No Euphemisms, It's a Knock-Off! - ‘Story Stones’ from the ‘Donghia for Odegard’ Collection by Odegard, circa 2000 C.E. | Image courtesy of Odegard Carpets. - The Ruggist

No Euphemisms, It’s a Knockoff!

Too often when discussing what is and is not a knockoff a spade does not get called a spade.

It’s frustratingly cliché, but it’s the rug industry. The later half of that sentence has been uttered innumerable times as justification of some archaic practice that while remaining perfectly entrenched in the rug industry is not quite at home in our current times. Some are egregiously out of touch, others quaint and endearing. It is, after all, the rug industry and we must accept it for what it is or so goes the conventional wisdom. The problems – seemingly infinite as they might be – occur when convention, tradition, and ‘because that is the way we’ve always done it’ meet the modern legal structure in which we have chosen to live. As previously discussed in nauseating detail and considerable length (both on The Ruggist and in COVER) the issue of Copyright in the rug industry is not the simple black or white issue many would have you believe. Even if it were black and white (or is that white and black?), which hue of black and which hue of white are we discussing exactly? So many possibilities that we shan’t touch upon today; the position of The Ruggist is clear: Do not copy. Copy being – of course – a heavily nuanced word. It is however, the complete and utter lack of nuance that once again brings the issue of Copyright back to this electronic page.

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I want a Knockoff | Paul Smith Swirl Rug - The Ruggist

I want a Knockoff! | Paul Smith Rug

As I have already beaten the Copyright horse to its near death I will not belabour the point too much today, and in fact I only mention it again as I received the lamest of emails imaginable. Whether the author of the email is authentic in her intent, or is merely on a fishing expedition (for The Rug Company or otherwise) to see if I will name names and offer suggestions is not of any consequence to my response. Here is her email followed by my public reply: she did not get a private reply.

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Exploring Copyright - The Ruggist

Exploring Copyright

A look at copyright through the intentional act of copying the concept of a design.

A valued reader and nouveau friend recently brought to my attention that my last article on copyright had a certain ‘Groundhog’s Day’- esque nature to it. For those of you not in the know, ‘Groundhog’s Day’ is a wonderful (and nostalgic for me: I’ve been to Punxsutawney!!) movie staring Bill Murray that explores the meaning of life through the ad nauseum repeated reliving of one day. In the end Bill Murray’s character comes to some dramatic life altering realizations, but not of course before having some fun; it is a comedy after all. But I digress. When I first read his email I thought ‘Who the hell is he calling repetitive?’ but before I could type a response in so many words, my brain had already begun to contemplate what he was saying. I quickly came to realize the point my astute reader was attempting to make is that ‘Copyright This!’ and ‘Copyright this! Again?’ are strikingly similar, and though this was not intentional it seems only appropriate that a serialized article on knockoffs and copyright would reduce itself to such a state. After all, the nuances of copyright are nearly without bounds and the subtleties are enough to make you want to smash your head between a door and door jam – repeatedly, ad nauseum, like that movie. In the end we just end up talking (at painful length) about the various permutations of what is the very short version of the issue of copyright (in the rug industry): Talented (or otherwise) people create great carpets which in turn are made by others whom we shall call greedy and lazy, which I’ve said already; again, like that movie. It’s as though I am making this intentionally repetitive at this point. No? It’s as though I am making this intentionally repetitive at this point. Oh wait….

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'Copyright This!' - Creative Matters Nova Platinum - The Ruggist

Copyright This!

Is a designed inspired by another or a copy thereof? Is there a difference?

Perhaps it best to begin where the prologue that was my last article left off. As you will recall, I introduced the topic of copyright, and specifically asked: ‘What happens when one manufacturer impersonates the style and aesthetic of another?’ The short answer is found in the article I wrote for the Winter 2013 Issue of COVER magazine (along with Ben Evans and Jessica Franses – Full Disclosure: I was paid for the article.): A knockoff is copying – theft – and it is wrong. My opinion on flagrant and blatant copying is clear, but there are of course an endless myriad of permutations between copying and – to the other extreme – the unattainable ideal of pure original creation, and it is the discussion of this spectrum that is integral to the topic at hand.

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