“And I’m going to get James. And he’s going to hit you with his crutches. He hit a kid in the nuts with his crutches. And I’m going to get Sasha and her sister, because they know karate. And I’m going to get Isabelle and her bees and they’re going to sting you!”
If you upset my little five-year-old, she'll likely threaten you with the above. "Isabelle and her bees and they're going to sting you": I love that one. Isabelle’s grandfather has a farm and keeps bees. At any rate, I can learn this from my little one: I should get somebody to help if somebody upsets me.
Why am I mad? Folks have been stealing from me. Folks, who I am sure, would not walk into my house and steal from me. Folks, who I am sure, would not walk into their local sewing shop and stuff a sewing pattern into their bag without paying. Folks, who I am sure, think they are just being clever, maybe even helpful and not deceitful.
Just to make this clear: Unlawful copying of the patterns is stealing.
Unlawful copying of copyrighted work is stealing.
Unlawful instructions on how to circumvent purchasing a copyrighted work is stealing.
Manufacturing copyrighted designs and infringing on trade dress is stealing.
I'm not talking to you, the five or six people who actually read this blog. But maybe one of them will read this.
One more thing: When stealing is easy and you think nobody is looking, that doesn’t make stealing not stealing. Look: I would love to play some other MP3s on this blog. Who would ever find out? And if they did, what would they really do? But I don’t play stuff I haven't attained the rights to play. I surf around for free music. I understand what is at stake.
If a person figures out a studioTANTRUM pattern all on their own just by looking at the pictures or reading how to do it on the Internet and decides to publish instructions and pattern pieces, that is stealing. I cannot walk over to a piano, figure out the notes to play Yellow Submarine and think I can own that tune. Admittedly, music is treated a little differently, a little more stringently, but I hope the analogy is clear. You know my designs. Love them or hate them, you must admit they are different. They are not standard clothing items. They are different. That is what I do. Understand, I'm not talking about the people who just figure out a pattern and make it for themselves: That doesn't upset me anymore than I think Paul McCartney would be if I plunked out Yellow Submarine in my own house. I'm talking about reproduction for sale and publication of instructions, whether for sale or freely given away.
The theft of the intellectual property – if you have ever had anything precious stolen—feels like any other theft, a real personal violation. In addition, however, if I find out about the theft, you force my hand. I have to make you stop. I have to go get Isabelle and her bees. Otherwise, the argument could be made that I’m not interested in protecting my copyright. My lax attitude could be interpreted as a release of ownership. But that’s not the case. I don’t want to give up my ownership. I worked for it. I invested in the design and risked financial loss and public embarrassment. I want to keep what is mine. But that is a lot of work in itself.
I haven’t been sewing very much lately. I have a sketchbook of smokin’ designs, but I’m not getting around to making them. I have several patterns selling well in Europe that I would like to offer in the United States, but I’m very hesitant. I want to invest in a rockin’ Web site and better quality patterns. But all that will not happen while I spend my time and money on attorneys.
The way it’s going, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t. I either spend my time and money on lawyers hunting down the thieves and go out of business that way. Or I let these folks continue to walk in and rob the store until I have nothing left to sell and go out of business that way. Either way, I lose.
I’m letting you decide. Do you want to see what is in my sketchbook? Do you want a chance to sew this stuff yourself? Do you have any appreciation for the work and imagination it took to make Hermosa, Zuma, Solana, Cardiff, Tuolumne …? Maybe I will come up with something else. I’d be happy to come up with designs that I only share with fifty or so sewing friends. Works for me. I can go back spending my time creating. There’s no money in that, of course. But it’s also a zero sum gain, when all my profits from selling to the general public go straight to some guys on Wilshire Blvd. who know how to write nasty letters. Furthermore, if I just stop, I won’t have to mess around with things like complicated tax filings for my inc. just for the pleasure of doing business to pay the lawyers to keep the business to pay for the lawyers to keep the business to pay the lawyers to keep the business ...
The truth of the matter is, there is really just a handful of seamstresses, whose recognition means the world to me and for whom--in addition to my little girl--I do this. They probably don't even know who they are. These women push me ahead in terms of design; their enthusiasm encourages me to experiment. And it's fun. I want to keep going.
You decide. Do you really want me to go get Isabelle and her bees?