Attribution and crediting designers, photographs, yarn dyers, and a number of readily available internet footage is a bit of a contentious subject, namely because a lot of people do not give credit where credit is due. We've discussed the issue of copyright in terms of designers, but there's another trend that I've seen occur with alarming frequency, particularly in social media, and that is the use of another's work to market one's own handcraft or product.
Whenever possible you should always give credit to a pattern designer (or at least the pattern name if you don't know the designer) and to the yarn company whose yarn you are using. Why? Because, as we have discussed before, unless you are a designer yourself, patterns were made by someone, and it is both ethical and legal to give that individual or team credit for the design of their work. For example, the image attached to this blog post is of the Point Pleasant Shawl, designed by Joanna Curley who publishes under the name Goddess Crochet, in the Atlas Moth colorway of Wonderland Yarns' Blossoms Garden Society kit. It would be disingenuous of me to, say, post a photo of this shawl with the implication that I either dyed the yarn myself or that I came up with the design on my own. It would be unethical and borderline illegal if I did so under the guise of a retail outfit if I did not, in fact, stock and sell Wonderland Yarns or this kit.
Likewise, it would be illegal for me to screenshot photos from the internet--particularly photos bearing a copyright mark--and post them in next to yarn colorways when those photographs were not taken by me, nor did I have express, written permission to use them but was doing so in an effort to sell yarn. And this instance is one I've unfortunately seen a bit too often on social media platforms.
What's the problem if it's on the Internet, right? I often had to tackle this topic during my professorial days. See, there's a big difference between royalty free images (those that are not under copyright and are basically stock photos), fair use (which really only applies in very narrowly defined educational settings), and other Internet images. In all instances, even if a student were to find something that was royalty free, I required them to cite said images because--even though we were in the business of education--those images were not created by them and their source needed to be noted, otherwise their work would be partially plagiarized. And, the use of anything that does not fall under royalty free without express, written permission or attribution is, in fact, plagiarism.
What about sharing, though? Sharing posts, photos, etc. on social media falls into a different category because in those instances, when you click the "share" button, you are sharing the original source and sometimes also sharing the source from which shared the post before you did. In this instance, you are providing documentation and a direct link back to the original, which is fair and appropriate.
Still with me?
Now, there are a few caveats. When, say, an LYS is a stockist of a particular brand, they are often sent promotional photos and artwork or told to use any photographs on the vendors' website in order to advertise the items that they are selling. This is different, as the LYS have been given express permission to do so, and said promotional photos are being used in order to promote the sale of THAT company's kits, yarns, notions, books, etc. It isn't as if the LYS is claiming that they themselves took those photos; rather, as LYS are in the business of re-selling items they purchased from a wholesale vendor, they are encouraged to use the best photographs possible from that vendor to promote, advertise, and sell those items. And, any time you are using published promotional photos to advertise something in order to sell or market that thing, you are essentially already giving attribution. Take, for instance, a book review in the entertainment section of a newspaper. The newspaper will use a stock photo of the book cover rather than trying to photograph it themselves. This is fair and legal as doing so it essentially reviewing (fair use) and/or marketing the sale of that thing, not suggesting that the newspaper itself is selling or had written that book.
Make sense so far?
The bottom line is that you should--whenever possible--note the designer, the pattern name, the yarn being used, or the image that you are posting if you are taking it from another site. I get it. Sometimes we lose yarn bands and can't remember what the yarn is. That's alright. You can note that. Same with the pattern if you don't have the name or the designer. But at least make an effort to provide attribution whenever possible. And if on social media, tag the yarn vendor or designer (and even the LYS where you bought the yarn); it helps bring them business and gives them visibility.