There are thousands of places to find craft inspiration. Saving a buck and creating a knock off from brand name items is all the rage too. You can find plenty of inspiring ideas on blogs, websites, in magazines, at craft shows, thumbing through catalogs, browsing gift shops and online malls, the list goes on and on. It’s one thing to make a project based off of someone else’s idea and use it in your home, but how does that work for bloggers and freelance writers?
Is it ok to follow someone else’s instructions and then post that on your blog? Is that considered copying, or is it referred to as inspiration?
copying - “imitate or reproduce (an idea or style) rather than creating something original”
inspiration – “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, esp. to do something creative”
So if Jane the blogger finds a project online that she just loves, she prints the instructions, goes to her craft room and makes the project according to the directions, is that copying or did she find inspiration? What if she used different paint colors? What has to change in order for something to go from being a copy to being a piece “inspired by” another?
Do I have an opinion on this topic?
Why, yes I do in fact. Many of the things I make are ideas that just “came to me”. But not all of them are that way. In fact I recently made a sign for my living room with the word family on it. I was inspired by another sign with a completely different word on it. THAT sign was inspired by a set of letters that are all pieced together to make a sign. The key here is that we each put our own twist on things. I used a textured wallpaper for my background, added paint and did some distressing to my letters. In fact, I came up with the technique myself. Does that mean that I don’t ever just follow the directions on a project? Or that it’s bad to do so? Absolutely not!
Everyone is different.
There are those that create and those that recreate. Not everyone can come up with ideas and rely heavily on those who do to help express their creativity. For example, I had a friend several years ago that was an extremely talented tole painter. Never once did she come up with a design on her own, she admitted that she just didn’t have that ability. But wow could she paint! She had a huge collection of pattern books and had made hundreds of projects over the years, every one of them she followed a pattern. Was that bad? I don’t think so. She never tried to pass off the design as her own, and I think that was key. She always gave credit where credit was due.
This is such an important part of this whole discussion. Craft bloggers post tutorials for a reason. So that their readers can follow along and hopefully be able to make the project themselves, right? After all, you’re posting a tutorial, you must expect that someone else will eventually make the project. But what if they don’t give you credit? That’s where I have a problem with this type of situation.
Giving credit where credit is due is a very touchy subject for me. I’ve made many projects for Kaboose.com over the years. The tally was over 500 last time I checked, and my name is on every one of them. Many of them are my own ideas, others are based off of old and time tested crafts, and others are remakes from their old website. There are quite a few bloggers who have made projects with their kids that I developed for Kaboose. They post them on their blog but don’t give any credit. Worse yet are the ones that just copy and paste the entire tutorial, pictures and all, and post it on their blog. That bothers me. It’s also not ethical. I realize that the excuse is that they just don’t know any better, they haven’t been blogging long enough to know the etiquette, their blog is just for personal use, etc.
But you know what? Unless your blog is private and only invited people can see it, then it’s on the internet for all to see. That means it’s public, and that means you need to respect the rights of others. So that begs the question, do those bloggers just not know any better, or did they purposely post something because it gives them satisfaction that their readers think they came up with the idea? I’ve had that happen to me too. Last Halloween someone posted my bread tag monsters on a message board and was clearly taking credit for my work. She copied my entire tutorial, pictures and all, and then answered a question on the board as if she had made them herself. Someone on the board alerted me to it since she had seen my project previously and knew it was mine. As a blogger you need to know what the right thing to do is. Give credit. Link to the project where you found it. Don’t take credit for something you didn’t come up with, and definitely don’t try to pass someone else’s project off as your own!
Copying vs. Inspiration
I believe that if you post a tutorial on your blog you are inviting others to make that project, word for word, line by line. That’s why you posted the instructions. If you don’t want people to recreate your project based off of your instructions, don’t post the instructions. Simple. Keep in mind though, some people need the instructions to allow their creativity to shine through, like my friend the painter I mentioned earlier.
If you are the one making the project and you post it on your blog you have the ethical responsibility of providing credit to the site or blog where you found it. You should link directly to that tutorial and mention the blog by name, and when possible, the designer as well. Don’t ever misrepresent a project. If you didn’t come up with the idea, don’t pretend that you did! That’s not fair to the designer or to your readers. It can also damage you as a blogger, bad things have a way of catching up to you. What goes around comes around.
So what are your thoughts?
So what do you think? Do you give credit when you get ideas from somewhere else? Have you ever copy and pasted a full post and not realized you just can’t do that? Do you respect others by linking to their blog? I want to hear your thoughts! Comment away.