Copyright is a legal protection to creators of literature, music, patterns and artwork. Copyright law gives the following exclusive rights to copyright owners:
Copyright and Cross-Stitch
Purchasing a book, song, pattern or artwork does not give the purchaser ownership of a copyright; it simply gives you the right to enjoy the work of the author. Authored work does not need a copyright symbol or notice in order for the author to retain ownership of the copyright.
All cross-stitch patterns are protected by copyright. This includes protection against designs being illegally copied in any format. Many stitchers like to make photocopies of patterns to use as a working copy or to enlarge the symbols. Technically, that is illegal. However, making these copies for your own personal use is a fairly accepted practice. Photocopying them to give to a friend is not. You are denying the author of the pattern the rightful income for the time and money invested in making the pattern available to the public in the first place.
There is also the question of using one pattern to make several of the same item, usually for sale at a craft fair or bazaar. Using a copywritten design repeatedly on items for sale is prohibited without the author's written permission. This also means you cannot stitch one item to sell either. You may use the design repeatedly for gift items, such as bridal favours or seasonal ornaments.
Copyright is in effect from the time a work is completed, whether the work is registered with a copyright office or not. The copyright lasts for the lifetime of the author plus 70 years after the author has died. Any works authored after 1989 do not have to display the © symbol in order to be protected. Several countries have entered into legal agreements to honour the copyrights of each other's citizens. Infringers of copyright laws can be taken to court and sued by the copyright owner. If the value of the stolen copyright is over a certain amount (this varies country to country), a person can also face criminal charges.
Links to Canadian and American Government Copyright Sites: