So, when you create a knot, do you own it?
There have been many heated debates in the paracord community that continue to this day over ownership of knots and creations. In this article I would like to say a few words on how I feel about it. It is a bit of a rant, I give you that, but I am a bit fed up with people claiming knots and designs.
I realize this a controversial subject and I am throwing myself into the fray, but hey, let’s debate!
Discovering knots is a task not achieved by many, but it does happen. And when it does, the knot is discovered. Many people will claim to have found a new knot, it is perfectly natural, for you can hardly know all the knots. This is where a lot of naming confusion also arises, since different people discover the same knot and name it differently.
Can you really own a knot?
You can patent a lot of things nowdays. Yet strangely few people patent knots. Not much money in it probably, right?
But why would you want to own a knot? Most people share their knowledge of knots to inspire others, not get credit, fame and bragging rights. The latter three are nothing but ego boosters which have nothing to do with improving your life or that of others.
What about knot designs?
What about owning a design, a project made out of knots? Can you make a tie or a project out of paracord and claim it to be your own design? Yes, well you can credit it to yourself.
But when people copy it, you may feel bad about it. You invested a lot of work into a design and someone just copies it, no questions asked!
The hard truth
If you post something on the Internet, someone will steal it. Someone will copy it. Someone will modify it. If you share something, you are done as far as ownership goes. But still people share. Why? Just try to imagine a properly vague tutorial or product description:
A thing. I can not say the color, measurements, materials, purpose because others will copy it. 20$
The product description up top ensures that no one can steal your design! (By the way, if you are interested in the thing, you can get one on this link)
What to do?
Basically you can do two things to alleviate the theft of your designs:
- Getting bogged down fighting everyone that even looks at your products, copies it, steals the design, etc. This is the road many take and start fighting for authorship rights. This road usually means you stop your creative work and dedicate time enforcing your claim.
- Instead of getting bogged down in getting proper credit, enforcing quotations and fighting people over ownership, why not ignore it and keep making great things? People in your circle will still recognize your creativity, even though others copy it. Think about it! How much business you are losing from people copying you and how much if you stop working and begin “fighting for what belongs to you”.
Examples of THEFT
First of all, I have to say that I have copied my share of knots. I learned the cobra knot from a video tutorial years ago and have learned a lot of knots and designs from other people ever since. Truth be told, I would never come up with the knots I have so much fun with.
I have also made many tutorials and few have been entirely designed by me. I am honest about that. I never considered myself an artist such as J.D.Lenzen who is basically a knot making machine (this is a compliment). What I wanted to do was share my views, tips and experiences with you, the reader. That is why my tutorials are all shot by me and accompanied by my experiences. Sometimes I found a tweak that made it easier to tie something, sometimes I feel that I can explain something in a way that is understandable. This is why I post my tutorials. It is fun, it helps and inspires.
The great names of paracord crafts
Did you know that even the greatest paracord craftsmen started small? And that they also borrow from the work of others? Even the famous ABOK is not a 100% original (duh!).
I am not advocating a wild west free for all. But can’t we all just get along?
Interesting thoughts on knot ownership. I think you have hit the nail on the head on this issue. I have been making lanyards at the airport I work at and found that when I started they were unique is design and style, but they were just a few knots and some braids.
When I first saw a copy of my lanyard I was kind of upset, even though I knew it would happen sooner or later after all I didn’t own the rights to the knots. They were redesigns and close copies but not exactly the same.
When I first designed my style of lanyard no one else was making anything like it, now there are people doing the same thing I’ve been making for over 5 years now. In the end I like the fact that I have made something that others have copied even if they have put they twist on it and I can’t proved I was the first, but I do know who was first and am proud that I have done something that others are copying.
This also forces you to evolve and makes you design new things to keep up. All in all, this is true for many things in life. You help others to become better, because it raises the bar for you, making you a better person, crafter, etc.
I just found your webpage while just checking out what other people do with Paracord. I do make stuff and sell it sometimes. Mostly I give it away though to family and friends. The joy of receiving a handmade gift is always payment enough. When I make something, I strive mostly for the quality of what I’ve made and not just try to sloppily slap it together just to say, “Hey, look what I learned to do.” And, as you mentioned above, sometimes adding my own twist to it.
Thank you for your article and as Bret said, “…you have hit the nail on the head…”
hi, I am a retired Aircraft Fitter.
I hope you are still ‘up and running’ as I have recently been bitten by the paracording bug big time, and came across this article on knot ownership.
My Dad always used to say “Imitation was the best form of flattery”. He also said that something was “like being slapped on the face with a wet Cod” but I never tried that one.
I spent 22 years in he Navy (the “Royal” one) and learned to take pride in well presented knots.
I just love the Paracord Guild, it has helped me through many a sleepless night.
Keep up the good work Mark