Often when you buy knitting patterns (and sometimes you see it on free knitting patterns, too) you’ll see a statement somewhere on the pattern or website that says the patterns are for personal use only or some variation on that idea.
The idea behind such statements is that designers don’t want people profiting from their original ideas, their intellectual property.
But of course such statements are pretty impossible to enforce, because we can’t track down every person who ever bought or downloaded one of our patterns to make sure they only made the project for themselves or as gifts.
On very rare occasions people have emailed me to ask if they can make items to sell from my patterns, and I’m always glad to have them ask, but I never expect it. I’m sure more people are using my patterns to make items to sell than have ever thought to contact me, and for the most part I don’t mind it.
There’s a really great article from Carol Sulkoski on the Craft Industry Alliance website about this issue and whether such statements are in any way enforceable. The answer is probably not.
For one thing, the clause is usually only found on the pattern itself, which you don’t see until after you’ve bought it, so it can’t be assumed the buyer consented to the restriction when they chose to buy it.
Copyright law applies to the pattern itself, so someone can’t buy it, put their name on it and sell it as their own, but things get murkier when it comes to items produced with purchased patterns.
I have a lot of sympathy for designers, who spend so much time making their patterns (believe me, I know what goes into even a simple pattern!), and who sometimes sell items made with their patterns and want to be the only person able to do so, but that’s not the way the law works.
This is a really interesting topic if you are a designer or you knit items from patterns made by other people. I’d love to know what you think, on either side of the debate.
(By the way the pattern in the picture is my Bulky Stockinette Throw, available for free on Ravelry.)