Cheesiest Month in Vermont
Are you hungry yet? Photo via vtcheesefest.com.

A few hundred years ago, practically every Vermont farm had about a dozen cows and made their own milk, butter and cheese. This milk was brought to centrally located factories (cheese co-ops) that turned milk into butter and cheese as a way to extend the milk season and preserve the milk that would spoil otherwise. Chunks of ice were used as refrigeration in the early 1900s, until the introduction of the refrigerated truck after World War II. In the early 1950s, milk was collected by truck, bottled for distribution, and delivered throughout New England. Of all of the original cheesemakers, only a few originals remain: Crowley Cheese (1824), Grafton Cheese (1892), and Cabot Creamery (1893).

Fast forward to 2014, and Vermont has 45 cheesemaking members producing over 150 varieties of cheese. Not just regular ole’ cheese; but award winning, artisan cheese. One of the original cheese makers of Vermont, Cabot Creamery, has won awards in Best of Class for 2+ year Cheddar, Pepper Flavored Cheese, American Style Cheese, Hot Buffalo Wing Cheddar, and Cottage Cheese. And there’s more where that came from.

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So, you may be wondering just why July is the cheesiest month in Vermont? Well, there are two fantastic cheese events that just cannot be missed:

1) 2014 Vermont Cheesemakers Festival Tours 

“Vermont Farm Tours is offering an Artisan Cheese Tour and a Wine and Cheese Tour on Saturday, July 19! Tours are $95 per person and last the full day. Each tour visits three artisan producers and includes lunch, transportation, and tastings. 

This year’s Artisan Cheese Tour will visit three unique Vermont cheesemakers, featuring cow’s and goat’s milk cheeses in a range of styles. We will meet the cheesemakers and tour their pastures, cheese rooms, and a cheese cave. Enjoy tastings with the cheesemakers themselves, including styles unavailable in stores. The tour will be guided byChris Howell, Vermont Farm Tours founder.

The Artisan Cheese Tour ($95 per person) includes van transportation, a local picnic lunch, tastings, tour notes, and a canvas Vermont Farm Tours bag to fill with cheese…”  -Vermont Farm Tours

2. Vermont Cheesemakers Festival!

6th Annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival Celebrates the Ages of Cheese
Meet the Cheesemakers, Savor the Art, Taste the Craft
Shelburne, Vt. March 6, 2014 – The Vermont Cheesemakers Festival makes it’s sixth annual appearance on the shores of Lake Champlain this summer to celebrate Vermont cheeses, locally produced artisan foods, local wines, craft beers and distilled spirits- and the people who make them. The 6th Annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival will be held on Sunday, July 20, 2014 at the Coach Barn at Shelburne Farms from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

 

There’s still time to pack up and get ready to spend a wonderful, cheesy July weekend in Vermont! See you there! For more information, visit vtcheesefest.com 

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.

visit us

Our beautiful fine furniture and Vermont made home decor showroom is open 9-6 on Saturday and 12-5 on Sunday. If you’ve been dreaming about making the trip to visit us and see our Vermont handcrafted furniture up close, we’d love to have you here this weekend! The weather in Vermont is supposed to be great, the showroom is full of great furniture pieces, and we’re sure it’ll be worth the trip.

Bring a picnic lunch and walk around our 100+ acre property. Enjoy the natural beauty of the trees while you shop for wood furniture that comes from well managed forests just like the one in our backyard!

To see what furniture we have available ahead of time, check out our selection of ‘showroom furniture.’

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 Style Bedroom Furniture

Mission Style Bedroom Furniture

Clean lines, simple ornamentation, and sturdy wooden frames are the primary distinguishable features of Mission Style Bedroom Furniture. This furniture style focuses on the inherent quality of the design, the natural  beauty of the materials, and a build that is made to last for generations.

In the early 1900s, Mission style furniture was created as a reaction to the industrial revolution and the ways in which it devalued the individual worker. The bold lines and sturdy, unadorned wooden base contrasted greatly against the frilly, ornate aesthetic of the  mass produced designs of the Victorian era.

Mission Style emphasizes simple horizontal and vertical lines and flat panels that accentuate the wood grain, and is most commonly crafted in Oak with a stain finish. There is little or no decoration, though the joinery is often given a darker stain to emphasize the expert construction.

While Mission Style furniture was created as a design movement that rejected low quality, mass produced pieces, eventually Mission style was mass produced just like its predecessors, and low-quality Mission furniture was soon found everywhere.

At Vermont Woods Studios, however, our Mission Style furniture is still built with the quality and integrity that Mission Style has long represented. A focus on real quality craftmanship, built by real expert Vermont artisans.

Mission Style Bedroom Furniture

Why bring Mission Style Bedroom Furniture into your home?

As mentioned previously, Mission Style bedroom furniture is masterfully crafted to be sturdy, simple, and inherently striking. It’s perfect for a bedroom because (like all of our furniture) it’s built for a lifetime of use and if you like sleeping as much as I do, your bed gets a ton of wear over the years. You’re going to want something functional, simplistic, and built for real use.

Is Mission Style furniture bedroom furniture right for you? Check out our collections of mission furniture or contact one of our friendly fine furniture specialists to talk about crafting a custom mission style bedroom furniture piece just for you.

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.