3/30/12

diy ethics

This morning I woke to an interesting etsy conversation sitting in my email...not the normal treasury notice or even a rare sales receipt.  Most things are a blur to me before coffee is consumed but after scanning a few lines, this one jumped out "A long story short, I basically stole your idea of this plush/pillow."

Seems this person lives in Finland and needed a gift for a new baby and did not have time to order overseas and felt it would be better to make something by hand anyway and, and, and...AND she requested that I figure compensation for my design...and charge her for using a pattern.  She also apologized for not asking before hand and sent along this picture.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/26615589@N05/6882918590/

Now, growing up, my momma reassured me that imitation was a sincere form of flattery.  But if this one person was honest enough to contact me there are probably 50 others who have simply DIY'ed our pillow designs.  I have seen our work pinned on pinterest boards titled "sewing projects", "to make", "diy".  When we sell at markets and craft shows, there is always someone who speaks just a little too loudly when they remark about how they could totally make something on our table.

BUT, I have my own DIY list - where I curate the great ideas of others and things I could never afford but could possibly make.

So how does one define the ethics of DIY?

I feel confident that when a person decides to buy our work, they do so for the design but also for our materials, our color choices, and our skill.  These are all part of every transaction...for any sort of maker.  I buy from craft artists all the time even though I could probably make something similar.  But I want to support my community and give their work a place in my life.

For this situation, I have decided not to charge her for a "pattern".  Currently, I am not in the pattern selling business. I am sure there are all sorts of protections I would need so that any items made from our designs could NOT be used for commercial purposes.  And she is using the dog she made as a personal gift.  Her honesty is refreshing and I appreciate the chance to internalize the questions posed by her action.

Oh, and here is our pup.  I wonder if mother nature wants to charge me for borrowing her design?