Summer Insanity and Ullja Kuntze v. Yours Truly
I'm in the middle of my busiest summer ever, not because I'm making lots of beads (I've been on sabbatical from torching to take care of family matters) but because somehow I've managed to schedule the most chaotic list ever of summer activities for my kids. And it's great! It's the first year that I've had the freedom to plan things out for them with their wishes and developmental needs at the top of the priority list, so we're doing everything from beginning programming and rock & roll to swimming and martial arts. It's a juggling act, but I'm surviving, and my kids are thriving, so with summer half over I deem it a success already.
I'm also still working on fundraising for AGLF. Within days after the artisans who'd she'd defamed on her blog "Online Fraud Investigation" had to drop their case because of mounting legal fees, Ullja filed her own case against thirty people. Guess who the number one defendant is? ME!
Supposedly I've set out to destroy her by publishing "knowingly false and defamatory statements" about her, and conspired with the other defendants to get them to place links to my "knowingly false and defamatory statements" on their websites. As if that wasn't funny enough (because, you know, if something's true then it's not defamation to talk or write about it, and I find it funny that she thinks it is) she's also accusing me of intent "to use Plaintiff's name and business identities/names and likenesses" for "the sole purpose of destroying Plaintiff's name, both professionally and personally...."
Now, saying a person is using someone's name and likeness sounds like accusing a person of identity theft. That's a pretty serious accusation (I'm still laughing, though). And the complaint drones on from there about how I, along with these twenty-nine other people, some of whom I'd only read in passing on Etsy and Lampwork Etc. forums, are conspiring to destroy Ullja Kuntze's reputation.
I think she did a pretty good job herself when she resold beads other artisan lampworkers had made and claimed she made them herself, accused them of jealousy when she was caught, then later advertised herself as lampworking in Italy while simultaneously claiming to be running a bakery (a non-existent bakery, according the Health Department) in Texas, from which dozens of orders were shipped all over the country. Even if I wanted to, I doubt I could have damaged any more what she already destroyed. All I did was talk about it, and talking about facts isn't against the law.
Although her accusations amuse me to the point of laughter, her misuse of the legal system doesn't amuse me at all. In my mind, Ullja's lawsuit is the antithesis of using the legal system to achieve justice. Her lawsuit is about using the legal system to make people too afraid to embrace their right to speak freely, a right that is guaranteed in the United States Bill of Rights and in the voluminous case law of our judicial system. If what I've written about her is true, then it is not defamation. If I erase everything I've ever written about her because I'm afraid of being named in a lawsuit, then she strips me of my freedom.
Not happening. Artists have rights, too. We have the right to be credited for our work. No one has a legal right to take our works and claim to have created them. If they do act in such a manner so as to misrepresent an item for sale, that's called "consumer fraud". If such a fraud occurs, we have the right, and some would feel it a civic duty, to share information with other artisans in the interest of protecting the individuals in a group. If you were walking along the road, and there was a venomous snake in the path, would you like the foot traveler approaching you to let you know of the hazard she'd just encountered? Or just let you pass by without a word?
As to whether the many words that have been published about Ullja Kuntze constitute defamation, it comes down to a simple test of logic. A syllogism, if you will: (A) buying something made by someone else and misrepresenting the item as your own work while reselling to a third party is fraud, and (B) Ullja Kuntze purchased beads from artisan lampworkers and resold them claiming she'd made them in Italy, therefore (C) Ullja committed fraud. See it? If A=B and B=C, then A=C.
If you don't know who Ullja Kuntze is, you can google her name.
If you want to donate to the legal fund for the thirty defendants (some of whom had never had any contact with Ullja before being served with the legal papers notifying them they're being sued), we would very much appreciate your support.