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Apr 28 2012

My Response to Dr. David Fewer’s Approach to Help Canadian Extortion Letter Recipients

This post is a continuation from my outspoken comments in: Chicken-Shit for Canadian Getty Images Extortion Letter Recipients.

This post is also in response to a Canadian reader who wrote the following in defense of Dr. David Fewer (of CIPPIC) and his secret unquotable approach to help Canadian extortion letter recipients:

I just wanted to mention that I did hear back from Dr. Fewer, and he was quite helpful to me and quite a nice guy.  I agreed to keep our correspondence confidential, and I feel that his reasons for wanting me to do so are well justified.  I will however be happy to give the details to anyone who personally messages or emails me about the Canadian specifics.  I just don’t want to post it publicly, since he has asked me not to.  I am very sorry about being so tight-lipped, but I don’t want to step on anyone’s toes, as I’m sure you all know why.

But in a nutshell, he didn’t tell me much of anything that cannot already be found in these forums.  The virtue of what he told me is just that he gave it to me all in one place and well-summarized.  Basically, he reinforced the soundness of the advice given here in these forums (as if we didn’t know), and we’re doing the right thing.

The well-intentioned Canadian reader doesn’t understand this isn’t entirely a legal issue as there are thousands of these letters around.  There is no way thousands of lawsuits are going to be filed, much less won. He falls into the trap everyone falls into thinking everything is about the legal argument because they have such a narrow view of the issue. It is a large industry issue desperate for economic survival abusing the copyright enforcement process. Push-back requires publicity and education to the masses. But like most letter recipients, he is primarily focused on himself. I don’t buy his well-intentioned argument that Dr. David Fewer is really doing that much good compared to what ELI does out in the open.

In any case, you can read my reply to the Canadian reader. My position doesn’t change much.

I am happy he responded to you and YOU are probably grateful. But if he honestly thinks he is doing this great service by his “secretive” approach, then he is a small-time thinker.

I don’t mean to toot our horn on ELI but the ELI Defense Team doesn’t subscribe to this quiet “please don’t post it publicly” bullshit.

That is part of the problem. The ignorance and fear is so pervasive that most people won’t reveal their names or publicly speak out for fear of so-called retaliation. This is exactly why Oscar and I (and subsequently Robert Krausankas and Jerry Witt) agreed to put our names and personal and professional reputations on the line in this fight.

The joke here is that Dr. David Fewer is NOT a letter recipient so he has nothing to fear. Keeping his information a “secret” helps very few people. This is why Canadian letter recipients are left twisting in the wind and I have little respect for both Howard Knopf and Dr. Fewer.

Quite frankly, it is nice Dr. Fewer reinforces the soundness our our advice but it’s not like we needed his stamp of approval. Every month we get new and updated information on the ENTIRE stock photo extortion letter industry because we get new posts and submissions almost REAL-TIME. And if there is something good, we almost always post and share it.

We don’t fear or back down because Getty Images and all the other extortion freak shows in the business are reading our forum.  Getty Images, Masterfile, etc. all read ELI and they read us A LOT.  I see their domain names in the ELI web traffic logs and they generate a fair amount of readership traffic. We are required reading for their extortion letter collection clerks because they need to know what they are up against (us).

Oscar and I have noticed their pattern of behavior in the program have changed subtly over the years.  And the chest-pounding they used to do on the lawsuit front has effectively been quieted down due to the humiliating and embarrassing defeat of the Getty Images vs. Advernet case. Masterfile doesn’t have much to brag about either with their puny victory in the Masterfile vs. Country Cycling case either.  There are already losing precedents. In fact, copyright trolls across all media such as music, newspapers, movies, etc. are all losing the lawsuit front because judges are tired of seeing these small-time copyright troll cases initiated by media conglomerates. They have become wise to the extortion letter scheme used by most of the media companies.

Let’s keep in mind Oscar Michelen was briefly involved with Advernet. Advernet found Oscar through ELI. All kinds of people find ELI because we are OUT in the field. So, in an indirect way, ELI helped with the precedent-setting Advernet case and I am quite proud I was able to participate and help indirectly.

And before ELI came along in 2008, no one was using the terms “extortion letter”,  “settlement demand letter”, or “legalized extortion” in reference to the Getty Images or any other stock photo demand letters.  People were calling them “Getty copyright letters, “Getty scam letters”, other non-catchy names, etc. up to that point. So today all across the Internet, people are now regularly using some variation of the “extortion letter” term because we were big in popularizing that “new” term and people LOVED it.  Go dig into Google prior to 2008 and it corroborates what I am saying.

That is one of the reason why I had to stop the private email stuff and do most of my communicating on the ELI Forums, ELI Website, and ELI videos. It reaches way more people and makes a greater impact than the small-time, secret, private, one-on-one email nonsense.

I am sure Dr. Fewer thinks he is doing some good with his little private emails that no one can quote or reveal as you have indicated. Well goodie for him. IN my eyes, he is a small-time thinker and he still doesn’t get it if he thinks this is entirely a legal issue.

A big part of the fight is getting it out in the open, educating others, being vocal, making a stand, pushing back, and calling people out.  You don’t stay quiet because you are afraid your opponent might respond. It implies you are a one-shot or one-move fighter.

Let’s keep in mind Oscar Michelen was a long, successful NY attorney before he ever met me. He constantly provides updates and insights as they develop. And yet, why would he attach his name to ELI if this was exclusively a legal fight.  That is because Oscar is one of the few lawyers in the country that gets the bigger picture and agreed with going big in the fight than playing small.

To me, playing small behind private email is a chicken-shit approach which is the best that Canadian letter recipients seem to get.  I absolutely hate that because, as a whole, I really like Canadians and Canadian letter recipients deserve better than the embarrassing lack of support I have seen.

If someone decides to step up to do something more substantial and meaningful instead of this cloak-and-dagger stuff, I will be happy to change my opinion and position. But as long as there is only an underground support system, I will continue to be critical of it.

 

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