Tuesday, November 4, 2008


In the past few months I have had too many emails asking for my help with ethics and copyright in beading. The true stories I have been receiving make me wonder what the hell is wrong with people?!!! Unthinking, uncaring, and in some cases just plain meanness. So in the weeks to come I will be writing a series of articles on Ethics and copyright in the world of beading. Now I am by far NOT the only one worried and caring about this issue so I will have several well known contributors to help me out. It is time to stop this before it gets any further out of hand. So I am asking all of you who read this to leave a short comment on what you think Beadwork Ethics are.
I look forward to hearing from all of you.

Bead with honor


  1. I really want to hear what you have to say about this!

  2. Well, I would think that beadwork ethics would be:
    Do not copy someone elses designs
    Do not copy someone elses designs and call them your own or mass produce them.
    If you use photos of someone elses creations in your blog, ask permission AND give them credit.

    Well thats all I can think of for now, but I am sure there are more, and can't wait to read what you say on the subject.

  3. All of the ethics you need should have been learned no later than kindergarten. Share, don't copy, put away your mess and play nice. Why must there be meanies out there?

  4. Can you be "inspired by" and make it your own without flat-out copying? I think that's where people struggle.

  5. I think that true artistry comes from the heart... I can tell if an artist is passionate about their creations and I always derive joy from supporting those artists. Copycats are often easy to spot because their work lacks heart. As far as ethics goes, it is so hard to impose them on someone who doesn't possess them already so it is an unfortunate reality.

    Your work is beautiful, by the way :)


  6. Ethics are one of those things that you either understand and incorporate into your life on a regular daily basis, or you don't, and usually by about the age of 5 or 6...it is unfortunate that common sense and consideration seem to have gone the way of the dodo bird, but that doesn't mean that those of us WITH ethics should give up.

    Your work should be your work. Period. If you are inspired by another artist in a design, give them credit with a contact link (web addy, email, etc.). If you work from a published design, follow the expectations of the author-for personal use does not mean making 30 copies to sell at your craft booth! If you purchase a pattern, the author generally is granting you free use of the pattern, but throw out a contact link anyway-it's considerate, and the right thing to do).

    As I said before, common sense and consideration-as Carolyn said, Share, don't copy; put away your mess; play nice.

  7. Don't copy a design and pass it as your own.... even if you have changed the colour it's still copying!!! don't go to classes and take the project that you learnt back to your students... yes teach the technique but don't teach the actual design!!! Be original! be honest! copying other people's work is stealing!!!

  8. More than anything, non infringing on copyrights. Just because you bought the book/magazine doesn't give you the right to profit from that pattern!!!

    It's not that complicated to get permission, and blatant infringement drives me nuts!

    Also, not really an ethics issue, but it falls in the same area..if you sell on the same site as someone, don't ask them IF or HOW they got permission...1-if it's posted that you did, you DID. 2- it's impolite, especially when you want to use it to compete with their store!

  9. I think sometimes people can't distinguish between using a technique versus using an exact pattern. For them, it's one and the same, and it depresses me.

    I think successful artists of any medium are people who don't want to follow any design, but want to create their own.

  10. Do unto others...

    I agree with what's already been said. There are many new beaders who simply don't realize or just maybe don't understand that patterns in a books and magazines are copyrighted and cannot be created for profit. But then there are also many people who think that if it's on the internet or published in a book or magazine, it's fair game and they are free to make it and sell it. It's the blatant use of other people's patterns and styles for profit that really gets me.

    On the other hand, there are situations where you've come up with something you believe to be original and completely your own, only to find your piece is so similar to another artist's piece that it appears to be copied. What do you do then?

  11. I think Marlene Blessing said it best in her article on Ethics in Beadwork Magazine, "don't do anything to another beader that you wouldn't want done to you". That about sums it up to me. If I found out someone was teaching one of my projects in a class after all of the hard work and effort went into not only the design but directions (not to mention all that is involved with getting the instructions and diagrams right)I would come unglued! Even if they were giving me credit for the design but did not ask for my permission. What's up with that?? I know of far too many bead artists that this has happened to and it makes my stomache turn. I could go on and on but I shall step off my soapbox now. All I can say is shame on them.

  12. Bead ethics, for me personally are:

    Not using someone elses pattern for profit without their permission.
    Not passing off someone elses pattern or work as your own.
    Not using someone elses instructions or patterns to teach a class.
    And always giving credit where credit is due.

  13. Patterns are the artist's. Techniques are not. Changing colors or beads does not mean they have changed the pattern, and counts as stealing.

    Echoing what others have said- copying designs, selling others' work as one's own, using others' designs without permission- all unethical. Looking at something cool and saying, "Ooooh, I want to make a bracelet in purple delicas using peyote stitch, but I think I'll make ducks on mine instead of houses!" is perfectly okay. :-)

  14. I think education, education and education are so vital-- with the aim of being ethical, not squeezing through a loophole, real or imagined.
    When in doubt ask the person whose work you're getting 'inspiration' from. Or, just so there's no doubt at all, I can personally recommend the make up your own patterns method!

  15. I don't see a problem with someone being inspired to make something like I've made. But if I inspired them, then I feel it's important that they acknowledge that my item was their inspiration. I really don't have a problem with someone making something like mine, it's sort of an honor.

    I do have a problem when someone will go as far as copy an item, name and how it is photographed. And then under price what mine is selling for! That's not good ethics!!!

  16. Such an incredibly complex issue! No wonder beady blogs and forums all over the world are obsessed with this topic.

    When I first started beading, I didn't really understand that just changing the bead colours and shapes didn't necessarily mean it became my design. Now that I am trying to design my own tutes, there are times when I spend a lot of angst wondering if the design is "derivative" or not.

    I make it a policy not to copy other people's designs but the overlap between technique and a new design can sometimes be very blurry.

    There are many times when I see a magazine article and it lights a flash bulb in my head which says "there's an idea". It does not mean what I make can be immediately identified as coming from that source, but it has definitely been inspired by something in that article. Do I then need to go and ask that person if I can use the idea?

    There are so many beaders now and so many ideas which are more accessible than any other time. One of my beady friends made a bracelet for a workshop tute, only to discover the same bracelet project as a tute in B&B magazine. She had not revealed her project to anyone and had not seen the mag until after the bracelet was made. Although it was in different coloured beads it looked similar enough to cause her to have to not use the project into which she had put a lot of work. It can happen that way.

  17. I would say any beader/artist/designer/writer etc...who have ethics, would not willingly, knowingly...copy/steal another artists work...

    Your tag says it all Nicole
    "Bead with Honor and Integrity"

  18. Copyright is a real issue.
    Some people just don't care.
    It's the same in the country graphics community. People not only copy ideas, but also the whole graphics.

    It helps when for every image copyright is mentioned and the pace where people got the image from.
    That way tracing is possible.

    In case there are problems: inform the authorities.
    Normal laws apply to internet too.


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