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Monday, October 19, 2015

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

In the last four months, I've been involved in or observed four situations in which a large company did not give proper credit (or credit at all) for a quilter's or multiple quilters' work. I'm not a social media or copyright expert but a very concerned artist and writer. Additionally, I'm not writing this to make enemies but rather to shed light on why it's important for everyone online to check their facts and double check their credits before hitting "publish."

 Blog posts need photos, so here are some recently commissioned fall/winter double-sided table runners!

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone writing on the internet is human (unless you have a really talented cat or something). But when you blatantly disregard the work an artist has done or you miscredit something (and people notice), you need to address it as quickly as possible.

In all honesty, NOT crediting someone's work shouldn't happen AT ALL. It is disappointing and unprofessional. It shouldn't even come up. But it does. If someone is making money or marketing by using someone else's images or any images of someone else's work, you MUST GIVE PROPER CREDIT (see the bottom of this post for what "proper credit" looks like). There are no exceptions. If you are a blogger or an Instagrammer who is using someone's pattern or making something inspired by someone else, you should also be crediting your posts.


Here are the incidents I've been involved with/observed. I've left company names anonymous to preserve privacy:
  • One company did not credit quilts at all in a newsletter sent out to thousands. I sent in a complaint and they quickly, professionally, and thoroughly addressed the issue. I thanked them for that.
  • The same company incorrectly credited four quilts in another newsletter and only used guild names (no names of quilters or their works of art). They have stated they are working to address the issue. This makes me wonder if I should continue working with this company in the future.
  • One company featured a quilter's work but did not read their description of the quilt on their blog, and they incorrectly described what the quilt was about. The issue was addressed quickly and the text was changed.
  • One company posted the results of a highly publicized contest, without any names of quilters or quilts, on both Instagram and their blog. When I (and others) questioned them, they took down all the posts and it was determined that there had been a miscommunication. All has been corrected. Even so, this makes me question if I want to be involved with this company and any other large scale contests in the future.
On the positive side, I want to highlight an excellent and above-and-beyond example of a company crediting other quilters' work. Recently, Cotton and Steel posted about the Cotton and Steel Mini Quilt Swap that took place on Instagram. They featured the winning quilts and the grand prize quilt on their blog. They also created an Issuu (mini e-book) that featured each quilt, the quilter, AND the person it was delivered to! They misspelled my Instagram handle and graciously fixed it the same day. Bravo, C + S!

Here are my feelings on the subject: if you credit someone's work, as you should, you are acknowledging the hours they spent making something (if you are a company, that would be with your product). If you credit and provide links, you are doing all of us a favor, because we can go find out more details from that person (and then possibly buy your product or support your service even more). If you credit correctly, you are following common courtesy. We appreciate being acknowledged and many of us also credit you when we talk about your product (more of US should be doing this too, by the way, even if it's a quick tag on Instagram!).

If you don't credit someone for their work, you are ignoring the fact that they made it with your materials. You are brushing aside their worth as an artist and amplifying your message in a negative way. The handmade community, under all the stress it already faces from the public, does not need or deserve this.

The number one lesson here for both individuals and companies who are publishing other quilters' works on the internet (especially if you are doing so without permission, which, hopefully, you are asking for):

Do your research. Include a quilter's name (at the very least) AND work titles (if available, and if not, attempt to find out!).

There are deadlines and announcements that need to be posted at certain times, but that does not mean that proper artist credit should be left out. This is a very serious problem.

If you are ever in doubt, you can always email or tag someone to check. It's better to be safe than sorry. Please consider this post when you are writing about your own work in relation to someone else's, or when you are about to publish an advertisement of some kind.

And now we'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming. It feels good to get this out. I don't know if it will make any difference but I feel like it had to be said!

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14 comments:

  1. Bravo!!! It had to be said, and you're the perfect polite person to do this. :D (I'm not always the most polite...) I think this goes beyond just companies too... I hate seeing "my friend Sarah", knowing it was me, but my friend couldn't be bothered to link my blog? I know it's a small thing, especially compared to such large companies, but we're a community. Communities rely on each other, rely on that network. Companies rely on us to spread 'the gospel', we rely on other bloggers to spread our good works, as we spread theirs. If that can't and won't happen, there becomes much less point to it all, and we can just quilt in caves with no internet.... Not nearly as much fun!!!! :D Also, I think saying you can't remember where you first saw it is valid -- at least you're not claiming to have invented it! And I've found if you say that, people are more willing to pipe up and point out where you could have seen it.

    In other news, your runners look wonderful. As usual. :D

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    Replies
    1. Sarah, THANK YOU for putting in that part about communities relying on each other. Yes, yes, yes. <3

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  2. Totally agree! Which is why I did not send my quilts to the Pennsylvania show of the company that had my quilt as one of the group where we were not credited in their newsletter.

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  3. Very interesting. I am glad that some issues were addressed quickly.

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  4. I have a suggestion for the " I can't remember where" people. Because that was me, but I couldn't remember what it was I liked about it either. The color, pattern, embroidery etc. So I start a new board on pinterest of those items that I could look back at and find original artist and the item for use and recognition. I'm just getting serious about my blog since retiring and haven't used it yet, but it will be a win win situation when I do in the near future. Thank you Jessica.
    Remember to enjoy the day,
    Tonia

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  5. Amen, sister. I'm not cool enough to be featured anywhere, but geez oh man would I blow a gasket if this happened to me. Kudos to you for your cool head. :)

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  6. Complete agreement! Here's a link I found very helpful in applying copyrights to quilting:

    http://quiltbug.com/articles/copyright.htm "Copyright Concerns" by Kris Driessen

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  7. Well said. It is an interconnected network and if people/organisations don't play fair and acknowledge talent they themselves won't get recognition or maybe recognition for the wrong thing!!! . Hearing about C&S's celebration of these wonderful minis I along with many of your readers I'm sure clicked through and aside from thoroughly enjoying the issuu 'ebook' I'm left with a good feel about this organisation and how amazing their product is. A win win from their point of view....

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  8. Thank you so much for addressing such an important issue to all of us in the creative community!

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  9. So true. I also get so frustrated with the inspiration mosaics used for all of the swaps on IG because most of them fail to credit the original artists. I'm always pleasantly surprised when I come across one that does and wonder why it's not the standard instead of the exception.

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  10. The amazingness of the internet doesn't come without it's drawbacks. Thanks for addressing this issue in such a thoughtful way :)

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  11. Thanks zillions for addressing this. I am a pattern designer and not only do I not get credit for my works, but I often find instructions from my patterns available on blogs. I know this is a different level but there is definitely a need for respect for copyrights and fully support any voice calling attention to this problem! Very well said!

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