Below is a single trail of emails to one letter recipient. Notice the progression in the tone of emails. Mr. Riddick throws a lot of threats and dialog around until there is silence. That is when he practically begs for a response at the end and tries without success for a “settlement”.
CONFIDENTIAL – September 29, 2008
Imageline has uncovered copyright infringement of our proprietary and copyright-registered electronic graphic arts content (clip art illustrations, design templates, and/or animations) on the above web site.
We have been unable to verify the correct detailed contact information we need to send you the materials we have prepared to support these claims.
Please verify receipt of this e-mail and send us the required contact information (executive officers, owners, corporate counsel, copyright agent, facsimile numbers, e-mail address(es), telephone number(s), and physical mailing address (no P.O. boxes) immediately so that we can provide you further information.
If you own or are associated with any other web sites where the Imageline graphic arts content may be displayed, please identify such sites in your response so that our research organization can do further investigations into these serious copyright violations.
If you choose to get your attorney involved with this issue at this point in time, please have he/she contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will then decide to what degree our attorneys need to be involved. At this point, I am simply gathering facts and trying to determine whether you and your company intend to cooperate with us in the investigation and appropriate resolution of this extremely serious matter.
At this point in time, we would appreciate all communications to be via e-mail.
This is a very URGENT matter, so please respond to us immediately.
9533 Kings Charter Drive
P.O. Box 6275
Ashland, Virginia 23005
Wait a second, Mr. xxxxx. I thought you indicated that the first time you heard from us was this morning. If that is the case, why are now claiming that our web site has been under construction “since its inception”? Was your first response simply a smokescreen? No wonder you refuse to identify yourself.
It appears to us that you are simply making up excuses so that you can continue your unlawful use of our proprietary, copyright-registered digital images. That constitutes willful copyright infringement by even the most conservative analysis by xxxxx, and we will gladly turn this over to our outside attorneys if that is the path you prefer us to take.
Please advise ASAP. Time is of the essence on this matter.
P.S. I strongly suggest that you consult a competent Intellectual property attorney before making this important decision fro yourself and your company.
Dear Mr. xxxxx,
Please immediately remove all of the attached copyrighted Imageline images from your web site immediately, send us a complete and thorough listing of all of your customers who were provided with products that contain any of these proprietary images, give us the e-mail addresses of all prospective or existing xxxxx customers who visited your web site and may have downloaded one of our clip art images from your clip art gallery, and put forward your proposed resolution to this very serious copyright infringement violation (including appropriate compensation to Imageline) as quickly as you possibly can.
I would be happy to send you a rough draft copy of our standard Settlement and Release Agreement, which we have used over 100 times over the past few years (unfortunately).
We will attempt to resolve these copyright infringement issues amicably with you, or we will turn this serious issue over to our contingency attorneys and see what happens from there, at your option.
If, for any reason, you contest our exclusive ownership rights to any of the attached images, please let us know that immediately, as well. Thank you.
Hopefully, we will hear back from you yet today.
From: George Riddick [mailto:email@example.com]
Sent: XXXXXday, XXXXXber 28, 2008 2:XX PM
Subject: Flagrant copyright violations
Dear copyright infringer:
Please identify your outside counsel for us immediately. On November 1, 2008, Imageline will begin the process of turning over all unresolved infringement cases to our new contingency law firms, filing the appropriate lawsuits, and serving papers on you and the other officers and directors of your company, as well. We would be happy to work through your outside attorneys if you provide us with the requested information in a timely manner.
Please also provide us with the complete name and physical mailing address for each of your officers and/or directors that should be served at any location other than your company headquarters location, as identified on your web site and/or the “whois” international domain registration database.
We will also seek identity of all of your customers and prospective customers who visited your web site(s) during the time that any Imageline infringed illustration or design was displayed. As I am sure you know, these end user customers are potentially liable for yet additional infringement and/or CMI removal claims. We intend to resolve all of these issues over the coming months.
You have had more than ample opportunity to resolve this issue peacefully and professionally, and have yet chosen not to do so. We can only assume you must feel we are bluffing. Well, guess what? We do not bluff. If we did, we would never be able to convince anyone to take us seriously.
We have selected four new aggressive and contingency based laws firms to work with us in this Internet anti-piracy campaign and dedicated legal efforts. For the most part, cases will be divided up by territorial regions, and, in some cases, based on the industry and customer set you serve.
Please provide us with the required contact information as soon as possible.
George P. Riddick, III
Ashland, Virginia 23005
804-525-6941 – voice
804-525-6943 – fax
Please acknowledge receipt of the below referenced e-mails. Thank you.
From: George Riddick
Cc: firstname.lastname@example.org ; email@example.com
Sent: XXXXXday, XXXXXber 18, 2008 10:XX AM
Subject: Final attempt to settle this infringement dispute amicably – CONFIDENTIAL
CONFIDENTIAL – FOR THE PURPOSE OF SETTLEMENT DISCUSSIONS ONLY
By now you certainly have me designated as the copyright “kid who cried wolf”. We have been late implementing all of our plans. I really hate it when this happens. The primary reason for this 2008 delay has been that we wanted the new copyright laws (and a new administration, for that matter) to be in place before we officially launched the Copyrights: Code (Red) anti-piracy campaign we have been working on now for the past two years, and began filing lawsuits against those who choose to not to settle.
As I have told you all along, one of two things will happen with all the companies we have discovered infringing our proprietary works (and there are hundreds of them … unfortunately!) since January of 2007:
- We will settle amicably (settlement releases both the company, its officers and directors, and all of its infringing end user customers); or
- We will file a lawsuit with one of our new contingency law firms (we now have top notch IP law firms retained in Atlanta, Washington D.C., Lake Tahoe, and Los Angeles, with another one almost set to go for Canada), and go for the maximum remedies available to us under the law, both civil and criminal, if those, too, apply.
Well, guess what? We are finally ready to launch. On Monday of this week we met with Marybeth Peters (Register of Copyrights) and Marybeth’s “right hand woman”, Maria Palante, for three hours in Washington D.C. We are working with the U.S. Copyright Office to shape new legislation that makes it even harder for Internet piracy to survive, let alone thrive. All companies interested in the protection of their copyrighted digital property available over the Internet will benefit from our efforts.
While in Washington this week, we also briefed the Executive Directors of both the Copyright Alliance (www.copyrightalliance.org) and Software and Information Industry Association (www.SIIA.net), both of which are involved in extensive anti-piracy activities and include Imageline among their executive members, regarding our new Copyrights: Code (Red) campaign. They response we have gotten thus far is very encouraging.
Hear are some of the recent and upcoming events that are shaping our priorities and enhancing our confidence
– The ’Pro-IP Act’ will be implemented starting in January. (more resources available to chase down pirates and stricter penalties for infringement)
– The proposed ‘Orphan Works’ legislation will now include some additional clauses designed specifically to protect visual artists.
– New programs are coming out in 2009 that will force web site operators to choose between copyright compliance or severe consequences.
– A new district court ruling just out from Minnesota adds precedent for the enforcement of Section 1202 rights for copyright holders of between $2,500 (minimum) and $25,000 (maximum) per image (over and above any copyright infringement claims), regardless of registration status (a HUGE win for digital graphic artists and one that is causing us at Imageline, and a few of our select partner web sites, to adjust our settlement per image numbers by over 100% upward to $6,500 per infringed image).
Sir, you DO NOT want this infringement case with xxxxx.com and your other web sites to go to court. Believe me. The results, and exposure, could destroy your companies and your reputation. You know that. We have never taken a case to court yet that didn’t cost our opponents hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees, alone. And we have NEVER lost a case. You know you have no valid defenses under the copyright laws of this county.
Why have you not considered settlement more carefully? Your actions make no sense to me at all. I simply do not understand your logic, unless, of course, you concluded that this east coast “kid who cried wolf” was bluffing. Well. We are not. I can assure you of that.
I am a fair-minded entrepreneur. I know how difficult it is to survive out there in the jungle … and especially the Internet jungle. I am often creative in the settlements I agree to. Our lawyers are not. I won’t allow them to be. If you would like to attempt to settle this dispute amicably before year end and avoid the cost of a protracted lawsuit, please give me a time either later today, tomorrow, over the weekend, or on Monday where you would be available to talk.
Thank you. I hope to hear back from you today. If I don’t I will assume that is a clear indication of your desire that we proceed with a lawsuit against you and your organizations as discussed now for quite some time.
Good morning, xxxxxxxxxx,
We have finally reached the point here at Imageline (after almost two years of research and preparations) where we can comfortably turn all of our outstanding infringement disputes over to our contingency attorneys and get back to design work, which I prefer. We will be announcing a major library acquisition from Getty Images within the next two weeks.
We now have retained four law firms around the country, and will be adding one more here in the States and one in Canada soon. Eleven (11) lawsuits will be filled in February and March, along with the official announcement of our long overdue Copyrights: Code (Red) consumer awareness anti-piracy campaign.
We are looking for more allies to support this campaign. We have finally gotten the approval from our attorneys to list the infringing web sites online, which I personally think will be a big help. The combination of the new Pro-IP Act and some other legislative activity I have been involved with up here in Washington has given us the impetus we have been waiting for, but now we are starting to worry a bit about statute of limitations issues. Unfortunately, hundred of companies are now included in the Copyrights: Code (Red) infringement listings.
As I have told you all along, we do not drop any infringing issues we discover without either an executed ‘settlement and release agreement’ or a legal filing. Consistency is the ONLY way to stop digital piracy, and we know that for sure. Now I think the key people in Washington understand that as well, after almost ten frustrating years of slack enforcement of our copyright laws.
We continuously monitor web sites once we discover infringing activity. I will tell you that we have not seen any new infringements on your various web sites. We applaud you for that. This industry needs all the pro-copyright proponents we can get!
xxxxx is on the attorneys’ active list, as you know. However, I want to shorten the list a bit if I can. I am willing to drastically reduce our settlement standards from the number I proposed to you quite a while back to a one time payment of $15,000.00 to release all claims. You won’t even be able to retain a decent IP attorney for that. Please don’t make the mistake of calling my bluff. If you prefer a court battle with Imageline, that is fine, however. Just let me know. Playing more guessing games doe not benefit either one of us.
Please show the professional courtesy to let me know one way or the other today. I am really trying to stretch our rules and reach out to you on this, but since we have never met, you may interpret things differently. I remain convinced that our determination and tenacity over the years is going to benefit all of us in the digital graphic arts content arena.
I look forward to hearing back from you today.
Please accept or reject the enclosed settlement and release proposal that was sent to you earlier this week. This is our final offer. Please do not send us a counter-proposal under terms and conditions.