Anna Hergert, Art & Design

Copyright, Fair Practice/Fair Use Continued

In a pickle?On June 4th I composed a rather lengthy post regarding ethics with a strong focus on our art form, the quilt. My post generated some discussion, and while for the most part readers understood the position I was trying to convey it appears that not everyone has a clear understanding of Canadian copyright.

When it comes to social media views are varied and not always correct. I have spent some time to further deepen my understanding of the issue. I stand firmly behind the points made in the post from June 4th.

Much has been written on the subject, and to recap it here would make for a long read. I have located a number of websites that will strengthen the points I raised. Rather than rewrite the information in my own words, I believe they have much more impact if they are in their original form. Therefore I am including links to these excellent and very informative sites for your reference.

Beginning with the Canadian Intellectual Property Office website, copyright is explained in plain English to make it easy to understand and apply to one’s personal situation. Explore Canadian Intellectual Property Laws here.

In Canada a “Fair Dealing” provision is explained in this Google Document. In other words “fair dealing” in relation to the Copyright Act permits the use of copyright-protected work without permission of the copyright owner only for the following purposes: Research, private study, criticism, review, news reporting, education, satire and parody.  Its use must be deemed “fair” and it should be limited in application without causing damage to the copyright owner.

Since I have a strong following from readers in the US I have included a link to US Copyright. The US government link can be found here. You can click on Chapter 5 to download the comprehensive information on Copyright Infringements and Remedies.

A more general explanation on copyright and “fair use”can be found here. Pay particular attention to the sections Somebody infringed my copyright. What can I do? and Could I be sued for using somebody else’s work? How about quotes or samples?

Another excellent website is the CARFAC (Canadian Artists’ Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens ) and CARFAC Sask site, where anyone can research various issues that affect artists. Membership is not required.

On a personal note I have been taking an online course and by coincidence the chapter I am working through this week highlights a recommended reading link about the issue of “Ethics in the Age of Digital Photography”. This document was supplied by the NPPA (National Press Photographers Association). I found the individual chapters very informative. At first glance they don’t appear to have a direct correlation to photographing quilt shows, however ethics are addressed and provide food for for thought on how our eagerness in share images with the public can affect credibility.  In closing I want to repeat my personal stand on the topic. When in doubt I adhere to the following principle: Obtain permission from the artist!

Time to weigh in with your thoughts: I invite discussion and personal experiences.

This entry was published on June 16, 2013 at 7:07 am. It’s filed under Art, Design, In the News, Journaling, Networking, Photography & Events and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

6 thoughts on “Copyright, Fair Practice/Fair Use Continued

  1. Rena Holma on said:

    Hi Anna: Copyright is one word that causes a lot of discord. I have one question –if I take a class from you and use the technique for a piece of my own–am I breaking copyright rules? I have been in the world of Stitchery and Textile Arts for more years than I care to remember ,have numerous Certificates in the Needle Arts ,have designed and taught my own classes and designed and produced my own quilted hangings–named my own as my own and gave credit when I knew who to give it to. I have taken numerous classes and have always learned and used at least one thing from that class–not the specific piece but my own designs. The last piece I did came off the top of a takeout box, some were from photos saying unknown artist. My daughter can draw anything she sees so some of my things are her drawings for which I gave her the credit. There are so many old designs out there and all the Education in the world would not reveal the original designer, so how do we determine what is right and what is not.. Women of my Mothers generation went to Church just to see an embroidered scarf or belt someone was wearing –they ran right home and reproduced the garment. In fact my mother could look at a magazine picture and she could reproduce the garment for her customers. She was a Tailor trained in Europe and worked from home in Calgary.I guess we all know what is right and proper and if we have put a toe over the line by taking a class and using the technique we don’t do it with intent to defraud. Why would we take classes if we were not allowed to use what we learn..What would be the point? Rena Holma.


  2. Thank you Anna for your research. Although now I am feeling discouraged! I have been enjoying using repurposed fabric, clothing, scarves,sheets linens, etc. Many of them old enough that the tags are no longer on them. And if I’m understanding correctly I really shouldn’t be doing that? I would appreciate hearing from anyone who might be doing the same.


    • Paula, I don’t believe you have to worry or even be discouraged about using repurposed fabrics. The points I am trying to make pertain strictly to photography of other people’s work and then posting it on social media without permission.
      I know the views vary as some people feel it is free publicity – but in the end we have to be careful. Different rules exist in different countries. My personal rule is to be respectful and only post someone else’s work if I have their permission.
      Patterns and quilts made from books must have the permission of the designer and publisher – this is a CQA/ACC rule. I am not referring to commercial fabric prints here. Hope this helps!


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