The Fair Use Defense: What is it and How does it Apply to Businesses?

The proliferation of appropriation art—or art that intentionally copies another person’s work and alters it in some way—has been at the forefront of a series of copyright infringement cases over the last few decades. A common defense used in this age-old strategy is “fair use” under U.S. copyright law. This claim has provoked a longstanding debate among the industry. 

To some, the ability to claim “fair use” opens up the possibility to creatively expand upon existing visual works. However, others fear it opens up their material to exploitation at the hands of well-known artists and companies who make minor “cosmetic upgrades” and then take credit for the work as their own.

Of the 64 percent of professional photographers who had their work stolen in 2016, commercial businesses were responsible for 28 percent of the theft. 

As a business owner and decorator, it’s important to thoroughly understand the difference between “fair use” and copyright infringement to avoid costly lawsuits. But don’t worry, we’ll break it down for you. 

*Please note, this article should not be taken as legal advice. Always consult with your personal legal advisor before relying upon the information provided. 

The Fair Use Defense 

What is Fair Use?

“Fair use” is outlined in a set of guidelines found in Title 17, Section 107 of the U.S. copyright act. It allows the use of copyrighted materials without permission from the owner in specific cases. Essentially, the guidelines give people the ability to build upon the work of another so long as it doesn’t deprive the original artist of the right to “control and benefit from their works.” 

Continue reading “The Fair Use Defense: What is it and How does it Apply to Businesses?”

4 Strategies to Gain Customer Reviews for Your Business

When deciding whether or not to buy a product from a brand online, do you take their boasting statements seriously? Or, do you sift through online reviews from fellow peers and ask friends about their experience before making a decision?

Chances are, you chose the latter option, and statistics agree.
Since consumers’ trust in brands is diminishing, they’re turning to family members, friends and peers to help them make purchasing decisions. In fact, a recent study by Bright Local found 86 percent of consumers read reviews for local businesses, with that number jumping to 95 percent for those ages 18-34. And, people read an average of 10 online reviews before deciding to trust a local business. So, what does all this mean? Consumers now have more power than ever to decide the fate of your business—and in today’s digitally savvy world, that means consumer reviews can make or break you.
Not only do 86% of consumers read #reviews for local #businesses, they also read an average of 10 online reviews BEFORE deciding to trust them. Click To Tweet

To push past the competition, get in consumers’ good graces and grow your company, we’ve rounded up four strategies to help you gain some solid reviews!

1. Be Where Your Customers Are  

Before customers can leave reviews or form an opinion, they have to be able to find your business. However, we want them to find you without having to go to your actual website. You need to show up on sites, where people can recommend your services, like Yelp, Google and Facebook.

Continue reading “4 Strategies to Gain Customer Reviews for Your Business”

5 Characteristics that Successful Business Leaders Share

The success of a business is only as good as the people leading it. Bad leaders produce unproductive work environments and stagnant growth. In contrast, great leaders can develop trust, engage employees and fast-track success.

When it comes to successful business leaders, these are five of the top identifiable characteristics they commonly share:

1. A Clear Vision

Renowned business executive Jack Welch said, “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”

If you don’t have a clear and engaging vision of where you want your company to go and what you want to accomplish, you can’t expect others to follow suit. Employees need a common goal that they can get behind to feel a sense of belonging and usefulness.

If you don’t have a clear and engaging #vision of where you want your company to go and what you want to accomplish, you can’t expect others to follow suit. #goals Click To Tweet

Here’s how you can get started:

Continue reading “5 Characteristics that Successful Business Leaders Share”

The Power of Networking for Small Business Growth

A common misconception is that you only need to network when in search of a new job. However, the reality is that networking and face-to-face interactions are crucial for any small business’ continued success. As an entrepreneur, connecting with new people is a necessary skill for growth.

We’ve listed out why networking is important and some best practices to help you get the most out of the experience.

Continue reading “The Power of Networking for Small Business Growth”

4 Things to Consider to Hire the Right Employee

Behind every good business are good people; the focused, passionate, reliable people representing your company along every step of the customer journey. 

However, profitability and time savings aside, putting the success of your business in the hands of others isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Regardless of how skilled an employee might be, it can be difficult to delegate and relinquish total control. A difficulty that only digs its heels deeper when employee roles aren’t being filled to the best of their ability (and necessity).

This is why properly vetting and investing in quality candidates upfront is so important – not just for your own sanity, but for the longevity of your business. Here are some things to consider to help recruit the right employees.

Design the Right Roles

shutterstock_727576159.jpg

A job description is not the sole indicator of quality when it comes to who applies to your screen printing business, but it certainly plays its part. If you want the right people to see the value in applying to your openings, put in the time for building out thoughtful, thorough job descriptions.

Use the questions below to help you summarize expectations, while also showcasing company values:

  • What skill sets are required?
  • Where are you willing to be more flexible for the right person?
  • What tasks should be expected on a day-to-day basis, in addition to those that’ll speak to long-term growth potential?

Think Outside the Experience Box

silk-screen-1246169_1920.jpg

Today’s recruiters (86%) and employers (62%) believe the labor market is now candidate-driven, making it pretty difficult to reel in any applications – let alone from highly-qualified job seekers. The key is to remain flexible on certain technicalities.

As you consider what makes an employee right for your business, embrace the idea of looking beyond experience. For example, a novice screen printer with a strong design portfolio may be a better long-term investment for your company, than someone who simply checks the box for 5-6 years of previous related experience.

Be Mindful of Compatible Personalities

shutterstock_647176339

There are certain traits you should look for across every potential employee stepping through your door. You want people that can solve problems, show up on time, learn quickly, and bring a general sense of positivity and passion for the work they do. However, this doesn’t mean everyone has to execute those types of characteristics in the same way.

You want #employees that solve problems, show up on time, learn quickly, and bring a sense of #positivity & #passion to their work. But, you shouldn't expect them to execute those qualities the same way. Click To Tweet

Personalities and work-style preferences are bound to differ — it’s unavoidable, it doesn’t mean different will inevitably clash. Take stock of the types of personalities currently on staff:

  • Is there a way to produce a bit of yin to the yang?
  • Are there any overlapping weaknesses with current employees that can be complemented with strengths in the next hiring session?
  • Based on the potential new role, what specific personality traits are needed to perform the job well? E.g. Attention to detail for screen printers or extroverts for customer support representatives.

Ask the Right Interview Questions

shutterstock_258315374

It’s probably fair to say you’d be a little put off if an interviewee showed up having done zero preparation (anyone would be). That same standard applies to you as the hiring manager. You can’t expect to properly gauge the qualifications of the interviewee if you haven’t thought through what it is you actually want to ask them.

On a very basic level, asking the right interview questions starts with focusing on things that aren’t easily answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The questions should encourage open-ended responses and discussion.

Additionally, the more details you can coax out of someone, the better. When a job seeker is able to go beyond glossing over their resume and bring forth specific insights, they’re validating experience and a knowledge base.

If you’re able to include another individual from the shop in the process, do so. Bringing another brain to the table helps gut check whether your feelings — positive or negative — toward a potential candidate are echoed and valid.

What ‘musts’ have found their way into your hiring process over the years? Comment below.

5 Benefits of Direct-to-Garment Printing

With several, quality methods available to create impressive, custom apparel garments, direct-to-garment (DTG) printing is a newer technique gaining recognition among printers – especially small-business owners. Created in the late ’90s, DTG printing uses a custom inkjet printer to apply water-based inks directly to the textile. The garment’s fibers then absorb the liquid. The process is likened to printing a document at home — replace paper with garments. The outcome is some seriously impressive designs customers go crazy for.

Whether you’re considering contemporary tactics to add to your business services or just getting started and marinating on a customization method, direct-to-garment printing can be a lucrative option.

Below are just five, key benefits of what DTG printing has to offer: Continue reading “5 Benefits of Direct-to-Garment Printing”

5 Tips for Successful Custom Embroidery

Often when the term “custom apparel” is heard, our minds jump to the ubiquitous methods of screen printing and sublimation. However, the art of embroidery should not be forgotten. Embroidery creates an added level of detail and lends a sophisticated, high-end look to any garment. From adding decoration to jeans to logos on company shirts to fun designs on casual wear – the options are endless.   Continue reading “5 Tips for Successful Custom Embroidery”

Beginner’s Guide to Screenprinting Children’s Apparel

Research has shown that the children’s apparel industry is booming, and honestly, we’re not surprised. Custom bibs and hats are adorable gifts for baby showers, and thanks to social media, matching “parent-child” tees have become extremely popular. In 2016, global sales for children’s apparel and footwear outperformed adult fashion sales by experiencing a total value growth of 5% to reach $203.4 billion! Last year, childrenswear outpaced womenswear and menswear in retail value growth again. In simpler terms – children’s apparel is on the rise.  

However, before you dive head first into adding custom childrenswear to your screenprinting services, there are important regulations and best practices your business should follow.  Continue reading “Beginner’s Guide to Screenprinting Children’s Apparel”

5 Strategies to Prepare for the Slow Winter Season

While many companies prepare for the onslaught of rushed holiday orders and increased sales, the custom apparel industry tends to cool down with the weather. Students are home for break, people get busy with the holidays and production usually falls to the wayside. Have no fear, winter isn’t coming just yet (no need to brace yourselves, GOT fans). You still have a few months to prepare for the slow months ahead. We’ve listed five strategies to make sure your printing business can continue to press on in the future. Continue reading “5 Strategies to Prepare for the Slow Winter Season”