What If Wednesday – Coloring Book Copyrights

What if I based a quilt pattern on a line drawing in a coloring book?
This is not a new concept. I used coloring book shapes for the appliqués on this quilt almost 15 years ago.

christmas-quiltBut then I got to wondering if coloring books were copyrighted. They are. On further review I learned that before 1964, copyrights only lasted 28 years. On expiration, they could be renewed for another 67 years. Items copyrighted from 1964 through 1978 automatically renewed.
The more important question is whether or not there’s anyone alive that cares.
When I cleaned out mom’s house I found some of my old Christmas coloring books from the 1960s. Many shapes, like candy canes, would be considered general use. Others, not so much.
As I look back in my own life, I don’t remember much of anything I drew except for a couple school projects and one picture that got published through a twist of fate. Go figure. I doubt an elderly artist remembers every Christmas stocking or fireplace he drew for a coloring book.
So will I use my old coloring books as a basis for new quilts? You bet. Will I publish those patterns and call them my own? I think not. If I felt driven to publish something I would do a lot more research, both to protect myself and out of respect for those that came before me.
Who knows? Those coloring books and crayons may have started me down the road to fabric paints and paintstiks.

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