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ELI Forums => Getty Images Letter Forum => Topic started by: ideanj on November 14, 2013, 05:18:56 PM

Title: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: ideanj on November 14, 2013, 05:18:56 PM
Hello,

I owned a fan site for a popular actress which was open for roughly 4 months. This fan site had a photo gallery which I uploaded various photos of the actress to. Yesterday, I received a letter in the mail from a Craig Sanders at Sanders Law, PLLC on behalf of BWP Media stating that I have uploaded one (1) unlicensed image which they hold legal rights to. The letter i received is *identical* to a letter webmaster Cary from fairfaxunderground.com (which you can find here: http://www.fairfaxunderground.com/forum/read/40/1260743/1260743.html#msg-1260743) received and posted about. Funny thing is I only received page 3 in the mail stating that removing the image is not going to solve anything. (The package they sent did not include the entire document.) Anywho, immediately upon receiving the letter, i removed said image and even went as far as completely shutting down the photo gallery and the accompanying fan site. (I received the photo from a friend and was unaware of any copyright infringements that I was committing by uploading the photo.) Also keep in mind, the photo in question had a total of 2 hits from users. I emailed them stating that i removed the photo and shut down the site, and have yet to receive a response from the firm. I've never been involved in anything like this and seeing as how it was a completely non-profit hobby to express my adoration for this actress, i have no money to shell out to the firm. I'm wondering what should I do? Anybody got some advice?
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 14, 2013, 05:23:49 PM
Read the forum, get educated, then decide how to proceed. There is a wealth of information here for the taking, but you'll have to do the leg work and ultimately decide what is best for your situation.. Taking the image down, won't be enough..they want your money.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: lucia on November 15, 2013, 05:03:11 PM
Removing the image was wise. 

Next: My first thought was: is this even real?  After all, it's possible we can start seeing phishing type extortion schemes over time. And there are strange things about this letter (why suggest you communicate through email? Lots of phone number are untraceable and so on.)  But I googled around and the attorney seems to exist and he seems to be representing BWP media here:
http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/california/candce/3:2013cv03595/268943/13

In that case, BWP is going after NING, which would at least have been a large company. But I don't know what the actual complaint is.  I also don't know if your letter is actually real. 

But I googled around, and my judgement is: you need to think about an attorney. Not because you'll lose the suit that is coming your way, but because I think this guy is filing lots of suits.

Google
[email protected]

Among other things, you'll find traces of an ongoing suit against Ning
http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/california/candce/3:2013cv03595/268943/13

justicia.com is a real site, so that seems real. 

I found other stuff: I have no idea what plainsite.org is.

I found this tibit: The 'filing' seems similar to the one here:
http://www.plainsite.org/flashlight/case.html?id=2553272
Scroll down to document 1.  Scroll up: note point 7:

Quote
CLERKS E-MAIL RE LOCAL RULE 3-2 TO COUNSEL on 6/3/13 addressed to [email protected] COURT REQUIRES YOUR IMMEDIATE RESPONSE. Pursuant to Local Rule 3-2, you are required to e-mail, within 24 hours of filing, a Filed stamped copy of your complaint and other civil case initiating documents, in PDF format to the Court. To date, we have not received the PDF images of your filing. Please do so within 24 hours or this matter will be referred to the Judge for further proceedings. (mg) (Entered: 06/03/2013)

Note 10: whatever happened, BWP dismissed the claims.  I think this means BWP dropped the lawsuit.  So that looks like a complete LOSS for BWP. But likely the person he sued hired a lawyer to respond to the suit.

Something hauntingly similar happened here:
http://www.rfcexpress.com/lawsuits/copyright-lawsuits/california-central-district-court/559949/bwp-media-usa-inc-v-playboy-enterprises-international-inc/summary/
This one is further along though.

And I see http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&ved=0CEEQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fdigitalcommons.law.scu.edu%2Fcgi%2Fviewcontent.cgi%3Farticle%3D1540%26context%3Dhistorical&ei=npSGUv3dHYqA2wXaqYGAAw&usg=AFQjCNHWJ8UBFjmcMeyvx3io4JqWMGKGvQ&bvm=bv.56643336,d.b2I  which suggests an ongoing suit against "FlipKey, Inc. and Tripadvisor, LLC,"

This guys seems to be filing stuff.  I'm guessing he is losing hither and thither and lots of those counts are nutso. But if he files you will probably have to answer.

I'm sort of still thinking: Really? Is this real?!! But it sortof looks real.  Maybe other people can figure out if these cases are real or if they are things that have been spoofed to make a scam look more real.


Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 15, 2013, 05:28:39 PM
oh he's real...his name has been on thje running list of trolls for some time now.

http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/ongoing-list-of-copyright-trolling-firms-and-those-associated-with-them/

I usually search justia and if I get hits, then I move onto PACER..there is no spoofing within PACER, they are actual stamped court filings..use with caution, it's very easy to wrack up good amount of fees quickly.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: ideanj on November 15, 2013, 06:17:52 PM
Well so far I've sent an email to the firm explaining the photo was removed and the site has been closed. 2 days later someone from the firm responded saying someone will contact me shortly, so far nobody has. They never specified the amount for the settlement & I never received the complete document in the mail, just page 3 explaining removing the photo would not free me from the situation. Would you recommend I use oscars program? Or should I wait to see what the firms next course of action is? Like I said I've never been involved in anything remotely similar to this situation, so I honestly don't know what to do.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: lucia on November 15, 2013, 06:59:04 PM
ideanj,
I don't know! The trouble is this guy seems different form Getty.  With Getty, Oscar's program has consistently worked. Part of the reason is Oscar's letter provides the person who hires him a good basis for dealing with Getty if they ever did sue.  But another part of the reason is that Getty almost never sues.  Their business model is to pester people; presumably some of those people fork over $$ either out of fear, or being work down or whatever. So, one of the main things that happens is that Getty -- who rarely sues-- becomes legally compelled to communicate through Oscar.

But I tend to think that yes, it would be wise to hire Oscar if you can.  That said: the getty letter is a getty letter program.  So this other guy might end up being a special case and Oscar might need to think carefully about whether he extends his program.  After all, Oscar does have to keep his work load under control so as to properly represent his other clients, and this guy might be a bit of a wild card. 

Robert-- Has anyone whose come to this site been sued by this guy?  I don't want you to wrack up to much money at pacer, but does he ever win? (The little I found showed him losing.)
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: ideanj on November 15, 2013, 07:43:24 PM
I REALLY appreciate all of you taking the time to respond to this thread. I'm completely freaked by the situation and as mentioned earlier have no way of forking over 1,000s of dollars to this firm/copyright holder. Any and all help is appreciated. I've spent some time scouring through the forums and have found very helpful information, however it's hard finding information regarding this law firm and BWP media because there's not much information available online.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 15, 2013, 08:07:51 PM
I'll have a look at pacer tomorrow, I also use a fitefox plug-in that allows archives already downloaded case, so that helps in terms of expenses.. MY problem is i get easily sidetracked, and before I know it, I'm looking at dozens of things...If I can focus like a laser beam, I can get out free or close to it..
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 15, 2013, 08:19:01 PM
just stumbled upon this one:

http://www.ndtexblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/BWP.pdf

I'll need PACER to see if there are more, and how far they went..the case above was for 2 images.. I have not read it closely, but I did see in the facts section, that bwp state they have "some" of their images registered, so I think we need to see if this image is registered...

I'm not so sure I would open up a dialog with these a-holes..they can easily twist things, and get unsuspecting and un-educated folks to say things that would be better off not said..at least with using snail mail things can be digested better..
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: lucia on November 15, 2013, 10:44:20 PM
It's certain that the "untrained" (i.e. nearly any letter recipient)  should not communicate  by phone or email.  Most people are used to volunteering information-- which actually is beneficial in 99% of life circumstances where you are operating with people who are acting in good faith. But it's not beneficial if you are operating with a copyright troll whose business model is to get you to volunteer stuff so that they can create a better legal case.

 One of the advantages of getting a lawyer early is avoiding saying anything that could be to your detriment should this guy sue.  Lawyers tend to know what not to say and also how to request information that you have a right to request under the circumstance. And the letter writer (i.e. troll) knows they are dealing with a lawyer, which might make them move to a tree with fruit they think is lower hanging.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: ideanj on November 16, 2013, 12:11:20 AM
Question, would it be un-wise of me to call the firm directly to see how much they are requesting for the settlement? The letter I received mentioned nothing of a dollar amount owed, only that I must contact them immediately. I'm just wondering if it's around the $500 mark I might just pay them off to spare myself the stress. However I'm worried that by opening a verbal dialogue with the firm, I will be doing myself more harm then good in terms of the future.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 16, 2013, 07:21:59 AM
DON'T CALL!
DON'T PAY THEM!
You don't even know if it is their image..for all you know if could be MY image..or anyone elses!
I understand the stress factor, but you need to be smart here, don't be that low hanging fruit!

I wouldn't even email them. Hell they don't even have proof that you received their letter, cause they were to cheap to send it certified. Reread Lucia's last post, as she makes some good points...

Also don't forget IF a lawsuit is filed, they still have to prove their case to "win" and if they "win" there is a chance the amount rewarded would actually be a "loss"..not to mention the fact, people loose lawsuits everyday, but if the winner never collects, did they actually win??
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 16, 2013, 09:14:22 AM
ok , just got out of pacer, these assholes at Sanders Law P.L.L.C have indeed filed over 100 suits over the last few months. Sit tight, I'm working on a post, which will provide additional info, and a listing of the suits. I have only begun my digging into this, there will be more added, and I did see one case where BWP is the defendant, so it appears someone counter-sued, but I have not ben able to get the paperwork for this case just yet.

BWP appears to be a newish company, and is doing business as National Photo Group, whom we have heard of before... I'll post a link to the new post in this thread once I get it all put together..hopefully sometime today.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 16, 2013, 02:08:12 PM
Heres a post regarding national Photo Group / BWP Media and Sanders Law P.L.L.C
complete with a listing of all suits filed for anyone interested in digging into pacer, this will make your search easier.

http://copyright-trolls.com/site/copyright-troll-craig-b-sanders-of-sanders-law-p-l-l-c-overruns-court-system/

I would consider speaking with an attorney, given the amount of suits filed in rapid succession.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: john82 on November 16, 2013, 07:53:52 PM
There are a lot of issues with Sanders/BWP Media; it's unclear if they actually own the images, they don't respond to emails from lawyers, they don't accept "normal" (ie, $1000 or less) settlements, etc.  I have several webmaster friends who have received the same packet.  Two of which have actually received lawsuits.  From the cases, I can't determine what separates those who get sued from those who don't.

One thing I can say with certainty is; DO NOT talk to or email them.  Their goal is to get quick, easy settlements and they'll use anything you say against you.

Oscar needs to weigh in on his thoughts regarding Sanders/BWP Media.  These guys are different from Getty and with 106 lawsuits filed to date and countless packets sent out, there are going to be a lot of nervous people out there.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Jerry Witt (mcfilms) on November 16, 2013, 08:08:17 PM
ideanj -- The first step is to just breath. Try and relax a little. Virtually all of us have been there at some point. And as Lucia points out, a good, honest person wants to get hold of them and sort things out. My advice: don't.

Don't chase after them. Don't follow up. Don't call. Don't email. Don't offer additional information. You have taken down the site. You have records that the page has had only two hits. Leave it at that.

Your job now is to play the "long game." Don't get pulled into feeling like you have to reply quickly or make sure they know you are doing anything. Personally I wouldn't even spend money on an attorney until such a time as they take any legal action.

From what Robert is saying, this sounds like something they may do. But by that time there may be a strategy in place. But also follow the advice and read up on copyright trolling on this site. If they do follow up you will need to be prepared to demand they show you proof of registration and right to represent the copyright. You will also need to find out what the "going rate" is for such an image. But all that in time. Right now, just relax a little.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 16, 2013, 08:20:41 PM
There are a lot of issues with Sanders/BWP Media; it's unclear if they actually own the images, they don't respond to emails from lawyers, they don't accept "normal" (ie, $1000 or less) settlements, etc.  I have several webmaster friends who have received the same packet.  Two of which have actually received lawsuits.  From the cases, I can't determine what separates those who get sued from those who don't.

One thing I can say with certainty is; DO NOT talk to or email them.  Their goal is to get quick, easy settlements and they'll use anything you say against you.

Oscar needs to weigh in on his thoughts regarding Sanders/BWP Media.  These guys are different from Getty and with 106 lawsuits filed to date and countless packets sent out, there are going to be a lot of nervous people out there.

I'd be wiling to bet the seperation between who gets served and who gets hassled, lies with the registration, if the images are not registered or registered improperly, the amount awarded would be much lower. They also may be hand picking cases that they not only feel they could win , but also collect on..most likely larger businesses..thats my 2cents worth..
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: john82 on November 16, 2013, 09:19:54 PM
Does anyone know if any of the 106 lawsuits have actually made it to a courtroom?  From everything I know and have read about them, the trail stops at the initial filing.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: john82 on November 16, 2013, 09:23:28 PM
Oh, and what are your thoughts on filing a Declaratory Judgment against them?  I saw this guy did it:

http://www.rfcexpress.com/lawsuits/copyright-lawsuits/michigan-western-district-court/624582/joseph-snyder-v-national-photo-group-llc/summary/

I don't know enough about Declaratory Judgments to know if this is a good move or not.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: lucia on November 16, 2013, 10:13:08 PM
Question, would it be un-wise of me to call the firm directly to see how much they are requesting for the settlement?
It would probably be very unwise for you -- the untrained--to call them directly. 
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: lucia on November 16, 2013, 10:24:04 PM
just stumbled upon this one:

http://www.ndtexblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/BWP.pdf

Bizarre. They are suing softlayer over images here: http://173.192.126.227/about
I bet you softlayer has a DMCA agent.

Update: Heck, so does the customer web site
http://173.192.126.227/contact/copyright


Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: ideanj on November 16, 2013, 10:50:09 PM
I appreciate everyone's involvement in this matter SO much! You are all putting me at ease knowing that not only am I not the only one going through this situation, but at this point in time it isn't the end of the world. One of my customers at work is a lawyer and suggested doing nothing until Sanders/BWP Media decide to file suit -- at that time, go searching for an attorney. I will be sure not to contact the law firm in any way shape or form until the point where I am forced to. (Hopefully I never have to!)
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 17, 2013, 09:35:49 AM
Does anyone know if any of the 106 lawsuits have actually made it to a courtroom?  From everything I know and have read about them, the trail stops at the initial filing.

Look at the link I supplied and the very long list of suits with dates.. the ones with 2 dates have closed..probably settled before a lenghy trial..the other are still in progress, with over 100 cases I'm not going to be downloading the dockets for each one, unless someone donates the funds to do so..at .10 per page, it would easily be a couple/few hundred bucks.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: stinger on November 17, 2013, 11:40:05 AM
ideanj, you are getting excellent advice here.  I agree that you should not spend any money until they file a case or contact you.  This site has plenty of posts to tell you how to respond.

In the event that you need to hire an attorney, I would highly recommend Oscar based solely on what I have seen of his participation here.  Here is my reasoning.  We have seen lots of people on this site who go to their business lawyer or their family lawyer or a lawyer their friend recommended.  Usually, that lawyer does not specialize in digital image law.  Those lawyers recommend that the people settle - often without even getting proof that the troll has their i's dotted and their t's crossed.  Oscar knows this game.  I would feel very confidant with him representing me or my firm.  And he understands the economics from the customer's perspective.  So I don't expect that you will end up with lots of legal bills and then a settlement as well.  If for some reason you can't or don't want to hire Oscar, be certain that you hire an attorney who practices this type of law.  After all, you wouldn't go to a dentist for a bypass operation on your heart.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: john82 on November 21, 2013, 07:53:00 PM
I'd be interested to know what became of the "Civil Cause For Initial Conference" that was held today in case 13cv05238.  It seems like an interesting case that's moving quickly.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 21, 2013, 08:14:39 PM
I'd be interested to know what became of the "Civil Cause For Initial Conference" that was held today in case 13cv05238.  It seems like an interesting case that's moving quickly.

once it hits the docket you should be able to pull it in PACER
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: john82 on November 21, 2013, 08:20:24 PM
How do you know when it hits the docket?  Sorry, I've never used Pacer before.  Is it easy to tell once I sign up for an account?
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 21, 2013, 09:21:35 PM
How do you know when it hits the docket?  Sorry, I've never used Pacer before.  Is it easy to tell once I sign up for an account?

it's fairly simple, but it's also easy to get sidetracked! if your going to use pacer I highly recommend usinf firefox, and download the plug-in called recap, it basically archives everything that gets downloaded..so you can essentially get free documents if someone else previously downloaded them.. pages are cheap @.10, but some documents can have many pages so it add up quickly...I dropped over a hundred bucks one night...so stay focused!!
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: john82 on November 22, 2013, 03:58:52 PM
It takes a week to complete the registration, so I'll have to wait.  I also noticed this case had an initial hearing: 13-cv-448-wmc
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on November 23, 2013, 01:38:01 AM
I'm not trying to hijack somebody else's thread, so I'm sorry if I do.

I am currently in a similar situation and I'm freaking out.  I also received a message from BWP Media USA.  I run a small blog that has a few contributors who post articles.  One of them posted a photo found on the web somewhere.  I do not have a proper safe harbor agent so it looks like I'm on the hook for it if something happens.

My domain information is protected using Domains By Proxy.  I have received crazy people contacting me because they got my info from domain registry in the past.  It's a long story.  The short of it is that I chose Domains By Proxy to protect myself, not because I'm doing anything illegal.  Anyway,  last week I received a notice from Domains By Proxy that there was a possible copyright complaint.  Through some kind of technical mixup, it took an entire week to get Domains By Proxy to give me the information about the complaint.  That's a long story, but needless to say I am also furious with Domains By Proxy for dropping the ball on something this important.  The complaint was sent to them on November 14.  It took me until November 21 to squeeze the information out of them that they neglected to send with the notice I had been charged for the complaint.

I took my entire site offline a few hours after receiving the complaint because I was freaked out and didn't know what had happened.  When I finally got the details of the complaint, I emailed the person listed as the contact - stating that I was unaware that there had been any type of violation, that the possibly infringing image (as well as the article the user had written on his own) had been completely removed from the server and the database, that my site does not generate any sort of profit (actually takes a loss because of the hosting costs), and that I was sorry.  I've been so sick over this that I forgot to mention that it is user generated and not created by me.  It might not make a difference since I haven't designated an actual DMCA agent, but I wish I had mentioned it anyway.  There is definitely a place set up on my site where a DMCA complaint could have been filed without all this hassle.  I think they intend to directly get your personal information and skip the whole DMCA process.

From what I've read here, it now sounds like I shouldn't have sent that email.  It seemed off to me that legal matters would be handled via email but I have never been involved in DMCA or anything so I thought maybe that could be normal.  The other problem is that Domains By Proxy basically says in that situation that you have to give the party complaining your contact details or they will without your consent.  I did so and I'm guessing I may receive a letter in the mail now.

I've been reading all over the web to try and find out what kind of situation I'm in here and I'm at a total loss.  Some people say that they remove the file and never hear about it again.  Some people are calling BWP Media USA the next copyright troll.  I looked through the last 111 filings involving BWP Media USA on the site mentioned above.  It seems that all of them have to do with entities much larger than myself.  Most of them are against LLCs, etc.  None of them seemed to be against individuals.  Perhaps I'm just the dummy who didn't know you should create an LLC to run a website.  I've never run a site for profit so the thought never crossed my mind.

I've seen that people can be sued for well over $150,000.  I even read a case where someone had settled for $8,000.  Since I'm not an LLC, I would be screwed because I wouldn't be able to just close down the business and move on.  Getting sued for that much money would sink me.  Even settling for an amount like that at this time would pretty nearly sink me.  I would have to sell everything I own and I would probably still have to file for bankruptcy.

I just spoke with another guy on another forum who was in a very similar situation back in July with BWP.  The only difference is that he had an LLC.  He said he basically told them to pound sand after his initial email response (very similar to mine) and voicemail he left when he called and they never bothered him again. 

Does anybody have any advice.  I've been reading forums and things all over the Internet for days now and my head is just in knots.  Sometimes I think I'm going to be okay and other times I see things that make me think I'm going to be out on the streets in a cardboard box.

Also, is there a way to search or find out if an image is registered for copyright before this goes further?  I would like to try to find out so that I can know as much as possible before I speak with a lawyer, if I have to speak with one.

Does anybody have any tips or advice?
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: galaga_z on November 23, 2013, 06:04:09 AM
ideanj,

This is my first post on this website and when I came across your post, I had to reply. I'd also like to thank everyone who is a member of this site for all their contributions. I've learned so much in the hour I've been surfing the site.

I admit, I am a noob. I too received a notice for unathorized use of copyrighted images from Sanders Law, PLLC. Two photographs on my website were discovered by the trolls. The images are claim to be owned by National Photo Group and BPW. Well, the foolish and scared person I am called the company. I know, I made a mistake, but the letter stressed me out so much I felt I had to. I called the number that was given on the letter. After speaking with the paralegal who takes all the calls, I was able to be granted a retroactive license for $250 for each picture, for a toal of $500 bucks. I was able to set up a payment plan, and my first payment is due the 20th of December.

I feel like I've been suckered. I just wanted this problem out of my life and I guess I got what I wanted assuming I pay these a-holes. And from the sound of it, these trolls were really going to take me to court. They even drafted papers to take me to court demanding a jury trial. I am not law savy at all but I do understand when I'm about to be sued.

So, I'm posting this as a lesson for anyone reading this. Do your research...I didn't. I let these guys take 500 bucks of my hard earned cash because I was scared and foolish and didn't do my research. 

I sure hope you have better luck then I did, ideanj. I hope karma bites these guys back someday.

Anyhow, thanks for reading and wish me luck.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 23, 2013, 06:56:52 AM
if you didn't pay them yet, whose to say you can't change your mind? I would at the very least consider it..Maybe contact Oscar's Office and maybe save yourself a couple hundred.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: galaga_z on November 23, 2013, 07:17:02 AM
Robert,

I've definitely thought about this. I'm also in the military and I receive free legal assistance, so I thought about going this route as well.

I noticed Oscar charges $250. Based on your experiences, does he have a pretty good success rate of getting his clients out of the mess the trolls created? I'm scared to pay $250 only to find out that he wasn't able to help my situation. I don't want to give those Sanders a-holes a dime of my cash, but if I can avoid a court room, I feel I have no choice.

Thanks for the reply, Robert. It really means a lot.

And ideanj, sorry to invade your forum post, but I really hope all these replies help your cause too.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 23, 2013, 09:03:51 AM
Being as this is a new troll, you would need to speak with Oscar directly in terms of retaining him. The letter program doesn't cover all company's/trolls. But yeah the success rate is very good.. not a single lawsuit has been filed. But again this is a different beast, that have been filing suits like crazy.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: john82 on November 23, 2013, 12:16:17 PM
galaga_z - what were your pictures of?  The fact they were willing to settle for $250/pic is an interesting twist to the whole Sanders saga.  Prior to this, they hadn't been interested in settling on fees that low, only going to court.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: ideanj on November 23, 2013, 08:28:45 PM
galaga_z - what were your pictures of?  The fact they were willing to settle for $250/pic is an interesting twist to the whole Sanders saga.  Prior to this, they hadn't been interested in settling on fees that low, only going to court.
I'm also interested in your answer. My copyright infringement involved a celebrity leaving a night club last July. Also, just an update, even though I sent the law firm that one email the first day I received a letter, I still have yet to hear back from them. I'm just not going to worry about it and play it by ear and go from there.

Still interesting they were willing to settle for $250 a pop though. With this firm that's been unheard of thus far.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on November 23, 2013, 09:14:58 PM
ideanj, did the photo of the celebrity come from any of the popular gossip blogs?  Did it have any type of logo on it?

My situation also involves a candid celebrity photo.  I'm a little different in that I responded to a DMCA complaint to my domain registrar instead of receiving a letter in the mail.  I wonder if I will receive a letter.

I don't know a lot about these guys but I have been reading around the forum.  It seems they might have lost a majority of their past endeavors.  I'm wondering if they are willing to now accept $250 from those who will cough it up rather than take a complete loss.  To all of the regulars here, does that theory even make sense?
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: ideanj on November 23, 2013, 10:09:30 PM
ideanj, did the photo of the celebrity come from any of the popular gossip blogs?  Did it have any type of logo on it?

My situation also involves a candid celebrity photo.  I'm a little different in that I responded to a DMCA complaint to my domain registrar instead of receiving a letter in the mail.  I wonder if I will receive a letter.

I don't know a lot about these guys but I have been reading around the forum.  It seems they might have lost a majority of their past endeavors.  I'm wondering if they are willing to now accept $250 from those who will cough it up rather than take a complete loss.  To all of the regulars here, does that theory even make sense?

The image in question for me was an untagged high quality paparazzi shot of the celebrity leaving a nightclub in L.A. which I had received from an online colleague, however I'm not quite sure where they had originally received the photo. The picture received a total of 2 unique views and was on my servers for roughly 2-3 months. It's funny because I can list about a dozen other fansites for this celebrity whom have the exact same photo, same dimensions with some being tagged with the fan sites own logo or untagged.

As I said before though, I have yet to hear back from the firm after I dispatched my original email and after all of the amazing advice I have received from the posts within this thread, I'm pretty confident I can disregard it entirely until the firm forces me to do otherwise.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on November 23, 2013, 10:42:10 PM
I sent an email reply on my case on November 21.  I have not received a phone call or email response yet.  It's too soon to say if I'm clear or not.  It seems like most of the other letters sent out on the same date as mine were to larger companies and LLCs.  I'm hoping they realized I'm a nobody and that I won't have any money to pay up if they try to get me.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: galaga_z on November 23, 2013, 10:46:13 PM
Hye guys! Sorry for responding so late, I just logged on to a computer.

Anyhow, the pictures I am being questioned for by Sanders Law are both celebrity photos. One supposedly belongs belongs to National Photo Group, the other BWP media.

When I originally called the Sanders A-holes (about 1 1/2 months ago) I asked them If they would settle for a price lower then what they were asking ($250 per pic) if I paid in full. They didn't seem enthused with that question, and declined my offer. I told them I wanted to speak with a lawyer and asked them if I could have a few days to think over their offer. They gladly said yes. I NEVER CALLED THEM BACK hoping th nightmare would end. Guess what, it didn't. 1.5 months later I recieve another letter from the slimy trolls, but this time it had a drafted copy of court documents requesting a demand for jury trial. If I didn't respond, these dudes were really going to take me to court supposedly. I called them back immediately and their original offer still stood. I set up a payment plan, and now I'm here sharing my experience.

ideanj, if the trolls haven't responded to your initial email, I wouldn't try contacting them anymore. However, if someday they do reply, be advised that these guys want your money. The two options I had were to pay, or fight. I chose the former because I hate courtrooms. But do try and settle if you have the cash and want the scum bags out of your life.

Robert, thanks so much for your advice. If this ever happens again (knock on wood) I will defienitly hire him. I'm not going to keep playing these lawfirms games. I do know, what comes around goes around. SANDERS LAW WILL GET THEIRS WHEN THE TIME IS RIGHT.

I hope my experience has shed light to others going through my my same situation. I took the cop out way by paying these douche bags. I hope someone fights these monsters someday.

Thanks for reading, peps. Cheers.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on November 23, 2013, 11:01:37 PM
As far as I know so far, I am only being accused of using one picture.  That is, they only made one DMCA request to my host.  There could be more and they just took the lazy route of sending a notice about one to get my info so they could send me a letter.  If they are asking $250 per picture and I only have one, I feel like that puts me in an odd place.  I could get Oscar for $250 and risk having to pay more or I could pay $250 and give in to their scheme.  Heck, maybe they are asking that much because they visit this forum and they know that people are willing to shell out that much for the letter program.  Is that giving them too much credit?
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 24, 2013, 06:22:26 AM
Josh, if do not have a registered agent in place, you need to go thru the entire site and remove any and all images you do not have a license for, unless you are hotlinking to images just to be safe.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on November 24, 2013, 10:11:00 AM
Thanks.  I have definitely done that.  I have even gone over if four or five times now just to be sure.  I didn't mean to sound as if I felt safe with only one report and was hanging on to lots of others, I only meant to say that the complaint filed was only over one.  I'm hoping that is all but definitely not trusting in that.  Anything even remotely questionable has been down since the day I first received notice I had a complaint.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Greg Troy (KeepFighting) on November 24, 2013, 11:16:11 AM
You also need to check the WaybackMachine at https://archive.org/ and remove and images from there as well.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on November 24, 2013, 11:51:31 AM
I have checked wayback.  The last time the site was indexed by wayback was prior to the image in question.  However, I am attempting to have my site removed from wayback in general.  I read their options for removal and did all that I could.  Some seem to link to pages that are long gone.

Do you know of resources beyond what wayback itself describes?

I have read this post http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/can-we-be-sued-for-wayback-machine-continuing-to-display-the-photo-in-question/

I will search for others.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on November 24, 2013, 11:58:01 AM
I also have google webmaster tools and have requested removal of the cached images and pages from their results.  In fact, I have basically shut down the ability to have my site crawled in any capacity, for any agent that respects robots.txt.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Greg Troy (KeepFighting) on November 24, 2013, 02:18:11 PM
PicScout does not respect Robot.txt and must be blocked using IP addresses.  There are several threads on this with known IP address for Pic-Scout and other crawlers.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on November 24, 2013, 06:24:46 PM
That is valuable information.  I will find the answers right now.  Thanks!
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Greg Troy (KeepFighting) on November 24, 2013, 06:36:28 PM
Here is a good place to start.

http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/is-there-a-definitive-ip-range-for-picscout-i-want-to-kill-the-spider!/
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on November 24, 2013, 09:57:05 PM
Implemented.  Thanks again.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: john82 on November 30, 2013, 01:52:31 PM
Remember those cases I asked about?  I finally got my Pacer credentials and looked them up.  The first one was a wash because Sanders didn't show up on time and the court had already excused the defendants.  So that one was rescheduled for next week.

The second one is a little more interesting.  The defendant answered BWP's claims very forcefully, basically saying all the same stuff people on here say; they're protected under fair use, they're a news business, BWP didn't own the pictures, etc., etc.

They held their initial conference (which Sanders attended by phone) and they don't have another court date until October, 2014.  At that next date, everyone HAS to appear in person.  But the gist of it is that this is going to take a long time to get resolved.  We won't know if Sanders will actually appear in person (or delegate to a lawyer in the respective state) for another year.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on November 30, 2013, 05:51:38 PM
I don't have a lot of experience with this stuff but it sounds to me that these guys really drag their feet.  Seems that those who have called their bluff are holding strong.  In a year, it seems that it would grow increasingly harder for them to prove their case if they don't already have enough.  Sanders, etc. don't seem to be all that committed in the end.  I would be interested to hear opinions from all the veterans here who have seen more of this than I have.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Greg Troy (KeepFighting) on November 30, 2013, 06:54:00 PM
Sometimes it's a tactic to "make you sweat" and wonder what's happening and sometimes is it just that these companies are sending out so many of these letters it takes a while to do follow up work.  Sometimes when they meet stiff resistance they just move on to easier prey.

My fight is with Getty and every since I turned up the heat on them for continuing to demand payment, threatening to escalate to legal and refusing to provide requested proof to continue negotiations I have not heard a peep out my Getty pen pal Douglas Beiker for almost a year and a half now.  :D
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: john82 on November 30, 2013, 10:57:21 PM
I went in and looked at 17 cases that were closed.  Of those, 8 had settlement letters or mentions of settlements.  The other 9 had voluntary dismissals from BWP, but I couldn't confirm they were settled (though I presume they were).

I went in and looked at some of the older cases that weren't closed.  I found two that BWP was asking for a default judgement, which means the defendants either weren't served or are playing dumb.  I only found one where the defendant is fighting it and it's ongoing (along with the cases I mentioned earlier).

Basically, we still don't know how far they'll take it.  The cases that have been closed seem like situations where the defendants were scared and settled early.  I'm interested to see how these other cases go.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on December 01, 2013, 04:28:37 AM
Those documents only cover cases for which BWP has gone past threats and decided to file papers to begin an actual lawsuit, correct?  The reason I ask is because there are several accounts online (I'm thinking specifically of Cary Wiedemann from fairfaxunderground.com) where the person seems to have given them a somewhat forceful answer and BWP backs off.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: john82 on December 01, 2013, 12:09:39 PM
I follow the fairfaxunderground discussion thread as well and it's filled with horrible advice from random people.  The guy who said "problem solved" is wrong.  Cary never responded to the thread, so we don't know what's going on, but I guarantee you that Sanders will either send a "second and final notice" or will file a lawsuit against him.  That's what they've done with the other 125+ websites and I know of 3 specific cases where actual lawyers sent strongly worded letters to Sanders and Sanders ignored them and proceeded as usual.

It's not about proving they're wrong; they don't care.  They're betting that they can start the lawsuit process and people will beg to settle.  The 17 cases I pulled all proved that point.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on December 01, 2013, 12:28:17 PM
It is good to hear a different opinion on that situation.  Everybody in that discussion thinks it is over.  That is not the impression I have gotten.  I realized there is a ton of bad advice there.  I was automatically discarding pretty much everything said.  I just wanted to hear the status from Cary himself.

I don't know much about judges and the court.  Should any of these go to actual lawsuit, does it help that the webmaster attempted to either settle realistically or presented a good argument? It bothers me that Sanders basically ignores any evidence and continues to push for a settlement.  It seems to me that Sanders simply ignoring process and reason would work against them, but maybe that isn't how the real world works.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: john82 on December 01, 2013, 12:51:11 PM
All of the ones I'm researching (115 and counting) are at the actual lawsuit phase.  A lawyer will have to answer your question about attempting to settle before court.  One thing I noticed from the cases I pulled from Pacer is that a lot of people that hired lawyers filed their answers on time with strongly worded defenses and then settled anyway.

Sanders wants the quick buck and the threat of $50k+ is lawyer fees for an actual trial is enough to get most of the uninformed webmasters to settle.

I will say this; I would not settle until one of these other cases goes to trial (earliest date I found is October, 2014).  The outcome of the first trial will speak volumes as to how the rest will go.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on December 01, 2013, 12:57:13 PM
I really appreciate your reasoning and research.  I attempted to do some of my own but I was confused by pacer.  I wasn't sure if I was even allowed to register for the service.

Did you happen to see the amount that the average person is settling for?  I am curious about those numbers.

How would one hold out until the others go to trial?  What if I would get hit with a lawsuit and the date would be sooner than the earliest you found?  I would also like to see the outcome of the others but I also can't afford to be the case that defines the others either.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on December 01, 2013, 02:18:49 PM
john82, I realize you have invested personal funds in this.  I'm curious, did you see examples of the strongly worded letters that were sent by lawyers to BWP?  I would like to know some of the inaccuracies they pointed out.  If you do have examples, I would be willing to reimburse you for a look at some of those.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: john82 on December 01, 2013, 02:50:56 PM
I don't have any examples of a "defense letter", which is what you should send once you receive the packet and before the lawsuit.  I do have an example of a "Defendant's Answer And Affirmative Defenses to Plaintiff's Complaint", which is what you file with the court as an answer to a lawsuit.

I don't feel comfortable posting that word for word, but basically they claimed they're innocent and cited everything you've read here: Fair use, they're a news organization, plaintiff doesn't own the images, plaintiff didn't put proper safeguards in place to protect the images, images were taken from another website and defendant relied on their good faith that the images weren't copyrighted, claims are barred by laches, estoppel, acquiescence, implied license (I don't know what this is, so I need to research it), barred by doctrine of "unclean hands", barred by "copyright misuse".

So basically, the defendant used every defense in the book.  It should be noted that this was just an official response to the lawsuit.  This hasn't gone to trial, so we don't know if these arguments will hold up, although I'd LOVE to see Sanders try to address all of these in a courtroom.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: john82 on December 01, 2013, 02:52:12 PM
To answer your other question; no, I did not see examples of the amounts the cases were settled for.  Either that information isn't given to the court or I don't know where to look for it.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on December 01, 2013, 03:04:33 PM
Wow, there is a lot of terminology that I have never heard of.  Looks like it's time to go find some answers and if or how any of those things apply.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on December 02, 2013, 02:58:52 AM
Here's a new question, john82.  In my research so far, everyone else seems to have received a letter from Sanders Law.  I have yet to receive a paper letter, but the DMCA complaint filed with my registrar was from an R. Taylor at Copyright Defense League.  Have you come across any other cases where CDL is involved?  Or is this merely a process?  Will R. Taylor file the DMCA to get my personal information and then pass it along to Sanders to send me a letter?  From what I have read on site here, it seems that R. Taylor is not an attorney of any sort.  I can't figure out why everyone else is receiving contact from someone at Sanders and I have, thus far, only received from CDL.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: john82 on December 02, 2013, 09:37:36 AM
No, I haven't seen any Sanders cases where the CDL is involved.  My understanding is that they go that route when they can't clearly tell who owns the website.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on December 02, 2013, 09:48:22 AM
So are you saying they send in somebody different when there is a chance they don't know who they are dealing with?
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: john82 on December 02, 2013, 07:45:08 PM
This is getting outside of what I've learned from my research, but my understanding is that they didn't "bring in" the CDL, but rather that's the process to go through when they can't determine the owner of the website or the IP address owner.  From what I know, it's more common with the RIAA (record companies) that are trying to figure out who's downloading their music.  Porn trolls use that as well.

Now that Sanders knows who you are, they'll probably be sending you a letter soon.  Again, I'm not overly familiar with that process, so someone else will have to jump in if I've got it wrong.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on December 02, 2013, 08:08:42 PM
I guess that is what confuses me a bit too.  I know what you are saying in the case of RIAA, MPAA, etc.  I know they need somebody technical to get the person's data to pass on to a law firm. 

I think where it breaks down for me is that the CDL seems to play multiple roles the troll process.  I feel like I have seen discussions here where CDL directly does the threatening of a suit.  Maybe it was in the discussion of this blog posting - https://web.archive.org/web/20120706131449/http://www.bitemybooks.com/2012/07/submitted-for-approval-of-midnight.html - that I saw that.  I don't remember.  Then I saw communications posted from Randy Taylor soliciting lawyers to join forces with him.  Does anybody know for sure what his role is?
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Greg Troy (KeepFighting) on December 02, 2013, 09:17:59 PM
Here's the threads on ELI about CDL.

http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/copyright-defense-league-recruiting-extortionist-lawyers/

http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/copyright-defense-league-inside-strategies-revealed!/

http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/copyright-troll-randy-g-taylor-from-copyright-defense-league-on-video/

http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/dan-b-levine-from-copyright-defense-league/

http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/national-photo-group-llc-in-cahoots-with-copyright-defense-league/

http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/for-randy-taylor-of-copyright-defense-league/

http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/getty-images-letter-forum/who-exactly-is-dan-b-levine-of-copyright-defense-league/



Here's a new question, john82.  In my research so far, everyone else seems to have received a letter from Sanders Law.  I have yet to receive a paper letter, but the DMCA complaint filed with my registrar was from an R. Taylor at Copyright Defense League.  Have you come across any other cases where CDL is involved?  Or is this merely a process?  Will R. Taylor file the DMCA to get my personal information and then pass it along to Sanders to send me a letter?  From what I have read on site here, it seems that R. Taylor is not an attorney of any sort.  I can't figure out why everyone else is receiving contact from someone at Sanders and I have, thus far, only received from CDL.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on December 02, 2013, 09:37:05 PM
Thanks, Greg.  I actually read all of those over the last few days.  Even re-read a number of them.  I think my confusion lies in that it seems from the threads you pointed out that Randy and CDL act alone but john makes me think that CDL is just part of a larger process with Sanders.  Any thoughts on that?
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Greg Troy (KeepFighting) on December 03, 2013, 08:51:20 PM
Sorry I honestly don't know.  I have not followed them that closely as my main focus has always been learning and documenting all I can about Getty Images and McCormack IP Law. 

Thanks, Greg.  I actually read all of those over the last few days.  Even re-read a number of them.  I think my confusion lies in that it seems from the threads you pointed out that Randy and CDL act alone but john makes me think that CDL is just part of a larger process with Sanders.  Any thoughts on that?
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on December 04, 2013, 06:53:11 AM
It's probably much like Getty. That jackwagon at CDL comes at you first, if he can't squeeze any cash out of you, he "escalates" it to Sanders Law. Sanders probably jumped on board when he got the recruitment email.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Oscar Michelen on December 07, 2013, 03:02:14 PM
Sorry I am coming late to this forum topic. Craig Sanders Long Island office is around the corner form mine and he is partner at a firm that specializes in medmal and disability claims. He hooked up with BWP Media a little while ago and has been engaged in this flurry of activity. I have responded on behalf of clients to about 3 or 4 of his claim letters and he has not yet answered any of them back or filed suit. When I did my own PACER research after being hired for the first time I also saw that most of them settle or get terminated right after filing. It would be very hard and expensive for BWP Media to go through and litigate all these claims. They would also have to hire local counsel to move Mr. Sander's admission pro hac vice as he almost always has field in States where he does not regularly practice.  In fact if he keeps filing in those states they may stop accepting his pro hac applications and require him to obtain full membership to their Bar. While BWP does specialize in celebrity images, their claims are not that different from Getty in that they don't always supply the proof and make cryptic or unsupportable demands in their letters. I think they may get their comeuppance if a case actually gets litigated. 
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Greg Troy (KeepFighting) on December 07, 2013, 03:09:13 PM
Thanks for the information and update Oscar! 
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: LoBrew on September 02, 2014, 01:31:42 PM
I just received a letter from Sanders and I was curious as to how your issue was resolved.  THey first contacted me on Thursday August 28th citing that there were 9 infringements.  When I looked at the screenshots I only saw five images and 9 screen grabs...some of which were duplicates.  Aditionally, I thought it was odd that the law firm used my maiden name and a 10-year-old address in their letter.  It's easy enough to find that information online.
I responded only to say that the images had been removed.  Then they replied to me today, Sept. 2nd, asking to set up a conversation about resolution for the time frame that the images were up on the site.
I don't feel comfortable speaking directly to them.  I don't think I should have to pay anything since I sourced the images.  I don't make any money off of my site and do it just for fun. 
Also, I want to know how to proceed going further.  Can I just not have a website anymore? What photos are safe to use?
Please help!
LoBrew
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on September 02, 2014, 02:04:53 PM
When you state "I sourced the images" does that mean you obtained a license to use them? Just not having a website or taking down the site will not make this go away. You really should have gotten educated before" you contacted them, as you basically threw the ball on their side of the court, and they have already come back at you.. DO NOT speak with them, as if you are not educated you will likely tell them things they can use against you.. as far as your name and address, they probably pulled it form the domain whois info, which is likely outdated. Safe photos are either ones you create yourself, ones in the "public domain" ( not the same as royalty free!) , images that are availalbe via creative commons or images you obtain a license to use by purchasing them.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Jerry Witt (mcfilms) on September 02, 2014, 11:07:24 PM
Yeah, "sourced the images"... I don't know what that means.

Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Oscar Michelen on September 24, 2014, 03:25:41 PM
Not making any money off the site will not be a defense and unless you "sourced" the images to a licensed vendor and paid for the appropriate license you likely will not have a defense to an infringement claim if the sue. Sanders Law does drop lawsuits on occasion as this thread has shown so be mindful of what you say to them and how you proceed. The first thing is to solidify how when and where you acquired the relevant image(s). 
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: ryan321 on September 29, 2014, 01:40:36 PM
Hi all,
It is regarding a social gossip website.  Sanders contacted me about images of celebrities that were showing up on the forums from BWP Media.  Users had hotlinked images from a large online news website and were just making general and gossip conversation about them (this website does not allow uploading).  I asked a friend about this and was told they are just attempting to extort money.  I've done some research around on this website and others and I'm up in the air about what to do about this.  I haven't contacted them.  Any advice about these people?
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Jerry Witt (mcfilms) on September 29, 2014, 05:28:02 PM
If your users truly hotlinked these images from another source, you have nothing to worry about. Search the site for "hotlinking" and especially pay attention to posts by Lucia and Oscar.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on September 29, 2014, 08:19:32 PM
I wouldn't worry at all if the images were hotlinked from other sources. It just goes to prove a theory most of us have had all along...they have no idea where the images come from.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: stinger on September 29, 2014, 08:55:37 PM
Lucia and Oscars posts will give you the reasoning why hot linking shouldn't worry you.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on September 30, 2014, 09:06:06 AM
If users have no way of "uploading", then it's pretty safe to assume that the images in question were indeed hotlinked.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: ryan321 on September 30, 2014, 05:45:32 PM
Yes, all the images are hotlinked.  Thanks for the responses.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: David_3 on October 01, 2014, 06:02:42 AM
A relative of mine recently received the letter from Sanders Law, PLLC. After reading this thread and some related materials, I have advised my relative not to respond to the letter or to contact Sanders. The letter listed 8 infringements but I noticed that a single copyright application number was used, so perhaps it is just a single infringement as the copyright appears to apply to a collection of photos. Half of those photos listed were duplicates so at most it would be 4. After the letter was received I made sure that the site has been taken down. The article in question containing the photos was a news article and as such the reproduction may qualify under the fair use defense.
Quote
'The Copyright Act allows
the unauthorized use of a copyrighted work “for purposes such as
criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple
copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research." from "What You Need to Know Before Bringing a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit"' by Stefan Mentzer.
In this case, the initial infringement occurred BEFORE the copyright registration date and continued until the letter was received. And copyright registration occurred more than 3 months after the initial work was created. Based on these facts and my interpretation, I have hope to believe that statutory damages would not apply according to the theory presented in this article:

http://www.ipinbrief.com/ending-confusion-re-statutory-damages-i/
Quote
"Copyright holders mistakenly assert they are entitled to statutory damages for an infringement that occurs after they registered their work, even when this infringement continues a pattern of infringement that began before registration."
Oscar, would you care to comment on whether these interpretations sound reasonable, and what if anything I should be advising my relative to do from this point going forward? Thanks!
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on October 01, 2014, 12:13:08 PM
Quote
The article in question containing the photos was a news article and as such the reproduction may qualify under the fair use defense.

Many things we think fall into fair use often do not. I wouldn't count on it. It's hard to say without actually seeing the article.

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n this case, the initial infringement occurred BEFORE the copyright registration date and continued until the letter was received. And copyright registration occurred more than 3 months after the initial work was created.

This doesn't mean they still cannot seek damages for copyright violation. Registration only allows for statutory damages, which can be significantly higher than normal damages.

Personally, I would not ignore a paper letter. I would ignore an email, but not something sent in the mail, no matter how unprofessional it looks. Some will disagree, especially if it was not sent via registered/certified mail.

Spend some time reading around the forums and educating yourself a little more. This may only be the beginning.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on October 01, 2014, 12:18:03 PM
This post is just an update to document the general knowledge we have about Sanders. One person I have been speaking with recently sent Sanders a response letter. In it, she requested the actual URL of the image files instead of just a general URL that does not indicate the source. To my surprise, they did respond with direct URLs to the images in question.

To those who are receiving letters from Sanders, it is important to note that they may be stepping up their game a little bit. This information alone is not damning evidence. You should still press them and make them provide the necessary proof before discussing money. I believe they are responsible to provide considerably more evidence than this. Keep in mind that if they play ball and provide all that you ask for, it may be time to consider trying to work out an honest settlement.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: David_3 on October 01, 2014, 06:44:28 PM
JLorimer, thanks for your reply. After looking into the source for the page in question, it looks like all the pictures were linked to the original site, and not uploaded to my relative's site. From what has been said recently, it appears that linking to an image is more favorable for my relative than uploading the image.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on October 01, 2014, 10:48:49 PM
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JLorimer, thanks for your reply. After looking into the source for the page in question, it looks like all the pictures were linked to the original site, and not uploaded to my relative's site. From what has been said recently, it appears that linking to an image is more favorable for my relative than uploading the image.

In this case, I would totally ignore them.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on October 02, 2014, 12:29:16 PM
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JLorimer, thanks for your reply. After looking into the source for the page in question, it looks like all the pictures were linked to the original site, and not uploaded to my relative's site. From what has been said recently, it appears that linking to an image is more favorable for my relative than uploading the image.

In this case, I would totally ignore them.

Or consider filing a bar complaint & state attorney  complaint with whatever bar associations they are members of, it should be on them to do some simple fact checking before trying to squeeze money of out of anyone.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: David_3 on October 02, 2014, 03:10:23 PM
In this case, I would totally ignore them.
Thanks for your replies. I am looking for the solution that minimizes the chance that a lawsuit is ever filed. Just having a suit filed is a negative outcome from our point of view. We simply want this matter to end.

If we ignore them, doesn't this increase the chance that they see my relative as an easy/weak target against whom they can get a default judgement? My inclination is to come back with a forceful answer to the charge of copyright violation, and request more information from the law firm which will tend to bolster our case or rather disprove their allegations. I believe if this were done, the firm would not contact us again. Thoughts?

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Or consider filing a bar complaint & state attorney  complaint with whatever bar associations they are members of, it should be on them to do some simple fact checking before trying to squeeze money of out of anyone.

I will keep that in my back pocket but our intent is really just to make the matter go away.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on October 02, 2014, 07:15:20 PM
if the images were linked, they have no case, they know this, chances are not high that they will file, and if they did file, you would need to answer to avoid a default judgement..BUT when you answer ( if they file) you can also file a counter-suit, which would put them in a very awkward position, which they could not escape. Sometimes engaging them, will just add fuel to the fire and you may make statements that do not help your cause. I don't think I would caontact them and ask them for any proof.. If you know for a fact the images were linked, you already have that, and they won't have anything, they are banking on the fact that you are ignorant and don't know anything about the case law of perfect10 v google.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: stinger on October 02, 2014, 08:10:56 PM
I like Roberts recommendation.  Too often these trolls don't really car what you say.  Your response tells them they have a live one.  They will only listen for things that allow them to prey on your, or your relatives, conscience.

I filed a bar complaint that required the troll attorney to get another attorney to respond on her behalf.  I have heard nothing from them since.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Greg Troy (KeepFighting) on October 02, 2014, 09:46:23 PM
Robert is giving you good advice.

I filed complaints with the Attorney General, BBB, FTC, my Congressman and Senator and never heard a peep again after that.  If you do engage them make sure you know what you are doing before hand or as Robert says you may do or say something that could hurt your case.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: David_3 on October 03, 2014, 12:14:22 AM
Robert, stinger and Greg,

Thanks for your advice. I guess I was operating on the assumption that the law firm would act in good faith. Perhaps that's just me being a bit naive. Your statements have helped us make a more informed decision about how to proceed and what to expect.

The idea regarding complaining to the bar, etc., sounds like it has been effective for those who tried it. Have you any advice regarding how to go about making an effective complaint to a state bar?  For instance how specific does the complaint need to be - what things are good to include / exclude?

Also, the letter was signed simply as Sanders Law, PLLC - is it possible to file a complaint about the whole firm or do I need a specific name?
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: David_3 on October 03, 2014, 02:24:58 AM
Included in the letter was a reference to a copyright application date and number. I have attempted to search for this number on the US copyright office website without success. I have only found 47 records listed under BWP Media and none of them match the number listed or contain the name of the celebrity in the photo. Is this conclusive that they don't have a valid copyright, or is searching on the US copyright office website a hit or miss operation with incomplete records?
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: stinger on October 03, 2014, 07:52:49 AM
My thought is that if your images were hot linked, copyright status shouldn't matter.

Bar complaint wise, you have to direct your complaint appropriately or it will be dismissed.  On my first attempt, I stayed high level and the bar came back and said that without additional info from me in 30 days, they would dismiss the complaint outright because they felt the attorney was only advocating for her client.  I had to prove that she violated the WA state Supreme court code of conduct.

I googled and scanned the code.  It was easy to see that extortion violated the code. I wrote back, again somewhat high level, explaining the extortion.  She got an attorney to write a very detailed response saying she was only "advocating for her client".  They ruled for her without giving me an opportunity to respond.

If they come at me again,my next bar complaint will be extremely detailed.  It will show a pattern of behavior against multiple clients that constitutes extortion.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: David_3 on October 04, 2014, 12:39:02 AM
Thanks, stinger. That helps a lot with regards to how to properly focus a complaint.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: DJboutit2 on November 02, 2014, 02:55:43 PM
I am new here I just got a letter from them I run a small forum for posting pics and videos of celebs and models. The notice is for one Selena Gomez in a set of like 10 to 12 image the copyright owner is listed as Fameflynt Inc. I deleted the image and sent them a email saying I deleted the image and banned the person that posted image on my forum.  What should I do about this??
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 03, 2014, 08:13:25 AM
If you allow other to upload videos, images you need to have a registered agent, to prevent this from happening in the future.. In regards to what to do, all of the info to make a sound decision to move forward is in the forums, do your homework and get educated.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on November 03, 2014, 09:53:05 AM
Sanders Law, PLLC represents a lot of these paparazzi type photo groups. Dig around and find some of the information here about BWP Media USA and National Photo Group. Read through this thread to get a little more familiar and then educate yourself using other parts of the forum.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Oscar Michelen on November 17, 2014, 10:15:43 PM
I have handled several of these cases with BWP Media and Sanders. Again, people need to realize that celebrity photos are vastly different than stock images. That being said, most of the time these images are hotlinked as discussed above and/or posted by third parties. Having a properly registered DMCA agent will protect you from future claims  over content posted by others. For now, take the images down, read through this forum topic and others devoted to BWP and Sanders Law and get educated
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on November 19, 2014, 07:25:59 AM
In what way are celebrity images different than stock images? I imagine they have a higher demand and value for a period of time. After every major celebrity source has posted them around it seems that drops off significantly.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 19, 2014, 09:48:14 AM
simply put, potential users of images would likely pay more for a celebrity image, than an image of a cactus. Which is exactly why paparazzi do what they do, they can make more money, than shooting plain, boring stock images.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: lighthouse1 on November 20, 2014, 01:43:20 PM
Around August, I received the standard letter that everyone here has seen. It was for one image that wasn't hosted on my site, which was a tumblr blog that I had linked to my domain for a short period of time. I recently received the email that everyone comes here after reading and obviously do not plan to respond, nor did I respond to the letter. One thing I have noticed from reading this thread and others over the past few months is that many of the people who were actively sharing updates don't give a conclusion or stop responding. If I continue to just not respond, knowing they have no case and that I have done nothing illegal or wrong, will things continue to escalate? Have they ever actually just left someone alone?
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi) on November 20, 2014, 01:56:44 PM
Around August, I received the standard letter that everyone here has seen. It was for one image that wasn't hosted on my site, which was a tumblr blog that I had linked to my domain for a short period of time. I recently received the email that everyone comes here after reading and obviously do not plan to respond, nor did I respond to the letter. One thing I have noticed from reading this thread and others over the past few months is that many of the people who were actively sharing updates don't give a conclusion or stop responding. If I continue to just not respond, knowing they have no case and that I have done nothing illegal or wrong, will things continue to escalate? Have they ever actually just left someone alone?

if the image was hosted at tumblr and NOT on your servers, I wouldn't even care if they "escalated" it or not, they have no case, if it were me I would gladly enjoy watching them spin their wheels for nothing and not give it another thought.. Or you could also take jerry's adsvise, and tell them the image in question was never on your servers, it was linked from an outisde source, and if they wish to continue to pster you , you will invoice them for any time spent going back and forth..
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Jerry Witt (mcfilms) on November 22, 2014, 03:14:56 PM
One thing I have noticed from reading this thread and others over the past few months is that many of the people who were actively sharing updates don't give a conclusion or stop responding.

That's because most people are too lazy or too self-centered to return to share this information. Sorry, but it is becoming increasingly clear that beyond the couple dozen people that are consistently active on this thread, few even return after their three year statute of limitations are up to say they made it without further action.

Fortunately several people like Matt, Greg, Stinger and Lucia keep an eye on court filings and report when there is any actual cases filed. So we can assume the vast majority of extortion letter victims that posted on this board three years ago either decided to pay up or they went silently into the night without further incident.

Maybe after reading this it will encourage others to follow up down the road and "pay it forward" by sharing their results.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on November 23, 2014, 01:27:57 AM
I share news when I have it. I'm in a holding pattern right now. It's been about a full year since I received my letter. There is an observation date in the letter that shows the infringement 6 months before the letter was sent so I like to go by that date. At best, I'm a year and a half into this. At worst, it's one year. I think my case is basically over since I haven't heard from them since sending my response letter. Many I have talked with do not like playing the waiting game and they pay up. I feel bad for those people, but I certainly understand the peace that it buys them. I stressed and worried for weeks on end before I finally began to feel relief.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: stinger on November 23, 2014, 09:43:03 AM
Jlorimer, if it's Getty you are speaking about, they may still take another run at you.

Sometimes they do that, hoping to catch you in a "pang of conscience" moment, or hope that you think this means they have escalated.  My advice if they do, is to show them you are willing to hit back with the fury of a Greg Troy.

Bullies tend to run and hide when you hit them right between the eyes.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: lucia on November 23, 2014, 04:14:22 PM
My three years is just about here... I've got to check the date!
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: lucia on November 23, 2014, 04:16:48 PM
I posted about gettign the Getty letter on Nov. 29, 2011. So... soon. Very soon!
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: Jerry Witt (mcfilms) on November 23, 2014, 04:34:33 PM
JLorimer and Lucia I hope you know I wasn't talking about you two. I am specifically thinking about all the people that posted here three years or more ago, freaking out. They got the advice they needed and vanished, never to return.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: lucia on November 23, 2014, 04:36:14 PM
I didn't think you meant me.  It just prompted me to think about the date!
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: fighting_masterfile on November 23, 2014, 08:58:12 PM
One thing I have noticed from reading this thread and others over the past few months is that many of the people who were actively sharing updates don't give a conclusion or stop responding.

That's because most people are too lazy or too self-centered to return to share this information. Sorry, but it is becoming increasingly clear that beyond the couple dozen people that are consistently active on this thread, few even return after their three year statute of limitations are up to say they made it without further action.

Fortunately several people like Matt, Greg, Stinger and Lucia keep an eye on court filings and report when there is any actual cases filed. So we can assume the vast majority of extortion letter victims that posted on this board three years ago either decided to pay up or they went silently into the night without further incident.

Maybe after reading this it will encourage others to follow up down the road and "pay it forward" by sharing their results.

I have just hit the 3 year mark in my fight with Master Fail .  I have read lots here on this site (and others) but have still not gotten over the pissed off feeling for Master Fail.  I am working on something to come out swinging shortly.  The laws need to be changed so that Companies can not extort money from people. I do hold strongly that copyright owners need to be protected BUT laws need to be changed so that we are not extorted the money.
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: fighting_masterfile on November 23, 2014, 08:59:06 PM
Also MANY THANKS for all who help or run this site and for the information given out
Title: Re: Need an opinion on a letter I received.
Post by: JLorimer on November 24, 2014, 12:25:37 PM
I didn't think you meant me.  It just prompted me to think about the date!

Same here.