Ethics Questions.

Q: I have several ethics questions I would like the input of this board on. I've read the article in 'Beadwork' on "Ethics", but these are more of a "grey" area, or at least I think they are. I am designing my website and I would never want to do the wrong thing! 1. I design a bead purse, but use a border pattern in it that I found in a beaded wall hanging on someone else's website. Do I write "border pattern designed by x?" What if I wanted to offer my pattern for free on my site? Do I need their permission to include the border pattern? 2. Again, I'm designing something, this time with a flower bouquet pattern. I use a rose pattern I find on one site and combine it with several other flowers to make up the bouquet. Do I reference every place I take a piece of the bouquet from?

A: If you incorporate someone elses element into your design and it is a key element, then some credit is due to the designer. This would apply to pictures of your work that you would have on your website, or in a gallery. I would NOT recommend offering a pattern for free, otherwise that is not totally original unless you get the permission of the designer. I have done this myself with a pattern I had published in 'Bead and Button' last year. I created an original design, but it was called to my attention that one of the elements were very close to a pattern published in a book. I contacted the author and got her permission to print it as original. When in doubt, it is better to ask. Some antique purse designs have copyrights. Just check out some of the restrictions on some of the antique bags 'Suzanne Cooper' has in her newest bead book. Again, if I was inspired by another source, I would recommend crediting the designer... if it is unknown, then I would mention that. My answers to your questions are not meant to be legal advise. Frankly, I do not know most of the legalities of it, my suggestions are more on a "what is fair" line. I have a real problem with 'Suzanne Cooper's' book, in that a couple of the designs are almost total copies of the original purse, yet she states that the beader using the design cannot sell the purse. To me, she has appropriated designs that were not hers to begin with, and then says that she owns the rights - not cool. I am a pro photograper, and my work is considered "copyrighted" as soon as it is created, as is all art. A design on a card, 'Hallmark' or not, is the intellectual property of the artist or the company. You can't use the design unless you have permission first. As someone else mentioned, there is plenty of free stuff out there. To use anything else is not a good idea.