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 Beaded Pens 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. A Bead Society asked to do my Beaded Pens for their monthly meeting, and I said of course, send pics!

On the other hand, I’ve seen a gorgeous Cynthia Rutledge piece for sale at a craft show, and it bothered me that everyone thought the lady running the booth designed it, and she didn’t. I wanted Cythia to get credit for that beautiful design. I personally don’t mind if people make items to sell from my designs, as long as I get the credit as designer. Some designers don’t feel the same way, so I think its important to ask.

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!