Poofy Sheep Crochet Toy Pattern

September 20, 2013 in Crochet Toy Patterns, Front Page

Create your own crafting mascot!  This PDF pattern includes detailed instructions and diagrams for creating  a poofy sheep in 4.5″ and 3″ sizes.

Price: $5.50 USD

Tools & Materials

  • Small amounts of yarn, preferably acrylic
  • 2 4 mm (6 mm for large) plastic safety eyes
  • 2 circles of white felt, slightly bigger than eyes (optional)
  • fiber fill for stuffing
  • Size F (3.75 mm) hook
  • Yarn needle
  • Stitch Marker

Techniques Used

Pattern Piracy: 7 Things Designers Can Do to Fight It

September 19, 2013 in Designer's Studio

pirate_yarn

In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day I’d like to talk about an issue that plagues both independent and published designers: pattern piracy on the internet.  Pattern piracy is frustrating because there is no clear channel for handling such issues.  Even people with lots of money (i.e. Microsoft and the RIAA) are plagued with this problem. Here are six things you can do to fight piracy on your own.

#1 Contact the website owner

While this may seem like a waste of time, I always like to assume the best about people first. Many people are simply unaware of copyright laws, or if those don’t apply, general ethics surrounding the posting of patterns to their website.  When you email them, be polite but firm.  Tell them exactly what they need to do and give them a time frame for when you expect it to be done by.

If the pattern is available elsewhere, such as a Ravelry download or your own website, let them know it’s okay to link to that location instead.It is important to play nice, because word of mouth is still the best form of advertising for most designers. Additionally, if you can convert their page to a link back to your own website or pattern it increases the page ranking so this is a good thing.

What if there is no contact information?

Every now and then you’ll come across a site that has no clear way to contact the owners. In that case what you can do is a WHOIS search.  Simply type in the URL to the website and it should provide contact information.  In some cases, you will see that it is registered to the registration company on behalf of a “private registrant”, but if they give an actual name and address you can send them a DMCA take down notice. I recommend using a certified letter with receipt confirmation when sending snail mail.

#2 Contact their hosting provider

Thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act , U.S.  Hosting providers are required to comply with notice of copyright infringement claims.  To find the hosting provider, use the same WHOIS search.  Toward the bottom of the search you’ll see a list of nameservers.  For example, if you search riotofdaisies.com you’ll see the following nameservers listed:

ns1.dreamhost.com
ns2.dreamhost.com
ns3.dreamhost.com

This means that my hosting provider is Dreamhost.com.  If you contact them and report a copyright infringement they would be legally obligated to remove access to those web pages even without their customer’s permission.  Proof that no infringement has occurred must be supplied before access can be reinstated.  You should include all of the details from your WHOIS search as well as proof of copyright infringement.

Keep in mind that there is no such thing as international copyright laws so it will depend on the laws of the country in which the hosting provider is located how they are required to deal with copyright infringement.

#3 Contact their Internet Service Provider

The first two options are your best bet, but if that gets you no traction and you want to go all the way, the next thing to do would be to contact their internet service provider, who is also required by the DMCA to restrict access by those who commit copyright infringement.  Finding their ISP is a little more tricky because currently the only way to do this (easily) is with an email from the person.

If you have an email from them, find the “show all headers” option, sometimes called “view source”.  In most cases, emails pass through a series of servers (including your own email servers) before landing in your inbox.  In order to find their provider, look at the “received by” listings of servers for the one with the earliest date and time stamp.  That should be the originating server.  Then you would follow the same steps as above to contact them and report the infringement.  You will want to send them the full header of the email, the WHOIS information for the website, and any other supporting documentation you have about the copyright infringement.

This won’t always work for a number of reasons, but not the least of which is that they may be using a third party provider for their email service, which is what makes this option a long shot.  Again, this may only work with ISPs located in the United States.  It will depend on the laws of other countries whether they are required to respond.

#4 Contact their sponsors

In many cases, piracy websites give away your copyright material in exchange for ad revenue from sponsors.  Most sponsors don’t know where these ads appear much of the time, especially when they are served through a service like Google’s Ad Sense.  However, they do not want their good reputation to be smeared by pirates anymore than you want pirates stealing your hard work.

If the ads on the pirates’ website are being served through an ad service, you can contact the ad service which will then block and ban that site.

If not, you might consider contacting the sponsors directly but beware of clicking on anything on these websites as often they’re used to infect the unwary with spyware or spamware.  Don’t download or install anything from these sites.  Before you click a link, hover over it an look at the URL in the bottom of your browser window to make sure it jives with what the link says it is.

#5 Contact their payment gateway providers

The worst and ugliest case is that not only has someone stolen your work, but that they are now selling it for their own profit.  If the site indicates who they are using as a payment gateway, you can contact those companies to have them suspend service to the pirate website.  A few companies have already begun to address this issue, but contact them even if they do not have a clear cut way to report infringement.

#6 Report them to search engines

Sadly, many people who find these websites may not even realize that they too are infringing on your copyright.  If the website says something is free they assume that it is true.  If you can do nothing else, you can at the very least report them to the big name search engine providers to reduce their visibility to random users.  Unfortunately, for many companies outside the U.S. this might be your only option.

#7 Taking further action

First and foremost, document everything. Take screen caps of the website, save all emails, request return receipts on letters and faxes, and save copies of everything you send to anyone you contact.  If after sending a cease and desist letter to the perpetrator and DMCA notifcations to all the parties involved your copyright is still being infringed you are within your rights to bring suit against them under U.S. law (or the laws of their country if you so choose).  This is a drastic step, and likely not a cheap one but you do have the legal right to do so.  In the U.S. it is best to register a copyright before bringing a lawsuit.

If someone is selling your work illegally within the U.S., you can also report them for fraud to Fraud.org, who works with the Federal Trade Commission.  If the fraud is occurring outside the U.S. I encourage you to seek similar resources.  Since we designers don’t have the collective resources of Microsoft or Warner Brothers, our only hope is banding together.

Copyright in other countries

I noted in my previous post on copyright, trademark, and licensing, there is currently no international copyright laws.  However, a number of countries have signed the Berne Convention. This is an agreement between these countries to treat anything published in that country by that country’s copyright laws regardless of the country of origin.  The important thing to note is that the Berne Convention protects works that are (a) published in a country that is also a member of the Berne Union, and (b) protects them using the copyright laws of the country in which the work is being published.

One of the biggest areas of concern are Chinese websites.  Rest assured, what they are doing is illegal even in their own country.  Unfortunately, China is decades behind other countries in creating infrastructure and education for intellectual property rights in order to curb the rampant theft of intellectual property.  For this reason, China and eleven other countries are on a World Trade Organization watch list.  The good news is that Chinese citizens are becoming more aware of their copyrights and have begun suing Chinese corporations for copyright infringement so change is coming, if slowly.

How do I know if this is happening to me?

If you’ve gotten this far and now you’re wondering if  you might be the victim of pattern piracy here are a few things you can do to see where you patterns might have gotten to.

#1 Search Google

This is probably the easiest way to see what might be going on with your patterns. I would also recommend using Bing and Yahoo to search as each gives slightly different results. Search by both your name and the names of your patterns and see where they turn up.  Even better, do an image search using images from your pattern:

  1. On Google, go to the image link at the top left
  2. Click the camera icon in the search bar
  3. Upload an image from your pattern

#2 Google Webmaster Tools

If you run your own website, sign up for Google Webmaster Tools.  They’re free and ridiculously useful.  In this case, you can see who is linking to your content on your website.  This might lead you to those who are unintentionally infringing by reposting your content to their website.  The process to sign up is simple: They give you a file and you upload it to your website and then go to the URL for the file.  Easy peasy.

 #3 Sign up for Alerts

We designers are busy people so obsessively Googling your patterns may not be an option.  However, you can use services like Talkwalker.com or Google Alerts.  They send you an email roll up of everything they find related to your query so you can quickly review it rather than slogging through endless websites.  This has the added benefit of getting to see the buzz about you and your patterns as well.

Magic Ring Method of Crocheting in the Round

September 15, 2013 in Tips and Techniques

The magic ring or, or “magic loop”, method of starting crochet in the round is very popular when doing amigurumi because you can tightly close the hole so no stuffing with come out. This step-by-step tutorial shows you to start a magic ring, crochet into it, and begin the next round of a spiral.

Read the rest of this post for step-by-step written directions and photos.

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