Below is an excerpt from my April 2011 post.
WHY MY RECHARTS OF BEYER/Buch Verlag fuer die Frau Patterns are NOT Infringements
Manifold Cardigan Construction Idea/Method Not Protected
About a year ago I consulted a copyright attorney who specialized in the fashion industry. I emailed him a pdf of the instructions for the pattern, and also spoke with him at length by phone. In summary, he said that only the instructions that I wrote were protected, as a literary work, and that if someone else wanted to rewrite them and modify the charts, they would not be infringeing my copyright. I was not entirely surprised after reading the Copyright Office’s information on design patents. I know there is proposed legislation that may remedy this, but, as of this writing, it is still “proposed” legislation. More importantly, the point is that the Beyer/Buch Verlag fuer die Frau copyrights are violated only when they are republished as scans of the original charts and photos. In addition, since doilies and tablecloths are in fact “useful articles” rather than artistic works, they are not protected by copyright — even though they contain artistic designs. My previous (mis)understanding was that an artistic design within useful article is protected, but it is not, especially in the fashion industry — see first video link below.
In addition, a recent discussion on one of the Yahoo Groups related to knitting provided an example where two almost identical patterns for a shawl were discussed, and the unanimous conclusion voiced was that the pattern created later did no infringe the copyright of the earlier pattern — because the instructions were written differently and there were differences in the charts.
Interesting Video on Copyright
Finally, the below link was posted in the Ravelry Group “Copyright Matters”.
In summary, since my recharts are different from the original scans in several ways, they are not infringements. The most significant difference being that repeated stitch groups are combined into one stitch group preceded by a number with an “x” that indicates how many times the group is to be repeated. A secondary difference is that the symbols are laid out differently in that they reflect, as much as possible, how the item is knitted, rather than what the finished item looks like. Thirdly, the patterns always include corrections, and now often include written instructions and stitch counts. A fourth difference is that multiple consecutive “knit 1” symbols are replaced by numbers indicating how many stitches to knit plain.