My very first thought when I saw the photo of the ring was that it looked like something done at the beginner’s bench level course. “Come up with a ring design that uses cabochons”. That someone would tell another person it was a copyrighted idea seemed, and still does seem, ludicrous. Were I in the person’s shoes and told that such a basic design was copyrighted - I would have asked for proof and just for kicks and giggles; given them my attorney’s email address or had my attorney write asking for the proof. That being said, I don’t think I ever really understood who was asking the question; who had said it was copyrighted and who was being impacted.
I don’t know the dynamic of what transpired between the person who wrote in the question and the person claiming copyright - but, that this thread went horribly off track seems self evident by her last annoyed response and then members in the group attacking each others’ responses. Don’t do that. It is insulting - we are not a group of consultants being paid for our time. If you want to type 17 paragraphs, go right ahead. If someone else wants to post a single line… also their right. Maybe they just felt someone else summarized their sentiments well enough. Maybe all they had to say was in that one line. One of the things I always liked about this group was how varied the responses were because if I am not open to all honest feedback, the feedback is useless.
As we ALL know, the “infringement” ax is easy to hang over someone’s head. As we ALL know, there is a king of that in our industry whose whole multi-million dollar business is built on an ancient Greek cable/twist design. Deep pockets; in-house attorneys are essential to that strategy. That the person-who-shall-remain nameless was smart enough to copyright an ancient, hence un-original design… kudos.
I have had two instances where my designs were knocked off by people hired to work on them - a CAD/Casting/finishing firm and a hand wax carver. Of course, they don’t see it as ripping me off because they changed it enough. What was a bracelet; became a pendant in one case and a bracelet was widened in another case. In the latter; the firm used my bracelet to show their client and then widened it; kicked it up with diamonds - but the core of the design was exactly the same. So, I wrote it off as lesson learned and that there are no allegiances despite the fact I had paid them for the work. Did they change it enough to not be infringing upon the design? Absolutely. Would they have created those pieces without my initial design? No. Is it produced enough to justify contacting a lawyer? No. And, at best, I would probably have asked for a portion of the sale - but, I am onto other things and again, life lesson.
Obviously, I am not a production house (yet) but at present, I am now exceptionally careful about piecing out components when it involves casting with me putting together the completed pieces The CAD is done in one place; the casting in another and finishing/construction - completely in-house. Additionally, anyone involved in my projects, is now signing a NDA/NCA. I don’t have these concerns with my custom work.
It is also interesting to note that there have been MANY grumblings of production catalogs knocking off work shown on Etsy. They can browse as easily as the next person and put something quickly into mass production that a person is making by hand at home. Such is the nature of the beast and the pitfall of advertising online for the world to see.
As for her (relatively snarky) comment; “there are no originals now” as if to disparage the collective - I shrug at that - I think there are but they are far and few between. I know that sometimes it isn’t about originality but also about the quality of the work - we are both masters and slaves to the public opinion/trends. I am old enough to know everyone has an opinion but not all opinions have value - the same way I know that “original” doesn’t become a blanket to cover unfinished shoddy work.
In summary: If you have a production based business where your identity is tied to a recognizable design element - copyright. If you are a custom designer - don’t copy other people’s designs - period. It is a loser move.
As for the dismissive comment about the value of the group and what it once was - I delete more of the emails than I used to in no small part because I am able to visit the topic to see the complete thread - I just wait until the thread has about 20 responses and scan over the whole thing. (Nice improvement). I find less diversity in the responses so, that disturbs me. I do not like when I hit reply to Seth; change the topic and yet, it still generates with the same original topic subject line. (just an FYI)
Thank you for your time in reading my 17 paragraph response.