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Silversmith Hammered by Copyists

Silver pendant by Nancy Hazleton
Creative Counterfeit Chic reader and jeweler Nancy Hazleton sent the following email describing how widespread copying has affected both her business and that of fellow artisans:

I am a silversmith in Tucson, Arizona. It is impossible to compete with southeast Asians, making three dollars a day, and copying my designs. I would like to blame both globalization and the Internet but that wouldn't be productive. I guess the genie is out of the bottle. My only solution is to do custom work and fill a niche market.

If you go on eBay, there are so many people selling fake Native American jewelry.  It's definitely caveat emptor as some of the stuff is technically quite good. It sure makes it hard for Native silversmiths, though. Many refuse to have websites as they have been ripped off so many times. So, they end up selling at craft shows, a really lousy way to make a living.

From a legal perspective, this story is interesting because jewelry (unlike clothing) actually can be copyrighted.  And although Nancy isn't Native American, silversmiths who are have an additional level of protection under the American Indian Arts & Crafts Act of 1990, which doesn't prohibit copying but does provide that goods can't be falsely labeled "Indian" or "Native American."  As is frequently the case, however, enforcement would be time-consuming and expensive, so Nancy and many of her colleagues follow other stragegies.  Its unfortunate, though, that the internet in this instance is a hindrance rather than a help for talented creators.

Unless, of course, some of you happen to fall in love with a Hazleton original....

Waveset by Nancy Hazleton


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