Copyright Frequently Asked Questions

Copyright Frequently Asked Questions


I think it would be fair to assume that we (designers and publishers) firmly believe in the honesty and integrity of the vast majority in the art glass community. When good people understand the rules of fairness we are confident they will choose to act in an honorable way.

Everyone would agree that designers are entitled to collect their reward (royalty) for having worked so hard to make their designs available to all crafters. It is therefore everyone’s responsibility to know the copyright limitations and see to it that these copyright owners rights are upheld. We are confident that when our patrons are informed users of our products (copyrighted material) we all win.
As we continue to receive our rightful compensation (royalties & fees) for our creative efforts, then you as patrons benefit by allowing us (designers and publishers) to continue to create and publish new design collections.

The following FAQ’s (frequently asked questions) outline some of the copyright rules that are often misunderstood. This is due in part to the vagueness of the law itself, however there are some rules that are easy to comprehend (and easy to violate) and we hope these will be especially meaningful for you.

1. Who pays royalties and licensing fees?

A designer may charge a fee or be entitled to a royalty for the use of their artwork in a variety of situations. They could grant permission to a publisher who would pay a royalty to use the design in a book, magazine or possibly in a computer format. They may license their design to a glass studio for fabrication as a “one only” custom installation or to a manufacturer for “multiple copies” mass production.

2. After the royalty fee is paid, who owns the copyright?

The common element in all “permission granted for a fee” arrangements is that the designer does not sell their copyright ownership but has in effect “rented” their design for a specific use, with a specific limitation. The copyright owner (the designer) maintains and reserves all rights granted under international copyright law for the use or reproduction of the design in any way, shape, or form. They have the exclusive right to grant or deny permission to copy or use their designs for any purpose, including making a copy to sell or give away, copying to make a glass cutting & assembly pattern, or producing a manufactured item from the design. Contrary to popular belief changing the size or making minor design changes does not invalidate the copyright owners claim.

3. If I purchase a book of designs, do I have permission to copy them?

It depends on the intended use of the book or design collection, be sure to read the “copyright statement”, printed in (almost) every book, for information on the permission granted for that specific title. Generally speaking though, books that have “full-size patterns”, “designs & patterns” or simply the word “patterns” printed somewhere in the book to describe the content, it is common to assume the copyright owner intended their designs to be used for fabrication. In this instance [implied] limited permission is granted to the book purchaser to make 2 or 3 copies of the printed designs for the express purpose of making the glass cutting & assembly patterns.

Unless a publication has been explicitly designated ‘copyright free’, you do not have permission to make copies of designs, patterns or instructions for the purpose of selling or even giving away the copied item (see Note below for an exception). This includes making a copy of a single pattern because you (or your customer) “only wants one pattern – not the whole book” (just think that one pattern costs the price of the book; and all the rest are free). Teachers are not allowed to make copies from books to provide a “free” pattern to students in an instruction course or workshop (sell the whole book and everybody wins), nor are you permitted to scan the patterns into your computer, under the justification “to make it easier to find” (let’s be honest, it’s no secret that it also makes it easier to make [illegal] copies).

Unfortunately due to the widespread and pervasive nature of illegal copying and distribution of copyrighted material (this is not unique to the stained glass industry) many publishers choose to include the most strict wording in their copyright statement (no doubt on the advice of their lawyer) which does not imply or otherwise make any exception to the prohibition of all copying for any purpose.

Note: The only exception to this prohibition would be for promotional patterns distributed as point of purchase give-away incentives, these would be accompanied by an unlimited copies statement.

4. Do I have permission to fabricate a project from the patterns?

The same rules apply here as for question 3. If you have purchased a book of “patterns” then the author/copyright owner has granted [or implied] limited permission to you to make at least one project from the patterns. If the book does not have the word “pattern” printed anywhere to describe the books content, then the intended use of the book may be as an idea or inspiration book and may not have been intended as a “pattern” book. You should carefully read the copyright statement, to see if the intended use is there. If the only statement you find is the standard All rights reserved -no part of this publication may be reproduced…without permission etc and you cannot find the word “pattern” then you must assume permission to make copies, for any reason including for patterns, was not given and the only legal use you can make of that book is for personal viewing and design inspiration.

Note: Wardell Publications has a Commercial Production Permission Agreement that you can fill out and send in to receive limited production use. You will find this form on the Commercial Production page of this website.

5. If the book does say “patterns” and permission (at least implied) is granted to make copies of the designs for glass cutting & assembly, how many projects can I make from that pattern and can I sell any of my completed pieces?

This is a tough one to answer because it really depends on the decision made by each copyright owner. Always read the copyright statement to see if some form of commercial resale permission is granted. If you find a statement like “for personal use” this means that you can make a project from the design for yourself but you cannot legally offer it for commercial resale, unless you have obtained permission from the copyright owner. Sometimes you will find the statement -no part…may be reproduced…except to construct a project- this statement grants permission to make “assembly pattern copies” and implies permission to “construct a project” but the question of commercial resale is not entirely clear. Some books include a “commercial production” statement to explain the copyright owners policy, unfortunately most books are not very clear on this subject. If you intend to offer for sale projects made from copyrighted material, the only safe course of action is to write a letter to the copyright owner asking for commercial production permission for any design you intend manufacture.

6. If I extract a portion of a larger pattern (a bird for example) and make it into a sun catcher am I violating copyright restrictions?

The answers from question 3&4 also apply here, if the copyright owner has granted or has implied limited permission to use their patterns and designs then you can assume you may use a portion or the entire pattern in any way that you choose. However, you would still be required to adhere to the commercial resale restrictions as it would apply to the pattern and/or design that you extracted the portions from. If for instance the pattern has the restriction for personal use then this would also apply to your new sun catcher pattern.

7. What if I take design parts from several different patterns (a bird from one, a tree from another, a flower, etc.) maybe even from different books and use them to make one customized pattern collage?

The same rules would apply as in question 6, however there is a gray area here that we need to address. In the answer to question 2 we made the statement “Contrary to popular belief changing the size or making minor design changes does not invalidate the copyright owners claim.” This is an important point, because even though you may have considerably changed the overall pattern or design, you have still used “copied” portions of copyrighted material to make up your new design. If the artistic style of one or more of the extractions is recognizable as a particular designers work then your new collage pattern would continue to be protected under the original copyright owners claim, even if you enlarged or reduced the size of the extractions. The gray area comes into play when you make “significant changes” to the artistic style. In essence, if you used the collage of copyrighted designs as “inspiration” and you free hand drew a new pattern (sorry, tracing is not allowed) then you may not be violating the copyright (unless your free-hand technique is so accurate that you make a virtual copy). The challenge is to make significant changes that will render the copyrighted material unrecognizable. This doesn’t mean the bluebird has to look like a chicken or the maple tree needs to look like an evergreen, but it does mean that you must use the collage as a true inspiration and draw your own original creation, without benefit of tracing or copying.