The interwebs are ablaze with activity and anger about a recent embroidery showdown. Some crafters are claiming there’s been a copyright infringement of Sublime Stitching original designs created by Jenny Hart. The perpetrator? Urban Threads.
To date no official comment has been released on either of Hart’s websites, but an incredible amount of data is being batted back and forth online. Without going into too much detail (you can find blogging here, here, here, and here) it saddens me that this kind of widespread artistic infringement happens in the indie craft world. I mean, Urban Outfitters has been accused of similar in the past, repeatedly, but you kinda hope that last time is really the last time.
To add fuel to the fire, Urban Threads has provided a rebuttal for the entire online craft world to dissect and discount as well as a letter from the big cheese meant for Jenny but published on the Urban Threads website for the whole world to see.
What I find most compelling is the rate at which information is being posted online about this complication and the consequence that even at the end of the day Sublime Stitching doesn’t have a leg to stand on. I had the opportunity to meet with Jenny Hart last year about this time and she mentioned that copyright infringement was a huge deal for her. At the time I wasn’t able to contextualize what she meant, but with this scandal sweeping the internet, it’s starting to make sense. Not only does the craft world divide as to who is in the wrong, but it just adds unneeded stress and negative attention onto the crafter and artist. Even the work of maintaining strict copyright creates headaches and when you’re faced with a situation like this justice could never be served.
Crafters face conflicts with themselves and the craft community regarding ownership of “the idea” to sew two pieces of repurposed jersey fabric together or some other random, yet simplistic, crafting idea. How do we as independent publishers of art, crafts, text, etc. secure our work? One way to go about it is to just let go of the idea that we own anything! Because the minute I feel like I own something I see it in Teen Vogue anyway.
EDITOR’S NOTE [added June 13, 2010]: Jenny Hart has now retracted some aspects of the side-by-side comparison image above.