Thursday, July 31, 2008

Proprietary

I am, I'm afraid, one of those people who walks through a craft fair and quietly notes all the things I can make myself. I get ideas browsing through the stores at etsy and have on occasion, made items I've seen for myself and family. I would however, never make those things to sell. It just doesn't seem like the right thing to do, but I know there are plenty of people who have absolutely no problem knocking off everything they see for a chance at profit. They are often disguised as curious customers or beginners that claim they just need a little help and are huge fans of your work.

Nearly every day someone complains of being copied and even disregarding the natural hive mind that has many coming up with the same idea independently of each other, too many of the complaints are genuine. The other day I noted someone who was distraught that her product was being reproduced my many people using the name she came up with for it. At first blush it seems like a blatant case of theft until you read on to discover that she has published a how-to on her blog for this product. Seriously, are you kidding me, what did she think was going to happen with that?

It really is wonderful that the handmade community is so sharing with each other. We like to help others learn new crafts and improve their skills, but we can't afford to forget that not everyone is in the game to learn and grow. Lots of people are in it to make money and will take advantage of every opening they get. People are always asking how to respond to people who convo them asking how they make something or where they get supplies. Some are even bold enough to ask while explaining that they want to make your product to sell. Why on earth would you want to share the very details you may have spent years working on to a relative stranger to help them compete with you? I know that you want to help and you don't want to be rude, but the answer to the question should be, I'm sorry, but that is proprietary information. Then you can send them off to Google or the library so they can learn through hard work, like you probably did.

It is a fine line we walk between community and competition. I started my tatting challenge to not only expose tatting to new people as a way to sell more pieces, but also to populate the world with more tatters. I'm working on the principle that the craft getting more popular will allow us all to succeed. I am however acutely aware that the move may inevitable bite me in the arse by gifting me with more competition. Look, I don't tat to make money, but it is a motivating factor in the creation of new patterns and designs. I would be a liar, if I said that I wasn't happy that they aren't hundreds of tatters on etsy. I like that I don't have to worry about people copying me. I have no problem sharing a pattern or two, in fact I plan on offering a few here at some future point, but I'm certainly not going to sell my most popular designs as patterns to tempt fate. I'm glad to help and I like to share, but I've developed a degree of paranoia from watching others suffer that I just can't ignore. So for now, most of my patterns will remain proprietary information.

3 comments:

Jrahn said...

I totally feel you. So how's my hat coming along these days?

Runway Crochet said...

This is EXCELLENT! You worded it well and it sooooo rings honest and true! It's happened to me! Worse!!! I've seen others claim well-known designers' work as their own in their shops, when I have the pattern book sitting on my bookshelf! Some folks sure have no moral compass! It's shameless!!!

Cheers to you and your success with your tatting! =)

Jeanette said...

You started me on needle tatting, and your videos are super generous. You have given a lot of information for newbies to get started, so don't feel bad for keeping your designs proprietary. Just keep being awesome and inspirational. :)