For some reason the theme of the week seems to be sharing -- authorized or not. "Ask Harriete," a blog that I follow, focusing on art and craft, has been discussing the ethical issues regarding people getting information from a workshop, book, magazine or blog and passing it along to others. I've gotten into a protracted back-and-forth via blog comments with Harriete Berman over whether it's a sin to do so.
Meanwhile, on the SAQA email list, people are discussing the etiquette of teaching a class or workshop based on somebody else's pattern or book. To my pleasant surprise, the consensus is that the original artist should be gracious about giving permission to do so. (Many past discussions on this and similar lists have taken the opposite tack, with people all up in arms about protecting their copyright.)
I do agree with Harriete and others that it's a sin to commit plagiarism; that is, you should not copy a tutorial or workshop handout and distribute it to other people as if you had written it, nor should you teach a workshop on somebody else's pattern or technique as if you were the originator. But I don't think there's anything terrible about passing along information that somebody else has written, or a technique that somebody else has developed, if you give credit to that person.
In fact, as I mentioned in one of my comments on her blog, I regard tutorials as free advertising. Just because I've posted a tutorial on how to piece very fine lines, for instance, doesn't mean that people might not want to take a workshop on the same subject.
And people rarely sign up for a workshop simply to learn a certain technique, except at the really low end of the food chain. Especially for multi-day sessions, they do it because they want to hang out with the teacher. In such situations students learn a lot that's not in the curriculum, little techniques or tricks that come up in passing, or impromptu discussions of inspiration or work habits or organizing the studio or entering shows.
I've always believed that it's better to share information than to hoard it. I love to do tutorials and to teach, and when people ask if they can use my techniques I always say yes. After all, what's truly new in the world of art?
On the subject of free advertising, let me announce that I'll be teaching at the Crow Barn next year, a one-week workshop on fine-line piecing. The 2014 workshops aren't up yet on the Barn website, but I'll let you know when they are. And if anybody wants to come hang out with me in the finest quilt teaching/learning facility on the planet, I would be most honored and pleased.