I feel like I've spent days of my life wrestling with sites like eBay and etsy and several others where I don't even speak the language lately trying to get illegal copies of our patterns taken down. And here's my complaint: these sites that make it so, so easy to commit copyright infringement make it a hassle to take it down.
It's a problem.
And these are the sites we know about. How do we know? Concerned consumers contact us to let us know. We appreciate that.
I'm not lawyer so I can't help you navigate all the contingencies of what is or is not illegal. In the interest of completing my rant (which has been mostly in my head but has leaked out a bit here), here are some really, really broad lines.
Selling a completed, single product made from our instructions: not copyright infringement
(unless it's licensed product like Disney. Mickey and Winnie and Buzz and Tweety and Sponge Bob and other famous characters like this have posses of lawyers, I'm pretty sure. Buy the leaflet, make items for your own personal enjoyment, file the leaflet safely away. And whatever you do, don't make up your own designs and submit them to a publisher. Adapting their artwork without buying a license to do so is also copyright infringement.)
Re-selling your used leaflets: not copyright infringement
Selling photocopies of our printed materials: copyright infringement. copyright infringement. copyright infringement.
Selling electronic forms of our printed materials (scans, PDFs, disks, downloads): Copyright. Infringement. !!
Protecting the copyright is important to us but we also owe it to the designers who work with us. Buying illegal copies (or finding them listed for "free" on the internet) harms the designers you love. And being out of print doesn't mean something is a part of the public domain so the copyright stands.
So what happens if you're surfing the webs and you see something?
1. Say something. Contacting the seller is usually my first step. I like to assume she doesn't understand copyright protection and start with polite requests. If you decide to do so, just beware. In my experience, polite requests are not always answered with polite replies.
2. Let the publisher know. Most companies have a website with a way to contact them. Including specific links to items for sale is a big, big help.