Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Blogger's Not Well (UPDATED)

Blogger, the free system that powers and hosts Blog, is not feeling well. Whenever I try to save or publish a post I've just written, I get an error message asking me to try again.   I've also noticed problems with other folks' blogs which are on Blogger.  Messages I get in my reader are not there when I go to their blog.  This is Day Two of problems.  I have posts written out through the middle of August so things should keep posting even if I can't write new posts, but don't be surprised if you are having trouble with your blog or trouble reading your favorites.

Nothing we can do.  Google has to figure out why I keep seeing "An error occurred while bring to save or publish your post.  Please try again."  Until they do, we will have problems.


UPDATE: Blogger seems better this morning.  Cross your fingers!

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
Blogging at http://chillyhollownp.blogspot.com
and at http://chstitchguides.blogspot.com

Copyright Comes Back to Bite Bloggers

The ugly word "copyright" has come up again on the ANG email list.  I am quoting the message posted there that sparked discussion of copyright and images of designs in full:

"If a group or individual is signed up to take an educational course through ANG, you have paid a fee to the teacher for the use of the instructions.

If you share photos of your work and/or instructional information within the paid group, and the information is only available to that paid group, it is acceptable.

If the information for the class is posted online, on a blog, facebook, etc. where it is available to the general public, it risks infringement on the copyright the teacher has established, since it could be copied without due payment to the teacher.

Please keep this in mind, and do not post class information for the general public's use.

Sharon Quick
ANG Distance Learning Coordinator"

I thought it important for me to comment on this message, which a lot of bloggers are taking to mean that they can't post photos of their works-in-progress or finished pieces. You need to keep in mind that I am not a copyright lawyer but as I understand things, ANG's policy is correct. A design you stitch, whether from a class, painted canvas or a chart, doesn't belong to you. The actual object belongs to you, of course, but the image on it still belongs to the creator under copyright law.  Posting an image without the copyright owner's permission online is not legal. Doesn't matter that you changed the design somewhat (or a lot) and you paid big bucks for the class piece/canvas/chart--the copyright still belongs to the designer.

However in practical terms, designers are happy to have shops post photos of their work online without permission in order to sell the designs.  No one is likely to buy a design sight unseen in these days when so many of us have no needlework shop access except online.   This applies to both counted thread and painted designs.  It has become standard for shop to show photographs of chart covers and painted canvases on their websites in order to appeal to distance shoppers.  I am told some designers include permission to use photos of their designs on shop websites for sales purposes, although there are restrictions attached.

Teachers are also usually happy to have their class promoted by ANG or a shop or by a student through images.  What no one likes is to have a photo of instructions shown off, a special technique they invented described in detail without permission, or a closeup image posted that is so good that a stitch painted canvas can be reproduced from that image.  You can't legally reproduce a diagram, instructions, photograph or page from a chart without permission on your blog, your Facebook page, in your stitch guide, as a Stitch of the Week shop posting, etc.

You should always ask first before using images.  I've never had any designer whose canvas I want to  blog-stitch refuse me permission to post photographs of their design and my stitching of it.  In my experience, teachers are the most touchy about copyright violation since it is not only images of their designs they are worried about, it is instructions and diagrams, too.  Some even object to having their class instructions resold on eBay, not wanting folks to have trouble working from partial instructions that were meant to be supplemented by classroom instruction.  That gives them a bad name, even though the instructions weren't meant to be used that way.

What if you can't reach the copyright holder to get permission?  It's still illegal.  I am in violation of copyright all over the place with the Loretta Spears blog I set up.  Loretta and her husband are dead and her daughter is rumored to also be dead. No one has been able to contact other heirs although there are people trying.  There is no one to ask permission of, but I am still in violation of Loretta's copyright rights.  If one of her heirs turns up and asks me to delete the Loretta Spears Archive blog, I will do so.  Until then, I am promoting and documenting her work in the hopes that it will keep her designs available long enough (I think her copyright expires 50 years after her death) that eventually they can be legally reproduced.  Doesn't matter that my motives are pure, however.  I'm still in violation of Loretta's copyright.

On Blog my policy is to ask permission when I get ready to stitch a piece I am going to post photographs of.  These days I am usually working o a model for a designer who is thrilled by the publicity but I still ask, especially when I can mention a piece.  (Often I can't show images until after the canvas debuts at a trade show.)  I don't have time to take classes so I don't have to consider how to handle instructions and special techniques I am being taught but it does seem reasonable to ask the teacher if you can show off your progress through photos, to make sure you don't reveal any special techniques the teacher is making money off selling instructions to, and to give them credit at all times by mentioning the shop or online resource where you took the class so that others who are interested can sign up for it as well.  I have occasionally mentioned techniques that someone else invented like David McCaskill's fake bullion stitch or Don Lynch's basketweave beading technique, but I have permission from these folks to do so.  And I always give credit for something unique I've seen, like Julia Snyder's messy beading technique and I link to the place something was demonstrated when possible.

The bottom line is to always ask, to make sure you don't reveal trade secrets, to give proper credit, and to not show anything in the way of charts, instructions or stitch diagrams if you don't have permission.  It's not 100% legal to work this way but it seems a practical way to approach a visual craft to me.  But don't take what I do as gospel.  Each stitcher needs educate themselves on copyright law, to work out what they believe is ethical, and to ask permission before posting photographs, diagrams, instructions and special techniques.

It's in our best interest to do so. Where will we be if copyright violations make it impossible for teachers and designers to make a living?

P.S. There are several copyright resources online for stitchers.  Here's what TNNA hands out to shops, courtesy of Stitchers Workshop--

Needlepoint Now hosts an article written by two stitchers who happen to be copyright lawyers.  There are many other copyright resources but these are intended for needleworkers.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
Blogging at http://chillyhollownp.blogspot.com
and at http://chstitchguides.blogspot.com

What I Actually Prefer to Beads and Sequins

Nimble Needle is a big fan of metallic threads.  How do I know?  I read this--

Following in the steps of Needle Necessities, ThreadworX dyes Kreinik metallic in sizes 4, 8 and 12 to create some beautiful colors.  Here is their #8 size page, but the colors are available in almost all sizes.  This thread is just like Kreinik metallics to work with, only the colors are different.

Caron's Snow is a synthetic metallic thread that is a little stretchy.  I find one strand perfect for 18 count.  The colors are lovely and the threads easy to use.  Melissa Shirley is using yellow to stitch a wonderful design.  (See her Facebook "Melissa Shirley Designs" account photo albums.)

These are not the only metallics available now--in fact the variety is staggering--but Snow and over dyed Kreinik are wonderful threads on the right canvas.

However, if you are a sequin and bead kind of person, Vicky's got lots of photos of the newest from The Collection.  There's even Wonder Ribbon, which I've been wondering about.

Written by Jane/Chilly Hollow
Blogging at http://chillyhollownp.blogspot.com
and at http://chstitchguides.blogspot.com