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Author Topic: Super Stock - Demand Letter  (Read 3859 times)

simpson

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Super Stock - Demand Letter
« on: April 25, 2012, 08:53:12 PM »
Hello and thank you in advance for your assistance in this matter and to this site for the valuable information.

First off, let my start by explain the facts. Several years ago I built a site, FREE, for a friends business. To the best of my knowledge, the site was launched well over 3+ years before the “Letter” was received. Once my friend made me aware of this letter in Nov./Dec. 2011 I found this site.

The Letter:
My friends received a Super Stock letter claiming an infringement and demanding compensation. As I said earlier… I believe the image in question has been in use on the site for well over 3 years so he/I either owe all that usage or SS has no claim based on the Statute of Limitations. Never-the-less, I immediately pulled the image and restructured the entire page. I also removed any image that was not a Vendor Approved image, taken by myself or my friend. I have worked in Photography and am well aware of Copyright issues. I would have never used images that I did not believe were Public Domain, Royalty Free and Free of any Usage Limitations both Personally or Commercially. The letter was a cease and desist, but also demanded payment in the amount of $2240 for an infringement that was only supported by a screenshot.
The letter provided no prove of ownership and asserts that he is guilty by virtue of their screenshot without any discovery.
1.)   Unauthorized Use Letter to cease and desist stating that he is obligated to pay for usage within 14 days
2.)   Screen shot of image in question
3.)   Invoice for $2240.00

The Decision 2011:
After searching SS and stumbling across this site during that time… I decided the safest course of action was to remove the image and not respond to the letter as many have said they will not likely go after a single image infringement legally. I advised my friend of what I had learned here and advised him to forget about it and move on, which he did. Until now nothing was heard for SS, but…

Currently 2012:
My friend received another letter but apparently escalated to an Attorney. (A search of the Attorney says they are Personal Injury Council and I did not see anything of Copyright Attorney. They also appear to be a small firm.) At any rate, the letter of demand states that this Attorney was retained by SS to purse this situation and if he did not pay the $2240 within 15 days they would have to consider litigation and he would also be on the hook for SS’s legal fees as well. The letter also states the He is on the hook and anyone else involved would have to be sued by him for recovery… IE me. However; no contact has ever been made to them making any claim of anything.

Help with Course of Action:
As there are so many different suggestions from keep ignoring, writing a none admission of guilt stall letter to offering a small payoff check, I am looking for more specific advise in my situation. As I said… I built the site for free, but I feel completely obligated and responsible for this situation. I don’t want my friend to have to pay this outrageous fee and I cannot pay it either. I know this is everyone’s story. I am looking for sound advice. What should I/We do moving forward? If I have to retain Legal Council to Draft a “Go Away” letter what are the results? As You Gurus have been dealing with this BS for years now… How do I stand?
I would like to have better advise next time I speak to my friend about this situation. I surely do not want to give him bad advice and advice that I ultimately and probably will be responsible for.

Thanks again for your help

P.S. I should also note that this Attorney letter is requesting a Insurance Declaration Page and Contact Info.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2012, 10:26:50 PM by simpson »

Matthew Chan

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Re: Super Stock - Demand Letter
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2012, 02:35:01 AM »
First, it is "legal counsel", not "legal council".

Second, the reason why there are many courses of recommended actions is because everyone's ability, knowledge level, risk-taking, and fight-back response is different. If you elect to participate in an ELI Support Call, the intricacies of all the various factors of all this is taken into consideration in determining a course of action.

http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/eli-phone-support-call-with-matthew-chan/

Third, most of us "gurus" (as you call those of us in the know) aren't going to get into long written detailed plans of action into anyone's specific cases anymore because we have done that past REPEATEDLY and it is too time-intensive. 

Oscar and I used to "donate" a lot more time on the phone, private emails, and writing long commentaries but eventually it so negatively impacted us in our respective businesses from our ongoing "giving", I nearly shut down ELI altogether out and withdrew my support of the Defense Letter Program out of sheer exhaustion. We had a serious set of phone conversations earlier this year to deal with the ongoing community support needs and we had to draw some firm lines in the sand.

We came to the realization that shutting down ELI wasn't really good either. It means the "other side" automatically wins. So now, we take the position of: take and use all the information you want from the ELI website to represent yourself in your case.  Most of our knowledgeable ELI members contribute their own time here to help but most aren't going to type long commentaries either.  They might provide a couple of paragraphs to set you in the right direction. Anything more is probably too much.

Hundreds of people have happily read and participated on the ELI Forums and got what they needed. They were able to gain enough insight into their own cases to take action. But there are hundreds of others who elected for legal representation with Oscar.  It was only late last year I began taking paid ELI Support Calls for those people who needed something more than the ELI Forums but something less than full legal representation. So, we try to have solutions for everyone.

I am not picking on you. But you allowed me to publicly respond to an ongoing situation that needed to be revisited. Oscar and I just had someone send us a private message with a VERY LONG personal story/scenario and at the bottom, she asked us what we should do. It was way too much to read and process. If it was an easy answer, I would have given it "for free".  But it was too much to read and decipher and I basically told her that if she needed personalize and a customized reply from us, she would have to post her case on the forums or choose the ELI Support Call option. She chose the ELI Support Call option.

We have had thousands of readers come through over the years, and everyone goes a slightly different path.  We have something for everyone.  But as you know, that there is more than sufficient information on this website for people to defend themselves. However, determining WHICH course is not so easy because of the human factor and unique individual situations.
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: Super Stock - Demand Letter
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2012, 06:46:01 AM »
As Matthew has pointed out so nicely, you will be making an investment of some sort, whether it is time spent researching these forums to decide your best course of action, or spending cash. I will however make one observation..The statute of Limitations does not start from when you first used the image, it starts from the time they discovered you using the image, in other words you're in this fight until the end of 2013, unless you decide to roll over and pay the demand, which IMHO gives Shutter Stock an automatic "win"

I am curious as to the "law firm" that is handling this, and would gladly spend some time researching them and their practice.
Most questions have already been addressed in the forums, get yourself educated before making decisions.

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

I have a few friends around here..

simpson

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Re: Super Stock - Demand Letter
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2012, 07:19:04 AM »
Matthew,

Thanks for the reply and I certainly understand your position. I have read hours and tons of suggested ideas/solutions. I am guessing ignoring the situation is a bad plan. I do suppose he will have to draft a letter seeking proof of registration, proof of rights and proof of sales history. I do NOT think I was seeking free "Counsel" any more than the simple 1,2,3 steps that have been posted on here several times before. I have considered the "Phone Call" as an option just to help navigate this all. It is still very much on the table. One of my primary concerns is 90% of these threads deal with Getty and other Image Houses. We are faced with one Called "Super Stock" not Shutter Stock. I did see some threads about this entity but not much. I assume they are all cut from the same cloth and employ the same unscrupulous tactics. I think I was looking more for an affirmation that following this sites suggestions will pay off against my demon, Super Stock...

Buddhapi,
I will PM you the Attorney's info. Their site does list that they do Copyright work, so my statement that they did not was incorrect.

Thank again...
« Last Edit: April 27, 2012, 12:46:53 AM by simpson »

Robert Krausankas (BuddhaPi)

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Re: Super Stock - Demand Letter
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2012, 07:49:45 AM »
Getty, Super Stock, shutter stock, Masterfile, they are all the same...look at it this way.
They are demanding 2240.00 in order to sue they have to file...thats 350.00 just to file the paperwork, they would need to file in your state, so they would need to find a local attorney...more expenses, IF they were to win the total amount, not only do theyneed to pay their lawyer, a portion on this goes tothe artist, leaving them with very little "profit". If they were to "win" without having properly registered the image with the copyright office, the judge can reduce the amount to as little as 200.00, which puts them in the negative..This is why  they hardly ever file suit, the profit margin tends to be much larger if they can scare the demand amount out of you.. I would be more concerned with choosing the best plan going forward as opposed to worrying whether they will file suit.
Thanx for the law firm info, I'll do some digging later today and post what I find.
Most questions have already been addressed in the forums, get yourself educated before making decisions.

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

I have a few friends around here..

simpson

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Re: Super Stock - Demand Letter
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2012, 08:13:06 AM »
Buddhapi... or is Budd ok?

Thanks for your reply.
I do see where Matt and Oscar do acknowledge Super Stock and even have a letter program identified for this entity. That gives me piece of mind.
Many thanks for your time to reply to me. Your wisdom is not falling on deaf ears. I will focus on addressing them and not so much about the what if's?

I must say... I feel more horrible about getting my friend caught up in this... I guess eventually I am going to have to direct him here to help research our action.

Matthew Chan

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Re: Super Stock - Demand Letter
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2012, 11:14:12 PM »
There are no "guarantees". If you are looking for "guarantees", your position is over before it even starts.

I don't think you quite "get it" yet based on your comments. This is an industry-wide, money-grabbing operation.

If you want an affirmation, here is one.  There are MANY people who have not paid their extortion letters. The most cooperative and fearful people are the ones most likely to get harassed and pay.  The most challenging and most firm people in standing their ground don't pay a dollar.

You have to know what to do, have the right perspective, and the right personality to dispose of the problem.

Matthew,

Thanks for the reply and I certainly understand your position. I have read hours and tons of suggested ideas/solutions. I am guessing ignoring the situation is a bad plan. I do suppose he will have to draft a letter seeking proof of registration, proof of rights and proof of sales history. I do think I was seeking free "Counsel" any more than the simple 1,2,3 steps that have been posted on here several times before. I have considered the "Phone Call" as an option just to help navigate this all. It is still very much on the table. One of my primary concerns is 90% of these threads deal with Getty and other Image Houses. We are faced with one Called "Super Stock" not Shutter Stock. I did see some threads about this entity but not much. I assume they are all cut from the same cloth and employ the same unscrupulous tactics. I think I was looking more for an affirmation that following this sites suggestions will pay off against my demon, Super Stock...
Thank again...
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.

simpson

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Re: Super Stock - Demand Letter
« Reply #7 on: April 27, 2012, 12:44:49 AM »
Hello Matt,

I do think I "Get it", but maybe am falling on my face by not better proofing my statements here.
I am thick skinned and do not plan on paying a dime to them unless it is ordered so by a court. I do understand that no one can tell me that action a, b, and c will surely make them go away and we will be free of their pestering, threats and demands.
Sometimes one just does need that little affirmation that "You can do it", and I think that is what I am after here. I can see where it is not likely they will go after a single image based on cost to pursue. I also understand that challenging their claim by requesting proof is very powerful in gaining the upper hand with them. Discovery is more their responsibility than ours.
Anyway... I am happy to cooperate with the community any way possible and appreciate the dialog.
Again... I am more unhappy that my friend is having to deal with this BS because of my good intentions and "Innocent" actions.

Oh... and I do see the big picture that these letters are design to milk money without litigation. Their intent is to have us pay without due process of the law so they can rape more than the court would likely award them in the event they did win a hearing.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2012, 12:52:27 AM by simpson »

 

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