Ok, so I have some free stuff on my blog, and these free patterns just came out in a magazine-- and so lots of people are as asking me about if I am scared that people will 'rip off' my designs and sell toys from them, so I thought I'd write a post about it!
The truth is, I'm not really all that concerned. Maybe I should be, but the way I look at it is that people will always copy other people's ideas, it's the way of the world, it does hurt my feelings a little when I spend such a long time trying to get a design right, upload it and then see it appear in a stranger's Etsy store (or worse, a blog readers), with the slightest little amendment, and a claim of complete originality. I probably won't be your friend on twitter if you do that, and I probably won't ever reply to your emails if you send them, but I'm not going to freak out over it.
I might be an optimist, but in reality, people who copy other people for monetary gain, generally speaking, never do it as well as the original did it, they are preoccupied with time vs. dollar concerns, and they don't understand the intricacies and details that make the original worth having. And, if someone is serious about selling their wares, they will most likely just copy to start with, as they gain skills, they will start to develop their own designs and preferences, and become their own 'creative selves'... copying someone else is not exactly the most sustainable or reliable business plan, unless you're an enormous company, and that's where the copyright laws are really worth enforcing.
I know that when I see a copied doll or toy at the markets or online, I question the maker's credibility, and I think of the narky people who come to my stall and stand right in front of me and say sneeringly say 'Oh, I could do that'.
So, why give away free stuff at all?? I think the answer to that is just because I can, and because the first truly cool toy I ever made was from a free pattern, and because I get a little inner-glow when I see the toys that other people make from my patterns... and I know, it sounds all mushy and sickeningly-sweet, but it makes me feel good, and money can't buy that... or so I'm told! This whole crafty blogging community wouldn't exist without free stuff... it would just be a bunch lonely, idea hogging, unconnected people.
Sister Diane over at Craftypod has been discussing 'free' and the other currencies that go along side free stuff for a while now, and if you're interested in this, you should definitely check it out.