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.

Copyright Protection Is a Good Thing

My company, Vermont Woods Studios works with Vermont craftspeople to market and sell their furniture online and at Stonehurst, our new gallery and showroom in Vernon, VT. We put a lot of time and resources into creating our fine furniture website. It’s where we publish original photos, artwork, opinions and ideas. On the bottom of every page is a note indicating that all of our content is copyrighted (© 2013 Vermont Woods Studios – All rights reserved). Still, we do find content gets taken or imitated by competitors from time to time (here’s an example). It’s frustrating. That’s one reason we are careful to avoid violating someone else’s copyright. So I was pretty unsettled when…

Saturday the Windham County Sheriff Came to My House & Served me a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

Here’s why I’m being sued: In July, 2010 a student who was working with us wrote a blog post about the fact that we had just delivered a handmade cherry dining set to a customer in Hawaii. We were excited to see our company growing and placing Vermont made products so far away from home! A customer photo of the furniture was included in the post along with a small photo (not much bigger than a postage stamp) of Hawaii.

It turns out the Hawaii photo was taken by Vincent K Tylor VKT of Kauai Photo Tours. It was obtained from one of hundreds of websites that advertise it as a free photo download. There was no copyright information on it but it was invisibly tagged (see Extortion LetterInfo ELI blogELI discussion and VKT email chain) by VKT.

VKT Demand Letter #1 Arrives in May, 2012

On May 5, 2012 I received a letter from Carolyn Wright and Cindy Hsu at PhotoAttorney.com demanding $9500 for use of the photo. If I refused to pay up within 10 days, they said VKT might sue me for $150,000. I immediately took the photo down and called VKT. He refused to talk to me, insisting that all correspondence go through PhotoAttorney.com. I called and emailed PhotoAttorney.com several times trying to reach a fair settlement. We negotiated for months and eventually they went away.

VKT Demand Letter #2 Arrives in April, 2014

Next time I heard from VKT and Hawaiian Photo Tours was several weeks ago April 25, 2014. I received a letter from Woolf Gafni & Fowler attorneys demanding $12,000 as their “final offer”. The letter contained inaccuracies. I responded via email the same day by telling the sender (Adam Gafni) I intended to file a complaint about him to Vermont’s Attorney General’s office. I then called Adam, discussed the facts and explained that we are a small company that cannot afford a $12,000 fee nor did I think it appropriate. I asked him to drop the lawsuit. He told me to make him an offer to settle and I said I’d been advised not to settle. At that point, he accused me of extortion, said “see you in court – have a nice day – click!” VKT filed a $150,000 lawsuit shortly thereafter.  Now it appears he’s going for $600,000.

Incredibly, in the lawsuit VKT requests leave of court to amend the complaint so he can also sue unknown John Does who may have read the blog post and entered into a “conspiracy” to profit from the image.  He filed the lawsuit in CA which is home to Typepad (the blog software we were using) citing that “critical evidence pertaining to who, when and in what quantity the image was viewed and downloaded is located” in CA.  I guess that means he wants to subpoena Typepad for records identifying who has read this blog post.  Then he wants to investigate them for conspiracy.

How Many Others Have Received Similar Demands?

  • Google “vincent k tylor”
  • A reverse image search of the photo (“hanauma bay”) shows about 788 sites that offer free downloads of it, such as:
  • Aloha Plastic Surgery received a demand letter and they counter sued.  Although the results of the lawsuit are confidential, word on the street is they were happy with the outcome.

What’s Next for Vermont Woods Studios?

Unfortunately I guess we’re going to court– the last thing on earth any small business can afford to do. But hopefully we won’t be battling it alone. An article by Timothy B Lee in the Washington Post, How Vermont could save the nation from patent trolls tells of how Vermont has emerged as a “hotbed of anti-troll activism”. It seems our Attorney General (William Sorrell) has teemed up with our governor, senators and legislators to enact legislation to protect our citizens and businesses from trolls who use extortion as a business model.  I’ll be appealing to all of them for help in fighting trolls.  I hope common sense will prevail but you never know. The whole situation is scary.

How You Can Avoid Copyright Issues

If you download anything from the Internet, publish online or even use social media (a blog, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook) read this article for tips and advice on How to Avoid Falling Prey to Copyright Trolls.

Support Groups

If it’s too late and you’ve already been unfairly accused of copyright infringement, don’t panic. It can happen to anyone and you are not alone. There is great camaraderie among victims and their advocates. Contact your senators, congresspeople and attorney general and ask for their help.  Contact an attorney (asap) who specializes in fighting copyright trolls.  I recommend Oscar Michelen.  Also check out these grass roots communities for detailed news and information:

Need to Learn More?

What Do You Think?

Have any thoughts or advice? Or a similar experience to share? Please comment in the section below or email me at Peggy@VermontWoodsStudios.com.

Follow up post on July 15, 2014.


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.

Vermont Coverts Cohort:  Woodlands for Wildlife
These are the amazing people in my cohort at last week’s Vermont Coverts workshop: “Woodlands for Wildlife”.  The word “covert” (pronounced cuh-vert) is an old English term meaning a thicket, home or hiding place for animals.

After locating our fine furniture and home decor store on a 100 acre wood in the foothills of Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest (see my last post), I found myself in the familiar position of trying to do something I knew little about.  How would we properly manage this woodland for wildlife and sustainability?  My friends Kathleen Wanner (Executive Director of the Vermont Wood Manufacturer’s Association VWMA) and Lynn Levine (a professional forester) suggested that Ken and I attend the Vermont Coverts:  Woodlands for Wildlife Cooperator Training.  What a great idea!

Mess is best when it comes to creating habitat for wildlife
One of the key points we learned about managing our woodlands is that “mess is best” when it comes to creating habitat for wildlife.  Forests need to be thinned with plenty of coarse woody debris remaining on the floor to provide cover for animals.

The program was last weekend at the Woods of Wikahowi in Northfield, VT.  Ken had to cancel at the last minute but I attended along with a dozen or so like-minded landowners from all across Vermont.  Because 80% of Vermont’s forestland is owned privately, the Coverts organization concluded that the key to sustaining our state’s forests & wildlife is education of private landowners.  They provide a free 3-day training course every Spring and every Fall, focusing on classroom and field studies in forest and wildlife management.

Kim Royar, VT Department of Fish and Wildlife shows us bear claws on a beech tree.
Kim Royar, VT Department of Fish and Wildlife shows us bear claws on a beech tree.

The course was taught by Vermont’s foremost experts in forestry & wildlife including:

  • Lisa Sausville, Executive Director, Vermont Coverts
  • Mary Sisock, UVM Extension Forester
  • Kim Royar, VT Department of Fish and Wildlife
  • Dan Singleton, Washington County Forester
  • Steve Hagenbuch, Audubon VT
  • Kathy Decker, VT Forest, Parks and Recreation
  • Rich Chalmers, VP VT Coverts
Maple is Vermont's Most Important Hardwood Tree
The Maple is Vermont’s most important tree.  Here Rich Chalmers is showing us his newly built sugar house– made from timbers logged in the surrounding forest.

VT Coverts is so committed to their mission that they offer the course for free, including food and lodging!  Dedicated Coverts members work hard to meet expenses through grants and fundraising programs.  If you own woodlands in Vermont or know someone who does, please refer them to the Coverts program.  It’s an unforgettable weekend with fascinating people and thought-provoking discussion. The graduates of the program hold the future of Vermont’s forests in their hands.

Vermont Coverts | Reference Books | Sustainable Forestry
Some of the handouts from Vermont Coverts.  Click here to apply for the next Vermont Coverts Training workshop.  Did I mention the training is FREE?

 

 

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.

Sustainable Furniture Store

People often ask me why on earth we located our new sustainable furniture store in the middle of Vermont’s woodlands.  The truth is that I don’t see Vermont Woods Studios as a furniture store.  Yes we have IMHO a beautiful showcase of the best quality handmade furniture Vermont has to offer.  But our business was built first and foremost, out of my passion for wildlife & forest conservation.  I wanted to show people where their furniture comes from.  And I wanted to appeal to them to buy furniture and flooring that come from forests that are re-planted and professionally managed for wildlife & sustainability.

We located Stonehurst in the foothills of the Green Mountain National Forest…

  • so customers could enjoy the 100 acre woodland we’re on and experience the beauty of the forest
  • so we could raise awareness about forest conservation and the fact that much of the wood furniture and flooring in America is made from imported rainforest timber that’s being mowed down at the mind-boggling rate of over 1 acre/second
  • so we could persuade people to buy American made furniture and flooring– a healthier, more sustainable choice for both people & planet
  • so we could inspire people to change the world

For the first 7 years our Vermont Woods Studios was an online furniture store.  Our staff worked out of a spare bedroom in my house.  When customers wanted to visit us we would invite them to Ken’s tiny workshop in the back of the house.  But as business grew and more people wanted to visit, we figured maybe it was safe to set up shop in a more suitable location.  From the very beginning we knew it had to be in the woods.

Next post: Learning to manage our 100 acre woodland for wildlife conservation.

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.

nature-campLooking for something exciting for the kids to do this summer?  Vermont Woods Studios is offering three scholarships for local Vernon children to attend Nature Camp at the Bonnyvale Environmental Education Center BEEC this year.  Check out the different camps offered and contact Kelsey if you’d like to attend.  The application process is quick and easy (see below).

What Are BEEC Nature Camps?

BEEC’s Nature Explorers Camp is for the young person who enjoys the natural world. Our goal is to foster children’s love of nature in a safe, supportive environment. Campers spend most of each day outdoors, in small groups, exploring the forests, meadow and waters of our 60 open acres. Non-competitive games, stories, art projects, music and a cooling ride down our gentle water slide at the end of the day add to the Nature Explorers Summer Camp experience. Children return year after year, excited to visit special places such as Grandmother Tree and Frog Pond. They also return knowing that there is much fun to be had! Campers investigate the lives’ of their wild neighbors, learn naturalist skills, explore wildlife habitats, develop their sensory awareness skills, venture off-trail, and discover a sense of magic and wonder in the Great Outdoors!”

What Camps are Available, When and for What Ages?

BEEC offers 7 different nature camps for kids ranging in age from 4-11.  Camps are fun and educational with an emphasis on getting to know the natural world.  Here’s a list of this summer’s camps:

  • Finding Our Way ~ June 23 to 27, 9am – 3pm: ages 9-11
  • Cub Camp ~ June 30 to July 3, *9am – 1pm*: ages 4-5
  • Roots and Shoots ~ July 7 to 11, 9am – 3pm: ages 7-10
  • Wee Naturalists ~ July 14 to 18, 9am – 3pm: ages 5-7
  • Emerging Naturalists ~ July 21 to 25, 9am – 3pm: ages 6-8
  • Our Side of the Mountain ~ July 28 to August 1, 9am – 3pm: ages 8-11
  • Magical World of Nature ~ August 4 to 8, 9am – 3pm: ages 6-9

Where is BEEC?

BEEC is located on Bonnyvale Road in West Brattleboro, about a 25 minute drive from Vernon.  Here’s a map.

How to Apply for the Vermont Woods Studios Scholarship

Vermont Woods Studios is offering three $150 scholarships to local Vernon kids in need.  If you’re interested, just contact Kelsey (802-490-2189) (kelsey.eaton@vermontwoodsstudios.com) with a short paragraph about why you want to attend camp and which camp you prefer.

Deadlines and Award Checks

The sooner you apply the better, as these camps fill up quickly (they are almost at full enrollment for the last several weeks of camp, but the first 3 or 4 weeks still have plenty of space).  We’ll accept applications until all 3 scholarships are awarded.  Awards will be first-come, first-serve.  The award will be in the form of a check paid directly to BEEC on your behalf.  Have questions?  Stop by and see us at Stonehurst on Huckle Hill Road in Vernon or contact Kelsey by phone (802-490-2189) or email (kelsey.eaton@vermontwoodsstudios.com).  Thanks for applying!

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.

Maple and Walnut Wood Furniture | 2 Tone Combinations
This modern 2 tone combination of walnut and maple wood furniture is offered in the SoHo collection.  Made by Copeland Furniture, SoHo provides many options for customizing the combination of light maple and dark walnut wood tones.

Maple furniture is making a comeback!  For many years, cherry has been our customers’ favorite hardwood but in 2014 we’re seeing that maple wood is giving cherry a run for the money.  This is a welcome trend for those of us in the Vermont forestry community since maple is a hardwood that grows extremely well in the Green Mountain state (indeed maple is the Vermont state tree).  It’s sustainably harvested nearby, making it a great choice for eco-friendly furniture.

Although maple furniture is beautiful on it’s own, many customers are dressing it up with walnut or cherry wood accents.  One example of this design is in Copeland Furniture’s Modern SoHo bedroom furniture collection.  The picture above shows SoHo in maple and walnut wood but it is made to order and can also be customized in all maple wood.

Maple Furniture with Walnut Wood Accents
This Classic Shaker huntboard was customized in light maple wood with a dark walnut top and walnut drawer pulls.  Thanks to Margot G in Knoxville, TN for sending us her photo!

Nearly all of our furniture at Vermont Woods Studios can be customized in maple wood, regardless of the wood it’s shown in on our website.  This photo was sent to us by Margot G in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Margo created her own unique version of our Classic Shaker Hunt Board by choosing maple wood (rather than cherry) and accenting it with a walnut top and walnut drawer pulls.  It’s beautiful, don’t you think?

Astrid furniture is made in Vermont by Copeland Furniture
Astrid modern bedroom furniture is available in maple wood (as shown) as well as cherry and walnut.  It’s hand made in Vermont by Copeland Furniture.

Another example of modern maple furniture is the Astrid bedroom furniture collection (shown above).  Astrid is dramatic and sophisticated.  It’s been a favorite of contemporary urban dwellers from Manhattan to Los Angeles.

Check out our website for more examples of modern maple furniture.  Use the drop-down menus to customize your wood choices online.  If you don’t see exactly what you want, give us a call and we’ll talk about further customization.  It’s more affordable than you might think.

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.