“Why aren’t we allowed to sell some projects we see on some websites where they post step-by-step… they say it’s only for our personal use, not for selling purposes?”
I received this question in a comment today, and it got me thinking.
I used to have a disclaimer like that here on WhatTheCraft. It’s hard to say why… I suppose part of me felt like I was putting this information out there for free, and so it seemed wrong for someone else to take “my ideas” and use them to make money. I think another part of me, being a handmade seller, felt like I might be “helping the competition” if I showed them how I did things.
Since I started selling my patterns, I have since removed the disclaimer. I make it fairly clear that people are welcome to sell what they make using my tutorials and even my sewing patterns. Again it’s for a lot of reasons. From the practical side, there’s absolutely no way for me to enforce that kind of rule. Even if I did want to troll through other people’s shops, there would be almost no way to prove they’d used one of my tutorials to make something. And even if I was sure (for example, if I knew they’d bought one of my patterns), the best I could do would be to ask them to stop. It’s a waste of time and unnecessary negative energy. I’d rather be making cool shit than worrying that someone might be trying to “steal” my ideas.
The second reason is that I try not to look at other handmade sellers as “competition,” no matter how similar our items might be. I prefer to see them as part of the same community I belong to. I wouldn’t know half of what I do today if it weren’t for all the amazing people in this community who were willing to share, so I figure I’m paying it forward by sharing alike.
How silly would it be for me to try to tell people they can’t learn to make a circle skirt from my tutorial and then sell them? I didn’t invent the circle skirt. It’s not proprietary information. If they didn’t learn it from me, they would have learned it somewhere else.
Removing that disclaimer was actually kind of freeing. I went back and forth when I put up my first pattern. Do I add a big threatening disclaimer like most other pattern companies? The kind of disclaimer, by the way, that I’d always thought was silly when it was someone else saying it.
I realized then that the main reason I felt irritated if I saw someone selling from one of my tutorials was because I told them not to! How dare they defy me? It occurred to me that if I just removed the disclaimer, I no longer had a reason to feel annoyed. Taking it a step further, if I told them outright that they could absolutely sell things made from my patterns, then I really had no right to get my panties in a twist. So that’s what I did, and my panties have been thoroughly untwisted ever since.
If I was going to attach any kind of disclaimer to any of my stuff now it would be this: I’m sharing this with you, and all that I ask is that someday you share something you’ve learned. Life is too short to be greedy over information.