Protections and Ethics for Beaders, Part 2

This post will move from the law aspect to ethical practices, and then I suggest a way to “bypass” these practices in the interest of sharing. Even if there is no law against certain practices, there are still unwritten rules of conduct that beaders should be aware of. Beading magazine editors Marlene Blessing of Beadwork, Mindy Brooks of Bead & Button, and Cathryn Jakicic of BeadStyle got together to discuss this issue. They wanted to provide guidance for their readers, and came up with the following code of ethics.


Here is a Beader’s Code of Ethics, drafted by Mindy Brooks, an excerpt from the article “Do the Right Thing” by Marlene Blessing featured in the June /July 2006 issue of Beadwork:

  • It is unethical to copy an artist’s work without that artist’s permission.
  • It is unethical to copy any work that has appeared in a magazine, book, or website and represent it in any venue as an original design.
  • It is unethical to teach a beading project that has appeared in a magazine book, or website without the artist’s permission.
  • It is unethical to teach a beading project learned in another teacher’s class.

I think it is a good idea for bead artists to state what their ethics are right on their project instructions. In my free ebook for example, it says: “You may sell work inspired by this e-book, but all the information contained within must remain free.” I don’t mind what you do with my instructions as long as you don’t use them to teach a paid class or charge people for them in any way.

If you are unsure of whether something is unethical or not, go back to the Golden Rule. Just treat others work and ideas how you would want your own treated. If you think about it this way, the answer will come to you. Sometimes the answer is simply asking the artist for permission, and they will appreciate the gesture.

What do you think? Do you provide a Code of Ethics on your bead designs or website? Would you find it helpful if more beaders stated exactly what you can and can’t do with their patterns? Please share with us in the comments!

{ 6 comments… add one }
  • avatar Ralonda March 17, 2010, 9:29 am

    I don’t always agree with all the “ethics” that are represented here. I consider myself to be a very ethical person, but I believe in sharing, not for profit but freely sharing. Our society puts too high a calling on the “value” of education whether it be a degree in science or mastering another beading technique. We pay for water, dirt, and even air, but the most expensive of them all is knowledge. I agree that one should not teach anothers design or class for profit- but to not share what you have learned is just not human nature. We are all moulded by our experiences and anything learned in a class becomes part of us- it changes us and the way we do things. It would be wrong of us to NOT say we learned it in SO and SO’s class. The more people inspired by an artist’s work uplifts the artist, even if they are not directly inspired by the artist/ teacher. Even though I feel this way, I still refrain from sharing- which is excruciating- to respect the rights and wishes of others. It really is all about respect anyhow.

  • avatar Kate England | Marmalade Moon March 17, 2010, 9:46 am

    It’s so terrible to see people being ripped off right left and centre, this is a great way to open a discussion around it.

  • avatar Mandi Ainsworth March 17, 2010, 10:15 am

    Ralonda, I totally agree with you! That is why I have established my own set of ethics for my ebook. I want people to share all the information in my ebook like crazy (without making a profit from it). That is also why I have this blog, to share my beading knowledge and hope it spreads and helps my fellow beaders. It is also about respect as well. I know that I will make certain designs in the future that I will want to protect in certain ways. The Code of Ethics is about assumptions, and I plan to state on my designs what is and is not allowed and “lighten up” a few of them :) Thanks for opening up the discussion with such insightful comments!

  • avatar Mandi Ainsworth March 17, 2010, 10:21 am

    Kate, I think that was what the authors of the Beader’s Code of Ethics were afraid of: people being ripped off. Thus, they wrote the Code in response to this fear. I want to find a healthy balance between protecting yourself and sharing knowledge. Maybe I should write my own version with a focus on the cooperation of everyone becoming better beaders and from a focus of sharing? It definitely gives me some food for thought. Thanks for sharing!

  • avatar Sister Diane March 17, 2010, 2:11 pm

    Mandi, I think you’ve really nailed it here – this code, while very useful in theory, really does seem (to me) to be worded from fear. The internet is a culture of sharing – and we’re all taking in massive amounts of information every day. We can’t possibly keep exacting track of where we saw this idea or that idea. And so from time to time, it’s wholly possible that we might inadvertently incorporate ideas we’ve seen elsewhere into designs we’re making. If the intent isn’t to copy, then it’s not exactly copying.

    You’re absolutely right in stating your intentions for your designs clearly in your ebook. That way, if an infraction does pop up, you at least have a leg to stand on.

    I would love to see you re-word this code in more open language that embraces the reality of online culture. And I’d love to see more neighborhoods of crafting formulate their own codes.

  • avatar Kate England | Marmalade Moon March 18, 2010, 2:30 am

    One of the important things about copyright is that the creator owns his or her own work unless he or she decides to do something else. You are free to give away your work or grant a fairly free use of your work. A lot of people use the Creative Commons license for this. There’s nothing to prevent you from giving away your patterns or techniques or even your work.

    I think though, that most people would draw the line when they see someone else selling an exact replica of their own work and that’s when you need the strict definition of copyright that the authors of the Beader’s Code of Ethics wrote about.

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