Why it matters: salvages and copyright

September 15, 2017

So, I was watching a promo video from Indielaw.com about fabric and licensing.  He kept talking about the "Selvage" but didn't know what it was.  A commenter kept correcting him.   Now, if you are like me, I start to wonder if he knows about the law.  He thought the selvage was the tag inside clothes.   


I'm going to watch his video on Monday.  But here's why it matters that I take time to be immersed in the quilting world = you will trust what I have to say about the law.  And the context of the culture related to the law.  I'm sure he knows a lot about law, and his practice in Chicago looks really interesting.  I hope to interview him.  But he should have done just a little bit of homework before going live.  It breeds lack of confidence.... even if he knows what he is talking about.  


I'll post on what I learn.


Here's legal zoom's take, arguing that first sale doctrine applies, and that the printing on the selvage would not stand up in court -- that there are no restrictions once you purchase the fabric.  I think the Indielaw guy is saying the opposite.  This will be something my Team at Tulane Law School looks into further.....  


And of course, my fav:  selvage quilts.  Quilts that use the writing to create quilts.  Love it.  Love it.  Love it.


Here are a few that are so very very cool at quilthabits.com I so want to make a selvage quilt.  I'll have to start saving them!  Also, tons on



So whether "for personal use" would stop someone from using the fabric to sell items on Etsy is for another day.


Here's my question.  If we assume that the selvage licenses were enforceable, how would one know of the license if the full license is not included on the fabric?    Here I got 9" of Moda's grunge fabrics.  I love them so much.  But you can see that none of them have the full license (which doesn't seem to have any restrictions on "personal use only" or "non-commercial use only").  But what if I had even got 4" of only one color?  I would have even less notice that there was a restricted license attached to this fabric.  

 Here is another example, this time a panel we picked up at Second City Quilts in Chicago combined with fabric from Joann's.  (Yes, I shop everywhere, except Hobby Lobby).  


 The panel.  I'm going to put buttons on all of the places my kid has been, including our crazy six week train trip this summer.  But haven't quite gotten to it yet.  Maybe this weekend.


Here are the selvage of the panel:


 And here are the selvages from the border fabrics for this quick quilt:



See again, many of them are not complete, because I didn't buy enough fabric.  So, that's interesting.  These, like MODA do not seem to have restrictions.


One of the research questions we might pursue is which companies put restrictions on their fabrics and which don't.  That might be something to think about, especially heading to Quilt Market in Houston.

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