When, if ever, is it acceptable to sell or teach another persons designs? That's a question we hear frequently at Bead and Button, and it tells us that many of our readers care about the ethical and legal issues involved when it comes to the money-making aspects of beading.
Unfortunately, we also have firsthand experience with beadings darker side the dishonest few who cause heartache and financial harm by cashing in on another persons original work.And when unethical people profit from ideas that don't belong to them, it hurts us all. Maybe it was inevitable that as beading became more popular, people would look for shortcuts to exploit the growing number of lucrative opportunities, and maybe there is nothing one editor or one editorial can do to change that. So, its gratifying to know that my concerns about the ethics of beading are shared by the editors of other beading magazines, including Cathy Jakicic of BeadStyle, Marlene Blessing of Beadwork, Pamela Hawkins of BeadUnique, and Leslie Rogalski of Step by Step Beads.
They will also be covering this topic in upcoming issues of their publications. To address the question presented at the start of this editorial, Bead&Buttons position on copying designs is as follows:
It is unethical to copy an artists work to sell without the artists permission.
It is unethical to copy any work that has appeared in a magazine, book, or
website and represent it in any venue as an original design.
It is unethical to teach a beading project that has appeared in a magazine, book, or website without the artists permission.
It is unethical to teach a beading project learned in another teachers class without the teachers permission.
Buying Handmade makes for better gift-giving.
The giver of a handmade gift has avoided the parking lots and long lines of the big chain stores in favor of something more meaningful. If the giver has purchased the gift, s/he feels the satisfaction of supporting an artist or crafter directly. The recipient of the handmade gift receives something that is one-of-a-kind, and made with care and attention that can be seen and touched. It is the result of skill and craftsmanship that is absent in the world of large-scale manufacturing.