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Hypotheticals About Embroidery Machines

#1 User is offline   Tokoz 

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 11:47 AM

My mom is a nut for sewing gadgets (aka notions). MY sewing machine is roughly 100 years old, doesn't have reverse, much less any other fancy stitches, and sounds like an oncoming train. HER sewing machine has a computer brain with a touchscreen and USB port, multiple different needle positions, countless fancy stitches, threads itself, and is so quiet I occasionally think it's broken when I'm using it. This super-machine also does embroidery automatically. With the USB port and some software on your laptop, you can digitize almost any image and turn it into a scalable embroidery pattern.

So here's the hypothetical: Would items made on the machine described above (say, patches or something) be considered "art" for the purpose of sale at Acen's AA?

Would there be any more copyright issues with something made by embroidery machine than there are with items produced through more traditional means (like hand-drawn fanart or something)?

Keep in mind, fancy as embroidery machines like mom's are, they're still nowhere near an "industrial" machine -- it's just a home sewing machine sold for regular private use.

Mom thought she had a great idea, but I'm not so sure....

What're everyone else's opinions?

#2 User is offline   Christy 

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 12:33 PM

While you would need a staff member to help you with the allowable issue in the Acen AA, I'd like to toss my two cents in about the approprateness in regards to copyright. The first rule of copyright and fan work is that while technically illegal, it is tolerated by the industry to promote goodwill amongst the fans. That being said, selling work based off of existing commercial art is generally frowned upon.

The embrodery falls in one of the more complicated areas of fanart in using pre-made or existing art for arts and crafts instead of drawing your own. I tend to view it from the angle of: "How difficult is it for you to create the fan peice in relation to the image?" or "What is the level of skill needed to do this?" (And keep in mind that this is for selling at a con, as opposed to for your own personal edifacation.)

For instance, if somebody were to say bake and decorate cakes. Hand decorating a cake requires an entirely different skill set than drawing so to get a proper image, they may have to use an existing peice of art. That I would deem okay. The same would go with things such as quilts (where you do a patchwork of an image) or rag rugs or if you were going to embroider by hand or carving a sculpture.

Crafts I wouldn't deem okay would be making buttons out of existing art or copying an image onto a peice of wood using a wood burning tool (which is essentially drawing but with a pen that burns wood.) unless you plan on doing something really wild.

For what you are doing, I would consider this part of the latter because you'll be feeding images into the machine which then does the work for you. I would recommend that if you did want to do this, do one of several things. 1) Create your own fanart (or find an artist to work with you) and feed that into the machine to make the embroidered peices. 2) Advertise your services to artists who would like to have their art embroidered onto something, like a patch. 3) Use the embrodery machine as one small step in a more elaborate crafting project, like plushies or a quilt.

But I really would advise against using existing commercial art as it gets a little too close to bootlegging for comfort. But as long as the image that is being fed into the computer/sewing machine is an peice of art (fan art or orginal) that you have permission to use and sell, in my opinion it should be okay from a general ethics standpoint.

#3 User is offline   frzndaqiri 

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 02:02 PM

As Christy so nicely explained - it isn't the embroidery itself that is at issue, it would be the source art.

There's a reason that the character sets for those machines have copyright symbols all over them, and are purchased separately. It's just too close for most companies to be okay with. Since it's treading close to "existing items" (there's a great potential for something you make to exist) and possible infringement (I would definitely NOT just use stock art you found) I would make absolutely sure that it is recognizable as fan art at the very least, and heavily suggest you do your own character art for it instead.

While my opinion is as staff - the DH reserves the right to make the final call on this.
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#4 User is offline   Voltaire30 

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Posted 10 May 2010 - 02:59 PM

I have a long time friend that had asked me about getting a table for free, and doing what has been suggested but with copyrighted images of characters and symbols and his own work. (I first went :angry: then said NO to both and to get in line on the waiting list like everyone else if he wanted a table.)

So let me explain my reasoning.
I have looked into purchasing this type of machine (along with a decal maker for only personal private use) and unfortunately there is some major copyright issues that I can not reasonably over look for it to be allowed at the convention. That coupled with the fact that the machine is basically making the item for the owner and it is not a hand sewing machine, has me leaning towards no.
I fully understand that you would not intentionally violate copyright laws, or dance on the edge of them, but I can not take the chance of allowing it, in case someone decides to "make some extra money" and put us all in hot water.

Please understand I enjoy the idea, and in a perfect world I would allow it, but we can't take that chance since it would only take one accidental bad egg to ruin the cake.
Thank you for asking though, it helps since other people may have had the same question.
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#5 User is offline   Tokoz 

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Posted 11 May 2010 - 08:38 AM

Thanks for the insightful replies, everyone! I was having a hard time articulating my reservations to my mom, and was curious where others stood on the issue. While the digitizing process is more human-labor-intensive than my original description makes it out to be, machine embroidery still does not have the level of artistic transformation as other processes, so I fully agree with the opinions offered.

Copyright protection in fan works is a sticky issue.

Thanks again!

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