Copyright Interpretation:                                                      

This is my feelings on copyright and may not hold up in a court of law,  but I would be willing to go to court under these understandings of the law.

I have the wood gear clock patterns I designed, so I wrote to the  copyright office to get the needed information on the copyright laws. My  understanding is that once you draw the pattern it is automatically  copyrighted. This copyright goes on 50 years after my death. If I have not  filed the formal paperwork and paid the $20.00 filling fee for the copyright,  the only thing that is different is that I cannot claim as much in damages for  an infringement on my copyright. Without the formal filing my damages can  only be for the actual loss of income to me. I understand this to mean that if  you have copied and sold my pattern I can only recover the cost of the  patterns you have sold, so on a $10.00 pattern, you sold 100 of them I can  only file for a payment of $1000.00 against you.

The registration can be made at any time within the life of the copyright. I  can make the formal filing, for the copyright, 30 days prior to the filing of a  case against you on my copyright, and then I can file a suit against you for a  lot of additional cost. The additional fees can include all court cost,  attorney fees, and filing fees. Plus any probable loss to my income caused  by your infringement on my copyright. As you can see this could bring that  $1000.00 suit up maybe a $10,000.00 suit against you. So there are some advantages to filing the copyright.

Now then, what is an infringement on a copyright. If I sell the rights to a  magazine to publish my work, they can print the material without infringing  on my copyright. I have authorized then to publish my work. Depending on  the contract I have made with them, it may be only published only once, or  may have had a clause that they can publish it as many times and in as  many different publications, they control, as desired, for the term of the  copyright. This meaning the pattern could be published in a monthly  magazine, again in a book of the best patterns, again in another book of the  all time great patterns, and so on. But you were only paid one time for  allowing them the rights to publish your pattern.

So what rights do you have to use the pattern when you purchase to  magazine or book. One of the better know magazines printed a statement  that and pattern in the magazine could not be made for sale without the  copyright holders permission. You can make all you want for yourself or  gifts, but just can't sell them. Unless they were designed but the magazine  themselves. What a way to confuse us. My feeling is that once I purchase  the book or magazine I have purchased the rights to make and sell that  item, within reason. Now what is within reason. I feel that is I make the  item and sell it a local craft shows that is within reason. But if I publish the item for sale it is an infringement on the copyright. Meaning I can't make  the item and buy ads in a publication advertising the item for sale. My  reasoning behind this is that anyone selling patterns is aware that it is a very  common practice to sell craft items. Knowing the reason I purchased the  pattern was to make it, and possibly sell some to recoup my costs. I am  buying there designs because I liked them or felt that others would buy  them.

So what can I do with the actual pattern then. Well any designer should  realize that I may buy the pattern and give a copy to a friend. Most have  probably done this themselves. This is a fairly common practice of any  friendship. But I cannot make 20 copies of the pattern and hand them out  to everyone. What about posting the pattern on the internet for everyone  to download for free. Or copy the pattern to sell to others. How about  taking a pattern and try to sell it to another publication as my design. That I  think we would all agree as infringing on the copyright. One publisher's  legal department feels that if you copy the pattern from the publication, to glue onto to wood, that you have just infringed on the copyright. There is a  lot of common sense we need to consider in our own interpretation of  copyrights. As stated on one of the forums on the web, be careful on patterns  involving trademarks. Or patterns of things like the Disney characters.  These are all copyrighted, and the person who designed the pattern better  have the approval of the parent copyright of the design. There is clipart  stated as copyright free, but when you read some of the fine print, it may  limit the number of clipart designs that may be used on a single item or  design.

We all need to realizes that anyone designing a pattern should be to one  who profits from that pattern. If the designers could not profit , why would  they have any desire to design more patterns. Keep the designer making a  profit , and you will always have a source of new patterns that you never  had before. 

For more detailed information you can check out this page: or or


A view from one of the Designers that was posted on one of the chat groups.

From: "Dirk Boelman" <dboelman@m...>
Date: Sun Feb 25, 2001 4:42am
Subject: patterns...what can we sell

Boy was I surprised to see the lengthy list of emails about "patterns-what can we sell". I can appreciate everyone's concerns...and it's too bad there isn't a standardized statement by all pattern designers/publishers. But, the reason that there isn't, is because "we" (pattern designers) all have different feelings about it. I won't name any names, but there have been several conversations to try to establish common rules/regulations regarding pattern usage. I don't know what's the best idea, but I have been uncomfortable with what has been suggested thus far. In my opinion the limits being suggested are too strict.

I have always felt that people should be free to make as many projects as they want from my patterns (on their scrollsaw)...and I have always hoped that everyone would be very successful selling the completed projects!!!

I draw patterns for 2 reasons: First of all, It always brings me great pleasure to see others experience the joy of making something with their own hands (even though they cannot draw it up themselves) but still get to experience great pride in making something beautiful, "with just a little help from from my patterns". It is a great thing for me to be able to share "what I am good at" with others....and it is a wonderful reward to see my artistic abilities making others happy!!! 

The other reason I am drawing patterns, is to produce an income for me and my family...and contrary to what some people think...this is "not" a big money-maker! As more and more people start producing and selling patterns, they take a piece of the pie, too.( I don't mean to complain, it's just the way it goes.) 

Perhaps this may be where I can shed a little light on the reasons why pattern designers want to set limits on quantities of projects made from their designs: It takes a long time to design, draw and develop a pattern, sometimes days, weeks, and even months. And the patterns are special, they are part of you...something that you made yourself. You have pride in them. You "hope" that because you do a good job of designing the pattern/project, that it will produce an amount of sales income that will be pretty good, You establish a price for the pattern, hoping that you will sell a number of patterns to "repay " you for your work and you don't mind "sharing" your pattern this way with people who do scrollsawing. They will enjoy making it, and perhaps make and sell some of them, which will afford them the opportunity to possibly make a living from their scrollsawing. And everybody is happy!!! Unfortunately many patterns do not sell like you think they maybe they only sell $100 or $200 (or less) in 2 or 3 years!! You would be surprised to hear the amount of dollars produced from even "big selling"'s not a huge amount!!! So...say that you walk into a mall somewhere and see a display of wooden ornaments, (or whatever) that are laser cut, (from your pattern) and you learn that the store in the mall is a chain store with a couple hundred other stores around the country, and they are all selling these ornaments!!! Maybe they have only sold 500 of the ornaments, or maybe they sold 5,000..but they got $5.00 for each of them. They made something like $2,500 to $25,000 on your ornament design. You, on the other hand made about $300 on the ornament by selling 100 patterns at $3.00..and it took you 2 years to make that much!! Maybe it's greed, or maybe it's just that you think that because you designed it, you should get a little bit of that big money being made on your design. What is fair?

I appreciate hearing your concerns regarding this matter, and I will make sure to add a clear statement in my next catalog about usage of my patterns. I will also pass along your concerns to other people that I am involved with in the magazine and book publishing world. 

Of course I can only speak for myself, so I would recommend that you also be aggressive and contact every author, artist, designer, publisher, etc. and ask them
straight out what their limitations are regarding usage of their patterns to develop projects. 

Hope my insight is helpful..
Dirk Boelman


Look for the notices:

It has been brought up that some have problems at the copy stores like Kinko's in getting patterns copied. Look in the book and the release to have copies made might be there. For example on my clock plans I have this notice:

Permission is granted to make up to 4 copies of the 
pattern templates from this manual.

The sole purpose of this was to give consent for the copies to be made. In my case I chose 4 copies for no special reason. I concluded not too many would make more than 4 copies in one trip to the copy store, unless they were selling the patterns, that is not allowed.. Nothing prevents them under this statement from getting 4 copies each time they go to the copy store.

But each designer, copyright holder, may have different views of what they will allow in making copies of their patterns. If in doubt, contact the copyright holder for permission.

Another look at What the law really means.

Posted on Sloan's Yahoo Discussion Site 1/19/02

I rarely post to this club, although I view with great admiration the beautiful fretwork pieces that are posted here. My scroll saw use is primarily for decorative painting purposes and I am a member of this club so that I can continue to learn more about how to use my saw. I have, however, published a few decorative painting patterns, regularly sell my work, and have learned a lot about copyright in the process. (but I'm certainly not an expert!!)

However, the copyright laws for artisans are very clear and, although often misunderstood, basically state that an object is copyrighted upon it's creation, published or not or formally copyrighted or not. Unless the magazine or pattern book specifically states that you can sell a design at a craft fair, for example, you can't. Pattern book designs are generally given only for personal use, unless the exception is made.

An excellent article about copyright and artists (and believe me, scroll sawyers are artists!) can be found at:

I encourage everyone to always check carefully to be sure that the copyright laws and requirements are met in the work that you do. As an artist also, copyright infringment could seriously affect my income; and I know that it could do the same to yours.

Okay, now don't shoot the messenger! LOL


Gabrielle Nemes


Re: [proscrollers] Is TRADING of copyrighted material illegal?
Date: Fri, 8 Mar 2002 14:11:34 -0600
From: "Dirk Boelman" <>

I have been monitoring this one for a few days, and you asked for my reply, so here goes:
Let me start by asking "Do you honestly think that anyone in their right mind would TRADE their original patterns without keeping some kind of a copy for themselves?"
Regarding whether it is legal or illegal...I am certainly no fancy-pants lawyer...and I certainly have no desire to waste my time & energy policing copyright abuse. What ever happened to people's ability to know if something is right or wrong, all by themselves...without basing their answer on whether it's legal or not? Not everything that's right.
Crook's get off the hook everyday because of "legalities". If something bothers your conscious it's probably WRONG. If you have reason to question whether something is legal or illegal, it's probably WRONG. My wife, Karen, told me that her Dad used to say to his kids "If you're
afraid or embarassed to come tell me what you did while you were out last know you probably shouldn't have done it!! Everyone has their own ability to tell right from wrong!
Trading, selling, swapping, it what ever you want. I know people do it everyday, I wish they wouldn't, but what can I do about it??? Yes, it cuts very deep into potential pattern sales for designers like me. Other designers have tried to figure out methods to prevent people from doing it, including printing the patterns in colored ink, etc. But, in
my opinion, the more you try to do to prevent it, the harder people try to work around it.
In regards to the comment about "most companies or pattern designers are too small to have the law go after you, but don't try the big ones"... Consider this: How come the big businesses keep getting bigger & bigger...and the little guys just lose out? Us little guys need all the help we can get. BOTTOM LINE: Don't dance around legalities, let your conscious be your
guide. Pattern designers are not "wealthy" people, they are just people who are really trying hard to make a living from their scrollsaw patterns. If you like their patterns, and get pride and satisfaction (and maybe make a few bucks) from the projects you're able to create from their keep them in business....BUY THEIR PATTERNS....otherwise they just might fade away!!!

"This looks like a good explanation of copyrights. Take a look and see
what you think. The guy who wrote it is a lawyer in Des Moines. I would
love to get permission to reprint. If you think it is good too, let me

Getting Copyright Right 
Scribbled by Brett Trout     Copyright 2002

Although, as of the date of publication, the following information is believed to be timely and accurate, do not rely on it without independent verification. None of the following information constitutes legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact your local Intellectual Property attorney. For additional information on Intellectual Property or Information Technology laws, or to check out Brett's new book, please contact Brett. 

What is a copyright? A copyright is the exclusive right to reproduce or distribute an original work of authorship. Original works of authorship include software programs, photos, text and sounds, as well as other intellectual works. A copyright does not protect ideas, procedures,
processes, systems, forms, methods of operation, concepts or principles. 

How do I get a copyright? Since 1989, copyright protection attaches to a work as soon as it is "fixed" in a tangible medium. Copying to a disk or hard drive, or ripping to a CD all constitute "fixation" for the purposes of copyright protection. How long does a copyright last? For an individual author, copyright protection extends for the life of the author, plus 70 years. For anonymous works and works for hire, the term is 95 years from publication, or 120 years from creation, whichever comes first. Do I need to register my copyright? Neither publication
nor registration is a prerequisite to secure copyright protection.
Copyright registration does, however, provide several advantages. 
Registration is a prerequisite to U.S. copyright owners bringing an infringement lawsuit in the U.S. Registration also provides statutory damages and attorney fees in certain cases. 

What is the proper copyright notice? The Universal Copyright Convention (the UCC), of which the U.S. is a member, dictates that proper copyright notice consist of the symbol (c) (the word "Copyright" or the abbreviation allowed under U.S. law are not acceptable), the year of first publication, and the name of the copyright proprietor. Example: (c) 2002 Brett J. Trout. The copyright notice should be permanently placed on copies of the work in a manner that it gives reasonable notice of the claim of copyright under normal usage. Since March 1,
1989, affixation of proper copyright notice is not mandatory in the  U.S. Proper copyright notice, however, prevents an infringer from limiting damages by claiming "innocent infringement." 

Who owns the copyright in a work? Upon fixation, the copyright immediately becomes the property of its author. If an individual creates a work outside of any contractual or employment obligation, the individual is the author. If an individual creates a work as part of an employment obligation or as a "work for hire" the employer is the author. An author can assign the copyright in the work to a third party. In such a case, the third party would own the copyright, but the authorship would not change. 

What is a "work made for hire?" Under 17 U.S.C. 101, a "work made for hire" is: (a) A work prepared by an employee within the scope employment; or (b) A work (if the parties expressly agree in a written instrument signed by them that the work should be considered a work made for hire) specially ordered or commissioned for use as: a contribution to a collective work; a part of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; a translation; a supplementary work (forewords, afterwards, editorial notes etc.); a compilation; an instructional text for use in systematic instructional activities; a test; an answer material for a test; or an atlas. 

Note that software development and Web site design do not fall under any of the "work for hire" categories. Therefore, while a company owns software development and Web site design produced by its employees, it does not own such materials produced by an independent contractor. Even if the parties agree software development and/or Web site design are to
be a work for hire, these works do not meet the statutory criteria.
Therefore, it is very important for a company not to rely on a work for hire designation to transfer rights in such projects. Instead, the company must obtain a written assignment of the copyright in the commissioned work from the independent contractor. 

How can I tell if something is in the public domain? Unfortunately, there is no sure way to confirm a work is in the public domain. While it is possible to check the Copyright Office to confirm a copyright is registered, the absence of registration does not mean the work is in
the public domain. Unless a work was published prior to 1923, you simply cannot tell if something is copyrighted. Do not rely on the absence of a copyright notice, Internet urban legends, or the fact that you might have received the work via email as an indication that the
work is in the public domain. Infringers rarely provide the copyright notice when posting infringing material online and testaments as to the "public domain" or "open source" status of a work are notoriously inaccurate. 

A rather unscrupulous tactic is for an author to write a poem or software module and "somehow" place the work onto the Web. Once unrelated third parties begin to present the work as being in the "public domain" the work spreads like wildfire, making it impossible to
trace back to the author. Meanwhile, the author registers the copyright in the work, does a simple online search and tracks down all the infringers. As U.S. copyright law provides statutory damages for violations, the author simply sends the infringer a copy of a generic
lawsuit, along with a demand for several thousand, to tens of thousands of dollars. The author notifies the infringer that the use of the work is unauthorized, and that the author will file the lawsuit if the infringer does not pay the demand. Monetary demands are typically calculated to be slightly less than the cost of defending the lawsuit.
It is nearly impossible to prove the author actually placed the material online, so the infringer has little choice but to pay the demand. As tempting as it might be to use that undocumented "open source" software module or online poem, DO NOT use, copy, or transfer any copyrightable material, unless you can prove its public domain pedigree in court.  

Is copyright infringement a crime? It can be. While copyright infringement is typically a civil matter, in certain circumstances, U.S. copyright law makes it a misdemeanor or even a felony to willfully infringe on a copyright. What is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)? The DMCA is a law designed to address online copyright issues the original drafters of U.S. copyright law never anticipated. Although the DMCA has many provisions, it primarily limits liability of Internet Service Providers (ISPs), prohibits circumventing anti-piracy software,
and requires broadcasters of copyrighted material to pay royalties. DMCA's reach is so strong; it has even been held to prohibit linking to a site containing DVD cracks. The DMCA is very controversial, as many in the online community feels it unfairly stifles free speech.


Post from Gary Browning's MSN site:

portrait help </scrollsawportraits/customportraits.msnw?action=get_threads>

: Celebrity Portraits
This is how I sum it up when ever I am asked that question:

If you use a photo that did you did not take, it is a copyright infringement to create something from that photo with the intent to make a profit. If you are making something for yourself as an artistic expression, that is allowable.

My feelings are that it is highly unlikely that any of the celebs that I cut are going to show up at a craft fair I may be selling them at. I would NOT however but anything like that up on an auction (such as e-bay) to try and sell as I have seen others do. I'm sure Hollywood looks on e-bay quite often and those who do so are really asking for trouble.


Question submitted 7/5/2002 at 14:30.

Only the owner of copyright in a work has the right to reproduce their
work, or to authorize someone else to reproduce that work. Accordingly,
you cannot make a copy or copies of another's work, unless you have
owner's consent.

Mere ownership of a book, manuscript, painting, or any other copy or
phonorecord does not give the possessor the copyright. The law provides
that transfer of ownership of any material object that embodies a
protected work does not of itself convey any rights in the copyright.

Copyright Office
Library of Congress
101 Independence Ave SE
Washington DC 20559
(202) 707-3000

In regards to the response from the copyright you interpret that the celebrity would hold the rights or would the magazine/publication?

It all depends......

Sometimes the photographers work FOR the magazine therefore the magazine owns the copyright, other times it belongs to the freelance photographer. Usually somewhere along the side or bottom of a photo it will give credit to whomever took the photo.


A few more links of sites dealing with copyrights: Following the links from many of these sites will get you even more information.

Kristen McNeill let me know of a nice resource on copyright law one of her students stumbled across: . I was thinking this might be a good addition to your web page. If you do end up using this page can you do me a favor and thank Ben? She would be very excited to know that you found his link useful!

Another link to look at: