Here we go again…

Just about this time last year I wrote a post about Interweave Knit’s proposal to designers to sell our patterns on their online website. The designer’s cut? 10%. I found this absurd, but I also had found IK to be an amazingly wonderful magazine to work with, so I wrote about it at my blog.

One thing led to another, which led to some very good conversations between Interweave and their Designers. Which, in turn, led to a new agreement whereby a designer can earn between 20% – 50% for online pattern sales at Interweave.

The figure is dependent on whether the Designer allows IK exclusive online rights and how much they promote the IK pattern sale site on the Designer’s own website, but the formula for figuring it out is relatively simple and – I think – very fair.

It was a wonderful resolution, all parties benefitted and treated each other respectfully.

IK doesn’t keep as much of the sales % as they originally intended, it’s true. But I think more Designers signed onto the program and – as far as I can tell – just about everyone is happy. At any rate, I’m happy!

Perhaps more Designers signing on = more money for IK?

I knew that Vogue Knitting, which is owned by Soho Publishing, had recently started offering previously published patterns for sale on their website.

But as the contracts with Vogue are far different than the contracts with Interweave (the Designers pretty much sign away all rights when Soho publishing buys the pattern) I knew that asking for decent compensation would be useless, so I didn’t bother.

I figured I’d just quietly not submit or design for VK until the time when they either approached me (and I could renegotiate my future contracts with them) or they changed their contracts on their own to reflect a more modern and realistic relationship with their Designers.

I could have been more pro-active, but I’ve had a lot of personal stuff this year which has taken time away from my desire to start working toward a functioning guild or union for Hand Knit / Crochet Designers. I’ll admit, I let this slide and chalked it up to “Things one must accept when one signs away one’s Intellectual Property rights in a contract.”

Today I got an email from Soho Publishing – I’m sure all folks who’ve designed for Vogue got the same email – which read, in part:

Soho Publishing Company is excited to announce the launch of our web-based initiative, which will allow us to offer the content from our print magazines (Vogue Knitting, Knit.1, Knit Simple and Family Circle Knitting) in digital format.

Specifically, we will be reselling patterns from past and present publications as downloadable files, accessible via the Internet.

What does this mean to you? As one of our valued designers, you will receive a ten percent (10%) royalty on all net revenue received from the resale of patterns designed by you. While Soho contractually has the right to reuse this content without further payment to our designers, we appreciate the value our contributors bring to our product and sincerely wish to maintain a relationship based on respect and good faith. [Emphasis is mine.]

I have enjoyed having my work in Vogue – I love Vogue – although I haven’t had anything in the magazine since the exit of Adina (very sad)

But as much as I love Vogue, I don’t love this kind of treatment. Ten percent is not a reasonable amount to offer a designer when reselling their work, period. And it’s 10% on net – what on earth does THAT mean? Is that after they’ve taken editing and web costs into account? Too unclear, and too little.

Until the contracts at Soho materially change so that I have control over my intellectual property (or when and whether those rights will revert to me), I can’t see how I can sanction this by submitting further designs to VK.

I’m just one designer, and there are MANY more who will be happy to fill any small void my action creates (I’ve been in the magazine so little, I realize this is NOT a big blow to VK)

But I’m hopeful that more and more designers will reach into that self-respecting place deep in our knitting soul and tell the major entities that we must be treated in a respectful way. *

My idea of a good contract is one from which ALL parties benefit, one that is fair to all sides.

Respect and good faith is officially worth 10% at Soho these days. I hope this changes soon.

*For me, personally, these include: Decent compensation, ability to retain IP rights, full travel and accommodation reimburse for teaching engagements.

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