Argh. I know this comment is WAY late, but honestly the first half of the post (well, everything before LippyBalm) annoys me.
Firstly, the legalities are messed up here. You can't copyright a business model, idea, or concept.
You can't even copyright names like "The Sampler" - that's under the realm of trademarks, which you can protect. From http://www.clickandcopyright.com/what_can_i_copyright.asp
Another form of intellectual property that cannot be copyrighted include Ideas, plans, methods, systems, or devices, as distinguished from the specific manner in which they are expressed or described (i.e. a mere listing of ingredients can not be copyrighted, but if a recipe is accompanied by a set of directions, or when there is a collection of recipes, then there is a basis for copyright registration)
So if some other random company calls
themselves The Sampler, Marie has grounds to sue them if she has trademarked
(NOT copyrighted!) the name. (Trademarks, unlike copyright, require registration of some form). However, if Company XYZ wants to do a business that does essentially the same thing as The Sampler, Marie can't really do much. Only thing she could do is if the company hinges its marketing on being the first/only user of the Sampler concept, but that's it really.
Trying to patent
it, while possible in some places
would be another complex process, and even if Marie was successful, she'd only get backlash. Look at what happened to Amazon when they tried to patent the One-Click ordering system.
For one thing, The Sampler DOES NOT serve everyone.
As a case point: I'm from Malaysia and have a PayPal account with an Australian address, since I go to university there. The Sampler will NOT ship or bill Malaysia or Australia. I can't buy a Sampler! They'd take money from New Zealand and Singapore, but not someone like me, even though I live next to both countries so shipping wouldn't be much different. I'm merely a crafting n00b and in no position to start a business. I'm definitely not going to start a whole crafting business just so I can get a free Sampler!
I thought the Sampler concept was really intriguing and was thinking of getting a Sampler thing started in Malaysia. The creative scene is under-appreciated here (people tend to equate crafts with traditional old-fashioned cultures) and a sampler system would be a great way to encourage creativity and get the word out about some aspiring crafters. However, because the founder of The Sampler seems to think that anything sampler-related would "hurt [her] feelings", I won't be able to even think
about it, apparently.
So much for the Crafting community! Should it just be limited to people privileged enough to live in a few certain countries?
Closing off a viable business model and hoping to be the only business in existence that does your particular thing (which is impossible - there's nothing new under the sun and nothing stays new for long) only creates a monopoly
, which isn't always a great thing. See what happened to Microsoft - tried to create a monopoly over web browsers and see where that got them. It is ridiculous
to assume that you can shame and guilt people over just wanting to spread a good idea, just because you didn't happen to be the first person to think of it.
The current vibe in the creative world is sharing
- making everything open
. Why did Creative Commons take off? Why did Open Source take off? Because people say that by making things openly available, creativity increased.
People were free to build on other works and create new works of their own. Businesses should be the same. It is ironic that it's a creative
business that's trying to close itself off - all they're doing is stifling creativity. Not everyone can be a crafter, but some are great businesspeople.
A little competition never hurt anybody - instead, it has often led to greater productivity and creativity as everyone involved strives to do better. Saying your feelings are hurt if someone even dares to make another Sampler site is absolutely ridiculous.
I posted a question about the legalites of this on Ask MetaFilter
, whose community I trust and respect for its thoughtful and often intelligent responses, and already the first response is telling:
I think the Sampler person is either confused or trying to confuse others. She never actually states that she has a trademark, copyright, or patent on anything in particular; she just mentions the terms and lets her readers connect the dots. It's telling that she throws around all three of these terms, which are quite distinct legally, as if they were interchangeable.
If Marie is simply confused, then it would be a good idea for her and others to get educated on the differences between patent, copyright, and trademarks and adjust accordingly. If Marie is deliberately trying to confuse others, then we have a bigger problem - she would be attempting to hoodwink and intimidate the crafting community
. The community where many are prepared to defend her. Again, so much for community.