copyright law signed by all countries to have one common law. But many countries and parts of our world didn’t sign this agreement, and the market is open to copying and re-sell things without consequences. If a website like this is based in a country with no obligation to the copyright rules, there is nothing to refer to. And yes, suing them could be the last option. But it might take thousands of dollars to fight this – with an unsure ending. So it seems we, as crochet designers stand with our backs against the wall in this matter.
Which ways can we walk to prevent this from happening? Many of you said – add a watermark to your work. Once again – in this virtual world, it is effortless to remove watermarks from any image or re-write a pattern in a new file for those who know their ways. Another way is to stop publishing online patterns and write a book. I was a lucky fellow who could make that dream possible this year- but for most of us, this isn’t something you do. Besides that, imagine the amount of paper (and trees) needed if everyone would use this option. So, the last option to use is the power of social media and the goodwill of people. The only thing I can do is bring this to the attention of as many people as possible. Tell the news these things are going on and that designers are not aware and didn’t validate these third parties to sell their work. So, please, if you buy a digital crochet pattern, check the website to see if it belongs to the rightful owner. Share this news of fake sales and stealing behavior as far as possible by putting a post on your craft account or in any online craft group likely. The more people become aware of this problem, the more sales will fall at these things, and the easier it will get to work against them.
If I speak for myself, five patterns are stolen from my hand through this website. Suppose I count the others taken before it will be nine so far. It starts to take the joy out of things. Many of you are willing to pay a fee, support my work and fight for this matter – still, it doesn’t make up the feeling a personal thing is taken away from you, and the problem doesn’t get solved. With this in mind, designing becomes harder and harder as you start living with the idea of how long it might take before another design is thrift away. And offering everything for free is no option as well as many people still feel the urge to also copy your work with the thought it was free anyway. I think more designers think this way, and that’s why I make this call upon all crafters. Because, once designers lay down their needles and hooks through these kinds of things, patterns start to disappear and with it the joy, positivity, and fun our community holds.
If you feel like you agree to this matter, want to leave a comment or share and tell this through your account, I must ask you to stay polite. Although these things happen by people in this world, I don’t want to involve politics, beliefs, or any world problems in this matter – although some of you may believe these are reasons for this matter. Besides that, I always feel that giving a good example starts the first step to a better world. Keep this in mind.