copyrighted plans

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Forum topic by Danpaddles posted 08-02-2013 04:31 PM 1572 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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576 posts in 2845 days

08-02-2013 04:31 PM

This may have been asked before- I have been invited to a show, to sell some projects. Is it legal/ ethical to sell things I have made from patterns in a book? I have a number of projects I have developed myself over the years, but I can increase my offerings a little if I use a few things from books and magazines.

In particular, I am looking to do some puzzles from this book:


The first book says, : Readers may make three copies for personal….. .. patterns themselves, however, are not to be duplicated for resale…...

So, I would not be selling copies of the pattern, but the actual results of using the pattern.

Any armchair lawyers care to weigh in? I do not want to step on the authors toes, he works for his money, and I do not want to get in trouble with the event sponsor. On the other hand- I find it hard to believe anyone is worried if I make a few bucks from their ideas. Particularly in the case of the Spielman book, it is about 25 years old.

Thanks for your thoughts!

-- Dan V. in Indy

16 replies so far

View debianlinux's profile


53 posts in 2298 days

#1 posted 08-02-2013 04:37 PM

I seem to be wrong and have thus edited away my errors.
I appreciate the opportunity to learn something I thought I already knew.

View AndyF's profile


5 posts in 2300 days

#2 posted 08-02-2013 04:45 PM

My understanding as a non-lawyer is that you would be violating the license agreement (not the copyright) if you sold projects when the pattern creator specified that this was not permitted.

Here is some interesting discussion:

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2606 days

#3 posted 08-02-2013 05:18 PM

Are you actually profiting off of these puzzles?? Both of these infringements are only actionable if there are profits involved. You would be notified by a cease and desist before problems arise. Note: all you have to do is tweek one thing in the puzzle to make it your own.

-- Who is John Galt?

View stefang's profile


16803 posts in 3868 days

#4 posted 08-02-2013 06:37 PM

No need to worry Dan. Many works of intarsia made from purchased patterns have won blue ribbons in fairs across the country and bragged about in Scroll Saw magazine. You are selling a product you made, not the plans. The people who sold you the plans make money from them and that’s why they want the copies limited and not distributed to others. If you are worried, make a small change as suggested above.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

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576 posts in 2845 days

#5 posted 08-02-2013 11:50 PM

Good answers, I think maybe I will be fine. Here is another scenario – I see a product on Etsy, using nothing more than that photo and my skills, I make one like it. I then sell it for a profit.

Still okay?

Aside from legal issues, at what point am I ripping off a fellow woodworker? I am not taking away from his sales, I am not selling on Etsy.

-- Dan V. in Indy

View fredj's profile


186 posts in 2351 days

#6 posted 08-03-2013 12:21 AM

Won’t use the man’s name or the company he started, however as a paddler you may know that the “story” was that he stole a number of designs, marketed them as his own and became very wealthy. Just a few changes and he got around the law. Not a lawyer, but if someone sold you plans, I would think you can do as you wish with what you make from said plans. As far as seeing a product, copying it and then selling the copy, a copy is on the same market, same site or not.

-- Fredj

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Joseph Jossem

492 posts in 2802 days

#7 posted 08-03-2013 12:48 AM

I see it here all the time I wouldnt worry about it to much unless theres big money involved.Companies here are always ripping off each others designs even copyrighted.I have noticed the one with the most money and lawyers always win.A friend had a solid product one day a lawyer came in next day he had to withdrawl all his items every where or get sued.He started it copyrighted it and still got nailed the other guy just had to many people at his disposal lawyers etc.

Funny part is the companies moto was no stealing be original

View jackthelab's profile


313 posts in 3226 days

#8 posted 08-03-2013 01:10 AM

Years ago, almost decades ago, we made a ton of these puzzles and sold them. Most of our designs came out of coloring books that were on sale at KMart or other places. We were never approached by anyone saying that our designed were copyrighted. Of course we never sold to the general public – just word of mouth. They used to sell well. If you are concerned, spend some time modifying the overall design so that it is no longer a direct copy of a copyrighted work. I would worry more about those that sell the bean bag boards with a college insignia on them. For the most part those are copyrighted and I have heard of the powers to be going after these folks as their University of Texas, Alabama, or North Carolina symbols on the boards were exact matches. Those are so much easier to spot than a simple dinosaur design. Just my thoughts but overall, I agree with Stefang. Good luck!

-- Dave in Minnesota - If it ain't broke, improve it!

View TimberFramerBob's profile


68 posts in 2457 days

#9 posted 08-03-2013 01:16 AM

“Good artists copy….great artists steal,” Picasso (and Steve Jobs)

-- ..........a man who works with his hands, his brains, and his an artist.

View Redoak49's profile


4226 posts in 2522 days

#10 posted 08-03-2013 02:24 AM

I probably will regret making the following comments and get a bunch of negative reactions but…..

Just because everyone does it, does not make it right. I think that the intent of the comments in the book are pretty clear and that you can make the puzzles for your own use.

Taking a copyrighted pattern and then selling the puzzles is not something that I would do nor do I think that it is legal. Do I think that anyone will sue you, probably not.

You could write to the authors of the puzzle book, Dave and Judy Peterson, and ask them. I plan on taking a class from them later this year and will ask the question.

View joeyinsouthaustin's profile


1294 posts in 2606 days

#11 posted 08-03-2013 02:27 AM

Red That would be very interesting.. To know first hand what thier intentions were and are, and how much is the intentions of the publisher, etc… would be a great learning moment for all. Keep us posted.

-- Who is John Galt?

View TimberFramerBob's profile


68 posts in 2457 days

#12 posted 08-03-2013 02:38 AM

Just my two cents…..I make plans for homes in the business i am in. If I make a specific set of plans for a client that are reproduced…...its a copyright problem. If i draw a set of prints and SELL them to the public….....I really have nothing to say…..i asked for a fee….. it was given to me and the product the person bought they now own. Can i say ,” dont sell what you made from my plans.” ? if youre that concerned….......dont sell your

-- ..........a man who works with his hands, his brains, and his an artist.

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Greg In Maryland

553 posts in 3531 days

#13 posted 08-03-2013 03:35 AM

I stayed at Holiday Inn Express last night, so I am somewhat of an expert on the topic.

There are two issues to consider:

1) Copyright/Intellectual Property violations
2) Breach of contract

The entire discussion presumes that we discussing making something other than a Xerox of the plans and selling them in your CD collection. That, as most everyone knows, except perhaps Ted, is a copyright violation.

The issue at hand, is what if I want to make an object from a plan that I purchased in a book or a magazine or on line? If you purchase something and the terms and conditions of the purchase state that as a condition of the purchase you agree not to make copies for sale (or some restriction like that) and you make some items for sale anyway after you agreed to the restriction and purchased the plan, you just have breached your contract with the seller. Copyright or intellectual property rights have nothing to do with this scenario. Now as someone has or will point out, “everyone does it all the time” or “how will they catch me” or “what are they going to do, sue me?” Yes, that is all correct and the chance of getting caught is pretty remote. However unlikely the chances of getting caught or the minimal risk of a penalty, it is unethical to knowingly breech a contract. My opinion, such that it is worth, is that it is wrong to sell items produced from plans that have restrictions placed on the purchase of such plans.

Now, what constitutes a contract? When I purchase plans from Wood Magazine’s online store, the plan comes with a contractual restriction that I am going to follow. But what about the same plan that is in issue 195 of Wood Magazine that I picked up at the news stand (do they have those anymore?) or in a book I purchased? What if I purchased it used? There are all sorts of disclaimers and such in the magazine, but does the mere purchase of a magazine constitute a contract? What if the magazine is shrink wrapped and I do not have an opportunity to evaluate the “contract” before I purchase the magazine? I don’t know the question to these answers, but my contractual experience leads me to believe that there is no “contract” with the purchase of a book or a magazine.

Keep in mind, lawyers, try to bludgeon us with gobbledygook and pretend that they have the law on their side and you better obey them or else. Well, most of us (me included, in reality) are mostly ignorant of the law and what our rights and obligations are. We simply follow along because some lawyer wrote that “thou shalt not” or “thou shall.” Just because some lawyer asserted a right, does not mean that it is enforceable.

Now, regarding intellectual property rights, here is a good article that discusses this issue: My takeaway from this article is that there is very little intellectual property rights (and protections) to designers of artistic items (furniture, etc.) and that I am pretty much free to make items for sale based on their designs, provided I don’t purchase them in a manner which causes breach of contract or cause confusion with the consumer.

Another way around this is to make a derivative work based on a plan that you feel is restricted. Change it to make it your own. Longer, shorter, fatter, taller. More detail, less detail, handles, no handles, feet, hooks, etc., etc., etc. Once you make it your own, you are free from any restriction.

I have exhausted any new found knowledge from my stay at a Holiday Inn Express and I’ll go back to the basement and chew on some wood.


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Joseph Jossem

492 posts in 2802 days

#14 posted 08-03-2013 04:02 AM

That was funny greg! holiday inn hahaa

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Mark Smith

509 posts in 2573 days

#15 posted 08-05-2013 04:02 PM

I’m not a lawyer, but many years ago I worked for a company who policed the market for copyright and trademark infringement violations. Here’s some things I learned on the enforcement end. If a company doesn’t enforce their own trademarks and copyrights it’s possible for them to lose them. For example lets say Harley-Davidson decided not to enforce their trademark and just let everybody in the world use it on whatever they want. They would eventually lose the right to enforce that trademark at all and the Harley logo would become part of the public domain. So because of that, Harley-Davidson actively enforces their trademarks as does most any large company with a valuable trademark.

Back when I worked enforcement on this we had contracts with specific companies for specific brands. I can’t remember them all but we did Ninja Turtles, The Simpsons, MLB, Betty Boop, and a few others. What we would do is go out and look mostly for stores selling counterfeit products. Then we would buy one of those products and get all the info on the store selling them. (This was back before the Internet) And one myth I can dispel (unless the law has changed in 20 years) is that if you change something small it makes it all better. That is not true, the courts have said it can still be a rip off. For example, Samurai Turtles that are green and wear masks were still a violation of Ninja Turtles copyrights.

Okay so back to enforcement, once we found a store selling these items we bought an item and then turned it over the law firm we worked for. The law firm would then draft a very nice letter to the store in question with a demand that they quit selling the items and also with a demand that they pay $2500 to the law firm in order to settle the case in lieu of a civil lawsuit being filed. There was much more to the letter than this, but you get the point. These stores would take these letters to their own lawyers who would advise them to pay the $2500 and quit breaking the law. Their lawyers knew the $2500 was very cheap as compared to what they faced in a civil suit. My understanding is there are many law firms and investigators out there still operating in this manner but I bet the $2500 has increased quite a bit since then.

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