Today is President’s day. Sometimes I think of the presidents we had in the past and it just makes me shake my head to think of how they must be rolling over in their graves at what we have let our country become. All politics aside, though, I would like to say why I am also celebrating today as Urban Homesteading Day.
We once had a President named Thomas Jefferson. He is my favorite President of all time, and a lot of that is due to his agrarian and common sense nature. He believed in people doing their best, and creating their own futures. He did not believe in big government and telling people how to live their lives. I firmly believe that much of what goes on today is a complete betrayal of him and our other Founding Fathers, and much of this is due to what we let people get away with.
If you haven’t read the backstory on what is going on with the trademarking of the words “Urban Homestead” and “Urban Homesteading,” you might want to do so. Click here to see my previous post, and here’s a good news article that sums it up. In essence, a family that has been practicing Urban Homesteading in California for about 10 years has decided to essentially lay claim to those terms and have SOMEHOW successfully patented them. Their justification basically is that they have given “urban homesteading” it’s modern definition. In essence, they claim to have invented urban homesteading because of their involvement in the community. Yep, and Al Gore invented the internet!
I will not say they have not contributed. They have consistently had tons of very valuable information available… I remember being quite inspired by them in the past and I also remember looking at their plans for a homemade oil press before I decided to buy my Piteba oil expeller. But the thing is… they didn’t create urban homesteading. They didn’t even come close. I know of many urban homesteaders who never even heard of them until this debacle happened.
If I can think of ONE person who was my biggest inspiration, it would have to be the late Carla Emery. Carla, by the way, is a stellar and outstanding example of someone who contributed to the community without demanding some sort of recognition. She was a great example.
Anyway so they have been sending out what amounts to “cease and desist” letters to bloggers, newspapers, libraries, and more. On their website they have a disclaimer that states they are not SUING any bloggers! This is a partial truth. Native Americans used to call this “speaking with a forked tongue.”
True, the letters did not specifically use the terms “cease and desist.” And true, no bloggers have actually been sued. But let’s take a look at the verbiage from one of the letters, shall we?
Here’s a quote:
“We are generally able to resolve any such uses without involving our legal counsel.”
Oh really? And so YES, they may have not sued anyone… but this is quite obviously a thinly veiled threat of legal action if said bloggers do not fall in line. So let’s take a look at what this “line” involves, shall we?
“If your use of one of these phrases is not to specifically identify products or services from the Dervaes Institute, then it would be proper to use generic terms to replace the registered trademark you are using… When using a phrase listed above to refer to the work of the Dervaes Institute, proper trademark usage should include the proper trademark notice, use the protected phrase in all capital letters, and note in close proximity that the term is a protected trademark of Dervaes Institute.”
So, essentially, what they are saying is that if everyone does not begin immediately capitalizing all the letters in the terms “Urban Homestead” and “Urban Homesteading” and accompany it with the registered trademark symbol as well as somehow crediting the Dervaes Institute, they will proceed with legal action.
So, let’s compare some paragraphs for a moment. If I were to write this on a blog post:
I’ve had such a wonderful weekend these past few days on my little urban homestead! The chickens are laying, the veggies are growing, and the flowers are out. Life is good!
I’d have to change it to this:
I’ve had such a wonderful weekend these past few days on my little URBAN HOMESTEAD® (term copyright Dervaes Institute 2010-2011)! The chickens are laying, the veggies are growing, and the flowers are out. Life is good!
Is this some kind of a sick joke? Seriously… not going to happen. No, no no no no. I am absolutely outraged at the audacity that they would have to lay claim to a term that has been around for DECADES. My great grandparents practiced urban homesteading! What arrogance in the world could make this man and his family think they could lay claim to a lifestyle that has been practiced for hundreds of years all over the globe? And threaten legal action for it? Don’t be ridiculous.
And then they did a big ol retraction, stating that they were only asking people to “give credit” when it was a “for profit” situation, and not regular bloggers. So just for that, I’ll post an ad right below this paragraph which makes this post “for profit.” Please note I have used the copyrighted terms multiple times in the post title, URL, tags and content. I’m only a LITTLE rebellious 😉
This makes as much sense as me trying to copyright “Mom of 2″ or “work at home mom” or “bread baker” or anything else that is a part of my lifestyle! Oh and then not only that, but then I threaten to sue anyone who identifies themselves as that in the written word in some fashion, or even just uses the terms in a similar context as what I use them in (unless they TYPE IT IN ALL CAPS and place the trademark symbol in the right place and say it was copyrighted by Bethany). I’m sorry, but no. What planet does this guy live on??
OK, I’ll settle down for a moment. I guess here’s the real thing that bugs me about it. People make mistakes. I understand that. It would be the honorable thing for this family (and YES they have contributed significantly to the movement, I will not discount that) to take a step back and admit they were wrong and move on with life. But they have remained stubborn, claiming that it is just gossip and everyone is against them, they are misunderstood, etc.
I’m sorry, but they are not being honest. I hate that. Dishonesty bugs me, a lot. Lack of integrity bugs me, a lot. And not being able to admit when you are wrong? I understand it’s human to not WANT to admit when you are wrong… but seriously? The backlash this move has created is one of the most tremendous things I have seen. The Facebook page created to combat this issue had thousands of members within ONE DAY. You would think they’d take a hint and step back and make an apology to the community.
But they aren’t, and that’s sad. The saddest part about this is that I have a feeling that not all four members of this family are on board with it. I can’t imagine they all would be. This move has seemed to be so far against the life they have publicly lived for the last ten years that is just seems odd to me. Within a matter of days, this family has pretty much destroyed their livelihood. No one is going to want to hear Jules Dervaes speak anymore… I certainly wouldn’t anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised if community pressure forces restaurants to stop buying from them, and I know their online business will certainly suffer.
It is a shame that this arrogance could completely destroy a decade’s worth of work in a matter of days. But it will, and it has. I have been encouraged in a way, by how the community has been coming together about this issue. We’ve been supporting each other and banding together to fight this Big Wrong. That, my friends, is community. And that, my friends… is urban homesteaders.
I believe Thomas Jefferson would be proud of us, because we will NOT let them control our language and be owners of our lifestyle. We will not be owned and we will fight this until it is dead, period.