Copyright and exile to Iona

Celtic Cross Embroidery, photo take on Iona
The latest guidance issued by the UK Intellectual Property Office on copyright for sewing and knitting patterns will be of interest to some of my followers (or at least of interest to some of the people I follow) – see it here.

For people who want to use a knitting or sewing pattern to knit or sew, the guidance says:

  • you are allowed to make the item the pattern describes
  • under UK law, there may be restrictions on selling the item
  • you can make a working copy of the pattern for your own use, but you cannot sell/give away the original and keep the copy or vice versa.

It was somewhat co-incidental that before getting round to posting about the IPO notice, I came across an early fore-runner of a copy writing dispute in sixth century Ireland, between St Columba (also known as Colmcille) and St Finnian.

In essence, St Finnian had a rare copy of a Psalter: St Columba copied it without permission, but St Finnian thought as owner of the original, he should get to keep the copy as well. They went to the High King, Diarmait Mac Cerbhaill , who agreed with St Finnian, and ruled “To every cow her calf, and to every book its copy”.

St Columba was a bit annoyed about this and so went to war, and beat the King in the so called Battle of the Books. Because he won the battle, St Columba went into exile on Iona, which is where I took the photo of a made up item from a little kit I bought on holiday.

Yes, St Columba won the battle. Yes St Columba went into exile as result. No it is not an obvious outcome. You can read up more on these webpages, which is where I got most of my information: