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Author Topic: Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile Tries to Suppress Information on ELI  (Read 8980 times)

Matthew Chan

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It has been brought to my attention that yet another Masterfile employee, Geoffrey Beal, is getting their nose bent out of shape. This time around we have what appears to be a lower-level, first-line compliance clerk trying to have emails removed or suppressed from ELI.  And he is trying to use a joke of an argument to do so.

He is using the semi-famous quote that only people in the legal profession pay attention to. Everyone else doesn't pay attention to it and don't really care about.

WARNING: This e-mail message is intended only for the named recipient(s) above and may contain information that is privileged, confidential, subject to copyright and/or exempt from disclosure under applicable law. You are hereby notified that any unauthorized use of this transmission is strictly prohibited. If you are not the named recipient(s), please immediately notify the sender and delete this e-mail message.

FYI, If you don't want any emails or letters shown or shared to others, DON'T SEND IT OUT!  That "warning" is not an agreement that a recipient signed or agreed to.  You cannot make unilateral contracts, otherwise, we would all have signatures saying "if you read this email, you owe me $10". Geoffrey as with many of his peers have drank too much of the industry Kool-aid.  The ELI community does not follow such nonsense.

Geoffrey Beal has been actively engaged with DieselFish and seems to be upset that DF had the nerve to ask for advice from the ELI community. People who know the about the "extortion letter scheme" know that it is generally lower-level clerks working the letters before they get escalated. They also don't make a ton of money doing it. But I do believe there are financial incentives to reward good collections.

My question to Geoffrey Beal is:  What exactly is he trying to hide?  Is it his embarrassing cut-and-paste replies that are typical in this operation?  Or is he trying to "protect" Masterfile's reputation? Or do they want to keep the collection tactics secret?

My guess that is that Geoffrey Beal and his ilk are perfect bold and confident when they legally threaten the little guys backed by the big company but don't like it so much when the light is shined upon them. Witness all the past lawyers that have threatened ELI.

I have worked with and seen many employees within companies. Most are cowards without the support of their respective companies.  They think they have no accountability to the jobs they do.  Well, no one forced him into that job. You threaten enough people and some will fight back and "tell on you". And yes, your reputation gets dinged along the way for being part of this "extortion letter scheme"

ELI gets 10,000 unique visitors per month.  The Facebook Fan page is well on its way to 400 subscribers, not including the multiple Google search entries. 

People are watching very carefully how Geoffrey Beal behaves and communicates to DieselFish. He should get off his high-horse and be a bit more reasonable.

It would not surprise me if a higher-level Masterfile manager stepped in or some lawyer for Masterfile send us a nasty letter. 

We have way too many lawyers threaten ELI for openly reporting and sharing their sleazy tactics.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2012, 02:01:51 PM 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.

dieselfish

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Re: Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile Tries to Suppress Information on ELI
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2012, 02:17:09 PM »
Thanks so much for this post Matthew!  It may be interesting to note that Mr. Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile also apparently used "cut and paste" in his attempt to stop me from posting to ELI!  He referenced in incorrect claim number - or at least a claim number that is different than that found in the original Masterfile Demand Letter.  I'm not even sure how to reference the claim to Masterfile any longer as there are so many different claim numbers in Mr. Beal's letters! 

Thanks again to everyone at ELI - you've really given me a boost!   

Jerry Witt (mcfilms)

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Re: Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile Tries to Suppress Information on ELI
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2012, 02:29:31 PM »
Sometimes it is helpful to put a face with a name. I believe this is Mr. Beal's FB page:
http://www.facebook.com/Masterfile/posts/104455336272182#!/profile.php?id=536445270
Although I may be a super-genius, I am not a lawyer. So take my scribblings for what they are worth and get a real lawyer for real legal advice. But if you want media and design advice, please visit Motion City at http://motioncity.com.

Matthew Chan

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Re: Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile Tries to Suppress Information on ELI
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2012, 02:31:59 PM »
I find that Facebook photo difficult to believe. I am a little skeptical.
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.

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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Re: Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile Tries to Suppress Information on ELI
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2012, 02:38:33 PM »
I dug it up last night, and had an issue with it to, but you never know.. I'm still digging and determined to come up with something somewhere.
Most questions have already been addressed in the forums, get yourself educated before making decisions.

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Jerry Witt (mcfilms)

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Re: Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile Tries to Suppress Information on ELI
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2012, 03:02:12 PM »
Yeah, you guys are right. I believe it is the gentleman on the left of this photo:
http://a1.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/215479_5150729140_520419140_162676_929_n.jpg

(Again, just trying to place a face with the name.)
Although I may be a super-genius, I am not a lawyer. So take my scribblings for what they are worth and get a real lawyer for real legal advice. But if you want media and design advice, please visit Motion City at http://motioncity.com.

SoylentGreen

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Re: Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile Tries to Suppress Information on ELI
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2012, 06:53:50 PM »
Trying to stop publication of these extortion letters and related issues are a waste of time on the part of the copyright trolls.
They have no power to suppress anything outside of a confidentiality agreement.
I am enjoying every bit of the butthurt though.

I found a photo of Geoffrey Beal "cooking up" some of the usual diarrhea spewed by the corporate septic tank that is "Masterfile".

S.G.

« Last Edit: January 09, 2012, 11:09:38 PM by Matthew Chan »

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Re: Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile Tries to Suppress Information on ELI
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2012, 07:39:47 PM »
This is too funny.  I remember a while back the same thing happened when we were discussing my problem with Masterfile.  The letter I received was from John MacDougall asking me to pay $5520.00 for a picture of a girl on the phone.  Someone posted his picture and made a comment or two about him and he complained to Matt or Oscar and the posts were removed.  I have always heard if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen, and these guys sure seem to have thin skins considering they make a living from the collection business.

Update on my case:  They turned it over to a collection company and I told them to cease and desist with their attempt to collect from me because I will not pay and I will only deal with Masterfile on this issue.  So the ball is back in their court for while. 

I can only hope that since our legislators are bought and paid for, and our huge conglomerate media companies are in bed with Getty, that eventually enough people will band together to get precedents set in court cases, therefore making them get off their collective "arses" to amend the copyright laws.  The internet brought in a whole new set of problems, but it also brought in a better avenue for the stock photo companies to sell their products.  If they were smart, they would push for change as well.  I have no problem with a "cease and desist letter" and a flat fee of somewhere between $100 and $200 depending on the amount of pictures used, if it was indeed an "innocent infringement" which I believe most outlined here are.  I think the stock photo industry knows this as well.  Once you get that letter, it changes your view of stock photo companies and most will avoid them like the plague, I know I will.  So not only are they damaging their own industry, but they are missing out on revenue that could add up to big bucks in the long run.  If indeed they are sending thousands of letters out a week or month, then why not keep a potential customer with a nicely worded non threatening letter asking them to cease and desist and explain that the nominal fee is to pay for expenses and give the photographer some compensation, while educating you at the same time about these "supposedly free" pictures on websites.  I would be more apt to cooperate and not develop such animosity towards the stock photo industry as a group.

Sorry for the rant..and I am sorry Matt is having to deal with these lawyer issues, especially since this site is here to help all us in the same boat so to speak.

Bekka

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Re: Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile Tries to Suppress Information on ELI
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2012, 12:03:49 AM »
Bekka,

The reason why the stock photo industry is able to get away with what they are currently doing is because they have not yet hit critical mass with the numbers they reach. It is true they are pumping letters out by the thousands but it largely hits a very small niche audience: people who own or develop websites.

When you take the general population and ask who fit that profile, I would guess it is probably 5%-10% at most.  So, even if the stock photo industry saturated that group, it would barely make mainstream news.

On the other hand, RIAA got a lot of negative attention very quickly because EVERYONE has an interest in music.  Music crosses all ages, ethnic groups, professions, religions, gender, and social classes. And it raised an uproar quickly because everyone could relate to it.

With the stock photo thing, unless people get the letter, it is hard for people to imagine the scenario so I rarely talk about what I do in this corner of the universe with people I know. One person I know got "the letter" and she was stunned to find out that I was running ELI. She seemed quite happy knowing that she knew me in that situation. LOL.

One of the reasons why ELI has become a success really has NOTHING to do with my or Oscar's talent. The people that the stock photo industry go after tend to be web-savvy. ELI is only one  Google search away from being discovered.  Here in the U.S., ELI is about the only game in town.

And ELI has become a "target" of sorts. ELI's mission is not to ruin anyone's career but there are a bunch of people that hate being profiled and spotlighted here on ELI.

I hope to see the day when there are some long-term changes.  We are already seeing some of that with the Righthaven controversy.  I would bet my life every stock photo company has been watching that drama unfold. And thanks to Righthaven, it has given the stock photo industry some pause before they go run out and launch a bunch of lawsuits especially agains the smaller infringers of 1 to 4 images.
« Last Edit: January 11, 2012, 01:42:49 PM 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.

dieselfish

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Re: Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile Tries to Suppress Information on ELI
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2012, 10:42:30 AM »
@Bekka I think that all of us would agree that if companies like Masterfile, with employees like Geoffrey Beal and John MacDougall were to initially take the high road and propose humane notifications with reasonable requests for settlement, we would be much more likely (willing even) to respond amicably.  We all respect the rights of an artist to make money at his or her trade.  We do not respect being threatened with exorbitant fees, legal action, and demands.  Individuals like Geoffrey Beal and companies like Masterfile hide behind the veil of "amicable" negotiation.  However, there attempts at "amicable" negotiation ended with sending an invoice for an outrageous amount of money, demanding and threatening that we pay it, and posing limits on the time that we have to respond to their letters.  There is nothing "amicable" about what Masterfile and Geoffrey Beal are doing.  And this doesn't even include their attempts to stop us from seeking council or advice from our peers.

I think the stock photo companies have lost sight of their claimed purpose - managing the rights of artists.  They have found a way to make ridiculous amounts of money for themselves.  In fact, I'd be curious to see what percentage of a settlement claim actually make it to the artist.  Until companies like Masterfile see that they could actually continue to make money, support their artists, and gain new customers... I'm afraid nothing will change.       

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Re: Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile Tries to Suppress Information on ELI
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2012, 01:57:20 PM »
You are correct in that the stock photo companies have lost their way. However, I also think photographers have lost their way also. There is an entitlement mentality by photographers that they deserve to make a living as they have done in years past.

The problem here is that since the advent of digital photography, the Internet, and the ever-decreasing prices of digital cameras, ANYONE can be a photographer and people can actually take some nice photos with relatively inexpensive cameras. Further, the people who invest in nicer cameras can take photos that match those of so-called professionals.

When you have an abundance of imagery, over time, it becomes a depreciating commodity. Being in "professional" photography in most cases is like trying to get into desktop publishing, printing, or secretarial business. These are functions that still exist but FAR smaller than before advances in technology.

Professional photography is a dying industry because nearly everyone has a nice camera.

I would venture to say that many of the smaller stock photo companies would go out of business without the revenue stream from the extortion letters. In fact, I t believe very few stock photo companies can stay in business WITHOUT being in the extortion letter business. I would venture to say it is the MAJORITY of their revenues.

I put the stock photo companies among the dying, antiquated businesses such as the newspapers, book publishing, and music publishing business.  These are people who tried to make money off the artists they sponsor without providing much value.  Now, the biggest value stock photo companies provide is PicScout and their "extortion letter" "shakedown letter" campaigns.


I think the stock photo companies have lost sight of their claimed purpose - managing the rights of artists.  They have found a way to make ridiculous amounts of money for themselves.  In fact, I'd be curious to see what percentage of a settlement claim actually make it to the artist.  Until companies like Masterfile see that they could actually continue to make money, support their artists, and gain new customers... I'm afraid nothing will change.       
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.

dieselfish

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Re: Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile Tries to Suppress Information on ELI
« Reply #11 on: January 12, 2012, 11:29:44 AM »
I wanted to give this thread a bump and try to bring it back on topic.  The topic of Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile.  I recently came across another website that is claiming exclusive rights to the image in question in my case.  Unfortunately for Masterfile, the other website placed a watermark and copyright claim on the image back in 2008 - well before Masterfile's claim against me.  I have since notified Masterfile and Geoffrey Beal that the matter is now closed. 

Though the matter of my claim is now believed to be closed, the matter of Large Stock Photo Companies sending threatening demand letters to unknowing innocent infringers is not.  Though I don't like to "beat a dead horse" (as it is said), and I do feel a little bad for Geoffrey Beal (as he is most likely very low on the totem pole at Masterfile and just trying to do his job), I have these big boots on - and feel like kicking some a$$!

It is evident that Geoffrey Beal and Masterfile read the ELI forums and that the increased negative exposure brought upon them by this site is becoming a painful thorn in their side.  It is now my opinion (and solely my opinion) that anyone receiving an unsubstantiated demand letter claim from Geoffrey Beal or Masterfile should not panic.  Do your homework and have your ducks in a row.  Respond kindly to the letter you get and make a reasonable offer to settle.  The offer will most likely be denied - but again, don't panic.  Research, research, research.  Then publish, publish, publish.  I now understand the mantra often stated by others here at ELI, "your case is not special - they send out thousands of these letters".  This is true.  Your case is special in that it is very real and very scary.  But remember, Masterfile sends out thousands of these letters.  They don't have time or resources to bring every letter recipient to court.  They will go after the "low hanging fruit" - the slam dunk cases.  If you make it difficult for the likes of Geoffrey Beal and Masterfile - they will move on to the next case.  They don't want the negative press.  So again, tell the world and make them work.  That emotional stress you feel when you open that letter?  Bottle that energy and use it to become a thorn in the collective side of those that use scare tactics to demand money from you.         

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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Re: Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile Tries to Suppress Information on ELI
« Reply #12 on: January 12, 2012, 11:48:46 AM »
I have 5 bucks that says you will here from Mr. Beal or perhaps someone else at masterfile, stating that this matter is not closed, and they will then "threaten" to escalate the matter. They will simply state that they do have control of the copyright and not this other site. I would have opted to not contact him again, until absolutely necessary.. please do keep us posted.
Most questions have already been addressed in the forums, get yourself educated before making decisions.

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Matthew Chan

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Re: Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile Tries to Suppress Information on ELI
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2012, 12:13:28 PM »
IN another thread I started regarding Masterfile lawsuit history, 2011 seemed to be a very quiet year with 10 case in terms of filing lawsuits. I do not yet know why it dropped so dramatically after a record-breaking 2010 of 36 cases. It seems likely that within the next fee weeks, Masterfile will be filing their first 2012 lawsuit cases.

In the few Masterfile cases I saw, I don't remember any lawsuits for a single image.  Most involved 4 or more images. When you consider at least several hundred letters sent out per year by MF, the changes of getting a lawsuit is less than half a percent.

I am much more confident that Geoffrey Beal will not go out of his way to generate more mails to Dieselfish but that does not mean his case will not be escalated to a lawyer.

For me, I would have also left it alone but having read his well-written letter (which I will post later), I do see the merits of why he chose to do so. As nearly all of us know, there are no guarantees when fighting these letters only likely outcomes and behavior.
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.

Jerry Witt (mcfilms)

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Re: Geoffrey Beal of Masterfile Tries to Suppress Information on ELI
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2012, 12:39:17 PM »
I have to say I don't agree with you guys. Dieselfish found some rather damaging information – another entity claimed copyright to the image prior to MF contacting him. The fact that there is more than one copyright claimant out there makes the issue fuzzy. If the copyright claim was before the MF filing, that pretty much blows up the case.

Then he simply closed the issue. MF certainly can decide to "re-open" the issue at any time. But clearly if they continue to pester him after this, MF could be held for any of his legal costs.

I would say there is a 50-50 chance of them contacting him again.
Although I may be a super-genius, I am not a lawyer. So take my scribblings for what they are worth and get a real lawyer for real legal advice. But if you want media and design advice, please visit Motion City at http://motioncity.com.

 

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