Someday I Want to Be Paid As Much As An Electrician

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In an eloquent comment on ASK Harriete  John Rose says,

 "Demonizing workshop sponsors is fun and in some cases deserved, but in reality workshops are business partnerships between instructors and venues. They need each other. Instructors need an equipped, safe and maintained facility to teach in. Without qualified instructors the venues are just very expensive empty rooms."

"Both sides of this equation have expenses. You have quite rightly pointed out the hidden costs of the instructor. Building and maintaining a facility that will support metals workshops [any media really] requires no small amount of capital for real estate, equipment, insurance and staff to run it (just to name of few expenses).

The real issue facing us all is how to determine a fair price that students can afford/willing to pay..."


Harriete continues: I also heard a similar comment in some of the Facebook discussions. It isn't that I disagree or don't recognize the expenses of managing a facility.  There is no intention at finding the workshop sponsor solely responsible for the lowly pay for the Craft Master Workshop Instructor. The issues are multi-faceted and numerous.   So let's look at some of those expenses for running a workshop for some insights. 

The workshop sponsor pays the electrician, plumber, custodial fees, insurance, workman's comp, utilities, rent/mortgage, etc., all at the going rate. They don't negotiate and offer to pay a lower rate to the electrician because he/she loves the job or should love craft.   

The workshop sponsor contracts for graphic design, advertising, and promotions. How else can people find out about their remarkable programs?  They get a quote and pay the amount. The sponsor doesn't expect to get a discount or pay an especially lower fee because the graphic designer loves their program or supports the crafts.

Some workshop retreats offer food and housing.  Does the cook cook food for a reduced wage because they love craft? Did the organic farmer charge less for their premium quality vegetables because they love craft?  

So ....what is happening?

Actually I am not blaming the workshop sponsor.   I am blaming "us" -- the art and craft instructors for giving away our talents at discount prices.  The practice has become embedded into the culture.  The workshop sponsors have come to assume that the easiest negotiable expense is the workshop teacher.

The workshop sponsor is indeed running a business and has found a bargain deal in the person that is supposed to love craft more than money...the Craft Master.  Then offers the Craft Master the same wage from 30 years ago because they don't possibly expect more. After all, they really, really love craft and want to support the school, the participants, and the community.  

Hey, someday I just want to be paid as much as an electrician.

Harriete

RELATED POSTS: 

Someday I Want to Make as Much Money As My Baby Sitter


Someday I Want to Make as Much Money As My Baby Sitter

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Dear Workshop Sponsor,  

I am honored to be invited to teach at your renowned program which is highly regarded in the arts and crafts community. 

Two days of travel (one day before and one day after) plus teaching for two especially long days all for $1,000 compensation sounds like a great opportunity.  This time away from domestic responsibilities and studio work will also relieve me of my established income sources.  Upon returning home, I will cram in some double time for another four days to catch up on all the obligations that were left unattended.  Sadly, I will miss my exercise classes, but no worry, the standing and demonstrating all day will provide a different kind of fatigue. 

The samples and projects expected in a workshop usually only take a 100 hours or so during the prior six weeks. No need to compensate for all the prep time. It is just part of the job.   

The location of your program is beautiful which will be great to see from the car window on the way from the airport. For my return flight, the uncertainty about getting back to the airport in time will be an invigorating experience. 

Auspiciously, this workshop may help pad my resume (I've only worked in the field for three decades).


Visting SlideShare 004The proposed trunk show is another great opportunity. Circumventing my gallery and asking for a 50/50 split probably won't have much impact since workshop participants expect a special workshop price. Discussing purchases may be a moot point, no one seems to be buying anyway. And by the end of the workshop, the students will have learned how to duplicate my signature techniques.  In the past, some participants have even said, "I love your work and want to make one for myself." 

My nurturing and giving persona must be gaining attention. Recently, another craft retreat in the mountains offered $500 for a week of teaching. I hear the studios are open 24 hours a day and the view from the studio window looks like a vacation photo. 

After careful reflection on this workshop proposal, and with the utmost admiration for your program, I must decline.  Someday, while continuing to ignore financial realities, I hope that artists and makers will make as much as my babysitter. 

Best Regards,
Harriete

Domestic Diva with a B.F.A., M.F.A., two children, house, garden, and bills.

P.S. Sorry for the brevity of my response. I need to water the garden, sweep the floor, empty the dishwasher, volunteer for my neighborhood, make dinner, set the table, build Battlebots, and get dressed before my children and their friends arrive. 

 RELATED POSTS:


Someday I Want to Be Paid As Much As An Electrician

I Love the Smell of Dykem in the Morning

"I love your work and want to make one for myself"


Tools and Techniques Are Part of the Message

Recently, I wrote a post about "the Intersection between CAD/ CAM and craft." With further reflection during the week along with an extended conversation on Facebook, I'm trying to add some clarity and extend the interpretation of my message.

Steve-Jobs-movieThis weekend, I was listening to the commentary from the director and crew of the movie Steve Jobs. This film was really phenomenal, just fantastic in the way it was structured in three acts!   I highly recommend the film. A comment by director, Danny Boyle, offered deeper clarity about how tools and technology can be part of the message in any media.

Arri_Alexa_cameraHere is what Boyle said about his use of technology in Steve Jobs: Act 1 used 16 mm film for the "rough edge, homemade and basic."  Then the 2nd Act portraying events years later used "35 mm film which is kind of liquid, beautiful, smooth and romantic. And then we shot the third act on the Alexa, with a modern digital camera which is infinite, it has infinite pixels, almost, or we are moving that way, anyway."

In other words the director intentionally used three different technologies in filming to convey a subliminal feel within the film. This level of refinement was one of many special levels of execution that elevates this film to memorable. The film technology may not have been obvious to the less knowledgeable film audience, but it was apparent in the visual quality of the film.  The thoughtful use of filming technologies also influenced the meaning behind the film. Danny Boyle chose film technology to parallel the technical innovations of the decades portrayed in this narrative about technology. Genius!

For another example the music by Daniel Pemberton used the actual synthesizers of the 1970's/80's era, one note at a time (due to the limitations of early synthesizers) to create a score for Act 1, circa 1984 of the film. It's another example where the technology helped create more richly textured content.  


These are examples of using technology to enrich the content of a particular art form, a movie, but I think it translates similarly to the intersection between CAD/CAM and craft
in all media. A thoughtful rationale can be applied whether to use any technology, such as CAD/CAM tools, or stay within the concept of "hand made" to enrich the content.  


T-hammer-letter Tool alpahbetl 025 Tool alpahbetl 080 Tool alpahbetl 006 S-flexshaft-lette

 

 

 

 

 

The question is whether the tools and technologies add to or enrich the intent and appearance of the work?  The deliberate choice of a technology or technique can elevate the meaning behind your work.  



Tool alpahbetl 085Tool alpahbetl 050Tool alpahbetl 105Tool alpahbetl 105 a Tool alpahbetl 014 Tool alpahbetl 050

 

 

 

To make something by "hand" becomes an attribute of the work, but this attribute is irrelevant IF this is not your message.  Making something by hand can be a political statement, but competing with manufactured goods that have the same look and feel is a waste of your time.  Does your work look like it was "handmade?"  What does that mean to you and your audience?  Are you making something by hand that could be done equally well or better by machine?

Technology and "hand made" need not be incompatible.  CAD/CAM is simply a tool and "hand made" is simply a technique, but tools and techniques alone do not necessarily elevate the work. 

CAD/CAM may help make items at a competitive price.   Commercial jewelry is often made by CAD technology, but it holds no meaning. The tool does not elevate work which is boring and meaningless and has nothing to say.

The technique, tool, or technology is effective only if it is consistent with your aesthetic or purpose.  Here are two examples from architecture to illustrate effective and ineffective use of technology.

The architecture of Zaha Hadid reflects the technology that allowed her to design and fabricate her buildings.

In contrast, constructing 18th century decorative motifs with 3-D printing seems fake. It isn't that you can't do it, but it seems inauthentic. Sure it might be one way to get it done, but doesn't it feel fake?    

There are many examples in the art and craft world, where the tools and technology add meaning to the work.  I would love to hear of other examples that work or don't work well.

In closing, an insightful comment from writer Alan Sorkin about the Steve Jobs movie; "We invest a lot of ourselves, all of ourselves, in what we are doing, and we kind of want the world to look at that and not us."

Harriete 


Gemini Battlebot (I Helped Fabricate) Will Be On TV

The Gemini Battlebots that I helped fabricate will be on broadcast television!! Wath it on Hulu!!  Tune into ABC Battlebots show Thursday, June 23  at 10:00pm West Coast time. I have no idea what will be shown, and the little I know about the Battlebot competition, I am not allowed to reveal. Shhhhhhhhhhh.........

If you missed the show....here is a longer preview (1:48 second) The whole show was hilarious to us...in the know. You can see my son, and even my husband on national television! The production for Battlebots was amazing. This is the first time my son build a Battlebot and he got to be in a nationally televised competition.  (Gemini Battlebot shown at 1:18, 1:36. My son and his team member 1:25) 

The experience fabricating a contender for Battlebots was empowering, but the outcome at the time was unknown. Sometimes you simply have to try your hardest, work day after day. stay up late night after night, and then pull an all-nighter because if you don't try, nothing will happen. 

And if you do try your absolute best.... you will at the very least create a possibility.

Harriete 

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Above: Harriete drilling holes in the Gemini weapon parts at the TECH Shop, San Francisco, CA. (Blue tape on the drill bit was to mark where to stop.) That day was a sold 10 hours of drilling, and grinding....non-stop.  Photo credit: Ace Shelander.

Ace designed, engineered and was the primary fabricator for Gemini Battlebots. More part fabrication at the milling machine shown below. 

Ace Shelander holding up part just finished at the milling machine at the TECH Shop

part for Gemini Battlebot with aluminum chips after milling


At the Intersection Between CAD/ CAM and Craft

Recently, I was a guest worker at Radicand in an effort to help my son, Ace, fabricate his Gemini BattleBot for an upcoming Battlebot competition for an ABC summer show. The smaller red robot (at 125 lbs.) (in the video below) is the one I helped make. 


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Photo above shows some of the Radicand engineers, and Aryn Shelander (guest worker 12:00 midnight to 3:00 a.m: during our all-nighter.


Harriete driling the Gemini Battlebot partsThe much larger scale of everything was certainly a challenge but I soon realized that my hand fabrication skills translated well. 
And among several surprising observations, I soon realized just how important it is that handcrafting skills are still needed.

Perhaps the biggest surprise was witnessing the entire fabrication process beginning with CAD/CAM (Computer Aided Design/Computer Aided Manufacture) and progressing through each of the necessary steps to final assembly and operational testing.  Not everything is computerized.  A good "eyeball" and steady hands are involved.
 

water Jet cutting of battlebot partsAfter the parts were perfectly cut with water jet, I still had to figure out where to manually mark the holes (referencing from the cut edge with calipers), center punch the holes, hope the drill centered itself accurately on the center punch, and then to actually drill the holes straight.


precisely cut parts ready for marking and drillingI have plenty of experience, lots of skills for precision metalwork, and at the same time, at every step I was astounded by the inherent possibility of inaccuracy
. The CAD provides a tolerance of 0.001 inch, but how accurate can a human being be while rushed to get this done as quickly as possible?    


IMG_20160413_151752682CAD/CAM offers precise designs, but in reality, some machine-made perfection must integrate with handmade steps.  The bridge between theoretical precision and adept skills is left in the hands of the human maker.

 



Moving on....more observations...

Ace Shelander designed the Gemini BattlebotsMy son, Ace, designed his entire BattleBot in CAD software called Solidworks. (This is one the major software design programs used for prototyping and manufacturing.) 

Most of the parts were cut from steel and aluminum by water jet. The results were quite impressive. The TECH Shops (at both San Francisco and San Jose) have water jets. It costs $3.00 a minute (after you pay to take a class). 

 
The water jet cuts the holes first so the small parts don't move (this why it doesn't appear to be moving very much at the beginning.)  Then the water jet cuts the edges of the parts.  The speed is determined by the material and thickness.

Additional parts were cut with a water jet at KELLER Industries in San Carlos. Their water jet was even bigger, faster and louder. The Keller brothers and sons were incredibly nice and reduced the intimidating, even daunting, hurdle of approaching a commercial industrial metal fabricating business.

While water jet is used for large scale fabrication, it is also ideal for prototyping and one-of-a-kind. Just pop in the file and the computer controls the cuts.  

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Here is a short video.

Harriete can cut sheets of aluminum and file them close to CAM perfection, but should I cut six sheets?  Where is the role of CAD/CAM in our craft work? I am a huge advocate for craft and hand made, but seriously question why we should be hand crafting in those situations when machines can do the work faster and cheaper. This is especially true for multiples.

Is "hand made" purity an absolute attribute when technologies could help us be more productive?

Are we disloyal to hand made if we consider using fabrication technologies that can help us be more cost effective?

I love making by hand, but there is a place where we should be working smarter and faster when the machines can do it as well as (or better than) we can.

This isn't an easy topic to tackle. I don't think the answer is absolutely one way or the other.  CAD/CAM or hand made or mixing the best of both?  I am beginning to think that we need to learn the computer software and the technologies if they can help make our work better and faster. 

Harriete


I Love the Smell of Dykem in the Morning

Recently, I took on a new role of intensive robot making to assist my son in the assembly of his Gemini Battlebots. We worked at the fabrication space of the prototyping firm, Radicand.

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My first observation was that the scale of everything was ten times larger than my usual metal working experience.
 We are talking about 1/2 inch thick aluminum, 24" x 24" large plates of steel, and titanium.

Would my fine metalworking skills translate into another realm? 

Harriete's-tool box.pgIn a rush to squeeze this sprint assembly into my busy life, I filled a shoe box with my favorite tools. Dykem, jeweler's saw, saw blades, cut-off discs with mandrels, Opti-visor, and more.... including my own task lighting. 

Was I going to be embarrassed taking my jewelry and sculpture skills into the domain of mechanical engineers (all men) and CAD/CAM engineering?   

It really does seen to be a domain of men.  Another early observation started two weeks ago looking for local water jet cutting and welding services.  Whether calling or visiting in person, there seems to be no women in any machine shop or welding establishment. In a time when women are entering every field (including combat), metal fabrication seems to be a male dominated sphere.  The engineering prototyping world also included only men. Surely there must be women in the metal fabrication field and geek world, but I didn't see any.

Harriete's-dykemWould my hand crafting skills in tin and silver repair translate into this "real world" scale? My favorite tool for layout is Dykem. Fortunately,  I brought mine from my studio. The fabrication space at the shop didn't have their own. Not every mother can bring their own bottle of Dykem. I love the smell of Dykem in the morning.

IMG_20160413_154530630Just in case you don't know: Dykem is a solvent based layout die for marking metal. It provides a clear background to mark or scribe lines and it is so much easier to see against shiny metal. I learned to use my son's calipers, and in no time I am reading CAD drawings and marking large metal blocks as precisely as a person can at 1/100th of an inch.

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Marking metal for drilling holes was my first job. I wasn't drilling one or two holes but 60 holes at a time.  And then continued drilling for ten hours non-stop. I am not exaggerating. 

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Then, I was drilling holes with larger drills through 2 thick layers of super strong aluminum plates. Theses were high technology materials that weighed around 20 pounds or more.  It was heavy to hold in the correct position while pulling down on the drill press. I had no time to stop. It is good I've worked out lifting weights at the gym.

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Then came counter sinking holes.  Eventually, I learned that if I was more aggressive with the counter sink it worked much better. 

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It was really hard work holding the plates up with one hand, and pulling the drill bit down with the other. 

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Next I learned to tap every hole with a drill. Every skill was scary at first, but I was totally in my element.

My skills and metal work precision were right on target. I got better very fast. Complicated layouts, drilling, and tapping were well within my skill set. This was an empowering experience. 
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Would you like to see more fabrication shots of the Gemini Battlebots? Click here.  If you're interested . . . there are a lot more photos coming.

I have more observations about the intersection of CAD/CAM and hand made. More posts soon...when I recover...but here is something you might want to know.

Jewelers and metalsmiths can and should take their skills and tools to the design and prototyping field.  I know several metalsmiths with art school skills and education and they have told me what they do in prototyping, and it sounded really interesting. They have fascinating projects and make a great living. They can still make their own work without the starving artist mentality.

This was my first personal experience within the design and prototyping field. To the many jewelry and metalsmiths reading this blog, there is an alternative to the struggle of making money solely in "crafts" where a viable living is frustrated by a highly competitive market with a shrinking audience.  Learn CAD software and take your design sensibilities and technical skills where it is needed and appreciated in a growing field.

More observations coming soon.

Harriete

 *The title of this post "I Love the Smell of Dykem in the Morning" was inspired by the famous quote :  "I Love the Smell of Napalm in the Morning" from the movie Apocalypse Now. It was spoken by the character Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore as played by actor Robert Duvall. He played a super tough, fearless character in the movie.


CRASH! Warning. This Information May Prevent Devastating Injury and Expense

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12th thoracic-vertebrae
This is not Bill's x-ray, but the crompression fracture looked a lot like this photo.

The past month has been a challenge since my husband was in a car accident. The 12th thoracic vertebra in his spine was subjected to compression fractures. This bone in the lower portion of the spine broke into five fragments.  Sounds serious!  It was. But it could have been much worse.  Fortunately, the bone fragments were held in place by muscle and tendons without impinging on the spinal cord. 

Why am I telling you this? This personal calamity led to a revelation that could possibly save others from devastating injury. Bill's injury could have been avoided if he had not been reclining in the passenger seat. 


IMG_20160324_143728045_HDRDid you know that reclining in the passenger seat defeats much of the safety mechanisms designed to protect the passenger in an accident? "If your car seat is reclined, a three-point restraint (lap and shoulder seat belt) becomes essentially useless because the shoulder harness moves away from the passenger." 
In addition, it seems that the air bag is timed for an upright passenger but does not protect a reclining passenger due to the additional fraction of a second it takes to fly forward. 

Five-star-crash-ratingFlying off the road, yes, flying off the icy road and hitting a boulder head-on at 50 miles an hour is a potentially serious accident.  In contrast to my husband, my son was protected perfectly by the Subaru Impreza passenger compartment. The driver's seat belt, shoulder belt, and airbags along with the structural design of the car absorbed the impact. The 5-star crash rating is well deserved.


broken windshield from head hitting the glassWhat I have learned since the accident is that reclining in the passenger seat while the car is moving is  dangerous!
Studies have shown "that partially reclined passengers involved in an accident increased their risk of death by 15 percent. Fully reclined passengers increased their risk by 70 percent. It makes both airbags and seat belts less effective, said Dr. Eileen Bulger."

"Dr. Adrian Lund is president of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the organization that conducts crash safety tests.What people need to understand is that when we test vehicles for how well they'll protect you in a crash, we are assuming that people are seated upright in the seat, said Lund." Lund says safety tests have never been done with the seat reclined. Having the seat reclined means you're not protected the way the vehicle was designed to protect you, said Lund.

"The automobile industry and auto dealerships advertise reclining seats as an inexpensive luxury accessory for passenger comfort on the road and highway. They tell car buyers that the family can lay back, rest, and even sleep. But for dozens of years there’s been growing evidence that reclining seats kill or cause severe injury such as paralysis in car accidents,” said injury attorney Todd Tracy .

Federal transportation safety officials started worrying about the risks of reclining car seats back in 1988.  There are other ways for automakers to reduce the danger of reclining seats. They could install a warning bell, or make it impossible to put the car in drive unless all the seats are upright. But he says that NHTSA won't require any safety measures, even a label, because of the lobbying power of the car manufacturers.


IMG_20160407_104442747After the crash, I saw the totaled Subaru and took the owner's manual.
 Yes, the owner's manual warns against reclining the seat while the car is moving. It is only two sentences in a thick manual of densely written information.  This is why I had to write this post. Tell everyone you know. NEVER RECLINE in the passenger seat while the car is moving.

Final Words: BUY INSURANCE.
Both car insurance and health insurance need to be top priorities. It has been an eye opening experience that a car crash can have such a devastating impact on one's health and financial well being.  Without insurance, the loss of a vehicle and medical bills would have cost us an unbelievable amount of money that would have impacted us for years.

The two ambulance rides alone amounted to $5,000. The first emergency room (nearest the accident) was another $5,000.  The second emergency room visit was another $10,000 and this doesn't even include the 4 days in the hospital. Nor does this account for lost revenue from inability to work. Only because we had insurance will we be able to pick up the pieces. 

My warning is over. The good news is that Bill is expected to have a 98% recovery.  In a few more months we hope that this event will be a fading memory.

Hopefully everyone who reads this can learn from our family experience.

  1. Never recline in the seat while the car is moving.
  2. Buy a car with a 5-star crash rating. It may protect you, friends or family from harm or save your life.
  3. Always buy both car insurance and health insurance. 

 Harriete

Crash test dummy on Subaru Collision Reference Guide


Should Artists Be Expected to Pay the Gallery's Deductible?

From a reader...

HOT-BUTTON-ISSUES
Dear Ask Harriete,

A gallery I show with is asking all their artists to sign new contracts.  Everything is standard (50-50 split, etc.) except for a new clause (shown below) which addresses the possibility of theft or damage. 

"(Gallery) will insure the artwork for its wholesale price.  If a claim is filed, the insured work will be paid upon receiving the check from the insurance company less the deductible of $1,000."

Have you ever seen this in a gallery contract? Thanks for any thoughts you have.  I'd like to know if you have ever run across this.

Signed, Shocked Artist

Dear Shocked Artist,

In my 35+ years of experience as an exhibiting artist and working in the arts and crafts community, I have never seen a gallery contract that requires the artist to pay the gallery's insurance deductible in case of loss or damage. 

The simple impact of the clause  is that the gallery is shifting a portion of their business expense onto the artists.  

I realize that operating a business -- for both the artist and the gallery -- involves expenses.  Insurance costs are increasing for everyone.  There is no argument there. We all understand this too well.

I applaud the gallery for insuring the craft/artwork against the risks of loss or damage.  We can all understand that accidents do happen despite the best of efforts for care and security. Nevertheless, the gallery should be entirely responsible for the artwork while it is in their possession. The gallery negotiates their own insurance policy without any input from artists.  Yet if the artwork is outside of the artist's control, why should the artist be held responsible for any portion of loss or damage?

Insurance-DeductibleAn insurance "deductible" issue is a business decision between the gallery and the insurance company. A gallery can choose among several insurance options.  Usually the higher the deductible the lower their insurance premium. Homeowner policies and car insurance policies work much the same way for individuals. Most of us have some understanding that a higher deductible means that small claims are not filed and small losses are not absorbed by the insurance company. This reduces the insurance premium.

In contract negotiations, the old saying is "everything is negotiable."

I would reject this clause by striking through the "... less the deductible of $1,000" clause and explain your position. If they don't agree to remove the clause, I would not agree to consign my work under these circumstances.

The Professional Guidelines Consignment Contract says….
9. Insurance.  Insurance for the full wholesale price should be provided by the gallery.  The gallery is responsible for the deductible on their policy.  Artist should have control over any repairs, as necessary. (Again, for more information see the Artist Checklist: Claims for Damaged Work.) “ 

Two hypothetical examples illustrate the problem if the gallery shifts responsibility to the artist to pay the deductible:

1) What if the price of an item is less than $2,000 retail /$1,000 wholesale? 
If the item is lost or damaged while at the gallery, the artist would receive nothing (zero $) when there is a $1,000 deductible.  The gallery could even decide not to file an insurance claim, i.e. abdicating any responsibility for the loss or damage. In this scenario, there is little or no incentive for the gallery to handle items with care or secure items to avoid loss or damage.

2) What if the gallery chose to have a $2,000 deductible? or a $5,000 deductible? Where would this stop? 
If the artists agree to pay the gallery's deductible, the gallery could keep raising their business deductible and further lower their premium expenses while the artists bear the increased risk of financial loss.  A perverse incentive arises for the gallery to exercise less care and less security since the artists bear more of the financial consequences.  

Conclusion:    Maybe someone at the gallery thought that asking the artist to pay the $1,000 deductible would be a trivial amount of money in a low probability event -- but thinking through this situation as objectively as possible, I believe that this would create a seriously problematic precedent.

Harriete

RELATED POSTS and RESOURCES:
CLAIMS for DAMAGED WORK: Artist Checklist

Consignment Contract from the Professional Guidelines

Insurance Deductible Deducted from Whom?

Insurance Value, Wholesale Price, Retail Price For EXHIBITION CONTRACTS

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Can You Connect Me with a Good, Simple Exhibition Contract?

Yes!  The Professional Guidelines includes a sample Exhibition Contract.

Professional-guidelines-exhibition-contract
Exhibition-Contract-page1-2This Exhibition Contract is specifically tailored for an exhibition where the gallery or exhibition space will be showing work for a limited period of time (with no expectation of an on-going representation). 

If an exhibition space doesn't have a contract, then suggest using this Exhibition Contract so that both the sponsor and your artwork are protected. I prefer to think of a contract as a checklist to facilitate a discussion of issues in advance that can help to avoid potential problems or friction.  As in any contract, it must be mutually agreeable. And of course, everything is negotiable.  The contract can be modified or edited so that everyone is comfortable with the arrangement. 

Established exhibition spaces are likely to have their own Exhibition Contract. It that case you can compare their contract to this Exhibition Contract from the Professional Guidelines to look for issues that may have been overlooked or that you might think are important in protecting your art or craft.

What if your local arts organization wants to organize an exhibition? Use this Exhibition Contract to establish a great working relationship between the artists and the exhibition sponsor.   

 

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ExhibitionsArtistChecklist2010_Page_1Looking for more guidance about whether an exhibition is "right" for your professional goals?  

Check out the Professional Guidelines document  Exhibitions: Artist Checklist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Professional-guidelines-condition-report
CONDITIONreportSending your work to an exhibition?  Use the Condition Report from the Professional Guidelines.  

Learn how to use a condition Report on ASK Harriete (in a future post.) 

 

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Subscribe to ASK Harriete
in the upper left column so you don't miss a single post.  Your email will never be sold or used for anything but providing you with ASK Harriete information. 

Harriete  

 

P.S. The Professional Guidelines were written with the help and guidance of many professionals in the field from artists, makers, gallery owners, and collectors.

Do you see a need for a particular topic?
Let me know.  

Are you interested in helping write a document offering your words of experience? Write to me anytime.  

How about editing? I could definitely use a proof reader. 

 


Why I Can't Justify Ignoring the Copycat

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Several previous posts dealt with what to do if someone or some business is copying your work. Among the comments and responses to these posts and related discussions, more than a few artists and makers suggest that they would prefer to ignore the copycat (whether friend or foe) because the situation is too uncomfortable or too unlikely to reach an acceptable outcome.  The "originator" typically justifies ignoring their copycat with a rationale such as "I have moved on" or "I don't care so much about old work" or other similar justification.

I disagree with ignoring the copycat -- although I can also acknowledge the discomfort and uncertainty of outcomes.  But, I can not simply ignore the copycat regardless of the situation for two very fundamental reasons. 

1. Copies affect your income and reputation possibly devaluing both your past and future artwork.

2. Copies may be used in contexts that damage your reputation or trademark.  

Seeing copies of your artwork used in an advertising campaign, printed on t-shirts or sold at an undesirable venue may not be how you want your reputation exploited in public.  Use your imagination.  Would you want your work to represent issues, people, or topics that offend you? In a comment on a previous post by Cindy, "Art and photos may be used to advertise or promote businesses and causes that are in conflict with the artist's beliefs. It makes it appear they are sell outs or hypocrites because not everyone will know it was infringement and not a paid use." 

What if the copy impacts the value of your brand/trademark?  For example "Tiffany and Company sued Costco for the sale of counterfeit TIFFANY diamond engagement rings. "

Here's another example of how a copycat can affect your revenue from Natascha Bybee, Past President of the Seattle Metals Guild and reader of ASK Harriete. "I read an article about an artist being copied. I was very upset on their behalf, but sadly could not remember the name of the company. [Later] I saw "their" product at a craft show in December, but I didn't know if I was dealing with the originator or the copier, so I didn't buy anything and it made me have a more reserved attitude towards their booth. Since I couldn't distinguish between the two artists, I just avoided them altogether and would never recommend them." 

Video clips from Antiques Roadshow show several examples of the negative impact of copycats (shown below) where fakes, copies of the original, or outright forgeries impact the value of all the work attributed to an artist or maker.

Listen to the very end of each video segment to get the triple whammy full impact of how fakes/copycats affect value. Customer confusion is the relevant issue. It doesn't matter if the copy is not of the same quality, or the same patina, or finish, if it causes customer confusion the copy still affects the perceived value for all the work in that genre as buyers doubt the authenticity.



Charles-Loloma-BraceletsAn original receipt for this Charles Laloma Bracelet is considered "as important as the bracelet" because "there are a lot of fakes on the market." Any potential buyer will question every time, "Is this real? Or is it not real?" 

 

  Fake-George-ohr-VaseFake George Ohr Vase, ca. 2013 is made to deceive "by a person in the northeast who keeps producing them and selling them on the Internet. They appear, they are seen, and they are purchased by people who just don't know."

  Clementine Hunter PaintingsClementine Hunter Paintings, ca. 1980

 

  Fake-Remmington-Russell-BronzeFake Remington & Russell Bronzes

 

 

Let me know in the comments or privately  if you know of other examples. 

More personally, whether you sell your work online, from your studio, or in a gallery, a purchaser expects their purchase to be unique, worth the price, and a consummation of a special relationship with you.  If your customer finds a cheap knockoff elsewhere, they are going to feel ripped off.  The question of authenticity will raise doubts about your work and your reputation.  You may never know how many customers may withhold recommending you and your work to their friends.

What to do if you find a copycat copying your work.

  • Evaluate the situation carefully. Recommendations are in the post What is a Copy. Copycat?
  • If images are posted online, a simple "DMCA Take Down" might force the website to remove the images. This is easy to do and takes about 15 minutes and it is free. 
  • Contact the copier with the Initial Copycat Communication.
  • If the copycat work is shown at a gallery, write to the gallery.
  • Private and confidential will be your initial approach before taking stronger tactics.    

The suggestions in this post aren't guaranteed to work.  The point is that some diligence and effort may protect your work and your reputation by stopping copycats as soon as you become aware of them. Speaking out and addressing this issue is your first step.

Perhaps not every situation demands a full out response, but choosing to automatically ignore a situation can have some very negative consequences.  I believe that the recommended initial actions in these posts do not require extensive effort and have a reasonable chance to stop the copycat at an early stage before much damage is done.   

What do you think?

Harriete 



Dealing with Copycats in the Community!

Dealing-with-Copycats-Community
In the previous three posts
 lawyer Rachel Fischbein provided expert advice from her legal experience about what to do when a copycat copies your work. (Links to her posts are in the text and at the bottom of this post.)  Her approach was methodical and measured in it's response. All of it was super great advice.

In hindsight, looking at those posts, there seems to be an implicit presumption that the copycat was a large company or brand name corporation or knock-off discount retailer. Sure that happens.  As a lawyer, Rachel Fischbein most likely deals with such cases where significant money may be at stake, potentially leading to a resolution through a "licensing or royalty payment for the use of our designs."  

But a number of copycat scenarios brought to my attention by readers are of a more common type involving someone from our own art or craft community, e.g. a student, participant in our workshop, fellow artist or maker, friend or foe.  I hear about this all the time.  Sooner or later, most of us become aware of someone else's work that is just too similar our own.  

When you experience such a situation, a key question might be, "Are copies necessarily an intentional act of the copycat?" And how should you handle this situation? Do they understand the consequences?  

Magnes-Sign-Victor-Reis-Fence
Original Victor Reis metalwork from the gate of the Magnes Museum now shown in Berkeley.

This is not a new problem.  I found an example of this exact situation in the Archives of American Art Research Collections consisting of an exchange of letters between two metal artists in the 1950's.  The first letter is from Victor Reis, a San Francisco Bay Area metalsmith of local renown at the time (ca. 1956).  In the letter Reis writes to Margaret De Patta about a ring she is selling which he declares is a copy of his own design. While Margaret De Patta is well known now for her jewelry, at the time she was a struggling art jewelry maker (just like the rest of us). An excerpt from the Victor Reis letter is provided below with a link to the original letters. 


Victor-Reis-drawing-ring"Dear Margaret, This letter is not suppose[d] to be a bad one. But I['d] like to express my feelings and talk open and free to create a clean atmosphere even if there are some clouds around. A visit in the city, a look into Nancy's display, gave me a strange feeling. I saw the Margaret De Patta display with a ring about 100% like one of mine. " .... He continues,  "It's not  a complex of me, that I believe so often to find my work executed through others, like a necklace through Merry Renk."  Victor Reis' letter continues with more examples and small drawings. Take your time to read the letter as it is very interesting.

De-Patta-maker's-markMargaret De Patta replies in a letter, "Dear Victor - Your letter came several days ago. Needless to say I have given it much, much thought. First I want to say that I am glad that you have written openly to me. A person can never honor statements that are made behind one's back, and I have heard of these from several sources."

De Patta's letter continues and suggests that the San Francisco Metal Arts Guild  board should establish a method for mediating such matters.  Obviously, 50+ years later we (the arts and crafts community) still have similar issues and have not yet agreed upon a method for mediating these copycat scenarios even among friends. 

Encourage-Communication-with-the-copycat

So who is the copycat?

I have not yet found any documented resolution regarding the issue discussed in the letters, but I was impressed that Victor Reis and Margaret De Patta did follow a vital precept endorsed by Rachel Fischbein, to initiate the "Initial Copycat Communication." Write to the copycat offender with a non-threatening business like manner seeking an amicable solution with documentation.  


What-is-a-copy-copycat copyWhat would your documentation include? Rachel Fischbein in the post "What is a Copy? Copycat" 
 describes a methodical approach to evaluating whether something is a copy. The key element to this evaluation is to document the similarities. "Figure out who's product was created first" and "Determine if the copier had access to your work." 

 

Here-list-copycat-communication

Here is my list for copycat communication:  

  • Compare and evaluate the copycat version to your work.  
  • Document where they may have seen your original work.  
  • Write a private, non-threatening letter to the copycat.
  • Follow Rachel Fischbein's recommendations for a structure of this letter.
  • Discuss the situation with the copycat.
  • Do all this direct communication before going public on social media.

During this evaluation, keep in mind that the technique* or materials can not be copyrighted -- paint is paint, clay is clay, metal is metal, enamel is enamel, etc. So the copy has to copy a style, design, aesthetic  or conceptual component in the "copy." 

Going back to the reference to the Margaret De Patta letter she says, "A person can never honor statements that are made behind one's back, and I have heard of these from several sources." Take the time to write a civil communication documenting the apparent copycat scenario as you see the situation.  Just like Victor Reis reaching out to Margaret De Patta, if you have concerns, it is best to direct them privately in your "Initial Copycat Communication."


These are your first and second steps before jumping to public accusations
 on Facebook (or another public forum). This may fly in the face of our natural impulses to either retreat into a cocoon to avoid any confrontation or publicly "burn" the offender.


Facebook-dastardly-deedsHowever, in the age of the Internet, more than a few online discussions dealing with a copycat scenario start with a Facebook post along the lines of  "what shall I do?" or thinly veiled references to dastardly deeds .

The posts by Rachel Fischbein taught me that no matter what the copycat violation, a key message is to take professional, non-threatening and clearly thought out actions before burning any bridges or escalating to a crisis.  

While I have no easy solutions to the slippery territory of the copycats that live in your community, I do think it is worthy of discussion and communication, hence this post.  

Let me also acknowledge that many individuals have said that pursuing this level of documentation and communication with the copycat is a "waste of time."  The "originators" is this camp typically justify ignoring their copycats with a rationale such as  "I have moved on." or "I don't care so much about old work." or other similar reasoning.

I disagree -- because there are moral, legal and financial consequences of ignoring a copycat, and of being a copycat. This will be the subject of the next post.

In the meantime, I welcome your opinions about this topic.

Harriete

 *"Copyrighted technique"?  In short, there's no such thing.  The description of a technique may be copyrighted to the extent it includes creative elements, but the underlying technique, and the factual description of it, are not subject to copyright protection. SonnabendLaw Intellectual Property and Technology Law,Brooklyn, USA

Margaret-De-Patta-ring-Antiques-RoadshowAppraisal of Margaret De Patta jewelry on Antiques Roadshow

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Margaret-de-patta-jewelry

Margaret De Patta jewelry including ring, brooches, and earrings appraisal on Antiques Roadshow
 

 

 

 

 

Read the previous posts by Rachel Fischbein:

What-is-a-copy-copycat copyWhat Is A Copy? Copycat?

 

Initial-copycat-communicationInitial Copycat Communication

 

 

Going Public-speaking-up

Going Public: Speaking Out! Public Disclosure of a Copycat Complaint


Going Public: Speaking Out! Public Disclosure of a Copycat Complaint

Going Public-speaking-up
Sometimes when the copying is blatant and
direct communication between the two parties fails, the designers, artists or makers who have been wronged by a copycat consider reaching out to the public for support to draw negative attention to the misbehaving copier.

Public support can be a helpful move, if done thoughtfully, particularly for a small company copied by a large company. Before you take this drastic step though, be mindful of the potential consequences, and think carefully about how you’ll plan the public statements. Public shaming is particularly tempting when you’re angry. Before you go to the Internet to publicly vent frustration, consider what your long-term goals are and the impact your behavior will have on your business.

This is the third post by lawyer Rachel Fischbein about dealing with a copycat situation. The first post was "What Is A Copy? Copycat?"  The second post was "Initial Copycat Communication." ASK Harriete recommends that you read these posts before taking any actions. Fischbien recommends focusing on the issue, not the people involved.

Rachel-Fishbein-headshot
The opinions expressed in this post are by the author, Rachel Fischbein, Esg.,
founder of Law On The Runway, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASK Harriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is implied. Images are provided by Harriete.  As with the previous guest blog posts by Rachel Fischbein, please consider this blog general information, not legal advice. Should you have a concern about copyright infringement, please speak directly to an attorney to get advice on your unique situation.

      _____________________________________________

When preparing to make a public statement about the copycat incident, refer back to your notes of the timeline and educate yourself on copyright laws. Make sure what you are saying publicly is accurate, and you’re being fully truthful. You may want to consider publishing a longer document as a blog post, a downloadable document, or even a website to explain the copying and the interaction with copycat. Include all the important details, so it's clear you aren’t trying to spin the truth in short social media posts. Curious minds will be looking for the facts needed to come to their own conclusion. Walk the readers through the legal standards of copyright infringement and how the facts of the situation show infringement. You may want an attorney’s assistance for this.

While you may be dealing with difficult personalities of the copycat, always keep the statements and public conversations focused on the copyright infringement facts, and not about the people who represent the copycat business or designer. You may encounter a person on the copycat’s side who is deceitful and disrespectful, but your statements shouldn’t be about that person’s character traits directly. Limit your statements to the actions taken by the copycat and the copycat's  representatives.

You may post copies of emails or other documents sent to you by the copier, if the documents or emails were not sent after a promise of confidentiality from you. Be cautious though when using most intellectual property created/owned by the copycat. You may post only want it necessary to make your point, using the Fair Use doctrine of Copyright. Do not copy their logo to add their branding or unnecessarily take screenshots of their website for reposting. When in doubt, consider linking directly to the copier’s website. Be sensitive to their intellectual property and respect any information that they may have shared with you with an expectation of confidentiality.

 

Going-Public-reputation-showcased
Remember your reputation is also being publicly showcased.
This public statement is not only a reflection of the copycat’s business practices, but your reputation as well. Write your statements with professionalism and care. Try to showcase your logic and a desire for justice. Have a friend who doesn’t know about the issue read your statement first, before you publicly post anything. Ask for honest feedback about how your business looks in light of the posting. Does the statement foster the type of reputation you’re trying to build for your business? A public statement being passed around the Internet may be someone’s first introduction to your business. Remember, once you publicly post anything to the Internet, consider that it becomes a permanent posting. Someone may save a copy and bring it back to public attention in the future.

 

Going-Public-tell-communityTell the community exactly what they can do to be helpful.
Go back to your original goals as discussed in post #2 about Initial Copycat Communication. What do you want from the copycat? How can others in your community or the general public help you get what you want? If the copycat is a service provider to others in your community, such as a manufacturer with a private label, perhaps you can ask other designers to not use the manufacturer’s services in the future. If the copycat is a large brand, perhaps you are asking for social media sharing and public visibility.

Include your ideal resolution as well into the messaging. Let the copycat know it isn’t too late, and now there’s only shame to suffer through.  Possible resolutions include:

  • A licensing or royalty payment for the use of your designs.
  • A promise to stop creating that product in the future. 

If the copier does agree to a payment or to stop production, be prepared to make one final public statement, if requested by the copycat, letting the community know how the problem was resolved.

Rachel Fischbein

ASK Harriete asks: 

Are there any negative consequences to a public airing of the  copycat situation? (This is assuming that everything that the copy victim has written is professional in the public disclosure.)
 
Can the copy victim be sued for this public disclosure of the copycat situation?

Are there any other negative consequences that the copy victim should be prepared for?

I will try to find some answers.

Read the previous posts by Rachel Fischbein:

What-is-a-copy-copycat copyWhat Is A Copy? Copycat?

 

Initial-copycat-communicationInitial Copycat Communication

 

 


More information: 

Fashion-Law-primer-protecting-your-designsFashion Law Primer: Protecting Your Designs

 

 

Information about Fair Use:

Fair Use Guidelines

 

Fair Use - Is your work "transformative?"

 

Understanding Fair Use in Copyright Laws

 

Fair Use and Copyright Issues for Artists


 




Initial Copycat Communication

Initial Copycat Communication
This post is part two of a three article series by Rachel Fischbein, Esq.
on what to do if you find someone copying your work. Today’s focus is on the initial communication with the copier.

What-is-a-copy-copycat copyBefore taking steps to reach out to the copier, please review the first blog article "What Is A Copy? Copycat?" to determine the type of copying and to develop comprehensive documentation of the copycat's copy.  This should be an ongoing effort on your part until the situation is resolved.

Feeling harmed and disrespected by your copier makes it tempting to send an angry email, threatening a lawsuit and berating the copier for his or her actions.  Often this type of email is the least effective way to create a behavioral change or to come to an agreement with the copier.

Below are tips for the first communication, intended to create an opportunity for positive results to end the unwanted copying.

Rachel Fischbein profilePlease note that this is general information and not legal advice. Please contact an attorney for advisement on your unique situation. The opinions expressed in this post are by the author, Rachel Fischbein, Esg., founder of Law On The Runway, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASKHarriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is implied. Images are provided by Harriete. 

First Communication with a Copycat
Decide Who Will Send the Initial Communication
Despite being an attorney, I do believe that sometimes these matters can be more easily resolved by two parties communicating directly to each other. I particularly encourage the initial reach out to be personally between the designers when both parties are small business owners.  When the parties are two artists or small companies, the ability for the parties to relate to each other can be helpful in coming to an agreement.

When an artist or small company has a design copied by a larger company, having an attorney send the communication can be a good way to show the importance of the issue and the confidence of the designer knowing his or her rights.  Even when you’re doing the initial communication yourself, you don’t need to be alone in the drafting of your first communication with the copycat. An attorney can review the email draft, giving suggestions on how to explain your rights, and offer persuasive language tips, coaching you through the negotiation.

Decide How the Message is Sent
In addition to who will the send the initial communication, consider the communication channel. A physically mailed letter adds a tone of severity and formality that can be beneficial. However, the mailed letter isn’t likely to receive a quick response. An email encourages a fast exchange of information and a more personal connection.  In some situations, you may want to send both, to ensure that the copier received the message, knows of the severity, and has the encouragement to quickly respond. If you do send both an email and a physical letter, let the copier know a letter is on the way in the mail, so they aren’t surprised by the duplicate message.


Explain Your RightsExplain Your Rights and What the Copier Did Wrong
When asking someone to agree with us and to see our point of view, it is important to walk the other party through our thought process with clear details. We need to explain the situation to the other party, offering them first, an overview of what rights are protected by trademark, patent, or copyright laws, and then why their actions were a violation of those laws. Sometimes designers are confused when establishing the line between inspiration and copying. Ideally, we want the other party to come to the same conclusion as us, that their actions were taken against your rights to the designs, and it could harm both of your businesses. In addition, explain why your rights are protected. Designers are visual. Add photos or diagrams if it feels appropriate and helpful.


Share Alternative Resolutions to the copycat
Share Alternative Resolutions to a Lawsuit
When explaining what the next steps are for fixing the problem caused by the copying, it is reasonable at this point to suggest that a lawsuit could occur to establish your rights, but also that there may be business reasons why it is beneficial for the other designer to end the copying behavior. Every situation is different, so the best way to work through this is to place yourself in the shoes of the copier.

What would convince you to change your behavior?
Are there alternatives that you can suggest that would end their copying and strengthen their business, as well as yours?

Give the copier directions for how they can resolve the issue.
This is your chance to offer options for a resolution to meet your ideal ending. Be clear on what you want.

  • Do you want the copier to merely stop selling the product in the future?
  • Could you ask for a portion of the previous sales?
  • Are you willing to license out your design to them for a portion of the future sales or one-time licensing fee?
  • Think about how you can benefit from the copier’s actions and efforts.
  • Perhaps along with compensation you might want recognition as the designer for the benefit of having your name exposed to more people.



Encourage Communication with the copierEncourage Communication
Remember, the goal with your initial letter is to create change and movement towards a solution, it is not to vent out your anger and frustration.

  • Make yourself approachable and keep the communication channels open between you and the copier.
  • Let them know that you’re available by phone or email.
  • Suggest some times that would be ideal for a phone conversation.
  • Your copier is more likely to honor your rights when you’ve established a personal connection and listened to their side of the story.
  • Give them a chance to step up and act with integrity.


Silence or Disrespectful CopierSilence or Disrespectful Copier
Most of the time, copiers are willing to change behavior when a personal connection is made and you’ve logically explained the issue to them. However, sometimes we have difficult personalities to face and we have to consider alternative ways to encourage behavior change through reputation damage, threat of lawsuits and/or public shaming. These tools are meant for “worst case” scenarios, and not as starter tactics.


The next post by lawyer Rachel Fischbein will address this "worst case" scenario where  public disclosure, shaming, reputation damage, and threat of lawsuits may be necessary.
 Subscribe to ASK Harriete so that you won't miss the third blog post in this three article series on ASK Harriete!


The Series about copycats
Follow this series:

What Is A Copy? Copycat?

Fashion Law Primer: Protecting Your Designs

California Lawyers for the Arts Offers Legal Resources & Information

 

Links-goldShare this post with appropriate attribution and link to the original post to bring awareness to your community. 

Harriete

 

 

 


What Is A Copy? Copycat?

What-is-a-copy-copycat-copy-copy
This post addresses several variations of an all too common story, a designer is gaining traction on her designs, getting known for a particular style, feeling some success from her efforts, when suddenly a friend emails; "Take a look at these designs," the friend says. "They're just like yours." As the designer, you're understandably feeling harmed, disrespected and worried. But before you fire off an angry email to the copycat, read through this post to plan out your strategy. This post is meant to be general information, not legal advice, so if you are seeking counsel on your unique situation, please contact an attorney. 

Note: The opinions expressed in this post are by the author, Rachel Fischbein, Esg., founder of Law On The Runway, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of ASKHarriete or Harriete Estel Berman. No endorsement or refutation is implied. Images are provided by Harriete. 

What is a copy?

LightbulbsShocked and surprised when we see a copy of our work or ideas
the first step is to examine the copycat version carefully looking to see what is being repeated. 
Is it the unique idea captured by product, or is it the design of the product? If it is the design of the product, did the copycat repeat the functional or useful aspects of the product, or is it the stylistic and aesthetic parts of the design that were copied? Did the copycat try to imitate something about your product that displays your brand identity? 


Necklace copyFunctional or Useful Aspects of the Products:
If the copycat looked at your product and saw how the product worked, and decided to recreate the functionality portions of the product, you could look only to patent law for protection. Once your product is released to the public, anyone may copy the functional aspects of your product, unless you have filed for a patent and secured the rights to exclude others from that design. 

 

Necklace-idea-adornmentAesthetic or Non-Functional Aspects of Your Design:
The parts of your product design that were meant to be pleasing to the eye, and not serve a functional purpose are easiest components to protect from copycats. We typically use copyright laws as protection for designers, but design patents can be used as well. If the copycat recreated your unique print pattern, etching design, drawing, photograph, painting or 3D sculpture design (including aspects of jewelry that look like small sculptures) you may be able to stop the copycat. 

 

 

Branding:
Is the copycat trying to make the products look like they came from your business? Could a consumer be confused in determining if you and the copycat are the same business or separate businesses? If the copycat is trying to make the product look like it came from your business or is using similar branding, we look to trademark law for protection. Always keep in mind that trademark law has two functions, to protect the business owner, and also to protect the consumer from being confused about the origin of a product. 

Notebook

 


Document & Create Timeline:
After you identify what makes the product similar to yours, its time to document what is happening, before you reveal to the copycat that you're aware of the situation.

 

 


If the product is for sale online:

  • Take screen shots of the listing.
  • Look to see if there's a history of reviews?
  • How long ago did the copycat start selling the product?
  • Look at the copycat's social media.
  • Has the copycat mentioned this product?
  • How long ago was its first mention?  
  • If it’s a small business doing the copying, dig into the identity of the copier.
  • Do you know them?
  • Could you have seen each other at a trade show or event? 
  • Did they enter your booth, discuss your work, or attend a workshop you gave?

Get all the facts organized.

  • Figure out who's product was created first.
  • Determine if the copier had access to your work or would have been prompted to discover your website and saw your public product listings.
  • If they have repeated your functional design aspects, look to see if they have any mention of a patent on the product, such as a patent serial number. You can also use Google Patent Search for a preliminary investigation to see if someone else actually holds a patent on the design you thought was uniquely yours! 

Decide What You Want to Best Benefit Your Business

As a designer, you're probably creating products out of passion, but also desire financial success for your efforts. Sometime we can take moments of negativity, such as discovering a copycat, and turn them into a business opportunity.

Instead of approaching the copycat with hostility and anger (and a threat of a lawsuit) consider alternatives.

  • Could the copycat bring something desirable to your business, such as a new customer base or a chance to license your designs to the copycat?
  • Think strategically about how you can get the copycat, who clearly believes in your products or business to bring you into their profits.
  • Lawsuits are slow moving and expensive. Perhaps working together with your copycat will provide the biggest and quickest reward. 

Working through creative ways to benefit from the copycat’s actions brings us to our next post, sending that first letter to the copycat....

Stay tuned for the next two posts by Rachel Fischbein, Esg.

The next post will be about the Initial Copycat Communication.

The final post in the series will be about the issues of public shaming of a copycat to gain the attention of the copier.  and hopefully, generate a resolution.  

Follow this series:

Fashion Law Primer: Protecting Your Designs

California Lawyers for the Arts Offers Legal Resources & Information

 

Links-goldShare this post with appropriate attribution and link to the original post to bring awareness to your community. Harriete 

 

 

 

Post Guest Author: 
Rachelfinal2015-2Rachel Fischbein is the founder of Law On The Runway. She primarily assists fashion and beauty entrepreneurs as they build the foundations of their companies and navigate contractual relationships.  She has been published by Women 2.0 and Young, Fabulous, & Self- Employed Magazine. Ms. Fischbein is also on the board of directors of PeoplewearSF, a nonprofit supporting the Bay Area fashion industry. Rachel is a frequent presenter on topics such as intellectual property rights within apparel and jewelry designs, privacy law issues of wearable technology,
and the regulations of social media and blogging.

 

 

RELATED POSTS ABOUT COPY, COPYCATS & COPYRIGHT:

Copycats Cost Artist $250,000 Loss 

Alibaba Who? AlibabaMe?

Cultivating A Culture of Copycats  

The Guild of Unauthorized Sharing

Fair Use Guidelines

"I love your work and want to make one for myself"

Purchase of an Object versus Purchase of Copyright or Right to Copy