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Gregory Boop
Gregory Boop, Lawyer (JD)
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Experience:  A trial attorney with a decade of experience representing people and small businesses.
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My daughter and I are thinking about starting a cottage ...

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My daughter and I are thinking about starting a cottage industry making hand-made Christmas ornaments. Can we use patterns from published craft magazines, newspapers, craft stores, etc. to make some of our ornaments that we will sell? We will likely purchase supplies from catalog providers at the beginning...can we use these items to make ornaments that we will retail?

Congratulations! Yes, you can use supplies from the catalog providers. I guess the only question there would be those plastic forms that allow you to make cross-stich ornaments. The companies that make those probably have a copyright interest or license restrictions for commercial use. It would be questionable whether such claims would be enforceable, so I would not worry. You can make a fair use of the products to develop a compilation or other design. So the beads, thread, and other supplies are purchased (licensed) by you and you use them in a product as you are allowed to do.

Patterns... that all depends on the rights extended with the patterns. Copyright is inherent in the patterns. The author licenses the right to use the pattern in the magazine and for you to make use of the patterns, but often only for immediate personal use - not commercial. You need to read the rights extended with the pattern. I respect the fact that you respect others' property enough to ask. My mother knits and I understand that a good pattern in crafting is worth hours of trouble. I would stay away from those patterns that will not allow commercial use explicitly.

You and your daughter can search the web for "open source" patterns. recently reported on open source embroidery patterns. I am sure you can find "open source" patterns for the ornaments you propose. An open source license allows you to use the work as long as you do not claim any greater rights in the use of the work. The downside to this approach is that others can freely copy your resulting work because the underlying pattern is "open source." At least that is the therory.

Maybe the happy middle is to start with open source or patterns clearly designated for any use and move up to patterns you pay the author a license fee for your commercial use.
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