George's Mill
Antique Car Garage Turns Photo Studio?

If you’re starting to notice an influx of fine furniture photography, you’re paying attention to the work of Nina, our Photographer & Merchandising Assistant! Nina & Dennis have been travelling around Southern Vermont finding great places to set up our furniture & take new photos for the site. Most recently, they’ve been working on a project at George’s Mill in Vernon where they are building a photo studio from scratch!

The original George’s Mill was reconstructed in 1974 by Nicholas George, and the 2nd building (the post office) was built in 1985 by Eli N. George. This location is actually where our previous office and headquarters were, before making the move to Stonehurst.

Take a Behind the Scenes Look at George’s Mill Progress:

George's Mill
Riley, Tristan & Dennis set up the wall structure at George’s Mill.

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The team has made great progress at  George’s Mill and they aren’t done yet! Nina, however, has already used the space for the backdrop of a new bedroom collection photo!  The fusion of Photoshop and a little elbow grease comes to life with our new Holland Collection.

Take a look at the new photo and bedroom collection.

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.

Green Team

The Green Team Strikes a Pose for Our Website

If you know anything about the Green Team, you know that we’re always excited for a photoshoot! So needless to say, we were more than happy last week as we gathered outside in the beautiful breezy weather and our student interns helped take new portraits for the website! If you saw our “Meet the Green Team” page before, you might have seen that our portraits made us look like little floating heads. Our new photos are better representations of our unique personalities, and the personality of the whole group! Take a look:

The Vermont Woods CEOrcerers:
Green Team

The Customer Service Genies (making all of your furniture wishes come true):
Green Team

The Marketing Magicians:
Green Team

The Web Wizards:
Green Team

The Enchanting Interns: Green Team

So now you’ve met our whole crew! I gave us all extra special descriptions that I feel are fitting for the magic that goes into making things run smoothly everyday. We could not be where we are if it were not for all of the hard work and bright personalities that comes out of each department. To take a look at our new individual portraits, check out our updated ‘Meet the Green Team’ page!

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.

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.

Mission Furniture

Mission Furniture History

Mission Furniture Style, also sometimes referred to as “Arts & Crafts” or “American Mission” style is a revolutionary furniture & design movement that was created as a response to the industrial revolution and the way it devalued the individual furniture maker. This style of architecture, interior design, and decorative arts “became affordable to middle class homes built in the United States during the Arts and Crafts period between 1900 and 1930.”

The Significance of Mission Furniture

Many of the major players of the Mission Style movement including William Morris, John Ruskin, Gustav Stickley and Frank Lloyd Wright, believed that the Craftsman was being lost to the mass produced, “soulless” furniture of the Victorian Era. Mission furniture was a complete departure from the over embellished and “glamorous” furniture that the Victorian Period was known for. In the Victorian Era, “A bare room was considered to be in poor taste, so every surface was filled with objects that reflected the owner’s interests and aspirations.” Reflecting a time in society when domesticity meant absolute privacy, and when the Bourgeois existence manifested into the interior space.  The home was used as a curtained off retreat, wary of intrusion, and “opened only by invitation for viewing only on occasions such as parties or teas.”  Basically, the Victorian Home was a manifestation of upper-class values (while still using overly adorned, low quality decor and furniture). 

Mission Furniture
“The Victorian Bedroom at Dalgarven” by Roger Griffith – Own work. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

This is what The Mission Furniture Movement rebelled against, the highly “glamorous” ideals of the Victorian Era that weren’t inclusive of the real middle class. It represented an entire shift in cultural attitudes and values. Mission furniture aimed to represent the true American worker.

Mission Furniture Features

Mission furniture

Mission furniture is bold yet simplistic, reminiscent of a traditional Rustic Farmhouse. It’s heavy in appearance and build, with emphasis on using clean lines and natural materials. Mission style typically incorporated locally handcrafted wood, glass, and metal work–bringing the artisan back into the picture and straying away from a mass produced look. Mission furniture is very sturdy, and found some inspiration from Shaker furniture with it’s aim to be usable as well as stylish. Mission style is a design that “emphasizes simple (horizontal and vertical) lines and flat panels that accentuate the grain of the wood.”  This style intends to reveal the craft of woodworking and the skill & labor of the individual craftsman. It’s unpainted and unadorned, making it fitting furniture for practically any style of home!

Our Reflection

Mission Furniture is important to us because it represents exactly why we are here, to promote the craft of fine artisan woodworking. Our culture has seen a revival of cheap, mass-produced furniture available online and in big box stores– and our furniture crafters are creating expert furniture designs with the same passion and integrity that sparked the Mission Style movement over a hundred years ago. If you’d like to see more of our collections of Mission furniture, please browse hundreds of our locally crafted and sourced pieces!

What do you think of Mission Furniture? Let us know in the comments or send us a Tweet.

Sources: (1) & (2)

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.