Burda Gets It

Intellectual property issues are a hot topic these days. In the battle over fair use and copyright protection, it’s oft forgotten that derivative use, mashups, alternative videos, and blog posting are also often free advertising. For many major corporations and traditional media, (not to mention political campaigns) the loss of control is often threatening. Others, with better imagination and a sense of where customers are heading, see an opportunity.

Burda sees opportunity. As noted by Techdirt:

“…the company realizes that obscurity or disinterest is a much greater risk to its business than “piracy. So, with that in mind, it’s removed the copyright on its designs, asked people to feel free to improve on them — and even encourages people to make money selling the improved designs. The only thing the company asks for is attribution of where the design originated from. What gave Hubert Burda, the chairman of the company, the idea? “He said we should not make the same mistakes as record companies did with copy restrictions.”

Burda offers free downloads of several patterns — skirt, dress, pants, blouse, and retro — enough to let you try out their designs and instructions. You can also browse through their list of Burda weblogs (or create your own) to view sewing projects of other Burda users. Most of the weblogs are in German, but you can use Google’s web site translator to get a readable (if sometimes unintentionally amusing) version in your own language. Here’s an example of Burda Backstage in translation.

If you’re a Burda subscriber, you can download premium patterns for free. Otherwise, you can choose individual patterns for about $4 apiece.

You can read more about it at Sewing Up New Customers.



  1. Wow! What a fascinating post of concepts! I read many, many years ago that the advent of the Internet would make ideas and the copyrighting of them obsolete. Time has speeded up to the nanosecond level and just as one idea is created, 99 more people have it at exactly the same time. How great is Burda for not only realizing and accepting this but almost rewarding it?

  2. Love your post on the Burda patterns. I am almost finished making an outfit for my daughter from one of their children’s patterns — I must say I love the designs, the look, and the way the pattern went together. I’ve also noticed that Joann’s is carrying Burda patterns at a regular 40% (I think) off all the time. So even for the ones you have to pay for, you can get them reasonably in the states.

  3. thank you for this very thoughtful post. Some people get very upset by the very vexed copyright issue and this is just such a fresh take on it.

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