Canadian Extortion Letter Recipients Get Poor Advice from Canadian IP Lawyer

The article below was originally a forum post from October 12, 2010 about my opinion on the lack of Canadian support for Canadian extortion letter recipients. It has recently become a subject of online discussion. It was important enough for me to re-post this into and ELI blog post. There will be follow-up blog posts to this article

Let me start by saying that his post is a vent. It is predicated upon the premise of deleted messages/responses from what I considered helpful responses. The first deleted message was my message from July 27, 2008 and the second was Oscar’s from October 25, 2008.

Specifically, I refer to a high-Google-ranked blog post for Getty Images letter recipients.


If you follow the entire thread of discussion, you will find the blogger, Howard Knopf, is an IP attorney. I have read his blog post as well as all the updates and the first piece of advice I hear him give is:

“I have spoken to David Fewer, Counsel at the wonderful CIPPIC clinic  at the University of Ottawa, who has agreed to keep track of these demands from Getty Images and to consider CIPPIC’s possible involvement. He can be reached at 613-562-5800 ext. 2558. His e-mail is:”


His second piece of advice is:

“Dear Readers:

There’s clearly lots of interest here. Unfortunately, I cannot answer any questions or give any legal advice on this blog. I urge anyone at the wrong end of these letters to contact David Fewer at CIPPIC above.

Or call me and we can chat briefly, with no obligation. If it’s the right case for a test case, it’s possible that I could get involved.”


His third message is this comment.

“As of today, June 18, 2009, Getty Images has only sued twice in the Federal Court of Canada and has discontinued both actions. Getty Images appears to be far less litigious than Masterfile.

I don’t know whether Getty is suing in the courts of the provinces, though I would doubt it.”


His fourth message is this comment:

“Once again, GETTY IMAGES has not sued anyone in the Federal Court in Canada since March, 2008. I can’t speak for the provincial courts.

If anyone gets sued, let me and David Fewer at the University of Ottawa clinic know ASAP.”


If you visit the website he suggests, CIPPIC (Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic) appears to be largely a legal reporting site.  It does not appear they have taken any meaningful action or provide meaningful advice beyond an intellectual exercise. If they have, they have certainly done it in “stealth mode”.

I want to know if anyone can tell me if there is truly anything meaningful, helpful, or substantive advice for Canadians beyond “tattle-taling” on Getty Images? I have been told CIPPIC does have some influence in Canada but in the context of Getty Images, I am awaiting new information.

Oscar and I attempted to share our website information to Canadian readers much like we used to refer U.K. letter recipients to the FSB forums before the thread was shut down over a year ago. Howard appears to be content with reply after reply of individual complaints but he deletes our messages which provide links to our website which provides more substantive and actionable advice.

For an IP attorney, he is very unhelpful and uninspired in his replies. To be clear, he is not obligated to help anyone but he went out of his way to delete my and Oscar’s post which was more helpful than anything he has posted thus far.

In my view, Howard does a poor job for his Canadian readers. He shows very little knowledge, insightful commentary, or actionable advice.  Reporting to CIPPIC that you received a Getty Images Settlement Demand Letter or if you get sued is not helpful. Telling people that Masterfile is more litigious than Getty Images means little without more explanation.  Fortunately, Oscar has explained why that is the case here in the U.S.

Howard can do whatever he wants with his blog and blog post. But he doesn’t appear to be helping many Canadians in this issue except letting letter recipients vent.  And he goes and deletes the responses of the two people who are most able to substantially help.

Bottom line: This is one reason why I started this website and have control over it. This is why Oscar and I have taken ownership of this issue because there is simply too much unhelpful and disorganized content on this subject. This isn’t just an intellectual exercise or a case study for us.  This is real business in real life affecting real people. We are mindful of this.

I am okay if people don’t want to be involved or tell people about our website.  Lord knows I have said more than once about shutting down this website and removing myself from the discussion. I cannot say it is a thankless job because we do get many thanks. This website is certainly not a revenue generator and that is ok too. But I continue to have mixed feelings about having my name associated with this website and issue since my own issue has been resolved.

But I really think it is a slap in the face when someone who is supposedly as smart as an attorney would intentionally squelch the two volunteer responders who could help Canadian readers the most. It is true that we primarily serve a U.S. audience but we have gotten thankful emails worldwide that reading our website has been helpful to them in their respective countries.

Oscar has openly volunteered to coordinate with attorneys in other countries to create a letter program, a legal representation plan, and support community like we have but to this day, no one has stepped up. We would be more than happy to spread the word of other great resources on the subject matter.

Until that time comes, Oscar and I appear to be the only people who care enough to publicly discuss and take on the issue. Thanks for letting me vent.

You can read my next next post in the series regarding Canadian extortion letter recipients:

Chicken-Shit for Canadian Getty Images Extortion Letter Recipients


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