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Author Topic: Attorney advises to JUST IGNORE THE GETTY & McCORMACK LETTERS  (Read 13444 times)

erictwr

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This is my first post on this forum, but I have been an occasional lurker since October 2013.

Here is some background on our situation:

My wife, has a very small business, which is barely profitable.  I put up a website for her business around Feb. 2012.

I looked online for a simple image for an illustration.  I used a small thumbnail sized image from a Google image search.  I do not remember exactly where I got the image, but I did not pay for it, and wrongly assumed that if the image did not have a watermark, then it was in the public domain and was free to use.

In October 2013, my wife received the standard letter from Getty Images, addressed to her place of business.  The amount demanded was over $800. 

I immediately removed the image from her website, and began researching the matter, and discovered this forum almost immediately.

The alleged copyright infringement concerns an image designated in the Getty Images Catalog, listing the photographer’s name.  Out of curiosity, I checked the price Getty Images would charge for a one year licence to use this image on a web page in the United States.  Their price was an astounding amount of over $600. 

Searching the U.S. Copyright Office for all copyrights under the name of the photographer, only one work is listed.  That image has a Getty Images number, but that image is completely unrelated to the image in question.

Searching the U.S. Copyright Office for all copyrights for visual materials under the name Getty Images, yielded 131 results.  None of these appears to have any connection with the image in question.

Searching the U.S. Copyright Office for all copyrights for visual materials under the name “The Image Bank”, yielded no results. 

Searching the U.S. Copyright Office for all copyrights for visual materials under the title that Getty Images has attached to the imagine in question, yielded no results.

Searching the U.S. Copyright Office for all copyrights for visual materials under the keyword, document number, or registration number for the specific Getty Image number yielded no results.

The conclusion is that no properly registered copyright for this image exists.

Using the free online search tool, TinEye, there were 61 worldwide results for an image match.
Apparently this image is relatively popular and is used as an illustration on websites for similar businesses.  Did any of these 61 users of this image purchase an exclusive rights licence?  Probably not.

In fact, purchasing a “Rights Managed licence” for this image from Getty Images, would not guarantee that the purchaser and only the purchaser would have exclusive rights to use the stock image during the license duration.

A second standard cover letter, came from Getty in Nov. 2013, with a copy of the initial Oct. 2013 Getty letter.  A third standard form letter, dated Feb. 2014, came from McCormack, and demanded over $1300.  In Mar. 2014, my wife received an email from Lauren Kingston with McCormack, demanding the same amount of over $1300.

Based on what I have read on the extortionletterinfo.com forums, we have not responded to any of the letters or the email.

I have considered the Oscar Michelen's Getty Images Defense Letter Program, which would cost us money we don’t have to spend.

I have a paid membership with Pre-Paid Legal, and was considering the possibility of letting my Pre-Paid Legal attorney fire back a letter to Getty, informing Getty that we had legal representation, and requesting from Getty, evidence of a valid and proper Certificate of Registration issued by the United States Copyright Office of the image in question.

It is anticipated that Getty Images will only respond with a statement similar to the following: 

   “Since formal legal proceedings have not yet commenced, copyright registrations are irrelevant at this time.” 

It is my understanding, that without a proper Certificate of Registration issued by the United States Copyright Office, Getty Images cannot be awarded statutory damages and legal fees.  Damages would be limited to “actual damages” which would be fair market value or what the market would pay for the image, not the grossly inflated amount that Getty Images wants to charge for a Rights Managed Licence.  Fair market value would likely be something around $49.

A letter from my Pre-Paid Legal attorney would probably temporarily end the letters from Getty and McCormack to her place of business, but I don’t think my local Pre-Paid Legal attorneys want to participate in a 3 year letter writing exchange.  My Pre-Paid Legal membership only covers a maximum of 2 attorney letters a year.  If we are sued, then we would get representation from Pre-Paid Legal and a certain amount of Pre-Paid Legal attorney trial preparation hours would be covered.

The main reason for this forum post, is that I had an interesting long conversation with a very experienced Mississippi trial and tort attorney about this matter.  He was sort of my captive audience for over 4 hours and I think I beat the subject to death with him.  He is in his 80's but still has a sharp mind.  He has a background as a prosecutor, a defense attorney, and as a trial judge.  The following is the gist of what he advised:

Ignore the letters.  If even one response is sent back to Getty, it will tell Getty that they have some potential to get money and Getty will redouble their efforts to instill fear with their letters.  The act of a response to Getty will be as if we painted a target on our backs.

The Getty letters should go in the same place that is used for advertisements for Viagra, Nigerian money transfer scams, and other junk mail.

If Getty actually sues, only then should we respond.

He agreed that the Getty letter writing campaign is a form of extortion.  The reason Getty only attacks the small business owner, is that Getty knows that a certain percentage of victims will succumb to their own fear of being sued, and just roll over and pay Getty to be rid of the persecution.  The increasing demand amounts and short response deadlines are a form of psychological warfare.  Some victims will pay an inflated amount, fearing that it would be better to pay a high amount now, than let the demand amount increase even higher in the future.  This thinking is sort of like picking the lesser of two evils.  Getty knows how to exploit this part of human nature.

Of particular note, is that this very experienced trial attorney and judge, explained that the thinking that many people have, which is that they should at least make a good faith attempt to resolve the matter, so that if the case goes to trial, the judge will know that you did not simply ignore Getty, is not correct.  The judge will not care if you ignored Getty or responded.  The judge will only be interested in the facts.  He explained, in legal terms, that if you send a response to Getty, the court will interpret that your act of a response was because you believed that you were obligated to respond.  This is akin to an admission of guilt, or at the very least, an admission of responsibility.

The converse is also true.  I you do not respond to Getty, it is because you believed that you had no duty to respondIf Getty sues, and if the case goes to trial, and if the judge asks why you did not respond to the Getty letters, then you can tell the judge that you did not believe that you had a duty to respond.  You did not respond, because you did not have to.

Getty will not likely sue over such a small amount.  There is not enough money in it for them.

I asked this very experienced trial attorney and judge if I should get my Pre-Paid Legal attorney to fire back a letter to Getty, even though it would not cost me anything.  He said no.

I asked him if I should use the Getty Images Defense Letter Program.  He said he wouldn’t recommend that either, because it would only encourage Getty to engage in an long, drawn out negotiation.

So the bottom line is this:
IGNORE THE LETTERS FROM GETTY AND McCORMACK. 
ONLY RESPOND IF YOU ARE SUED.

It is extremely unlikely that Getty will sue over a small amount.  It would cost Getty more in attorney fees than they could potentially get out of the victim if Getty prevailed in court.  There is more potential monetary return for Getty’s efforts by using fear and intimidation in the form of an unrelenting stream of letters.

So our decision is to continue to ignore the correspondence from Getty and McCormack.  In the extremely unlikely event that Getty sues us, then we will respond by using an attorney.

I think that the advice from the experienced judge and trial attorney was sensible, and useful enough to post on this forum.

It is expected that this legal advice may create some controversy.  It is not my desire to engage in a debate about the merits or pitfalls of ignoring the Getty letters.  My motivation for sharing this information is to solicit the learned opinions of others on this forum, and perhaps create some productive discussion.

stinger

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Re: Attorney advises to JUST IGNORE THE GETTY & McCORMACK LETTERS
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2014, 04:33:15 PM »
Over two years ago, when I received my first Getty letter, I felt like a lot of people on this forum: that I should respond and set the record straight if, for no other reason, to have the fact on record that I tried to settle, should I ever find myself in court over this matter.

Having monitored this forum and Getty's behavior for over two years now,  I am of a different mind.  I think the advice you ere given is quite good.  If this happened to me today, that advice might very well be what I would follow.

Mulligan

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Re: Attorney advises to JUST IGNORE THE GETTY & McCORMACK LETTERS
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2014, 04:39:42 PM »
Eric, very good information. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Knowing what I know now after more than two years of playing the Getty Game, if I had all this to do over again, I would either follow your approach and do nothing but ignore or else I'd jump in and write letter after letter after letter to Getty Images and McCormack pretending to be absolutely insane, citing court cases about condom malfunctions, writing diatribes about the Illuminati's involvement with the local credit union, and asking probing questions regarding the 36 actors and celebrities that Lindsey Lohan is recently reported to have had sex with!

I did find especially interesting your aged advisor's point about a judge not being impressed by making a response to Getty's initial letter. I'm looking forward to reading comments here in the forum about this particular point.

Anyway, thanks again for sharing. I found your narrative comprehensive, useful, and informative.

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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Re: Attorney advises to JUST IGNORE THE GETTY & McCORMACK LETTERS
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2014, 05:30:13 PM »
yeah, you won't get a debate here in regards to answering or ignoring, they both have pros and cons.. Ultimately it is your decision on how to proceed.
Most questions have already been addressed in the forums, get yourself educated before making decisions.

Any advice is strictly that, and anything I may state is based on my opinions, and observations.
Robert Krausankas

I have a few friends around here..

Lettered

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Re: Attorney advises to JUST IGNORE THE GETTY & McCORMACK LETTERS
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2014, 06:39:01 PM »
Thanks Eric.  Good info. There are ambiguous statements in your post (unintentional I am sure):

"The judge will not care if you ignored Getty or responded."

". . . the court will interpret that your act of a response was because you believed that you were obligated to respond.  This is akin to an admission of guilt, or at the very least, an admission of responsibility."

I think this is an important issue that would be good to discuss (respond or no).  From Oscar's summary:
"
(1) Ignore it:  Many folks who have been contacted about a single image have chosen to ignore it. As a lawyer I cannot recommend this tactic. Getty and the NCS will also step up their contacts with you and it can get annoying and disruptive.But, it is a fact that Getty has not to our knowledge ever sued anyone through this PicScout program so folks who have ignored it have not been sued yet either."
- http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/a-summary-of-the-getty-issue-in-the-united-states/

Would be interesting to hear Oscar's take on your attorney's view on the matter.

Thanks again for the info.

erictwr

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Re: Attorney advises to JUST IGNORE THE GETTY & McCORMACK LETTERS
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2014, 07:55:13 PM »
Lettered,

To ignore the Getty/McCormack letters was not the answer that I was expecting from an attorney.  I was expecting the exact opposite.  However, this attorney had no vested interest in my case.  He knew that he would not be representing us, and stood to make no money off of us.  If the opposite were true, meaning that he would be representing us, them perhaps his advice would be for him to engage in negotiations with Getty.  I sometimes wonder about the thought processes that attorneys may go through.  Perhaps it goes something like this:

“My client has admitted he copied an image without permission.  There is no chance that Getty will sue over this.  If I write letters for him to Getty, it will take up a lot of my time, and that process will cost my client more money than if he settles with Getty.  I will just advise my client to settle out of court.”

My statement that is interpreted as ambiguous, was as close an exact quote from the retired judge and trial attorney as I can remember.  He told me that the judge won’t care if I tried to respond to Getty.  He explained that any response would be interpreted by the judge as not in our favor, and that the best response to this kind of letter scheme is no response.  I asked him if a letter response back to Getty was like an admission of guilt.  He said that if we responded, it would be interpreted that we did so because we believed that we had a duty to respond.  Actually, we have no duty to respond.  It would be like if we received a request to transfer money to Nigeria, and we did not respond.  If we were ever asked, “Why didn’t you respond to the the Nigerian money laundering scheme?”  Our answer would be that we believed that we didn’t have to.

stinger

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Re: Attorney advises to JUST IGNORE THE GETTY & McCORMACK LETTERS
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2014, 09:40:21 PM »
@Mulligan, your second approach has me ROFL.

I wish I had thought of it.

Matthew Chan

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Re: Attorney advises to JUST IGNORE THE GETTY & McCORMACK LETTERS
« Reply #7 on: March 13, 2014, 12:43:31 AM »
Eric,

Thanks for relaying your thoughts and those from your retired lawyer/judge friend.  They make for interesting reading and certainly a legitimate point of view.  But just understand that I consider what you wrote one person's opinion.  I have no doubt that your intentions are honorable in sharing the insights you have. There is also little reason for me to doubt that you incorrectly interpreted your retired lawyer/judge's interpretation.  But I consider that one interpretation and one person's opinion no matter how qualified it might be.

You write in a tone that comes across as the "definitive" answer to not only extortion letters but also resolving any other legal matter. It is dangerous and preposterous to consider the idea that responding automatically conveys "guilt" and that you should only answer when confronted with a lawsuit.  If that were the case, communication between lawyers of any kind would stop and all cases would automatically go to court further clogging up the judicial system.

Anyone who has ever been to court whether you are in the right or the wrong knows it is inconvenient and costly in time and/or money.  The whole idea of communicating and replying to accusations is to prevent the escalation of conflicts to a court of law.  Judges on all levels tend to encourage legal adversaries to resolve their differences outside of court whenever possible.  That is why there are mediators and abritrators around to help alleviate the need to go to court. The only way resolve differences is through communication whether it be verbal or in writing, not telepathy.

As a general rule, communication is a good thing in resolving legal conflicts if for no other reason to evaluate the resolve and arguments of the other side.  However, in the case of Getty, McCormack, and similar extortion letters, they are a cookie-cutter, money-machine operation.  Because we've studied their patterns of behavior, their copyright registrations, their legal arguments, their staff, their letters, the legal environment, the costs and challenges in a lawsuit, extrapolated the statistical probability of actually being a defendant of a Getty copyright infringement lawsuit, along with many other factors, ELI has largely come to the conclusion that ignoring the letter is one "reasonably safe" response to extortion letters NOT because of the simple idea that because you respond, there must be some shred of guilt involved.  Just because you disagree with the accusation or you feel that the matter you are being accused of does not warrant a response, does not mean it is the best response.  No one has a "duty" to respond to anyone else but I can promise you such a cavalier attitude that because YOU believe there is no duty to respond that there may not be an unpleasant and unintended consequence.

I can list any number of circumstances where ignoring a legal accusation could lead you to very unpleasant legal consequences especially if the plaintiff has some grounds for the accusation and THEY made a good-faith effort to confront you to resolve it.  Ignorance of the underlying legal issues is NOT going to protect you.  You can't say because you don't believe there no duty to respond that you shouldn't respond. That is a dangerous notion.

Eric, you are a newcomer to ELI and clearly a new recipient of an extortion letter.  You have the right attitude to want to fight it and ask for legal advice.  And you received what you think is good advice.... to ignore Getty and McCormack.

I would say that it is good advice for MANY people but you will not hear me say that it is appropriate for ALL people.  Ignoring the letters is problematic for many parties such as web developers and other parties that service clients.  It is also problematic for people who are not emotionally or mentally equipped to handle legal threats.

There is also the issue that, however small the statistics and the unlikelihood, there is a possibility "someone" could be targeted as we have seen.  When the lawsuit trigger is pulled, a Pandora's box is opened creating a great deal of inconvenience to the parties involved.  I know this because it has already happened. Not everything gets reported on the ELI Forums.

And I take great exception to the statement you made about Oscar's Defense Letter Program how it creates a drawn out negotiation process.  How would your lawyer/judge friend know what goes on behind the scenes? He believes he knows but I can tell you that he would be wrong.  I am not going to elaborate why he is wrong simply because our enemies read this forum and some of the information we have is privileged.

I may not be a lawyer but I am a consultant to Oscar Michelen and reporter in extortion letter matters. I am the guy who originated the idea of creating a leveraged, legal representation system (defense letter program) that bypasses the traditional hourly billing/retainer system lawyers use.  I am the guy who first brought up the idea of fighting back against out-of-bound lawyers with complaints to State Bar system and the Attorney General system. I am the guy who started the idea of calling out and naming employees and lawyers that engage in extortion letters. I am the guy who tapped into Google as an essential ELI tool. I could thump my chest further by listing my other "accolades" but the point I am trying to make is that your lawyer/judge friend may have valuable insights and interpretations to offer but he doesn't know the scope of what we do and how we do it.  Many people don't know WHY we are so effective in what we do and that is part of the "ELI secret sauce" but I promise you not all of it is based on some brilliant, legal argument.  There are a few within ELI that know 90% of the "ELI Secret Sauce" but I would say only Oscar and I are the two people that collectively know the other 10%.  It is that last 10% that makes us different from everyone else.

We try to educate people not only WHAT to do but WHY to do it.  The WHY is important in getting people educated and becoming self-sufficient, not just pushing people into some consulting call or a defense letter program.  ELI does a LOT of teaching and educating which is why we now have a community of ELI volunteers who pass on the knowledge.

ELI doesn't engage in giving bad information or bad advice.  We are careful in the positions we take and qualifying the answers we give.  We also don't give "one answer fits everyone" because it doesn't.

What you shared is certainly valuable to consider but I have no problems stating to anyone that I disagree with the premises you stated to ignore Getty and McCormack.  They are ideas NOT applicable to many situations including the Getty and McCormack letters.

Without speaking for Oscar, who is our resident legal expert, I believe he would also strongly disagree with you for similar if not the same reasons I have given. Oscar is a litigator and one of his gifts is the power of persuasion. For your lawyer/judge friend to say that another judge would view any defending response by a potential defendant as some indication of guilt is only his opinion.  As far as I am concerned, it is bad advice and it makes me question his credibility and ability to be impartial as a judge.

If you wish to give more credibility to your lawyer/judge friend, you may want to consider sharing his name.  You say he was a judge.  Where and which court was he a judge in?  What kinds of cases did he hear?  How long was he a judge?  Until you do that, for the rest of us, you are quoting a nameless judge that appears to have a difficult time being impartial.  He has a bias that because some speaks out to defend himself that he must be in some way guilty.  That is ridiculous as far as I am concerned.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 01:01:23 AM by Matthew Chan »
I'm a non-lawyer but not legally ignorant either. Under the 1st Amendment, I have the right to post facts & opinions using rhetorical hyperbole, colloquialisms, metaphors, parody, snark, or epithets. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.

Lettered

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Re: Attorney advises to JUST IGNORE THE GETTY & McCORMACK LETTERS
« Reply #8 on: March 13, 2014, 01:26:10 AM »
Thanks for the clarification.  Still sounds ambiguous to me.  Maybe its just me.  One other comment that I would make is that I got Oscar to write the letter for me and I never heard from them again.  The statute of limitations has long passed in my case.  So this part of your lawyer's assessment never happened in my case:

 " because it would only encourage Getty to engage in an long, drawn out negotiation. "

or at least, if they were "encouraged" they never actually engaged in any long drawn out negotiation in my case.

However, I think it is good to hear varying opinions and assessments.
Thanks again.

Lettered,

To ignore the Getty/McCormack letters was not the answer that I was expecting from an attorney.  I was expecting the exact opposite.  However, this attorney had no vested interest in my case.  He knew that he would not be representing us, and stood to make no money off of us.  If the opposite were true, meaning that he would be representing us, them perhaps his advice would be for him to engage in negotiations with Getty.  I sometimes wonder about the thought processes that attorneys may go through.  Perhaps it goes something like this:

“My client has admitted he copied an image without permission.  There is no chance that Getty will sue over this.  If I write letters for him to Getty, it will take up a lot of my time, and that process will cost my client more money than if he settles with Getty.  I will just advise my client to settle out of court.”

My statement that is interpreted as ambiguous, was as close an exact quote from the retired judge and trial attorney as I can remember.  He told me that the judge won’t care if I tried to respond to Getty.  He explained that any response would be interpreted by the judge as not in our favor, and that the best response to this kind of letter scheme is no response.  I asked him if a letter response back to Getty was like an admission of guilt.  He said that if we responded, it would be interpreted that we did so because we believed that we had a duty to respond.  Actually, we have no duty to respond.  It would be like if we received a request to transfer money to Nigeria, and we did not respond.  If we were ever asked, “Why didn’t you respond to the the Nigerian money laundering scheme?”  Our answer would be that we believed that we didn’t have to.

Greg Troy (KeepFighting)

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Re: Attorney advises to JUST IGNORE THE GETTY & McCORMACK LETTERS
« Reply #9 on: March 13, 2014, 09:25:30 AM »
Welcome to the forums erictwr,

Thank you for sharing your experience so far and your comments. I tend to agree with Matthew and he has covered the majority of what I was going to say as well.

From what I have read of your situation it sounds like ignoring the Getty and McCormack letters may be a valid option for you. I do want to stress however, every situation is unique in there is no one solution fits all when it comes to settlement demand letters so you should be careful when making what sounds like blanket statements.

When I am trying to help a new letter recipient I try to get as much information about their situation as possible and offer several different approaches to their situation. I also making sure they realize the final decision is ultimately there's and must be based upon their complete knowledge of the situation, personal ability to handle stress and increasingly threatening letters as well as other factors.

My personal opinion and preference is to not only respond once but to handle the situation myself up to the point I have no choice but to seek out legal advice/representation. Again, this is just my opinion and preference and I know that this is not right for every situation/person here on the forms.

As far as your lawyer/judge friend I respect his/her opinions but as Matthew said, I do not think that this person realizes everything that goes on here at Eli and why Eli works. I have communicated with letter recipients on the forum who have spoken to "lawyers" who did not know/specialized in copyright and IP law, who advised their clients to settle immediately.  I am not a lawyer nor would I try to give legal advice. I can only offer my opinions and I suggested reading the forms and asking questions and the person soon realized her situation was nowhere near as bad as their lawyer made it sound. If I remember correctly I believe this person ended up joining Oscar's defense letter program.

I hope you will continue to stick around and participate in the formus and keep us updated on your progress. I like and respect your "I'm not going to roll over for them" attitude as it is something we have in common. Just remember there is no one answer that covers everything.

Thanks again for sharing your story with us!

Every situation is unique, any advice or opinions I offer are given for your consideration only. You must decide what is best for you and your particular situation. I am not a lawyer and do not offer legal advice.

--Greg Troy

erictwr

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Re: Attorney advises to JUST IGNORE THE GETTY & McCORMACK LETTERS
« Reply #10 on: March 13, 2014, 01:02:47 PM »
The advice from the retired judge would only apply to the my personal situation, as I explained it to him.  I was not taking the position that ignoring the Getty letters was the proper position to take for all recipients of the Getty extortion scheme.  Every person’s circumstance is different.  It is expected there is a high probability that forum responses will be misinterpreted.  This is the case with mine.  Some readers have totally misunderstood the points made.  For that, I apologize.  It was not intended that ignoring Getty letters would be the “definitive” answer for everyone.

I will not share the retired judge’s name on a public forum, but if one of the moderators wants to PM me, I will tell them in private.  He has experience as District Attorney, Circuit Court Judge, Presiding Judge of State Bar on the State Supreme Court's bar complaint Tribunal; as well as trial attorney of hundreds of jury and non-jury trials over a very long career.  From my viewpoint, considering his background, I thought that I needed to carefully consider that he might be giving me useful and valuable advice.

I would like to clarify one point.  After I explained my circumstances, his advice was to not answer the Getty letters.  I told him that many people thought that they should at least make an effort to resolve the matter, because if the case went to court, the judge would not look favorably on them if they had done nothing.  He said that the judge won’t care whether you responded or not.  This was his opinion.  Yes, no one can definitively say what a judge will or will not care about.  He told me that the judge will mainly be interested in the facts.  Did you break the law?  Yes, or no?  What does the law say?  What is the evidence?  What are the claimed monetary damages?  What is the true market value of the image?  That sort of thing.  The accused would get no brownie points for the fact that they at least made a good faith effort to settle it out of court.

I asked why not get an attorney to write a letter back to Getty?  He explained that there is a legal term that associates action with knowledge of duty.  I asked him if responding to the Getty letters would be like an admission of guiltThis was my term, not his.  Readers have zeroed in on the false concept that responding to Getty is because you think you are guilty.  This was not what was meant.  He said that responding would be interpreted by the court as you responded because thought you should respond.  You believed that you had a responsibility to respond.  If you don’t respond, it would be interpreted by the court as you did not respond because you did not think you had to.  In this retired judge’s opinion, as far as the court is concerned, there would be no negative implications for the accused, if they had not previously tried to resolve the matter with Getty directly.

In theory, yes it would be preferable to try to settle a dispute outside of a courtroom.  If Getty was open to reason, then it might be work out better to respond to their demands, but as we have learned, they are not.

When I first discovered this forum, my thoughts were along the lines of considering the Defense Letter Program.  That is why I specifically asked this retired judge if I should take advantage of such a program that has direct experience with this exact situation.  The judge’s answer was surprising, and not what I expected.  Yes, it is understood that he does not know all of the information that those on the ELI team know.  I agree that his advice to me does seem to fly in the face of the Defense Letter Program.  It is because the advice was not what I expected, that I thought that some readers on this forum would find it as food for thought.  I stated that I do not wish to engage in a debate over this subject, but I did not expect my points to be attacked by the founder of this forum.  Don’t shoot the messenger.  I was only wanting to share the advice that this retired judge gave to me, because I thought it was worth consideration.

My perception is that this retired Circuit Court Judge can quickly recognize a money making extortion scheme.  Perhaps other judges can also.  That may be one of the reasons he recommended that I just ignore the letters.

From all of my previous reading on this forum and considerable research on the matter from other sources, the following is MY OPINION:

For many people, responding by letter to the Getty extortion scheme, is like why you should not try to mud wrestle with a pig.

1.  You can’t win
2.  It is a waste of time.
3.  The pig enjoys it.

Lettered

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Re: Attorney advises to JUST IGNORE THE GETTY & McCORMACK LETTERS
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2014, 02:13:26 PM »
I hope you weren't taking my responses as an "attack".  I can appreciate the fact that you don't want to debate the issue, but I think if you are going to put something like this up on a public forum, you should expect some discussion that includes questioning and varied opinions.

I appreciate your posting the summary of your communication with the lawyer/judge.  I think there is valuable information.

As far as "He said that responding would be interpreted by the court as you responded because thought you should respond." . . . isn't this kind of obvious?  If you responded, of course it was because you thought you should respond.  I don't see it being anything akin or near an "admission of guilt".
« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 02:20:18 PM by Lettered »

erictwr

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Re: Attorney advises to JUST IGNORE THE GETTY & McCORMACK LETTERS
« Reply #12 on: March 13, 2014, 03:11:01 PM »
Lettered, 

No I did not take your responses as an attack.  Varied opinions are to be expected.  Productive discussions are good. 

I guess the point to be made is in trying to give an answer to those that think that if their case goes to trial, they want to be able to prove to the trial judge that they at least made an effort to resolve the matter.  When I told my judge acquaintance this, he told me that the trial judge wouldn’t care if the accused had made a good faith prior attempt to settle out of court.  The trial judge would mainly be interested in the facts.

When he was explaining to me the legal ramifications of a response to Getty vs. no response, I was trying to relate this concept of “you responded because thought you should respond” to the closest concept that I could think of at the time, which was an action that could be interpreted (perhaps incorrectly) as an admission of guilt.  He was not telling me that the concepts were the exactly the same.  I have tried to explain this as clearly as I can, but my recall of his words can not be expected to be exact.  The conversation was about 2 weeks ago.  I was only trying to convey the gist and general points of the conversation, not an exact quote.

Yes, the idea of “...you responded because thought you should respond” is kind of obvious.  If someone does something, it is because they thought that they should do it.  But, if a person is challenged by the question: “Why didn’t you respond?”  A valid and acceptable answer is:  “I did not believe that I had to respond.”

This is, after all, an extortion scheme.  A reasonable judge should be able to quickly discern that fact, regardless of any valid legal position that Getty may maintain.  Nevertheless, the judge must still apply the law to the facts, regardless of his opinion of Getty’s money making business model.  If the accused had made no reply to the Getty letters, that fact would likely be evaluated by the trial judge in the light of the situation being an extortion scheme, and not be held against the accused.

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Re: Attorney advises to JUST IGNORE THE GETTY & McCORMACK LETTERS
« Reply #13 on: March 13, 2014, 06:21:26 PM »
Thanks Eric.  You make some valid points.

Speaking for my own case, having Oscar respond worked great for me.  No one in my company ever heard from them again. I think I probably could have just put up with the harassment, ignored it, and had the same outcome.  That said, I don't regret that I had Oscar write a response.  More importantly, I do not feel like having taken this route encouraged Getty to try to engage in lengthy negotiations.  In fact, I'm pretty sure it discouraged it.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2014, 06:23:13 PM by Lettered »

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Re: Attorney advises to JUST IGNORE THE GETTY & McCORMACK LETTERS
« Reply #14 on: March 14, 2014, 04:09:13 AM »
Eric,

The choice to ignore the letters is perfectly sound. I have no problems with that. 

What I have a problem with is the very heavy weight of opinion placed on this retired judge that has no connection whatsoever to the stock image extortion racket.  It is not an attack on you or the Judge.  It is simply a direct challenge that what you shared would be considered "fact" here.  It would be irresponsible of me to not offer a rebuttal on the argument being made since I obviously disagree with it.

 I challenge everyone including Oscar because I refuse to let any lawyer pigeon-hole the fight exclusively into a legal arena. That only serves the lawyers.  The majority of us are NOT lawyers and that is a strength.  We are able to see things many lawyers can't because they are blinded to what "should be" not what actually "is".  If you take any experienced lawyer off the stage behind closed doors, they will freely admit there are preferences as to which judge they want to preside over their cases.  Why is that?  Because of the human element of the judges.

There is no question the retired judge is probably a smart, experienced person and has some good insights.  However, it wouldn't matter to me even if he sat on the Supreme Court because there is no singular judge that can make the call for what other judges will think.  And they cannot know about every situation.

There is this assumption that judges can be totally impartial. I don't believe it for a second.  No matter how hard a judge tries to be impartial, there will be personal biases.  Why is it that we have the Supreme Court justices that can't even agree on legal opinions of so many cases?  Why is it that the GOP and Democrats fight so strongly for or against any Supreme Court candidate?  It is because each side believes that every judge has a political orientation/slant/bias that would affect major legal decisions in the U.S. 

Even Supreme Court justices differ in opinions over the very same brief, presentation, arguments, and set of facts.  The differ because they all have different experiences, backgrounds, biases, priorities, focus, etc.  They are not computers that was fed legal algorithms and then spit out the same legal opinion or ruling.  Different districts rule on similar cases very differently.  There is an appellate process which often overturn lower court rulings because of differing opinions and interpretations.  Judges are human beings who happen to be very well trained, skilled, and experienced in the field of law but they are still imperfect human beings.

This notion that EVERY judge can be unbiased and look at the facts only is a belief for those who have NOT been involved in the legal process long enough.

Whether you are Getty or their ilk or a victim, neither side is absolutely black or white.  It is a risk to BOTH parties to go to court.

For the sake of clarity, I tell many people to ignore the Getty and McCormack letters but I don't tell EVERYONE to do this.  Some people SHOULD enroll in Oscar's Defense Letter Program because it is the best option not because we are pushing sales.  Getty and their ilk are bone-headed and money-driven.  Their onslaught of letters create negative consequences for some people and situations.  Ignoring is not good enough in those cases.  It actually requires dealing with the situation head-on whether you like it or not, fair or not, guilty or not.

The idea that "you didn't respond because you didn't believe you had to respond" is a reckless and outright dumb reply in some situations. I am sorry it sounds bad but it is dumb in some situations.  It will get some people in a lot of trouble.

If you had gotten an extortion letter from someone else besides Getty (such as Masterfile a few years back) and the advice was to "just ignore it" for all of the reasons you brought up, there would be a good chance you would live to regret it because at one point Masterfile filed a LOT of lawsuits to scare people into settling. 

Fortunately, you got a Getty letter and ignoring it will probably be just fine.  But if it was a non-Getty letter, ignoring the situation too long could result in an "unpleasant escalation."
I'm a non-lawyer but not legally ignorant either. Under the 1st Amendment, I have the right to post facts & opinions using rhetorical hyperbole, colloquialisms, metaphors, parody, snark, or epithets. Under Section 230 of CDA, I'm only responsible for posts I write, not what others write.

 

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