Copyright Law & Chart Libraries

By Jane Greenoff

We receive a number of letters regarding copyright law and many more asking us to operate a pen pals or chart-swapping library.

Copyright law is very complex, but one thing is quite clear. The copying of a chart for use by someone other than the person who has purchased the chart (or the recipient, if it was a gift) is illegal. The reason for the law is to protect the people who have designed the charts, whose only income comes from sales. (This does not apply to charts that are offered free, such as on the internet.)

Through my work with the Cross Stitch Guild, I know that stitchers are often unaware of the legal implications of copying charts to give to friends, and would usually be horrified to hear that they have been breaking the law.

Sometimes, people have said to me that it is just like borrowing a book from the library. However, many people are not aware that when a book is borrowed from a public library in the UK the author receives a payment. My earnings from Public Lending Rights have increased with the number of books borrowed and recently this income bought a pair of mountain bikes!

So, taking all this into consideration, I am sure you understand why the Cross Stitch Guild takes a stand on this issue. We are keen to increase awareness (just as the media in general is trying to raise awareness of the intellectual property rights vested in all creative material, especially now that the internet offers many more ways to copy material). Please help us by spreading the word amongst your own stitching friends.

Note that there is nothing wrong with copying and enlarging charts that you own, purely for your personal use, for example, to make them easier to read.