[Update on the Update! Kate Spain's posted a final comment. I'm not sure she still completely understands the struggle quilting professionals have had with her argument -- but we need to give her credit for trying. Honest. Go see her blogpost here.
If you're curious about my take on the subject, you can see that too -- here.]
[3/27 Update: Todd Hensley, C&T's publisher, has commented on this whole situation. Go to this post to get the scoop.]
You may not have heard the recent flap between Kate Spain, Emily Cier of Carolina Patchworks, Moda and C&T Publishing.
But you should -- especially if you write books, design patterns, or just plain Make Stuff.
*Emily Cier wrote a book called Quilt Remix. (She also wrote one called Scrap Republic.) Both books contain a variety of easy-to-make scrap quilts in bright, cheerful colors. C&T published them. This is not Emily's first book, nor her first quilts. She's got some years of doing (and selling) this work.
*Moda sent Emily a variety of fabrics for use in making the books' samples. This, by the way, is common industry practice. I myself got a batch of lovely reproes from Jo Morton via Andover Fabrics for use in my book, Quilts of the Golden West. (Thanks Jo -- they were beautiful!)
*Emily used the fabrics, including a selection from one of Moda's designers, Kate Spain. (Quilting-use fabrics are a sideline for Kate, who designs for housewares and a ton more stuff.)
*C&T decides to print a tote bag with one of Emily's quilts on it, as a promotional tool. That quilt contains at least one Kate Spain-designed fabric. (This isn't the first time C&T has done this, by the way. It's been common practice for them for some years. See the tote bag in question here, or below.)
Important note here: Kate's fabrics are not the only ones used in the quilt photographed. (Update: According to Kate, ONLY her fabrics -- her Fandango line for Moda -- are reproduced on the tote bag, though the pattern from the book was Emily's. I can't tell for sure, since side #2 is not reproduced on the Amazon listing.)
It's a scrap quilt, people -- none of the designers' names are on
the bag, nor are the manufacturers' names. According to Emily, she does give credits in her book. (Update: The designers are left out, according to Kate -- only the manufacturers are mentioned.)
*Kate finds out. She also notices that her name is not specifically on this tote bag -- it's Emily's and the book title, instead.
*Does Kate go to Moda, and ask them why in the world did they send her fabrics out to book authors? Does she remind herself that there are other designers' fabrics represented on this bag? (Update: Kate says she's the only one.) In the projects? In the book? (Update: Kate mentions she realizes that other designers' fabrics are represented besides her own.) Does she even understand the nature of scrap quilting -- that it's standard practice to mix and match a variety of fabrics from different periods?
*Instead, she sics her lawyers on Emily and C&T. Said lawyers threaten to sue unless the tote bags AND the books are destroyed and Kate gets $150,000. (If Emily's royalties are anything like mine, she'll be an old woman -- if ever -- before she even gets this much for writing the entire book.)
*C&T caves -- and the tote bags are pulled off the market. Even after the tote bags become a non-issue, the lawyers continue to threaten. (Don't believe me? Go see Emily's comments.)
*Kate publishes a response on her blog, which sounds genuinely puzzled and hurt that anyone would take her 'gentle' approach amiss. Kate says:
The most important thing to know is that there is no lawsuit, there
never was a lawsuit, and I did not sue anyone. The book containing
images of my fabric continues to be made available for sale and has not
been changed by any action I have taken... [a long discussion on copyrighting fabric designs follows]
Similarly, an author or publisher cannot use images of my designs which
may appear in their books (for example, as part of a quilt that's shown
in the book) to manufacture/market other merchandise, such as thousands
of tote bags, and sell that merchandise featuring my copyrighted designs
for profit without first obtaining a license or permission from me to
So it's all about the bags. Except it's clear, it wasn't. Look at Emily's response:
As Kate said, she *did not*
file a lawsuit — this is true. Instead, as I’d said, her lawyers
formally and repeatedly threatened a lawsuit if several specific
conditions were not immediately met, including payment of large sums of money and other conditions...
- And regardless of the tote bag issue, Ms. Spain did indeed go after the book. Kate
said that the subject was not my book, but the totes used in marketing
my book (which I referred to as “the trigger” in my previous post, in
order to help maintain Kate’s anonymity while the tote was removed from
sale). This tote featured a photograph from the book (which included a
fabric printed with her licensed designs, as well as my name and the
name of the book in large letters). Although she may have personally
considered this the core issue, her attorneys targetted both the tote *and the book*
in their demands. Moreover, C&T had contacted Kate to deal with
the tote once they’d heard she was unhappy with it and before the
lawyers were ever involved. As I said in my original post, even after
they had removed the tote from sale and agreed to several other demands
with regard to the tote, Kate’s lawyers continued to press the issue
of the book and refused to withdraw the threat of a lawsuit — until
C&T got their own lawyers involved.
Authors and pattern designers everywhere are saying, "There but for the grace of God, go I." Me included. These people are just a tad concerned that if they use any Kate Spain fabrics in their book or pattern samples, and those quilts are photographed and used for publicity -- or win a national prize, God forbid, which also means photographing and publicity -- Kate will once again decide that she should be credited and duly compensated.
The real terror here -- what if every fabric designer makes this demand? Or decides that since their work is represented, they 'own' the property their fabrics are pictured in -- or on? What if they send you the fabric...does that mean you can trust that they will not take this approach? What if they give permission -- then once the book is in print, change their minds? Do you have the financial wherewithal to hire a lawyer, or withstand the loss of income if your book is cancelled or destroyed? Will the publisher believe enough in your book(s) to redo and/or keep on publishing them, after all this? The possibilities here are truly stomach-churning.
It's one thing to credit your sources. And I strongly believe in doing just that. But crediting every single fabric designer in a 150-plus patch scrap quilt? I have a mix of fabrics in my own stash that date back to the 1860s, but also include my grandma's Thirties feedsacks and leftover strips from the cutting room at Quilter's Newsletter, where I was an editor for some years. Many no longer even have the selvage that mentions the company and designer. (What bothers me even more about this is one of fabricdom's best-kept secrets: many designers slightly change older prints, then can legally market the designs as their originals. Jinny Beyer has done it many times over, including the prints for her millenium fabric lines. Not every 'repro' is marketed as such.)
The sad part about this: I love Kate's fabrics. Obviously, Emily did too, or she would not have used them. They're bright, cheerful and very appealing, too.
And I don't have an issue about asking permission for producing promotional stuff like notepads, tote bags and such. Although again, these are pretty standard when it comes to publishing contracts -- and it could be easily understand that Moda agreed to this when they sent free fabric for express use in making quilts shown in the book.
But that doesn't matter. They didn't get Kate's permission.
I am also thankful, thrilled and extremely humbled to see people use my
fabrics to make special gifts for friends and family, or to sell their
unique handmade quilts, aprons, cosmetic
bags (you name it) on Etsy and elsewhere. Btw, i have a heading on my
sidebar where I happily promote these shops. I'm also happy to see my
fabric being used for school/church/quilt guild fundraising raffles or
in quilt pattern designs, tutorials, books, magazines, and on blogs. In
fact, Moda and I give fabric away to inspire and encourage you to
create. I will continue to donate to and support your good causes and to
encourage your creative pursuits.
Isn't that just what Emily did?
* * * * * * * * * * *
UPDATE: This post has been getting a lot of visitors, including Kate herself. Kate took the time to comment, including further explaining her viewpoint on some of the issues I've mentioned. I respect and appreciate that. Please take the time to read and consider her comment seriously, as well as the others -- and definitely take some time to read both Kate's and Emily's posts on their respective blogs. (Links are above -- just in case you don't want to go back and wade through, here they are again. Kate's blog is here; Emily's is here.)
This is a complicated situation, and as such, cannot be treated lightly. This case has the possibility of huge future implications for authors, designers and anyone who enters competitions. These are frightening for anyone who makes their living or pursues their passion this way, all reassurances by Kate or any other fabric designer aside.
If you leave a comment on either blog (or here - yes, yes, please do!), remember: ALL parties in this situation should be treated with respect, whether you agree with them or not. No insults or belittling -- all that sort of behavior does is make you the commenter seem mean and petty. Also, please don't hide and use 'anonymous.' If you feel strongly about this, you should be using your name.