When you first launched, we trusted you and liked working with you, just as we did with IvyMark. Houzz said it was solely built to promote our businesses, to connect us with consumers who were interested in good design. We also liked Ivy and trusted them, we were willing to work through all the coding errors and issues because it also seemed that they were on the side of designers.
But for both Houzz and Ivy, the business models have changed between what we were promised and the reality today. Houzz has evolved and it is now using photos of our interior design projects in a very different way, one that impacts our businesses and our industry. When you started selling products from our room photos, you never asked us – the designers of those rooms – for permission. Often those products are lower-priced and inferior to the ones we use in our custom designs, which is not only a misrepresentation of our work and misleading to the consumer, but also may be a violation of copyright.
Your founders have boasted that Houzz has a billion-dollar valuation, but that was built on our backs using our creative work (see Spotify for why that’s a problem for you). And now the same thing is happening with Ivy. We do not want Houzz to have access to our private accounts, to the “inside information” for how we run our businesses. Because we do not trust you.
Many of us have felt for years that Houzz is not a friend to designers and we do not want our private information about what we do, what products cost, our customers, etc., shared with Houzz. So the Ivy sale was a betrayal of all that Ivy promised us, and what you originally promised all of us, too. And so we ask Houzz to change because we have no other choice. We demand that:
a. Houzz must immediately stop selling products from designers’ images in all markets in the United States and internationally until an appropriate use license or affiliate agreement between Houzz and the designers and photographers has been negotiated.
b. Designers must be allowed to remove their photography — regardless of how many idea books the work has been shared to — at any time with no consequence to them.
c. Houzz must not allow third-party partners to use designers’ photos for any ads or editorial articles without first receiving permission from those designers and/or their photographers.
d. If a designer decides to opt-out of using the Houzz platform, their business is not listed or “remembered” by the platform in any way. They simply won’t appear in search results.
e. If a designer does not choose to buy any additional advertising from Houzz, they are removed from the Houzz call list permanently.
f. If a designer does choose to advertise with Houzz, they must receive analytics proving that what they have paid for – namely higher billing in searches in their marketplace – is actually what they are receiving.
g. Houzz must seek a designer’s permission before they use a photo of theirs in any online editorial content.
Your entire business model is built on our work – so we expect a swift resolution to our demands.
The interior designers & their supporters who’ve signed this petition