Software piracy is a term for the copyright infringement of software and refers to several practices which involve the unauthorized copying of computer software.
Interestingly, copyright infringement has been called piracy since at least 1703. In the forward to Daniel Defoe’s corrected edition of The True-Born Englishman, the author makes reference to “pirates and paragraph men” who distributed copies of his poem on the streets.
You may think you are “being a good friend” when you “just share a copy” of your embroidery designs, e-books, patterns, or programs with others. Did you know you are committing a felony? It really doesn’t matter whether you like this law or not, or even “believe in it”, it is a real law and it applies to Grandma sharing designs with her quilt group to “bootleggers” mass producing items for resale.
If laws are for protection, who does the copyright law protect? It protects the designer and it protects you. The designer earns a living from selling his/her original products. When unauthorized copies are made and distributed, the designer is denied any profit. Essentially, those who share copied designs are stealing from the designer. Some very popular designers have gone out of business not because they weren’t popular and couldn’t sell their designs but simply because their designs were copied and shared or sold on eBay.
How does copyright law protect you? By protecting designers, you will continue to have access to low-cost (it may not seem that way to you, but if you knew what it really took to produce a packaged collection, you’d be shocked), creative and innovative designs. If designers can’t recover their investment and earn a profit, there is no incentive to create new designs.
Copyright law also protects you by making sure you get what you thought you bought and not a knock-off. The benefits of this may include:
- All product documentation, customer support, and any other collateral information or materials.
- Free update information for registered users. Note that this does not necessarily mean that the updates themselves are free and you do have to actually do something to be registered. Unless you purchase a downloadable product that includes registration during the ordering process, there is no way to track who purchases the software.
- Helps keep your computer virus-free. This is an important factor—what would be the cost to you if your hard drive suddenly erased itself?
- Supports future product development while holding down cost of goods. Lets face it, would you continue to work for a company if you didn’t get paid? This is what designers are doing when their designs are shared and not purchased.
- Keeps you out of jail!
Be especially wary of buying “huge design collections!” on eBay; these are typically CDs or DVDs of illegal copies from a variety of sources. You may find yourself served with a cease and desist order, or worse, a lawsuit, just be purchasing pirated designs whether knowingly or unknowingly.
So what exactly does copyright infringement cover? In general, here is a list of key points for the embroiderer:
- Distribution of any modified copyrighted computer files or designs that you yourself did not originally create from scratch.
- Installation on more than one computer, sewing machine, or disc for multiple users. The operative phrase in that point is “multiple users.” Designs are for original purchaser only. Think of them as a toothbrush—would you want to share a toothbrush with someone else? What this rule means is that a single purchased copy of a design may not be used in a class on multiple machines whether on disc, card, CD, or loaded into the sewing machine’s memory only. The exception? When the teacher created the design herself or has express written consent from the owner of the copyright.
- Uploading, downloading, emailing, copying, renting, trading, sharing, or transferring electronic files of copyrighted designs on the internet, computer network, or via direct connections.
- Duplicating software to sell, share, loan, rent, or distribute freely without permission of the copyright owner. This includes reselling opened packages.
So What Am I Allowed To Do?
Obviously, you have the right to use the designs for the manner in which they were created, which in the case of machine embroidery designs is for machine embroidering. Do be aware that some embroideries of licensed characters—Winnie the Pooh for instance—may have limitations. Typically, licensed designs may only be stitched on items for personal use, which includes creating items for your grandchildren but not for donation to, say, the church bazaar. Some designs may have quantity limits and this is to restrict mass reproduction of the designs.
Typically with non-licensed (but still copyrighted!) designs, you have the right to sew and resell in quantity. And chances are with a home machine, you won’t be going into mass manufacturing in your back bedroom!
So you have the right to install it on your home computer, sew it out on the machines you own, on the items/fabrics/garments of your choice, in the colors you want, and to modify it to your heart’s content. If you choose to the latter, be sure to do so on a copy of the file and remember the designer is no longer responsible for the outcome once you apply an edit function—including resizing—to the design.
If you have made modifications to a design and someone wants to purchase your version, you cannot sell it. To avoid any wrong doing, have the person purchase their own copy of the design and then you may charge (if desired, but certainly not required) for the edited version labor.
The Gold Standard Test for Copyright Violation
There is a simple way to determine if you’ve violated any copyright laws. Just ask yourself this one question: if by sharing this item, did you eliminate a sale? Copyrighted items are for use by the original purchaser only!
Consequences of Copyright Violations
While penalties vary by country, keep in mind you may have to pay the copyright owner for losses she suffers plus any profits you may have received for copying. Or, in the US, the copyright owner can choose statutory damages of up to $100,000 for each infringed work. That makes those shared “free” designs pretty expensive! Additionally, you could face a jail term of up to 6 years and have all of your equipment confiscated.
The real consequences, however, are that licensors will refuse to allow their work to be used. Design costs will raise (they have dropped considerably from the early 1990s), designers will go out of business, and our industry growth and innovation will become stagnant.
How You Can Help
Don’t copy or share designs! Step up to the plate and be the leader; “just say no!” Support honesty and integrity in business life, personal life and social life. Set an example without always hopping on a soapbox and encourage others to join you.
How to Protect Yourself
Always purchase designs from a reputable source. LindeeG Embroidery is an authorized reseller of the designs you see on this site. You can be sure that with any designs you purchase here, you will have the right to use as the designer has stipulated on the package.
LindeeG Embroidery’s Stance
LindeeG Embroidery will not tolerate unauthorized copying of designs, ebooks, patterns, software, or other copyrighted materials and will enforce the law to its fullest extent.