Business of Craft Season 4 Episode 3 Elizabeth Townsend Gard

Business of Craft Season 4 Episode 3 with Elizabeth Townsend Gard


Welcome to Business of Craft, a show designed to help entrepreneurs with fabric or fiber businesses become more successful. Our guests share best practices and teach effective marketing skills, that help crafty business owners learn to grow and scale. Let’s start crafting a better business together!

Today’s guest is Elizabeth Townsend Gard, Endowed Professor of Law at Tulane University. She is the co-author of the a two-volume casebook, “IP: Doctrine and Application in Two Volumes” and she is also the host of the podcast Just Wanna Quilt, a research podcast focused on quilting, entrepreneurship and copyright. Elizabeth is also the director of “Durationator”, a software system that aims to determine the worldwide copyright status of every kind of cultural work.

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#1 Tell us how you arrived at this beautiful nexus between quilting and your law career? (2:24)

#2 Let’s start with some clarifications on copyright–specifically for makers and how they can determine whether something is an original work. First, let’s define the difference between something in the public domain and something that is copyrighted? (5:12)

#3 What are the consequences of ignoring or violating a creators copyright? (8:25)

#4 If you’re a maker, how do you establish and protect your copyright? (13:55)

#5 I have always heard people say that in order to have an original copyright, you have to change three things and then you’re free and clear. Is that true? (20:09)

#6 I’m intrigued about the software you’re involved in called “Durationator” which solves a problem with copyright search. How does it work? (24:45)

#7 You also have a tool that allows you to search digital U.S. Copyright Registration and Renewal Records. Can you explain what that is and when someone would want to use that tool? (26:47)

#8 I also advise clients to watermark their images so that if those images travel around the internet, on Pinterest for example, that they’re protected by that and people can’t (or should I say shouldn’t) use those images. Is that a correct approach to handling images? (27:50)

#9 Let’s jump to the topic of trademarks. Let’s lay some basic groundwork and explain to listeners what a trademark is and why they would need one for their crafty business? (31:15)

#10 Do you have advice about the process of registering a trademark? I did it myself, but do most people hire help for that? What are the pitfalls of doing it yourself? (39:32)

#11 I love that you’re also a podcast host with “Just wanna quilt!” Your description says that 5 years and 4 seasons in, your show–which focuses on research, quilting and copyright is quote “undefinable”. Tell us more about that intriguing sentence? (42:35)

#12 You’ve got so many irons in the fire,  including new books coming out in your series “Just wanna” which focuses on legal issues. Your newest ones are “Just Wanna Trademark” and “Social Media in the Workplace.” Can you tell us about those? (45:10)

Key Takeaways

If you’re serious about protecting your copyright as a business, you need to be registering your work. You can find more details about that at the US Copyright Office.

Copyright can apply to images and words (the way you explain things in patterns), but they cannot apply to techniques, methods, and traditional ways of making (i.e. an A-line skirt). 

Also be sure to put a note on your work including a copyright symbol because anyone who copies that is then intentionally misusing your work, and there are additional punitive penalties for that (as opposed to innocent misuse)

Whether or not a work is original depends on how much you’re creating. You can’t just change a few things and call it original – it has to be unique and a real departure from what already exists.

You also need to be registering trademarks. You can do it yourself, or you may need a lawyer, but registered trademarks will protect you.


Connect with Elizabeth:  Just Wanna Quilt | Instagram | Facebook 

Copyright Claims Board

Creative Commons

Register your work at the US Copyright Office

Books by Elizabeth Townsend-Gard