i+D - November/December 2019 - 25

To Post or Not to Post?
When it comes to promoting and protecting
creative ideas, social media is a double-edged
sword. On the one hand, Edelman suggests
platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have
exposed people to high-level design at an
unprecedented scale; on the other, it opens up
greater possibilities to IP theft. "Social media is
the best thing that's happened to authentic design
and a danger at the same time, and you have
to balance it out," he observes. "It's the biggest
propagator of evil and the biggest propagator
of good in the world."
Reitz notes that when a design or photograph is
posted on a social media platform, it is theoretically
covered under a loose form of copyright (a fact
Abrahams confirms). But, unless her product
is sitting on the floor of an established interiors
showroom, any designer can copy an idea from
social media and present it as their own to a
client-and no one would be the wiser. "There
is no way to stop it. Once you post something,
you never know where it's going to go. It's a huge
problem," she says.

Edelman also urges designers to make sure there is clear branding on every
item. Similarly, Rymwid recommends adding a copyright mark as a watermark
on every image as a means of protection when distributing photography.
By doing so, he says, "it becomes more obvious that this is going to be stealing
if somebody's trying to remove it." Reitz often will not share images online or
at trade shows unless her work has been previously published. "If we've been
published in a magazine, I'm not as worried because, once it's been published,
your work is out there" and ownership has been established.

Peter Rymwid,
www.peterrymwid.com
(Image: Yvonne Rymwid)

While not everyone can afford to retain an attorney to protect their intellectual
property, Abrahams says "sometimes just the threat of legal action is enough.
And, that's pretty easy, and it's pretty cheap."
Edelman goes so far as to suggest creatives publicly shame people on social
media who steal their ideas. "Do what you've got to do-don't just take it
lying down," he urges. "People in the knockoff business don't really want
problems. They're doing it because it's been so easy to do."
ROBERT NIEMINEN
is a freelance writer and regular contributor to
retrofit and Retail Environments magazine,
as well as the editor-at-large of interiors+sources.

David M. Abrahams,
Webster, Chamberlain
& Bean, LLP

(Image: Eddie Arrosi with
EA Photos)

Abrahams points out that if a design or image
is posted without permission, a copyright holder
can ask a website to take it down, which many
are willing to do. Under the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act (DMCA), he says internet services
providers are offered safe harbor and will comply
rather than get into a legal battle. "If you get what's
known as a takedown demand order, there's a
certain thing called safe harbor, which, as long as
you cooperate with the copyright owner and take
down that infringing article, you as the service
provider cannot be legally responsible," explains
Abrahams. "So, if you contact the service provider,
they're going to be pretty cooperative."
Reitz urges designers to communicate clearly
with photographers about posting images of
projects to social media in advance. Professional
photographers "wouldn't dream of posting
something without asking a designer for their
permission," she says.
Steps to Safeguard IP
To protect intellectual property-whether it's a
design, photograph, or product-both Abrahams
and Edelman offer the same advice: Register your
work under copyrights and trademarks, and do it
immediately. "Do it day one; do not wait a minute,"
Edelman says. "At least that gives you some power
in the fight against knockoffs." Abrahams agrees and
adds that it makes enforcement that much easier.

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i+D - November/December 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of i+D - November/December 2019

Contents
i+D - November/December 2019 - Cover1
i+D - November/December 2019 - Cover2
i+D - November/December 2019 - 3
i+D - November/December 2019 - 4
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i+D - November/December 2019 - 8
i+D - November/December 2019 - 9
i+D - November/December 2019 - Contents
i+D - November/December 2019 - 11
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i+D - November/December 2019 - Cover3
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