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We have had several of our customers ask about using patterns that they have purchased to make doll clothes to resell. There was a very good article written in the fall 1994 issue of McCall's Patterns Magazine on the subject of copyrights. The magazine has given us permission to "reprint" the article here for your information.

McCall's Patterns Magazine - Fall 1994

Ask Meg Carter

Dear McCall's Customers,

Every week we receive several letters asking for permission to sell items (both craft and apparel) made from our patterns. These letters usually look like this:

"I've used several McCall's patterns to make gifts for friends and family. Everyone things they are just wonderful! Recently, my husband and I attended a crafts fair and he thought my crafts were even better than most of what we saw for sale. Would it be possible for McCall's to grant me permission to make and sell craft items created from McCall's patterns? I'd be happy to credit the pattern number on each item."

While we are delighted to hear that our customers enjoy our patterns, we must decline to grant the rights to produce or manufacture items made from our patterns which are intended for sale. Not only would such production be a violation of the copyright we hold on each pattern (extending for thirty-seven years from the time we issue the pattern), but in certain cases, it would also violate the rights of our licensees, such as Nancy Zieman, Kitty Benton, or Faye Wine.

In purchasing a pattern, you purchase the right to make up that garment or craft item for personal use only. You may use the pattern for personal use as many times as you would like, either for items you keep or for gifts. You may not use our patterns to create items which you intend to sell.

"But," you say, "I'm not really in business. I'm just trying to make a little extra money." The fact is that once you begin to profit by the sale of items, you are in business.

"I'm confused. Does this mean that all those seamstresses who are making garments for private customers are operating illegally?"

No, indeed. Essentially what happens with a seamstress arrangement is as follows. An individual purchases our patterns for personal use, but instead of doing the actual labor herself, she commissions someone else to make the item for her. It is perfectly legitimate for the seamstress to charge for her labor. That labor may even include the time spent shopping for the fabric and pattern the customer has selected. In some cases a customer may commission a seamstress to make several of a single item, such as bridesmaids' dresses, but in this case the seamstress is still sewing for specific clients, the bridesmaids.

Seamstresses should beware of clients who ask them to sew multiple items from a McCall's pattern which the client intends to resell. In this case both the client and the seamstress would be in violation of our copyright. Seamstresses should also beware of clients who commission multiple garments from a McCall's pattern for a club or organization, but do not give the seamstress the opportunity to fit each garment on the individual for whom it is intended. Such a use of McCall's patterns is no longer personal, but instead crosses the line into mass production and is a violation of our copyright.

In addition to these guidelines, you should also be aware that it is not enough to make small changes in a pattern and then call it your own. If the final item can be shown to have come from a McCall's pattern, you are in violation of our copyright.

If you would like more information about copyrights and marketing your own designs, we recommend that you refer to Creative Cash, How to sell your Crafts, Needlework, Designs & Know-how by Barbara Brabec. Although this book is not currently available in bookstores, it can be found in libraries or ordered directly from Barbara Brabec Productions, P.O. Box 2137, Naperville, IL 60567 for $16.95 including postage.

Meg Carter

I hope that the above article has helped some of you with your questions about copyrights and pattern usage. Inasmuch as all of the designs we offer at TLC Doll are copyrighted, many of the designers will give you a license (for a fee) to manufacture their designs for resale. It is better to know this ahead of time than have a "bad" surprise later!


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