Taking your hobby to Kickstarter can be thrilling for small business owners with big ideas, and many projects end up getting a lot of love. It’s less sweet, however, when your crowdsourcing campaign brings up copyright allegations, though. When Seattle-based Silvan Audio Workshop launched a crowdsourcing effort to fund the creation of custom handmade wooden turntables, they were quickly faced with accusations from Joel Scilley of Audiowood, an established company making very similar turntables. Scilley claims the father-and-son team of Silvan Audio is infringing on his copyrighted design by producing their handmade audio elements.
Kent Walters and his father might have started their woodworking project as a hobby, but they aren’t lacking in the skills to produce gorgeous, high-quality pieces. The Walters, who self-identify as “wood-savvy audio nuts,” explain that they use “…components from the legendary English audio wizards at Rega, who have made their reputation as leaders in high end, elegant, incredible sounding audio gear,” according to company’s Kickstarter. The bases are crafted in hardwood from American black walnut trees.
Scilley’s “Barky” design under the Audiowood brand is similarly made. Audiowood also relies on Rega components, and Scilley claims that other similarities between the two companies’ products—like spiked feet—illustrate that the Walters ripped off his original design. On their Kickstarter page, the Walters give a nod to Audiowood, stating they have no affiliation with the other wooden turntable producer, except that the Walters “have a ton of respect for what they’re doing.” Crowdfund Insider reported a lengthy rebuttal of the accusations from the Walters, but the bulk of it has been removed from their Kickstarter page, presumably under legal advice.
As of the time of writing this, Silvan Audio is nearly halfway to their $14,000 goal. Kickstarter backers can pledge any amount, but the sweet rewards start at $250, for which they’ll upgrade your regular turntable into a wooden masterpiece. A pledge of $750 will score you their entry-level model, “The Archer.” Folks with deeper pockets can shoot for the Champion or the Sampo model, the latter of which boast top-of-the-line Rega components for a “thoroughly indulgent hi-fi system.”
Time will tell what impact the copyright infringement allegations will have on Silvan Audio’s crowdfunding campaign.
Images via Silvan Audio Workshop