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Updated August 2004

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Polymer Clay Polyzine

Copyright 2000-2004
Raleigh, NC
ISSN 1534-1038
All Rights Reserved.
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Reader's Comments
Feedback on the Issue of Copyright & Trademarks

By Jeannie Havel
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Before the August issue of pcPolyzine was ready for reading, I posted a "rant-and-rave" commentary about the unethical and/or unlawful use of others' work without permission. This is a subject that continues to bubble to the surface in the polymer clay world. Part of my commentary was a true story -- I attended a craft show where an exhibitor was selling polymer clay figures that clearly, to me, should have been a licensed product. When I approached the vendor, she was very offended that I would ask if she had proof of permission to produce the items.

The next part of my comments was hypothetical. Although I was certain I had made that clear, some readers really believed I verbally assaulted this woman. I did not! If you read the commentary, please keep these points in mind.

I invited readers to send emails with their comments on the subject -- and they did. You can read them below, unedited except for deletion of a name where I thought it inappropriate to publish it.

Here is a link to my comments: http://www.pcpolyzine.com/ethics.html.

As a professional writer in addition to enjoying PC as a relaxing break from my work, I'm completely in agreement that copyright infringements should be severely punished.

One interesting attitude that I have noticed among the copyright-ignorant, is that "if it was published in an e-zine or a magazine, or a book (especially the book was expensive), and I bought the book, then I must have bought some of the copyright."  So perhaps we original artists should draw the line in the sand, set clear boundaries for the use of our original work, and take some of the reward for our long years of training, work, and experience, and charge higher prices--up front.

As a professionally trained and certified medical writer, I was somewhat frustrated at first when I did all of the work writing a report for a peer-reviewed journal, whereas at publication, the research physicians, who had done nothing but read the draft report once and changed a few commas here and some there, were listed as the report authors! That was ludicrous!

However, I was NOT the person who had interviewed and examined each patient, decided which patients should be enrolled, sat up with them when they ran fevers, or had bloody diarrhea, nor any other "doctoring" that these brave people who volunteered for these drug studies, to provide good data for the FDA to examine and decide whether to approve that drug for the US market.

You go girl!  Keep up the good work and don't let the ba.....'s get you down.  Don't give up.

I was wondering about the 'zine so i went to the site and read your ethics
article. Very good stuff.

I'm sorry to hear that you've been having this kind of trouble. I guess
with the amazing benefits of the internet, global access to people of
similar interests, also come the other side of the coin - exposure to the
seedier elements. Isn't this the way of all things?

Glad you decided not to turn your back - you are a powerful force for

I was very excited at the arrival of polyzine on the Internet. You've been doing a good job. This month's current tirade has gotten a bit ridiculous.  I agree ethics and copyright issues are important but people need to get over themselves.

If you teach and take money for teaching... it becomes public domain.
Tough noogies if someone copies you!  If you wish to keep techniques secret
... don't share.  I have taught classes... I make sure the class projects I do are nothing like the work I sell.  Seems common sense to me.   If someone copies your work...  that is what trademarks,  copyrights and patents are for.  See your nearest lawyer.  Stop acting like kids at a school yard.

I also feel your little rant on the polyzine title page this month was highly unprofessional.   I may have had those exact same thoughts, (believe me I have!)  but to express them in that fashion in this particular forum ..... shame on you.  That is the kind of outburst that should be shared across a beer or coffee  with your close friends.

Us polymer clay artist, often have a hard enough time trying to be perceived as professionals without such petty drivel. I'm disappointed.

Jeannie, you don't know me, but I have been a reader of pcpolyzine for years now, and in fact we did an article on our guild for polyzine.  I just had to drop you a note about the page you have up right now.

While I understand your frustration, I was upset by your fanasty you put up on the polyzine site.  I think talking about goons crushing all of some ladies polymer clay work is going a bit too far.  it's too emotional for a professional site like polyzine.  please reconsider this.  I think we should be talking about copyright issues and ethics in our community, but I think it should be handled in a mature way.  

I am sorry, I hope I haven't upset you too much, but I have been thinking about this for days.

I was hoping to find Aug up & ready .. but not yet & took a few minutes to read your note.

WOW...  that was a shock in several ways... to have someone making things that could have (or ARE) illegal & then to have someone ask about the licensing to do so...   good move!  yeah for you

sometimes it is confusing when the copyright deals with actual physical things.. in your story, it sounded like a 'toy' issue..  [my kids are grown & no grandkids---yet  :>]

however, when a noted teacher 'teaches' .. it is like the stamp out 10-15- or more... little polymer people, capable of doing the same -stuff

[as an example, & don't take this wrong.. as I really like Jane Doe<---name changed by Publisher--->---  after her class we had 20 little Janes running around] 

however after Kathleen Dustin's workshop.. she taught us *techniques* & I did not feel I was a prototype of this artist...  we did not make dolls or purses....  

I am just as confused about this as can be... & don't know really how to explain it

the next part is from your note:


Do you have comments on the issue of ethics in the polymer clay world?

  • Should we report violators who are selling on Internet auction sites?

who would they be reported to?

  • How can we stop unauthorized use of material and images from our websites?

ohhhh  this would be a really hot button if I had a web site & someone DID this... I guess I would have to be using a *smart* site builder that prevents things from being lifted (so I am told- I have no clue)

  • Do you believe show organizers should be responsible for verifying that exhibitors are not violating copyright and trademark laws?

Yes... but I can assure you. .if they pay the entry fee to be there.. the vendors do not care... as long as the check clears  :<   it would be nice to have *ethical* show organizers????

  • Should venues be just as responsible as the organizers and exhibitors?
  • Should we take a "no tolerance" stand against the violators? 

this would be hard.. as we could not show, could not teach, could not demonstrate our *stuff* for fear of being 'ripped off' by others   AND there is the case for *parallel* creativity...   which would be more technique rather than finished sculputer, etc

 just a few thoughts as I wait for the laundry to finish the spin cycle  :>

have a great-clay day!

copyright is a big deal... I teach a pattern design class at a big quilt show each spring & we *briefly* touch on copyright.. I tell the students *keep up with what is happening*

what 'used to be' 5-10 yrs ago has long since changed..

things get stolen toooo easily... & ... since I am teaching them to be *creative*  I want them to avoid such 'theft' issues

that is one thing I have a hard time dealing with when I take classes....  when they are TOOOOO much like the teacher

like the Donna Kato flower canes... she taught it personally, which was fine & she also has it in Belle Armoire (?sp)  & now I have had it 2 MORE times through the polymer guilds in our area...  geeeeez    enough IS enough.. but she has put it out there to be used... & it is an interesting technique...

but I don't see this as a violation as she has it out in print FOR folks to make it.. & there are a zillion ways to mix colors & then make it into something else

ok... enough from me

Hang in there, Jeannie.  It can only get better.

Yes, I believe that violators of the copyright laws should be reported.  It's stealing.

It's a difficult task to stop unauthorized use of materials and images from websites.  But there has to be a way of turning these people in.  What they are doing is just as illegal as taking a candy bar from a store or even eating grapes in the produce section before you pay for them.  Wrong is wrong.  People work hard to come up with these ideas, it is their livelihood and it shouldn't be taken away from them by those who think they can make and sell anything they wish to.  EBay does have a VERO policy but yet I see people making molds from polymer clay using items that were designed by someone else and manufactured by a company (buttons and jewelry findings to name a couple).

Yes, show organizers should be responsible for makign sure that each vendor is selling "legal" merhandise.  Most of them require you send them a copy of your state sales tax ID number, at least the state I live in does.  They also send out a "rules" sheet and they do go around to each venue and check to see that they are complying with it.  It should be part of their job and here it is.

And I strongly belive that we should take a "No tolerance" stand against these people.  They are, after all, adults and they do know right from wrong.  If they designed something and found the booth next to them had copied their item and was selling them it wouldn't sit well with them.  Once again I just can't emphasise enough, WRONG is WRONG!

Thank you for your time in reading this,


first of all I wish on the person who infringed on another's creative work, I wish that all their fingers point in different directions and none work together.

the person who did this deed is the person responsible, it would be hard for the folks that put on the show to make sure  that the work is not A STOLEN IDEA....unless they sign a contract at the beginning of the show  that says their work is all original and not copied...

well I hope this helps you feel somewhat better , I did like your comments to her ...made me smile to bad you didn't have some Storm  Troopers with you...smile and have a better day....

PS my fingers are starting to point in different directions from Rheumatoid  Arthritis...so I know what I am talking about...Only I never stole someones Idea.....

Yes, after momentarily thinking well,  the fantasy about the Queen of Copyright was a little far fetched  I had to say, it was very effective in getting the point across.

And I found myself remembering a very similar situation with respect to rubber stamps (I emailed a company whose catalogue had elements I felt looked way too similar to another company's much older and much more popular inventory); and a good friend who found out someone she knew was giving away her beading designs at a course. These were the designs that my good friend had invented and was selling on-line.

So yeah.

If you are going to make money from it, play by the rules, have the stated permission.

In a perfect world the organizers SHOULD check, but they can't. They just can't go to every seller and to a detailed inventory and recognize every piece as a popular "should be licenced" piece. Its a moral judgement thing. Organizers can stipulate that if one gets caught without an agreement, one can get thrown out of the sale, but other than that, it would be a chance thing at best.

So, if we, in the claying community, or the arts and crafts community, continue - like yourself in this good article - to bring this important matter to the forefront, to remind everyone we need to safeguard each other's creative ideas, its the better approach.

Rather than being the Copyright Police, I'd rather be thought of as the Copyright Guardians. Lets protect each other's right to create and know that we will respect each other's creations and never take advantage of one another.

Now that's a good artistic goal.

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