The Bible, not to mention Pete Seeger in "Turn, Turn, Turn," says that "to everything there is a season. a time to be born, and a time to die...a time to weep, and a time to laugh...a time to rend, and a time to sew..."
Or is that a time to sue? Using the Net and e-mail, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hobbyists are sharing copyrighted sewing patterns among themselves, denying profits to the companies that created the designs. Certain cross-stitch pattern entrepreneurs believe these down-loaders had better pay up. As lawyers for rock band Metallica duke it out with Napster, Jim Hedgepath, president of Pegasus Originals, is ready for a legal battle of his own.
It's easy to joke about suing grannies who filch $5 to $8 patterns, but Hedge-path isn't laughing. Pointing out that most nefarious needlepointers are under 55, he says 70 percent of the retail stores that existed 10 years ago are gone. "[Pattern sharing] isn't the [entire] problem, but it's a big part of it," says Hedgepath, who has seen his pattern sales fall 40 percent, or $200,000, in the past three years.
The International Needlework Retailers Guild and the Hobby Industry Association of America have joined Hedgepath and a small band of cross-stitch companies in feeding money into a growing legal fund. Vows Hedgepath, "Some of the people starting these groups and posting these patterns on their Web sites are going to go to jail for it."