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LA Times: Is a Stitch Online a Crime?

Aug 01, 2000, 14:30 (9 Talkback[s])


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"If the $40-billion global music business thought it had problems with the emergence of a revolutionary Internet tool called Napster, consider the now-terrified needlepoint industry. For years, grandmotherly hobbyists, hungry for doily-and-swan patterns, have forked over $6 and $7 for them. ... No more. Taking a cue from music-bootlegging teenagers, sewing enthusiasts have discovered that they too can steal copyrighted material over the Internet, thanks to anonymous file-sharing techniques."

"Sales at the South Carolina design shop Pegasus have dropped as much as $200,000 a year--or 40%--since 1997, in part because of such swapping, said founder Jim Hedgepath. He and a handful of companies and pattern designers are gathering evidence to wage a legal battle against the homemakers. "They're housewives and they're hackers," Hedgepath said. "I don't care if they have kids. I don't care that they are grandmothers. They're bootlegging us out of business."

"Business people are trembling at the prospect that file-swapping won't stop at music, videos and needlepoint. There are already rumblings that it has spread to knitting and crocheting. "Where will it end?" wailed Marilyn Leavitt-Imblum, 54, who designs needlepoint patterns. "I just don't understand how these [people] can stitch a stolen angel and still live with themselves."

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