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:





One response to “Copyright and exile to Iona”

  1. Albertina McNeill Avatar

    I used to blog about crochet but have set all the posts to private after a battle to stop my stuff ending up on Pinterest. I’ve pretty much stopped posting images online for the same reason. I’ve dropped out of Facebook crochet groups because of the way other members took advantage openly of patterns, the hard work of others, to make money for themselves. If I commented on this or dared to suggest that it was unfair I became the target of abuse. In an effort to support a UK maker I bought an item through a Facebook page I thought she had designed herself. It turned out that she had used a US designed pattern which stipulated that items made using that pattern could be sold as long as the designer was credited, something she had never done. I’ve hoped that the UK would do something to help creatives protect their IP from sites like Pinterest and Internet Archive but I don’t think this will ever happen. In the end I believe that creativity is stifled by this kind of activity because if you lose out regularly on some or all you might have earned from a pattern, a photo, a blog post or anything else you have made the effort to create from scratch you stop bothering.

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