Am feeling disappointed this morning. When I write and photograph a tutorial the written work is my copyright and it is always my hope that people will only use these for personal use and for their friends and family. I never expect that they will go into business selling the finished product but this morning I found that someone was. Perhaps I was naive. Perhaps I should be selling an expensive pdf instead on Etsy or stipulating how these tutorials can be used from now on. What would others in my situation do?
Not sure that you can sell an idea? I found someone selling my dreadlock hat idea today after having asked me questions about it on the tutorial.
Sally, I sympathize with you because several years ago I specialized in crystal jewelry and designed a style of earring using Swarovski crystals genuine sterling silver. I made the mistake of wearing a pair to a jewelry show and a woman from whom I had bought beaded jewelry was fascinated by them. I realized then that I had messed up by wearing them. Anyway two weeks later, she was back with a whole rack of my designs at half my price because she used cheaper crystals and silver-plated brass findings. There was nothing I could do because I hadn't protected my design, and she could have said that she had made her own version because she wasn't using the same materials. I think it would have been too costly to challenge her anyway. Sometimes we just have to suffer for our creativity, but that doesn't make it any less painful
??? How can one take legal action?
There is no law that says one cannot use information that one has read somewhere. There is no patent.
One can only take legal action if there is a law pertaining to something.
@ sallybea, just a thought, but after all, I am not the brightest hubber on HP.
I began knitting again after a long time, and noticed as I was looking up patterns to refresh myself on stitches, I saw people putting a notice that the pattern was not to be copied without permission. But I don't see how that can be enforced. Bigger sites like Ravelry will let you copy a pattern for free, but you have to join the site.
I just opened an Etsy site and began putting my work on there. People losing hair due to illness is a big subject. The last time I went to get my own hair done, a woman with cancer sat next to me and we were all trying to find ideas for her to disguise a bald spot.
I think if you made a few and put them on Etsy, many people would appreciate the gesture. I had to stop working on my site because I had too much going on, but plan to knit more and stock it up better soon. And I was just making infinity scarves for the most part. But I sold 2 things when I only had 7 listings, so you would do well. It's easy to navigate the site.
Don't sell yourself short Kenneth, wear your badge with pride, I am sure you are the best you can be.
No one can legally copy your instructions and sell them as their own. However, I have written and created hundreds of craft instructions and my purpose for doing it is to help someone make extra money!
I even ask them in most of my instruction sets and booklets to please let me know if they were successful in creating whatever the product was.
If someone can take my idea, create the product and make a million- good for them.
I prefer creating instructions for things that are not out there or things made from thrown away items. I hate repetition so prefer to just create the instructions.
I must also say that most people who create pdf and jpeg instructions do it for the same reason I do. To help others.
Are they selling the dreadlock hat or selling the tutorial.
You can stop them selling a tutorial - and send them an invoice for sales to date.
Not sure where you'd stand on the hat.
She is selling the dreadlock hats. The idea was entirely my own and I had never seen anyone else ever do it. She even emailed me to ask how many dreads she should put onto it. Should I be putting a notice on the tutorials to say that they are for personal use only and that the items are not to be sold commercially?
If you don't have the product protected already there's nothing you can do about it
Probably not, I am just voicing my opinion in the hopes that other people will realise it is not cool to steal ideas from other writers especially when it is for financial gain.
They are not stealing an idea. You cannot copyright or patent an idea.
What they are doing is making up the dreadlock hats according to your pattern i.e. the tangible expression of your idea which could be made subject to copyright in terms of reproducing the pattern.
Given you didn't say they couldn't create the hats and/or that they couldn't sell them they've done nothing wrong.
Horse. Gate. Bolted.
People can do with information whatever they liked. Unless you patent a product, you cannot stop anyone else from producing a product. I also have grave reservations about people patenting ideas because it has been shown throughout history that people come up with the same ideas over and over again. My daughter was speaking about tech clothing 15 years ago. Now they're real. I've seen many things I've thought of come into being.
Basically, if you provide an instruction manual on how to do something, then anyone can use that information in any way they like, including making the product and selling it.
Might I ask you why you would write a tutorial if you didn't want someone else to use the information?
Absolutely!! People don't realize that they are stealing your idea. They think that because something is on the internet, it is free to use however you want. Make it VERY CLEAR on your hub that the info is for personal use only and may not be used to make and sell commercially. You see this a lot in the knitting community where people design patterns. They ALWAYS put that disclaimer in their patterns.
No they're not stealing her idea
They are making up hats according to her pattern because there was nobody saying to them they couldn't. They've actually not done anything wrong.
If you think they have care to quote the legislation that covers that assertion?
Exactly and that's why she needs to clearly state in her hubs that her designs are for personal use only. No commercial use is allowed. Otherwise, people don't realize that what they are doing is considered stealing.
I do believe there is something about a 'cottage licence' but not sure if this applies to the UK or the USA. I don't know anything about it though.
sallybea - why do you want to play the victim here? You are jealous that someone made money from your idea? Honey you could have done so yourself, nothing stopping you so why would you be so appalled that someone else took the initiative to make money from what you evidently had no desire to make money from yourself? Let it be a lesson and if you have anymore ideas you shouldn't share them if you care that someone with initiative may benefit from them beyond what you desire for them. Rather than play the victim try contacting the "offender" and see if they are willing to compensate you since it was your idea..worth a try, maybe they will be more magnanimous than you.
Lesson learned and future plans are already in action and these include looking after number 1 first.
Well look at the bright side - you altruistically wanted to offer your ideas to help people and whether someone is making money from your idea or not is irrelevant, your idea is helping more people because of it, likely many more than your tutorial ever would. That was your goal to help people, not make money, right? You should be proud of the result. I'm sure your head is full of many other ideas you can make money from, if that's your desire, get to it.
When you post a tutorial on the internet or even via a hardcopy, I do not think there is a way to stop people from using it commercially. I'm not a lawyer or a law student, but even if there was a law protecting you, how would you prove that they used your tutorial? Via the comment, maybe? But in the end, they could just say it was their own idea.
The only thing you could do is patent your ideas. But this is probably worthless unless you are also selling your products commercially.
Just putting a notice may stop a few people, but those that really want to use your ideas will still use them.
Funny how much it hurts when someone does that especially when the idea behind the tutorial was to help people suffering from hair loss and cancer. I think I might be better off selling my tutorials on Etsy where at least I will be paid in the first instance:) You live and learn.
You could do that.
But if you are writing to help people, there may be many that you've helped. One person who doesn't accept the help the way you intend it to be should not stop you from helping others, that's my opinion anyway.
True, Sally. It hurts a lot. Even big companies steal the ideas. For example, my Rasam hub idea was stolen by Rasam powder manufacturers. They caught my caption "you can use it as a soup" and now selling their product with that caption on their packs.
I hope, we can't do anything when people steal ideas and commercialize them. But, you can feel better, the other way, when you think that you impressed and motivated them.
Sorry, you had a similar experience. I wonder if you could have billed them:) I definitely feel I will have to work a lot smarter. The simple fact is that it costs me to write a tutorial and it takes a long time to recoup the costs as we all know.
I still have the two emails she send me privately when I did not respond quickly to the comment she made on the hub.
My thoughts are that an individual on Etsy isn't going to make thousands of the hats, nor are they even likely to do much more than break even. I'm not saying they should not have asked permission, but that their use of your tutorial just won't have much impact.
People who want to make dreadlock hats for loved ones who've lost their hair to chemo still can, so long as you keep the tutorial up. So there's one a-hole out there who will spend a lot of labor and buy a bunch of supplies to earn pennies using your idea, so what? Your information can still help as many people as read it to make hats for people they care about.
Almost every article I've written on the topic of homelessness has been stolen. Scammers often use my material to beg for money by adding donate buttons to it and placing it on their websites. I'd never consider taking the originals down now! One thief is incredibly persistent. He just steals more of my work every time I file a DMCA and he's sent me harassing messages in response. They make me more determined than ever to keep the articles that have been stolen right here even if I have to fracking buy what's left of HubPages when they close down in however many years.
I guess I was just venting! Anyway, your last sentence brought a smile to my face so thanks for that.
Kylyssa, instead of contacting him, contact his web host. They'll take the pages down for breaching their ToS. Just do a 'whois' on the site url.
I file DMCAs with the ISP, but he contacts me via facebook. I just checked his facebook page and his daughter (maybe?) has been posting on his page that he's in jail. I guess it's a good time to file new DMCAs on everything he's stolen again!
He posts my articles on homelessness and uses a donate button to collect money that supposedly goes to an organization for homeless veterans, but obviously he's the only person getting the money. He also inserts religious sentiments into the articles, which may bug me almost as much as the theft because he's representing my work in a way I'd never want. However, scamming people by claiming he's collecting money for a charity and using my words to do it is what really pisses me off.
Ugh. I'd feel angry about that too. What a scumbag. Go take him down
Collecting money without authorization is an offence, perhaps it is a job for the law and maybe they both should be behind bars.
I think you are right. I wonder what agency deals with collecting donations under false pretenses online? Maybe it's the FBI? They are who I talk to regarding online death threats and such.
Oh I see - I thought they were republishing your tutorial.
I see many patterns that stipulate that they are for personal use and for gifts only. How you would enforce that might take a bit of research.
Firstly, yes, you must add a note to your work saying that it is copyright and that you don't want anyone making a profit from something you give away freely. I'm sure there are many examples on the web.
Secondly, I would write to the person concerned. Acknowledge that you didn't make it clear that items made using the tutorial are not to be sold and ask them to stop. However, if the items are being sold at a reasonable price, i.e. just enough to cover materials and other costs, then be proud that your invention is helping other people. After all, this person is simply distributing your gift.
In future, you should make your own and sell them
There is no legal mechanism for stopping people from making something for profit (regardless of how much). The product isn't copyright, and even if there is a request that a product shouldn't be made for profit, it cannot be enforced. There is simply no law that has ever been written to prevent that.
In order to prevent it, one would have to pay for a patent.
At this era, one should not expect others to be kind. Nowadays people would do anything for financial gains whatever the situation is. You should definitely sell your products as you got the only right of copyright so don't let others to misuse it for their personal gain.
Not sure that you can sell an idea? I found someone selling my dreadlock hat idea today after having asked me questions about it on the tutorial.
It would be easy if it were the tutorial which they were copying and selling on but when it comes to profiting from the result of a tutorial, I doubt it.
I'm not a lawyer, so this is not legal advice, but from a practical standpoint I don't believe it's possible to stop people from selling a design or pattern you share, whether you give it away freely in an article or charge for it in a paid tutorial or class. I design jewelry and have well-known colleagues who have identifiable design styles and teach classes, and they encounter this issue frequently.
Basically, if you share a tutorial for an original design, you can try to copyright the design and you should be able to copyright the tutorial and specify that it cannot be sold by anyone else. You can also ask that anyone who makes the design for sale gives credit to you for the design. But I know jewelry designers who have taught classes in techniques they developed that other teachers have subsequently taught in classes of their own, using the techniques in different projects. Once you put your knowledge out there, it's hard to enforce how people will use it.
Moreover, unless you specify in the tutorial that you do not give permission for anyone to sell pieces made from your tutorial or original design, most people may not realize that you would consider that inappropriate. (People who are not designers themselves often do not think about the concept of intellectual property when it comes to design and it may not even occur to them that it might be perceived as stealing.) Furthermore, there is almost no such thing as a completely original design; nearly every design is derivative of designs and techniques that preceded it at some level.
I used to be in the fashion business, and almost the entire retail clothing trade at that time consisted of knocking off the European designer fashions shown twice a year on the runways. There were practically no fashion garments (i.e., clothing other than basic designs) that weren't derivatives of those designs. It's just the way the business worked (and, perhaps, still does, although these days I think the derivation of trends goes from the streets to the runways as often as vice versa).
I completely understand your frustration that a design that you shared to help people is being used for someone else's financial gain. I have had some of my original, one-of-a-kind jewelry designs copied and reproduced, and it was extremely upsetting. But that's an inherent risk of putting your designs out there, whether as a finished product or as a tutorial.
If your primary concern is that no one else should profit financially from your tutorial, I suggest you specifically state in your tutorial that your design is original and copyrighted and many not be made and sold commercially without your express permission. But another way to look at it might be that, if your primary goal is to help people who might need these hats, not everyone may be able to (or want to) make them themselves, and perhaps it is not such a bad thing to allow someone to make and sell them so that those people can buy them, either for themselves or as gifts.
Whatever you decide, I wish you luck!
My neighbor makes unbelievably unique wedding cakes. When she made her Web site public I asked her if she worried about people stealing her ideas. She said that was always the risk in her business. How do you advertise your work if you don't put it into the marketplace? Her thought was, hey if you can do this as well as me, go to it.
This reminds me of a story I read on Facebook. A friend of a friend designed, made, and sold jewelry. One of her designs was copied by a large, well known boutique store. The picture on the shop's website was exactly the same as the designer's. This stuff happens all the time. I am sorry that you feel so cheated but that is the way of our world. Maybe you could write to her and she could provide a link to you as the designer. Probably won't happen.
That's completely different. That's a case where your friend can go after the store and win their court case - so long as they have lots of documentation to back up when the idea originated and when it first appeared in the catalogue and store.
It's documentation that wins cases - but people do win when something tangible that they have created gets copied.
Yes, we live and learn. I intend wising up and keeping something back for myself.
It's very hard to prove someone stole your idea....but sometimes there are different ways to get income...
One thing you can do is to state that anyone can use the tutorial and commercially sell the end product but also add a note that it takes time and effort to create tutorials so please donate via paypal to help fund future tutorials.
When I used to write public domain software, I found that probably one in tenusers gave me a small donation. It then becomes an honor system.
That is an interesting idea and one which I mooted having here on HubPages a while back. I did have one happy reader who begged me to make it possible for her to pay for my efforts but I don't think a button on HubPages asking for a donation is ever likely to appear. Perhaps it is something for my own website.
Sally, What all this boils down to is "Intellectual Property (IP)" When you have an idea for a product, that is your IP. If you publicly announce the details of your idea (or invention), then you lose your rights to it.
The only way to protect yourself before public announcement is to protect your IP with a patent, as lobobrandon had said earlier in this thread.
Patents can be costly. As much as $5000, or more. It can also take a few years to get it approved by the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Alternatively, you could file a provisional patent application (PPA), which could cost as little as $60 to $100. This gives you the right to say "Patent Pending" on all your public announcements and that basically tells people that they cannot use the idea for their own commercial gain.
The PPA gives you one year to apply for a full patent, so in that year you publicly announce the idea to test the market to see how well the it sells. Then you can decide if you want to go for a full patent protection, or even license the idea to a manufacturer who may pay for a patent.
Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. This is based on my own education I learned as an innovator. You should contact an attorney for complete legal advice.
I would maybe be a little sad that I didn't think of selling the end product first, but then if I actually wanted to do that, I wouldn't be writing a DIY, but putting together a web page to sell my finished creations. Other than that, I'd take it as a compliment. I would also probably ask the person if they could maybe give me acknowledgment for the design....just because.
Unfortunately, I think once you have the instructions for something on the internet there are going to be those who figure how could you possibly know if they are using your tutorials to make something and sell it for profit. This is even when you state the finished product is for personal use only and cannot be sold. The only way for you to have some control over this and benefit from your own tutorials financially is to sell them on Etsy or one of the other similar sites. No matter how much you try to deter people from doing it there are going to be those who will.
Sally, decide to take it as a huge complement! The person is probably not aware they have upset you at all and is trying to make their little bit of income as well. Keep your chin up
They are definitely aware, they passed off their first article as their own idea. The next two went commercial. They just happened to upload it to the same closed group which I also belong to:) Tomorrow is another day.
Okay, that I would comment on.
I would mention within the closed group that it was your idea and that the person got the idea from you. You have evidence of it.
I would word it very carefully - the goal being to make yourself look good and the other person less-than-good.
Say that you are extremely flattered that someoe thought your idea good enough to make a business of it, but that you would think it good manners and common courtesy to acknowledge where the idea came from.
Something else to consider: doesn't Etsy show publicly how many items a seller has sold? If so, and if they don't have lots of other items for sale, you could periodically monitor that person's account. You may find that they only sell a handful of the hats. It might make you feel a bit better, or even vindicated, to know that they only sold 3 or 4 hats. Estimate and subtract the cost of materials from the selling price, and you might see that the seller only made a few bucks.
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