I want to report to everyone that George Riddick of ImageLine Inc. contacted me via email today to tell his side of the story. In fairness to him, I am presenting his side by sharing the email I received with you. I am actually surprised he found us and our reporting so quickly.
Because Mr. Riddick has brought up many issues, I cannot immediately reply to every point he raises. However, I do intend to issue a reply (as time permits) which can be found here.
Dear Mathew (sic),
When I first read about your “case”, I had some empathy for the position you found yourself in. We have suffered enormous losses over the years at the hands of design and graphics companies in India, China, Russia, and Brazil, where there are virtually no copyright laws to speak of (and certainly no enforcement of the laws that do exist).
The more I read, the less empathetic I became, however. Here’s why:
1. On your web site, you clearly state that it is your objective to present the facts from both sides, do your homework thoroughly, and provide some relief to end-user “victims” who end up with copyrighted material on their web sites due to the poor business practices and ethics of others, much as is with your case with the folks from India. That’s exactly what we do, Mathew(sic). Yet you posted the rants and raves of two or three disgruntled embroidery industry participants without making any effort at all to hear the other side of this “story”, or to verify what they have told you.
2. It appears to us that both you and Mr. Michelen see these “victims” as becoming another venture capital source of your new online venture. That is simply not right, Matthew. At times, “right” and “wrong” should come before the cold interpretation and/or enforcement of our law.
3. You made no mention, whatsoever, that Imageline has never gone after end-user infringers, like the music industry has done for years, or as you claim Getty Images, Jupiter, and Corbis are now doing. We only go after the “middlemen” (much like the company you dealt with in India) who are sub-licensing and re-distributing our copyright-protected property for their own commercial gain on their web sites and in their CD/DVD products, and distributing the pirated images and designs to others.
4. You also never mention that Imageline agrees to release all of the end user infringers (such as your company would be) when we settle with these “middlemen”. In other words, if your new buddy “Pat” were to distribute unlicensed versions of one of our digital designs to 2,000 embroidery people over his web site, the per infringement settlement fees would be less than $3.75 per end user who is infringing under our laws. That’s a lot less than even the $200.00 minimum Mr. Michelen posts on your blog.
5. Who wouldn’t become angry and agitated if people caught with their hands in the cookie (and very thoroughly researched and documented by Imageline) don’t remove the infringing images after notice, or even have the courtesy to respond to an official cease and desist letter/e-mail communications we send each of them?
6. In fact, we follow the exact same C & D and take-down procedures Mr. Michelen claims he recommends for his clients.
7. This looks like nothing more than sensational investigative journalism to me. I would have been more than happy to share the whole truth with you if you had only bothered to ask.
8. Imageline has been considered the “David” in the copyright battle with a number of “Goliaths” for over fifteen (15+) years. Over ninety- five percent (>95%) of the companies we go after for infringing our hard earned copyrighted works are substantially larger than we are. You would be surprised at how incorrect you and Mr. Michelen have been here, and have interpreted a few ‘out of context’ communications to support your own pre-conceived notions and business plans … not the truth.
9. Finally, posting links to blogs hosted by people who hide behind the anonymous nature of the Internet to conduct smear campaigns is not what anyone should expect from a web site moderated by a professional attorney, and stating that it is your objective to deliver “all of the facts” and the truth. We are very confused here. Does Mr. Michelen’s law firm know what he is doing in these ventures? Lawyers here in Virginia are not allowed to practice law in this manner. I am particularly concerned that he advises everyone to destroy evidence on your web site.. Please have him contact me directly if he has any interest at all in representing the information regarding Imageline in a factual manner to your audience.
Again, please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions about what we are trying to do to lower the “digital piracy” rate here in this country, and to begin to accomplish the same goals overseas.
ALL legitimate book, software, audio/visual, and graphic arts content publishers and copyright advocates should support the reduction of Internet-based piracy or they will all soon be extinct. At least that is my humble opinion.
I look forward to hearing back from you soon.