I have to say the issue of what is copyrightable and what isn't and what is ethical and what isn't is beginning to confuse me a bit. With the proliferation of magazines, books, classes, workshops, online patterns and teachers, the edges are beginning to blur a bit. Thankfully, there are a few points I am clear on!
First, it is never acceptable to copy pages from a book, class or magazine and use them to teach your own class unless you are the author of the pages. Second, it is never acceptable to copy someone's original work, whether it be a quilt, a piece of jewelry, a wallhanging, etc. for anything other than personal use without permission from the creator. I have always assumed it is ok to make it for personal use, otherwise why include step by step instructions on making it? Right?
You with me so far?
Now is where is begins to blur for me...if I learn a technique from a magazine and make an original design can I sell/teach it? How "original" does my design have to be, since we already know that the technique didn't originate with me? From what I see in the magazines, books, etc., it seems that you cannot actually copyright a technique, especially something like the well-known off loom stitches like peyote, herringbone, brick, right-angle weave, etc. But you can copyright certain combinations? Or are just the finished pieces copyrightable?
Let me give you a recent example...I am a fan of Phyllis Dintenfass's beadwork, especially the wonderful components she creates with a unique combination of peyote and herringbone stitch. A few months ago there was a profile of Phyllis in a wellknown bead magazine with many samples of her work including some jewelry made with multiples of her components. I looked her up on the web and found that she not only teaches, but she also sells patterns and kits of some of her work. I was interested in a particular component she calls a "sea whirl" and contacted her and was able to purchase the instructions for the component. Now I've made several of these little sea whirls, using different beads (seeds in place of delicas or 15's in place of 11's and different colors of beads)...now the question is can I sell these components? Can I teach them (not using Phyllis's instruction sheets, of course)? I would always give her verbal credit, of course, and not claim them as my own original idea (although I've seen cases where this was not honored at all!), but is it even ok to do that? How far beyond making them for my own personal use can I go? Or is that where I need to stop?
I also have to say I was confused by seeing others teaching classes based on what looks to me like Phyllis's components but using them in a slightly different way....since Phyllis is also teaching in that same venue, I would guess that it's acceptable? Or, is the technique itself, the particular combination of two non-copyrightable stitches, also not copyrightable?
What do you think?