I have been thinking about this topic for a couple of weeks now. There is a very fine line between the two. It is a very important topic and also highly sensitive.
* How do measure if something is inspired or imitated?
* How much does a design have to be different in order for it to be regarded as insipiration and not imitation?
* What would you do when another crafter approaches you and asks to make something similar to yours?
* How do you respond to someone if they say they are inspired by your work and then make almost an identical copy?
*Does making minor changes count as not copying?
* What rights do you have if you feel your design has been copied?
* Is it reasonable to ask publicly if something is a copy or not?
* What can be done to protect your designs?
These are questions I was faced with when I recently had an unpleasant experience with another crafter, who in my opinion has a problem differentiating between inspiration and imitation.
This crafty crafter first began contact with me by telling me how much she loved my sheep and might have to get one for her best friend, who was in hospital. But then asked if she could make one similar instead. She promised it would NOT be for selling and just a one off. I even offered free shipping to her friend who was in the UK. This was ignored. From the very beginning I told her it would have to be different and in her own style. And to my surprise her next response switched to saying she would check with me that her sheep would be different enough to sell. I was so confused and till this day the sudden switch was never explained.
So when her sheep was completed I was quite shocked with the similarities. But politeness took over me and I said it was fine, as it was a little bit different. I asked if this was going to be given to her best friend in hospital and she replied that she's keeping the pink one and making a BLUE sheep for her friend and will make more for craft fairs!!! This was the point when I kindly asked her to just change it a little bit more to make it look more like her own style, as I felt they were too similar. Especially since she was planning on selling them!
She refused to change a thing saying that they only looked similar because the followed general characteristics of sheep! She insisted that her sheep was now her design.
Wanting to make sure my eyes were working properly I asked other crafters what they thought and they all agreed it was far too similar.
Despite me not agreeing it was different enough to my sheep, the other crafter went ahead and published her sheep on her business page. This stirred a reaction in the crafting community. I also posted pictures of her sheep on my page, asking what people thought. There have been very mixed views. Some people think its a copy and others disagree. The crafter did not respond well to comments about them being similar or people saying that hers is a copy. I was then accused of telling people to write on her page. I would do no such thing! The moment she published her sheep she made it a public matter.
Here is a comparison of what the other crafter created, after being "inspired" by my sheep, and my SukiSuki sheep.
There were some comments saying there is only one way to make sheep. This collection was kindly put together by a very neutral crafter, taking no sides, but just wanted to show there is NOT only one way to make sheep. This made me sigh and laugh at the same time.
|Many ways of making sheep|
I have never seen any other sheep plush that look like mine - until now!
She used the same fabrics, fluffy and fleece, the same colours, pink, blue and who knows what other colours she has, and used pretty much the same body shape and gave the same horns. Only the eyes and ears are different.
Which leaves me to the question of what separates inspiration from imitation? Apparently this crafter believes very strongly that her sheep is not a copy.
It is one thing if she is making them for personal use but it is an entirely different matter the moment she made them for selling. I feel she crossed the line. And she is selling these at craft markets.
If she was just going to make a sheep this similar, why on earth did she ask my permission in the first place??!
This is certainly not the way to make friends in the crafting community. I have been fortunate to meet other crafters who are kind, warm and supportive, value originality and would never dream of doing such a thing!
I can see there are differences and I admit, it is not an identical copy. However, this crafter should also admit this is neither her design.