Teri appears to initiate contact without any solicitation from letter recipient. Along with the introduction, Teri states that Mr. Riddick has allowed her to be a “mediator”.
Date: Thu, XX XXX 2009 XX:59:49 -0600 (CST)
It’s extremely important that I get in touch with you asap, but my emails to you via the address on your site are bouncing back. Please email me at teri@XXXXXXX.com as soon as you can.
Fellow Vendor at XXXXXXXXXXX
Subject: Infringement Claim
Date: Thu, XX XXX 2009 XX:45:56 -0500
From: Teri SXXXXXX <teri@XXXXXXXXX.com>
This is a very difficult email for me to write and it gives me no pleasure in doing this. I also hope we can keep this confidential. I recently settled a copyright infringement claim with a clip art company out of Virginia called Imageline. I am also aware that they have found one or more designs on your site and/or at the Stitchery Mall that they claim violates their copyright. If you haven’t received a Cease and Desist letter, you will get one very soon, I’m sure.
I spent a great deal of time working through this with the company CEO. It consumed the better part of 3 weeks of my time. I ended up, out of an abundance of caution, removing all designs from my site that I could not definitively say that I had express permission to digitize, even though only one design was actually found that violated their copyright. I, like many of us, was always under the impression that “Royalty Free” meant I could digitize the clip art. Well, that is not so. This company distributed a lot of its clip art through large clip art collections, at least one of which I had purchased and thought was okay to use. The clip art in question was registered with the copyright office many years ago and this company has successfully sued and won or settled about 150 cases similar to mine. Needless to say, I didn’t feel like I had a leg to stand on, and while the settlement amount was way higher than I felt justified or even more than I felt I could afford to pay, it has been well worth the peace of mind to know that this is behind me and that I didn’t have to get an attorney or go to court over this.
Mr. Riddick, the company CEO, informed me that their company is currently researching the machine embroidery design market with the future intent of selling designs made from their clip art. They are finding massive numbers of infringements and are suing and/or settling with each and every one, no matter how minor. They are even taking on some of the largest and well known embroidery design companies. It truly amazed me how aggressive they are about this. Not leaving a stone unturned. The upside of all of this is that in the end, their efforts will, I hope and believe, make a huge difference in the embroidery world. Once the word gets out that someone in this industry is actually making headway eliminating copyright infringement against even the largest of companies, it can only benefit those of us who work so hard to produce a quality product at a reasonable price. I truly believe that. They have a very organized campaign underway to clean up copyright infringement regarding their clip art. I have no doubt this campaign will continue and expand its focus to include piracy of embroidery designs, once this company gets into that market.
This brings me to the purpose of my email to you. I managed to reach a settlement with this company that protects me from future claims on any past designs I may have missed on my site. It also protects the XXXXXXXXX and my customers from those potential claims. It was a long, draining, and very stressful process, not to mention the embarrassment I felt at having made this mistake. When I found out how comprehensive Imageline’s campaign is, I was a bit worried about my embroidery friends and did not want any of them to go through what I did. I was able to convince Mr. Riddick that a lot of the digitizers that I know are good, decent, honest people who would not knowingly break copyright law. He agreed to let me work with those that I can vouch for as somewhat of a mediator in this. You are, of course, free to totally ignore my offer to help you, and try to work something out on your own, or hire an attorney to do that for you. One thing that I can assure you will not happen is that this will not just go away on its own. Imageline is determined to settle or bring each and every case to court. They have a large group of cases that are going to their attorneys in early Feb. 2009. Once these cases are turned over to the attorneys, they become “cookie cutter” cases and the attorneys will be asking for the maximum damages allowed under law.
Please don’t take this the wrong way, XXXXX. I just want to help those I care about. I, like you, sell through the XXXXXXXXXXX, and I care very much about every vendor there, as this can potentially affect all of us at the mall in an adverse way. I can help by working with you and Mr. Riddick on a settlement that will probably be hard to swallow, but will give you peace of mind. Please let me know as soon as you can whether you want my help. Or consult your attorney. Either way, I hope this all works out well for you in the end.