Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sad ....

commentary ....

I woke up this morning to find an email informing me of yet another cross stitch "sharing" site. A little "members only" site run by a large Chinese conglomerate. You can join by simply entering a user name and your email address and then .... you can upload cross stitch charts so that everyone else who is a member can download them.

There I found that just by posting enough comments I could earn "gold coins". And what could I do with these "gold coins"? I could download almost all of my charts for free. I could also earn even more "gold coins" by uploading any chart in my collection.

Trouble is ... I can't pay my rent or buy groceries with these "gold" coins. And I'm going to have trouble paying my rent and buying groceries if my charts continue to be pirated on these kinds of sites.

They call it "sharing". On this board people are actually thanking each other for "sharing". They are posting comments like "thank you for sharing this beautiful chart". Sharing? Strange new definition for "sharing". Stealing is what it is actually.

I don't know about you but I don't think I would enjoy stitching a chart that I know I had stolen. It would nag at me constantly with each stitch I took. Same reason I don't steal movies or music over the internet. Something would just bother me about listening to that music or watching that movie.

Everyone says ... "Hey, you're just taking from a big multinational corporation.... Sony Pictures, Universal, NBC. They make millions of dollars. You're just taking one song, one movie ... and times are tough. What difference will it make?"

It will make a big karmic difference! Because then that attitude starts to seep down into everything we do. We justify downloading free cross stitch patterns over the internet to save $8.00. We justify stealing from a fellow stitcher who earns her living designing the charts that give us so many hours of pleasure. Pretty soon we're justifying not returning that extra change that the cashier gave us by mistake. Pretty soon we don't bother to return that wallet we found on the sidewalk. Pretty soon every thing we do is about "us" and what "we" want or feel entitled to. Pretty soon we don't care about what happens to others anymore.

Karmic quicksand.

And it's not just me. There were thousands of charts there. Everyone from Lizzie Kate to Miribilia. All your favorite designers .... available for download .... for FREE!! Yahoo!!! They'll never miss that little bit of income you stole from them .... right? Right?

As I'm getting ready to release new charts, this was particularly discouraging. I began to think "what's the point?" Months and months of work and then people will just upload them to these sites. It really doesn't seem worth it anymore. It's too difficult to try to keep up with these "pirates". A few weeks, sometimes just a few days, after the new designs are released they are available for free download on the internet. I'm a very, very small enterprise. One person. I don't have the strength or endurance or resources to hunt down and fight these "pirates".

So what to do? Perhaps look for a job where people can't freely and easily steal part of my paycheck each month.

I am not so much angry as I am discouraged. I have this talent for designing these patterns and I love doing it but it is time consuming and tedious work. There comes a point when you have to decide if working 10 hours a day, 7 days a week is worth it. If I'm not earning enough to pay the rent or buy groceries, then I need to find a job where I will.

I wish these people would stop and think for just a moment before they hit the "download" button. Do they understand that what they are doing is stealing? Do they realize they are stealing part of someone's monthly paycheck? Do they realize that they are contributing to the demise of their own favorite hobby. This kind of pirating does not hurt just one designer. It hurts hundreds. It hurts the entire industry. Each time someone downloads an illegal copy of a chart a designer loses part of their income, a distributor loses part of their income and a shop owner loses part of their income. It adds up quickly.

Why are so many shops closing and why are so many good designers quitting the business and moving on to other occupations?

Because so many thieves are shoplifting from them that they can't afford to stay in business any longer.

What goes around comes around,



  1. Rant all you like, I'm right behind you. A similar type of thing happens in the quilty world with pattern sharing. Like you I spend months working on a project only to have the pattern shared around to many or, even taught as a class with nothing back here, not even thanks.
    It's just not on.
    keep the faith we will win out.
    hugs, Miche'le

  2. And then there's the American "yard sale mentality" brought on by such things as Antiques Roadshow. They believe that they should go somewhere - anywhere - and pay yard sale prices and come home with a treasure! I'm not sure, but I think you can pass this on to the US Customs Dept. I think that they work with pirated goods and wonder if stealing charts falls under that category. Doesn't hurt to check. Might shut the site down. Good Luck.

  3. Cynthia, please don't become discouraged. There are still plenty of us stitchers out here that purchase each and every one of your charts. I might not have stitched them all yet, but at least I know I have the "original" there when I want to. I can't wait to see your latest and paypal account is just waiting.

  4. I can totally understand your feelings. But don't say 'what's the point' when designing and getting ready to release new designs. That is not fair to all those stitchers who are excited for your new releases and spending $$ on them.

    Keep going! :-)

  5. I agree Karin ... Those stitchers who do the right thing and pay for their charts also suffer from this pirating as more and more designers decide that the profession is not profitable enough to continue and more and more shops close because they aren't selling enough merchandise. People don't realize that each design I publish requires a certain financial outlay ... in terms of supplies, paying for stitching and finishing, pre-press production and actual printing and paper costs ... so if I can't recover my costs for at least this investment, then it doesn't make sense to keep putting the money into it. Again ... sad for all of us that some refuse to pay for what they are using. As I noted, it hurts everyone, not just the designer in question.

  6. I inadvertently came across one of these sites while looking for a pattern "Pretty in Pink" by BrightNeedle, it took a few minutes for me to realise what they were doing and even though I desperately wanted that out of print pattern, I thought it was not the right thing to do.

    I think your post is excellent and highlighting that just to save a few dollars, is not giving the talented designer payment or recognition for her/his work.

    I am still trying to find a shop that may the pattern "Pretty in Pink". I agree with Barbara, there are plenty of us who treasure the original patterns of designers.

  7. I am sorry to hear of yet another one of these 'sharing' sites appearing. I honestly do wonder why designers keep designing - their hard work and skill is stolen *so* easily and carelessly. I was shocked once when I found a site like that (which I did report and have taken down) where a design hadn't even been released for 24hrs and there it was for all and sundry to download. It's dreadful and shameful. I make the effort to search out such sites and do whatever I can to have them shutdown (I've even gone so far in the past to disguise my on-line identity and infiltrate sites like these as an 'insider' in order to have the necessary evidence to get things removed - I've been called a troll more than once for doing so).

    I buy my patterns from legitimate sources and I always will. Someone has worked very hard to create the piece that I will be lucky enough to re-create with my needle and thread. The least I can do to say thanks is to pay for an original pattern.

    I can't help but wonder too - how much money are they *really* saving - doesn't the linen and fibres cost waaaayyyy more than the pattern? $8 for a pattern seems like nothing when the linen and fibres can cost upwards of $40. If you can afford the money for the linen and fibres, then you can afford to pay the teeny tiny amount for the pattern.

    Some people are just dumb. Sorry Drawn Thread has been victimized by idiots. All designers deserve better treatment than this.

  8. Kudos to you Anne. I truly hope you find Pretty in Pink somewhere. Did you write to the designer? Many are happy to find you a copy or sell you one if they have one hanging around ... unless it was a limited edition and they can't. I know I sometimes have a few copies of discontinued patterns hanging around for reference and we do have the "right" to copy them if we want. Good luck. And thanks to all of you who purchase your patterns legitimately. Good karma. Peaceful stitching :-)

  9. I do wonder - not excusing in any way - just how many people even realise that these sites are pirating. Do you blame sites like Ravelry and Knitting Pattern Central for promoting these "sharing not buying" ideas?

  10. Don't stop! I found a site *selling* designs (for miniatures) that were clearly designs by other folks (because I had the original charts). I sent messages to both publishers (Cross Stitch and Country Crafts and Dimension) but I don't know what ever happened.

    In that same vein, I had a student plagiarize her paper on plagiarism. *sigh*

  11. I love your patterns so much that in recent years I only buy them directly from you. I love getting the package in the mail, and the beautiful way that you wrap them! You are one of my favorite designers and I would be sooo sad if you decided not to do it anymore. I have not seen or heard of these sites before. Hard to believe that it would be legal.

    Debra Scott

  12. Disturbing, but unfortunately not surprising! These same people that get charts for free will be the first to complain when everyone decides to stop designing. I wonder why there aren't ways to shut down these sites since it is copyrighted.

  13. What about the orgazination that tracks down misused copyright patterns... Can't you contact them and have them investigate and shut down that site. They will proscute not only the site, but they can and will proscute anyone who downloads the patterns.

  14. I did not know this was going on. I have seen my LNS struggling to stay alive and figured it was more around the economy issues. That is still part of it but it looks like this is hitting it harder. All of us as bloggers can truly make noise. We need to work together to find these sites and have them shutdown.

    Thank you for bringing this to our attention and know that your dedicated stitchers will still purchase your design and keep looking forward to the next one.

  15. I know there are many who don't think of this as stealing, but it most certainly is. And designers make so little money from each design as it is, it is like stealing from the little match girl in some cases. I know that there are a few, and I think you, Cynthia, are among those, who do well enough to be able to "quit your day job", but most designers can't. It's wonderful when you can do something you love and make your living from it, but many, many designers must work all day at a job that's just a living, and do the work that's the joy of their lives at night and on the weekends.

    I agree - if I stole someone's work like that, how would I justify it to myself? How could I enjoy stitching the piece? What pride would I have in displaying the finished article? I would think I'd hang my head in shame.

    And I do feel like there has been enough talk of this subject over the last few years that you'd have to be living under a rock to truly believe that this "sharing" is okay.

    But, of course, we here are all preaching to the choir. I hope you don't get discouraged and quit, Cynthia - your designs are lovely and we would much the poorer without them.


  16. About a year ago, I met a designer at a stitching retreat, who brought to our attention, the issue of needlework designs by "sharing" designs. Recently, one woman in our stitching group, proudly boasted how she and several of her friends were "sharing" a popular new design. I was so upset, that I couldn't hold my tongue. In front of our whole stitching group, I explained how it was really "just stealing" from the designers who are so gifted with the talent and dedication of producing such fine needlework designs. I went on to say that when designs are "shared", then the designer doesn't reap the profits that they are entitled to receive for all of their hours of creativity, and hard work that goes into each and every design! All of the women in our group vocally expressed their heartfelt agreement.

    I encourage you to pursue your beautiful designs, and to try to find out how other industries, like the music industry have been able eliminate some of the internet piracy of their work. I know that many have been fined for downloading music without permission. I am going to try to find out more information about this for you. Your designs are among my favorites, and I don't want for you or any other designer to be penalized for everything you create for us. We want and need your wonderful work to continue so very much.

    My prayers are going upward for all of you about this right now!

  17. lindalizziekate@aol.comAugust 22, 2011 at 12:19 PM

    Thanks for sharing about this shameful practice with your readers. Here at Lizzie*Kate we are constantly bombarded with notifications about these sites. We could spend all of our time chasing them. As soon as we get a site removed, another pops up. ARGH!!!

    I want stitchers to remember that it is the design that drives the entire stitching process. Without the design, the rest is not possible. And, usually, the design is the least expensive part of the whole proejct! Thanks for your support...back to work for me!

  18. Cynthia, I know exactly how you feel. It's gotten to the point where designing COSTS me money. At some point the upset sites like this cause will eventually kill whatever enjoyment I get out of designing and I'll throw in the towel because it's not worth the aggravation. We report them as best we can without spending thousands of dollars we don't have on lawyers and it gets us nowhere. For every blog, photo album or site we get removed, ten more pop up in it's place.

    I don't believe for a second it's a case of these people not realising that they're causing harm, but that they really just don't care. Read some of the comments that get posted on the subject of "trolls" on these sites. They find it amusing that we'd even attempt to stop them. They simply change to a new username and start all over again.

    The best suggestion I can give is to contact the FBI's cyber crime division or your local field office. They can only investigate it if it's reported, so the more reports we make, the more likely something gets done.

  19. Cynthia --
    Please don't stop designing. I buy every single one of your charts because I enjoy all your designs. I can't understand why people think that "sharing" is OK. We all need to do the right thing and live responsibly and treat others the way we would want to be treated and I don't think anyone would want to have things "stolen" from them.

    Keep up the good work! I have a "Drawn Thread" wall in my house and it makes me smile every single day:))) LOVE your designs

  20. A while back, Mark Lipinski (who founded Quilter's Home magazine and now does Christmas 365 and a fabric magazine) posted about a woman at Wal-mart who found a fabric that was a direct rip-off of a recent release from her favorite designer. The background color had been changed, but it was obviously her work. The designer worked with her trade group and Wal-mart headquarters, but found out it was a shell of a shell corporation who'd put it out. Didn't this whole thing start with Napster and the music sharing scandal? It's wrong, but so many people feel, "why should I have to pay for something when it should be free?"

    Please work with US Customs, the FBI and whatever trade organizations that can help, maybe with other needlearts groups. And please keep designing. Love your stuff and I've bought quite a few of your patterns.

  21. I am running a free SAL at the moment but had to close the numbers at 125 participants. I opened a waiting list in case someone drops out. I received an email from someone saying she had sent me a signup email and where was her Part 1? I checked my emails but I had received nothing from this person so I offered her place on the waiting list. She declined saying she would 'mimic' it. I pointed out it was copyrighted and it's not right to stitch from a picture - she said she wasn't going to copy it but do something similar and then told me 'you have a nerve'! In my dictionary 'mimic' means 'copy'.

    I hope you are able to stop these people stealing your beautiful designs.

  22. How sad that these type of scams exist. Please do not stop designing. I have several of your charts and love ever one of them, especially Random Thoughts. I understand your frustrations and hope you will continue to fight these type of people. I will always buy from reputable sites since that is the right thing to do. KEEP ON DESIGNING, I LOVE YOUR WORK!!!

  23. Courage! many embroiderers who appreciate his work and appreciate it. I am one of them!
    La Casina Roja

  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  25. With you and your work.
    Best wishes.
    Maman Pop
    My langage is french only sorry

  26. I'm so sorry to hear this. I hope that being a designer, your words will carry a heavier weight. I don't understand why people don't get it. This topic gets me steaming; I assume you feel more strongly than I do. I love stitching, I love waiting too see new designs. I get nervous about designers not producing designs anymore because they've felt what you've expressed here for a long time and decided enough is enough.

  27. de tout coeur avec vous (sorry,I understand,but speak is very difficukt)?Il faut que chaque brodeuse comprenne que le gratuit entraine la fin des creatrices,votre message doit passer
    amicalement Martine

  28. Martinev:
    Je vous remercie. Je parle juste un peu de français. Je parle assez pour comprendre votre message. (Je lire et écrire mieux que je parle :-)

  29. Je regrette tout inconvénient, je suis nouveau au point de croix fait et je m'en irai.
    Le succès dans ce que vous faites.

  30. I am behind you too!!!
    I am very happy to pay to buy your charts or anyone elses.
    Karin :)
    in NY

  31. People just need to stop and think and look beyond their own nose. I have worked in needlework shops for many years and it is astounding what people ask you. Like can you copy this for me, do I have to buy the whole book I'm just going to use this one part, we have a group that shares all the charts. And my favorite, I got this on the internet, there was all this free stuff! When I educate them error of their ways they mostly just shrug it of with some excuse. Infuriates me to no end. The thought is " I got it free"
    Well it hurts everyone in the industry, designers, shops and stitchers. So when designers quit and shops close where does that leave the stitchers. We all love new designs and seeing thing in shops but when we can't pay the rent... So it it really free. Stop and think!

  32. Unfortunately, this is the same attitude which has undermined this great country's industrial center and eliminated millions of jobs over the years---the idea of only watching the "bottom line," the cheapest price, or, in this case, FREE. If consumers cared more about the big picture and keeping our country strong, they would have only bought MADE IN USA
    all these years, but now hold only MADE IN CHINA products. Now China is ripping off our intellectual property from little guys and our own people are getting in line to benefit.

    You are right, Cynthia, it is really bad karma which sneaks up on you and eats your spirit from within.

    To tell the truth, that's why I have stayed away from designing in counted cross stitch-- to prevent exactly this from happening. Each kit we make is a "one-time-shot," with a stamped design, but back in the olden days before sophisticated color copiers, printing charts in a particular non-reproduceable blue ink was the way we went with our quickpoint charts.

    We are only just now putting out counted cross stitch kits, and expect to be ripped off, but these designs have already been produced by us in crewel and needlepoint for many years, so we hope the damage will be minimal. This makes me think that our new designs should only be available in a "stamped fabric" format. We'll see.

  33. As a new designer this is not encouraging. It really saddens me as I love the art of cross stitch with all my heart and hate the thought of designers giving up and disappearing.

    I often wonder how the world got to this "me, me, me, and what I want" kind of mentality. And to make it ok in their own minds they call it sharing.

  34. This has unfortunately happened to me too. I am a designer and teacher and oneday a new student joined my class. When she found out that I taught hardanger she asked if I could help her with a chart she had recently received. Well, to my complete amazement she pulled out a photocopy of one of my designs!!!!! when I pointed this out to her, she was "slightly" embarassed and said that her friend had the original and had said that she could have a copy of it. Isn't that just terrific!!!

    I also used to help out in a lovely cross stitch shop here in the UK and the number of times I would hear one customer say to her friend "I'll buy the chart and then make you a copy".

    These are people without any scruples or morals. I don't want to give up designing as I derive a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction from it, but there is nothing more soul destroying when you find your charts have been illegally copied.

    I think that all we designers can do is try and keep on top of it and rely on the honest individuals out there to help us when they spot an illegal site or meet someone with an illegally copied chart.

    Frustratingly Yours

  35. Everyone has already shared the thoughts & feeling that I would've shared so no sense in me repeating them. I will, however, state that I have a bit of a gift for designing as well. I used to be a contributor for a CS magazine in my early years of stitching. I stopped stitching for a while, then came back to it & decided to pursue my own line of designs. Had a notebook full of them but when I stopped stitching a second time I tossed them all away. I have now come back to stitching a third, & believe me, final time (I will never stray again ... lol!), I am part way through another notebook of design ideas. Sadly I am now wondering if I should even bother : (

    I did recently buy a chart from one designer. A couple weeks later I was browsing on Etsy & found what was almost this exact same chart offered by another designer ... same wording, same 3 vegetables in the center although they were slightly altered in shape, a different date, & this finished item was square instead of rectangular. Neither of these designers is famous or well-known. I contacted the woman I bought the chart from to let her know of this way-too-similar design being offered. When she responded to my email she totally ignored what I had said about this other designer. When I wrote back I mentioned it again. Again it was ignored. It makes me suspect that she might have done the copying : (

  36. Thank you so much for posting your thoughts on this terrible crime. While I have not yet seen my work on the pirate sites, I know the day will come and it will break my heart. I am not sure if I will want to continue designing, which is truly the love of my life. It has brought me back after a serious illness, and given me joy. Thanks to all those who commented who take this problem so seriously. Please, please spread the word.

    Deb -

    1. Here I am again, having come back to your site because of a phone call this morning from someone who mentioned this topic. I see now that it is two years since I posted the message above. I can no longer say my designs are not being pirated. They are - and heavily. I spend half my day in the depressing business of trying to get my work taken down from the sharing sites. I won't prattle on, but it is an effort to keep on designing, much as I love it. BTW, what an odd post on Sept 3, 2011. The very fact that your mentioning a specific website caused all this is absurd. It does show, however, the state of things and that most likely, "Anonymous 9-3-11" has some sort of problem with honesty. The shock is that SO MANY people are dishonest and more, that so many are complacent about that sad fact.

  37. I am a believer in paying for what you get. I joined several stitching groups on facebook where I was talking about how excited I was about purchasing several new charts. I posted a picture of the designs and listed the designer's name. The very same day I had a private message asking me to share all of the charts with her. I responded, in a very nice way, that I had paid for those charts and if she wanted them she could go to the same site and purchase them herself. So it's not just swapping sites that that do this.

  38. Why did you ever even mention this? I would have kept my mouth shut. You dumb women need to vent on line and others need to commiserate and create a social affinity. What you have done is advertise for these people. A big brouhaha is going on over at 123 Stitch about this and I guarantee that Chinese site has gained a significant number of participants by your actions. I know I would never have known about it myself. Women are their own worst enemies. And no, nothing I say will ever help and I am a woman myself. How can you be so damn dumb? Big mouth!

  39. Oh and I glanced at some of the above comments. I hear the familiar litany of "how did the world get this way", implying that theft is a new thing. How can women be so damn dumb? Theft has always been in the world--why else did God make the commandment, "Thou shalt not steal"? The Internet has just provided a new vector of theft not to mention other things.
    Don't say anything--too late now--you just expanded the damage.

  40. What a nice person you must be Anonymous! Calling people names (in specific) and insulting women (in general). My intention was to inform people that designers and shops and distributors don't receive any compensation from the activities on these sites. If people are looking to "steal" charts by downloading them illegally, they will find these sites and do so regardless of what I do or do not post (they must not be as "dumb" as the rest of us women) and can easily find what they are looking for simply by doing a "search" on Google. Doesn't take a bucketload of intelligence to do a search for a chart on the internet. Just search for a designer or a chart and these sites (in particular this one) come up automatically in the search.

    Big Mouth

  41. Oh and Big Mouth? I have never ever downloaded or copied a chart because I want the printed one from the designer in my mailbox (preferably wrapped in that dragonfly print tissue paper you use), all new and MINE! So, I am not a nice person, maybe, but I buy all my stuff new. I have been around the cross stitch boards for years and these nice ladies you like will commiserate with you and download for free on the sly. I know, I have gotten some of the most amazing e-mails over the years.
    I love your designs and your love of animals.
    Not nice but honest!

  42. Cynthia, thank you for writing this down. I'm glad to hear the designers speak up about copyright violations and the very real impact it has on them and our craft. I saw your blog post referenced by Deb in the Stitches 'N Things newsletter.

  43. I too buy all my charts at legitimate stores. If I can't get a chart then I can't get it. I'm at the point where I can stitch for the next 10 years and not "need" a new chart. If I get a chart for free then it's because the designer is offering it for free.

    There is plenty of support for this in the cross stitch community. And please find the help you need to shut down the sharing sites.

  44. Hi Cynthia - I'm glad you posted this, if for nothing else than a reminder that nothing is ever truly "free" - as there are always consequences. I do have a question though - what are your thoughts on patterns that can be obtained through books at the library? Are these considered stolen or are they acceptable to use?

  45. ShelEm: If someone is using a pattern through a book they checked out at the library ... that is different. If a pattern is published in a book, the designer has been paid a fee for "editorial" usage. So the designer has sold the pattern for this purpose and understands how it will be used. She has been paid accordingly. I would never object to that. I have sold many designs for editorial use and I'm happy that they are available through books and magazines ... and happy about being compensated for them. Uploading charts on the internet so others can download them for free without my permission and without paying me any compensation .... that is an entirely different ball game.

  46. Thanks for clarifying. I had always wondered if the chart I obtained from the library was "legit" so I'm glad to hear that the designers have been compensated.

  47. Hello Cynthia,

    I came across your post via "cupcakesandthreads.blogspot". I completely agree with you. I have never come across that type of sites but I have been asked to give or sell at a small price a chart I had already stitched and shown on my blog. I have always refused and explained my consideration for the designer. I have always recommended the person to contact the designer directly if the chart was out of print to see what can be done. I must admit that I have bought more charts than I have actually stitched! But I guess I am not the only one.
    I do hope that by spreading the word, the stitching community will stand up against this unconsiderate stealing practise and will protect the designers in not participating in it.

  48. As a new designer ( I have been designing for a few months now) this is not encouraging... and I must confess that I was very sad when I saw one of my patterns on that horrible Chinese sites . I did not know that those sites were in existence until I read an article about them on Notforgottenfarm blog.
    I immediately went to the site to check that my patterns had not been "stolen".
    And unfortunately, one was there !
    Since I am a new designer, and that I had only sold 3 patterns (2 patterns sold to 2 honest women) I immediately knew who was the pirate!
    I wrote to that German woman and I also told a friend of mine who belongs to a "patrollgroup" against piracy and I was totally right.
    That German woman is a professional pirate !!!
    I hate those people !!!
    They spend money on stupid things (just like mobile phones or else) and they don't want to pay small amounts of money for our work !
    The laws must be more drastic .
    People should be fined severely ...
    I hope that we could fight those pirates in an efficient way !
    We must not feel discouraged ... Warm smiles