I have been noticing that more and more cross stitchers have been finding patterns that are either free or are being sold by someone that isn’t licensed to do so. It is amazing how many people think that just because a pattern is available that is it ok to purchase it because the person selling it or giving it away has the permission of the designer.
Not very long ago I purchased a pattern from a small shop and as a thank you for buying this one pattern they provided me with a link to a bunch of other patterns. I of course decided to look to see what patterns they were giving as a bonus and boy did I get a surprise. What I had links to a bunch of patterns that this individual didn’t have approval to give away. When I saw some of the patterns that I knew were by well-known designers I decided to contact the designers to see if they had given this shop permission to give away patterns that had to be purchased everywhere else. I let three designers know about this and two of them got back to me quite quickly to let me know that they hadn’t given this shop any permission to give away patterns for free. Both of these designers thanked me for letting them know about this shop and went after the shop for breaking copyright. In one case this little shop had changed the name of the design, so it was harder for it to be found in a search.
If you are concerned that a shop is selling something that they shouldn't be selling it is worth contacting the original designer to see if they have the permission. If the item is Disney (Mickey Mouse, Star Wars, avengers, etc) these are license through Disney and those cross-stitch patterns are only sold under the Disney name, and they are very rare.
Here are so things that I can warn you about:
Pinterest – if you find patterns on Pinterest they are probably not legal copies of the pattern as it seems like a lot of those patterns are just copies of patterns that someone as purchased and then shared with others.
Amazon – this can be a challenge as if the pattern is kitted and from a Chinese company there might be a chance that the pattern is an illegal copy of a pattern. If you find something on one of those stores see if you can find that pattern somewhere else. I use TinEye to look for the picture as that is how you might be able to find the pattern somewhere else as trying to look for the pattern with the name from that shop might be a challenge.
Ali-Express – I haven’t found very many patterns or kits on this site that are actually true copies of the patterns.
ETSY – some stores are selling the legal physical copies of the patterns but if you start to find a pdf of a pattern from Lavender and Lace or Mirabilia, I will let you know that neither of these designers sell pdf versions of their patterns.
The biggest piece of advice that I can give everyone is to check around when you find a pattern especially if the price seems too good to be true. If you know the designer don’t be afraid to ask if they are selling pdf patterns now or if you find a pattern for free from them ask if they gave permission to that site.
You will be very surprised how friendly designers are and how happy they are when you can show them where their designers are being given away. Copyright issues are something that a lot of the cross-stitch designers deal with and it isn’t going to go away but at least we can be careful when we purchase our patterns.