About Peggy Farabaugh

She is a CEO who brakes for salamanders, has bottle-fed rescued squirrels and spent her vacation building furniture for a rural school in Costa Rica. She believes in the future and in the people who will build it. A former distance-learning professor at Tulane University with a master’s in environmental health & safety, she turned an interest in forest conservation and endangered species into a growing, local business. She delivers rainforest statistics at breakneck speed, but knows how to slow down and appreciate the beauty of a newly finished piece of heirloom furniture.

James Stephen Street & Dane Kristofer Anderson, IP Attorneys in Hawaii

James Stephen Street & Dane Kristofer Anderson are the third team of copyright lawyers who’ve been dispatched by Vincent K Tylor VKT in his quest to put Vermont Woods Studios out of business.  Thankfully, justice prevailed in the first two extortion attempts (details in previous blog posts: Copyright Protection: Is This Really What the Law Intended? and Am I Guilty of Copyright Infringement?).  Readers may recall that after VKT’s second extortion attempt, Matthew Chan of Extortion Letter Info  did some research into Tylor’s law firm of Adam Gafni (Woolf Gafni & Fowler) in CA.  He could find no documentation confirming Woolf Gafni & Fowler was a registered law firm in California. Matthew posted this information on his website and 2 days later Vincdent Tylor withdrew his lawsuit.

Now VKT has filed a third lawsuit, this time in his home state of Hawaii.  His longtime copyright IP attorney, J Stephen Street is representing Tylor this time, assisted by recent law school graduate, Dane Kristofer Anderson.  Here’s a little information about the new legal eagles, as excerpted from my blog on Medium.com.

Dane Kristofer Anderson

It’s not that easy to profile the career of Dane K Anderson as he’s young with little published information about him. He graduated from William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii and passed the Hawaii bar exam in October of 2010. He’s listed on AVVO as Attorney at Law, LLC Po Box 1621 Honolulu, HI 96806 (808–285–4760). It seems he does plan to set up his own shop with a different address (Box 1501 Honolulu, HI 96817) and website http://www.andersonlawhawaii.com. But for now Dane’s website is a GoDaddy.com advertisement and the “Law Office of Dane K. Anderson” comes up as an “Unknown Firm” in legal directories.  Other than that, the only information I can find by googling Dane Kristofer Anderson is about copyright trolling, extortion and entrapment.

James Stephen Street

James J Stephen Street  is based in Hawaii and located at 134 Maono Place, Honolulu, HI 96821 (808–754–1647).  His bio on IP-Law-Hawaii describes an intelligent attorney who’s also an artist and someone who served on a Special Olypmics committee.   He practiced law at the Rush Moore law firm for almost 30 years.  Now it appears James Stephen Street JSS is the favorite local (Hawaii) lawyer providing counsel to photographer, Vincent K Tylor.  As with Dane K Anderson, googling James Stephen Street brings up lots of information on copyright trolling, extortion and entrapment.

Are You a Victim of Copyright Extortion?

The issue of copyright trolling is complex and takes a good bit of research to understand what’s beyond the headlines. If you’re a copyright extortion victim or you have had dealings with Vincent K Tylor, J Stephen Street or Dane K Anderson learn more about them on ExtortionLetterInfo.com:

Fellow victims are gathering there and amassing important information to be used in court battles against copyright trolls, extortion and entrapment.  You can jump in, get involved and help make copyright trolling a thing of the past.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

shaker-quality-wood-furniture

Shopping for Quality Wood Furniture?

It’s not that easy anymore, especially if you’re shopping online.  I just googled the phrase “top quality wood furniture” and came up with products like a 5 piece dining set for $356 at Target and a twin bed complete with underbed storage at Walmart for $139.  Those are not products that most of us would call “high quality”.

Checking Quality in the Showroom

At Vermont Woods Studios we’ve been working for 9 years to be able to provide a showroom (Stonehurst) where customers can come and experience the beauty and honesty of true high quality wood furniture.  I’ve noticed that when customers visit us, often they split up in the store.  One person chats with us about their needs and the style of their home, while the other person inspects the quality of our furniture.  He/she opens drawers, looks underneath table tops, moves dressers around to see how the backs are attached and so on.  This is an important part of the purchase process.  But what if you’re shopping online?

cherry-wood-buffet

How to Gauge Quality when Shopping Online

Online fine furniture stores must provide enough detail via photos and articles to enable customers to judge their quality.  On our website, for example we post a “Construction Details” page for every furniture collection we offer.  Here you’ll find details ranging from the natural characteristics of the wood, to the type of joinery used, to instructions for care & maintenance (which are dependent on the type of wood and finish selected).

Find more tips and advice on buying fine furniture here: Top Quality Wood Furniture: A Buyers Guide.

 

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Specialty Handmade Ceramics: Rooster mugs, plates, bowls, vases by Laura Zindel. USA made in Vermont!
These specialty handmade ceramics are the work of Vermont artist, Laura Zindel.  Find original hand-drawn roosters, hares, owls, bees, butterflies and ferns applied to a wide selection of dinnerware.  Laura’s original collections are all USA made, right here in Brattleboro. Vermont.

Summer in Vermont is a time to relax and enjoy the natural world around us.  Visitors to our home decor showroom at Stonehurst often spend as much time outside in our meadows & woodlands as they do inside the store.  Birds, bees, butterflies and bunnies are frequent visitors here, making the Laura Zindel dinnerware that bears their likeness a favorite Stonehurst souvenir.

Handmade ceramics: hare and bunny themed dinnerware
Laura’s hare and bunny collection includes coffee mugs, tumblers, vases, pitchers, plates and platters.  Each image is original and hand drawn by Laura in her Brattleboro, Vermont studio. 

Whether you’re looking to bring a bit of summer into your own kitchen or searching for a unique gift for someone special, check out our Laura Zindel Dinnerware Collection.  Each of Laura’s designs is inspired by nature, hand drawn and then printed onto high quality handmade ceramic or china.

Quail Collectibles | Handmade Ceramic Dinnerware Made in USA
Laura’s Quail Collection features 20 pieces of high resistance china including bread, dinner and charger plates, bowls, platters, espresso cups, jugs, pitchers, tumblers and mugs.

About Laura

Laura is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design where she earned a BFA in Ceramics.  Later she went on to achieve an MFA in Ceramics from the University of Massachusetts.  Laura’s artwork is inspired by both the Arts and Crafts Movement of the early 20th century and the “Cabinets of Curiosities” encyclopedic collections of the Victorian era. Her process of hand drawing, silk screening and enamel transfer printing shows off the intricate nature of her designs.

Ranging from Bumblebee Cereal Bowls to Large Rooster Serving Platters, Laura’s collections are bound to include the special gift you’ve been looking for.  Stop by Stonehurst or purchase one of these collectibles online.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Best Wood for Outdoor Furniture?
I think the best wood to use for outdoor furniture isn’t wood at all. It’s POLYWOOD, made out of recycled milk jugs and guaranteed for a lifetime of outdoor use.  Shown here is the new Bayline Dining Furniture Collection.

Tis the season for buying outdoor furniture.  Even in Vermont we have a couple nice days each year when everyone wants to lounge in the sun with a cold drink and a good book.

Our customers often discover us when they’re searching for American made, eco-friendly furniture.  We’ve worked in collaboration with Vermont furniture makers for many years but have stuck to selling just sustainable indoor furniture for the dining room, bedroom and home office.

So when customers began to ask for outdoor porch, pool and patio furniture we were at a loss.  What type of wood could we make it out of?  The cherry, maple, walnut and oak woods we typically use for indoor furniture won’t hold up to outdoor conditions.  Plus, we offer a lifetime guarantee on our furniture.  How would we do this for an outdoor line?

Adirondack Chairs | Polywood | Recycled Plastic
This POLYWOOD Classic Adirondack chair is made in America of recycled plastic.  We guarantee it for a lifetime of use!

American Made Outdoor Furniture

We considered many options.  Teak and mahogany are about the only types of wood that would meet our standards for weather resistance and longevity but they are both rainforest woods that are often harvested illegally and unsustainably.  Not an option.

So after researching all the alternatives we selected an American made wood-alternative material for our first outdoor furniture line. It’s called poly wood and it’s made in Indiana of recycled plastic milk jugs.  It’s not real wood, but it has the look, thickness, weight, and feel of real wood plus it’s virtually indestructible and maintenance free.  No more scraping, painting, or weatherproofing needed.  POLYWOOD recycled plastic furniture can even be left outside year round eliminating the need for seasonal storage.

So that’s what we chose for our first outdoor furniture line.  We really do feel that POLYWOOD is the best “wood” to use for outdoor furniture.  With summer being so short up here in Vermont, we want to spend it enjoying our all-weather outdoor furniture rather than maintaining it!  How about you?  Check out the POLYWOOD furniture collections we offer.  It’s eco-friendly, Made in America outdoor furniture and it comes with free shipping and a lifetime guarantee.  Pretty tough to beat, I say.

Rec ycled Plastic Chaise Lounge
This POLYWOOD chaise lounge weighs over 50# so it won’t blow away when high winds come in off the ocean.  It’s available in 12 different colors including red, yellow, blue, orange, green, black and white.

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.

Vincent K Tylor Lawsuit | Copyright | Trolls

An Honest Mistake

Recently I was sued for $600,000 by Vincent K Tylor VKT, a professional photographer based in Hawaii.  Four years ago a student working for me included one of VKT’s photos in this blog post.​  The photo was obtained from a free photo website.  I now know (and want you to know) that even if an image has a big “Free Download” button on it (VKT’s image was and still is on hundreds of free-download websites with no watermark or copyright identification on it), it may not be available for use without written permission.

The Sanctity of Copyright

The sanctity of copyright is of personal importance to me.  We’ve had people infringe on original work from our Vermont Woods Studios website.  A few years ago I blogged about someone who I believe is trying to trick people into buying his furniture by making his logo and website look like mine.   So I understand how it is to feel someone has stolen your work and I totally support a content creator’s right to protect and enforce his/her copyrights.  When I received notice from Vincent K Tylor about the alleged infringement I immediately took down the photo and called him to apologize, explain and make restitution.  He would not talk to me.

$600,000 For A “Free” Photo The Size Of A Postage Stamp

Actually $600,000 was just the start.  In his lawsuit against me Vincent K Tylor also sued unknown people (“John Does”) who allegedly entered into a “conspiracy” to “commit wrongful acts” related to his photo. That part of the lawsuit looks like it was copied and pasted from another case.  But regardless of the quality or legitimacy of the lawsuit, the accusations were serious.  They threatened the very survival of my small business and created a living nightmare for me. I was forced to retain attorneys and shift my attention from running a business to worrying about copyright litigation.

Copyright Trolling: A New Industry

Most copyright owners are legitimate and fair-minded, but there are a few who have learned to abuse the system.  Known as Copyright Trolls, they have shifted their business plans from creation to litigation.

Trolling refers to the way they install invisible digital tracking tags on their works and then cause or allow them to proliferate on hundreds of “free download” websites.  People use the photos (or poems, drawings, stories, etc.) thinking they’re free and then receive an extortion letter, demanding thousands of dollars and the threat of a lawsuit.  For a troll who does not visibly mark his/her work with copyright ID, the viral nature of the Internet insures a steady stream of innocent infringements for many years.  It’s like a perpetual annuity.

Innocent Infringement

I’m not a lawyer and I don’t claim to understand the details of our country’s complex copyright laws.  However, I do know that US copyright law addresses “innocent infringement” (17 U.S. Code § 405).  In many cases the courts have handed down $0 to $200 penalties for this, not $150,000 or $600,000 as threatened in the extortion letters I received from Vincent Tylor.  Furthermore, I personally have seen no cases where innocent infringement involved paying court costs for a copyright troll (another threat included in the extortion letters I received).

“Public Domain” & “Creative Commons” Confusion

Since initial publication of this post, a number of people have told me that photos like this Vincent K Tylor image have proliferated so far and wide on the Internet without any type of visible ownership identification that they are now in the “public domain”.  Others say that VKT images can be found on numerous “creative commons” sites where they have no copyright restrictions.  So am I guilty of copyright infringement or not?  Share your opinion with me on Facebook or in the comments section below.

Could This Happen To You?

If you download anything from the Internet, publish online or even use social media (a blog, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook) you may look like fair game to a copyright troll.  Check out this article by Stefan Winkler, on Copypress.com (Nov 13, 2012), How to Avoid Falling Prey to Copyright Trolls for tips on copyright compliance.

What to Do if It’s Too Late

Nobody’s perfect so if you’ve made an honest mistake and you’ve received a threatening extortion letter from a copyright troll, don’t think you have to just write a big check (or as trolls are only too quick to suggest– have your insurance company write one).   The first thing to do is take the infringement down.  Do NOT reply to your troll or his/her attorney while you are still in shock.  Instead, take a deep breath and do some research on your troll.  Personally, I found ExtortionLetterInfo.com ELI to provide a wealth of useful information.  There are many imperfectly wonderful people at ELI who have deep respect for copyright but– trolls?  Not so much.  Intelligent discussion, great camaraderie, spirited debate and (occasionally irreverent) humor make the ELI forum a valuable resource for troll victims. Take a couple days to scour through the ELI postings and these related websites:

Defend Yourself

Once you’ve done your homework and read through the free resources available online, you’ll realize that you’re probably going to have to spend some money to defend yourself.  In my case, I started with a $60 consult with ELI founder Matthew Chan which was worth every penny.  Even so, I needed to hire a lawyer.  If you’re under attack, be sure to find an attorney whose specialty is copyright extortionist defense.  ELI attorney Oscar Michelen has an impressive track record in the area and there are a few other attorneys as well.  Try to find an attorney who’s working on cases against your troll so you’ll know the troll’s background, strategy and tactics from the start.

Check the Integrity of The Troll’s Attorney and Law Firm

Matthew Chan and other ELI members did some brilliant detective work on VKT and his attorney Adam Gafni of Woolf, Gafni & Fowler LLP.  After they posted on ELI that Gafni’s firm was not found as a legally registered US corporation, Gafni and VKT dismissed their lawsuit against me.  The firm took down their website and changed their name to Woolf, Gafni & Cirlin.

Now VKT has hired a couple new attorneys (J. Stephen Street, aka James Stephen Street and Dane Kristofer Anderson) who have filed a new lawsuit against me in the federal district of Hawaii.

Judges and Trolls

Trolls have not been looked upon favorably by the courts (think: extortion, entrapment, shakedown, slander, defamation of character, harassment, etc). What judge is amused by frivolous lawsuits?  Trolls know this so their endgame is not, as they say to “see you in court”.  It’s a large settlement because they know you are probably in a much better position to make your case to a judge than they are!  ELI will help you to understand troll tactics and deal with your particular situation cost-effectively.

Join the Troll Patrol

In Vermont we’re winning a slightly different troll battle. An article by Timothy B Lee in the Washington Post (Aug 1, 2013), How Vermont Could Save the Nation from Patent Trolls tells of how Vermont has emerged as a “hotbed of anti-troll activism”.  Our Attorney General has teamed up with our governor, senators and legislators to enact legislation to protect us from patent trolls.  I’ve appealed to them to follow suit on copyright trolls as well.  I’ve also submitted formal complaints against VKT and his attorney Adam Gafni (Woolf, Gafni & Fowler LLP) to Attorneys General and state bar and professional associations. I’m asking other victims to do the same.  Get educated, join ELI and fight back on behalf of yourself, other victims and content creators who are fighting legitimate copyright battles.

Have you had experience with copyright trolls?  Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below or on Twitter .

This blog is written by your friends at Vermont Woods Studios. Check out our Vermont made furniture and home decor online and visit our showroom and art gallery at Stonehurst, the newly restored 1800s farmhouse nestled in the foothills of the Green Mountains.