Dash Poem Extortion Letter Recipients: What To Do?

Fortunately, the anti copyright-troll community is a friendly one and shares information.   Earlier I posted a link to a full analysis of the Linda Ellis “The Dash Poem” copyright extortion letter scheme at:

http://rankexploits.com/musings/2013/dont-post-linda-elliss-the-dash/

The site’s author has allowed me to put a piece of that post directly into this blog because it addresses the most important question a letter recipient has, “What do I do now?”  I have slightly modified the piece to make sure the links work and to remove some extraneous content.

For the purposes of full disclosure neither the original author nor I are attorneys.  We are not giving legal advice.  We are only sharing out opinions based on our observations.  Ultimately, you are going to have to decide what to do.

What should you do?
So, what should you do if you post The Dash Poem and (as will quite likely happen) receive a demand for $7,500? My advice is don’t post the stupid poem in the first place. But if you do, you can either consult an attorney (which usually costs a lot. But you could consider contacting Oscar Michelen who has a relatively inexpensive program to write a letter for you.), or do what I would do:

  1. Even if you believe your posting is permitted under fair use (and it may be) take down the poem. It is copyrighted and in those cases where copying doesn’t qualify as fair use, Linda does have a right to request you take it down.
  2. If you believe (or simply fear) your use might not fall under “fair use”, write a response letter that does not admit fault but states that to get this matter behind you, you are willing to offer $200 which you believe is the amount a judge would assess in this specific case if he found in favor of Ms. Ellis inadvertent infringement. Make the offer contingent on her agreeing to drop any claim and refuse to sign any confidentiality agreement that might prevent you from discussing your experience. My understanding is offers to settle are viewed on favorably by judges when assessing damages should Ellis take what seems to be the unprecedented step of suing someone who posts the poem on a web site, blog or funeral circular. You may of course continue to negotiate if you wish.
  3. Upload a copy of the email she sent you in a public forum like Scribd– or really anywhere; after you have done so, drop a link to the document in comment for this post. 
  4. Consider finding newspaper articles and PR pieces discussing Linda Ellis and The Dash and relate your experience. Help Linda protect her rights under copyright and warn people what can happen to those who inadvertently post the poem. Suggest they protect themselves by never posting the poem in a blog post, comments, a funeral commemorative or similar item. Warn those you know to avoid endangering others through public readings which serve to publicize the poem, thereby putting others at risk of later posting the poem.

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OK, it is me again.   Don’t forget, Linda Ellis has never actually sued anyone who has posted The Dash poem on the internet.   She hasn’t gone after even her most vocal critic -April Brown.  Are her past actions a guarantee, she won’t sue you?  No they are not.   But now that you have seen in other posts, the more realistic damages you might face and have seem some tactics here that will help you, I hope you can sleep a bit easier at night.

Letter Recipients: You Are Not Alone — But You Are Now Informed

When you are attacked by Linda’s copyright team and decide to settle, evidently she requires a formal apology be posted on your website.  This makes it easy to find people that have been scared into paying up.  These are the Innocent Infringers.

The main goal of this blog is to help you stay off the list of victims in this post.  I have nothing but sympathy for the victims in this post as they did not have the benefit of the information on this blog.

The required apology includes:   Previously we published a poem titled, “The Dash”, without crediting the author. We recently learned that Linda Ellis of Linda’s Lyrics,www.lindaellis.net. Ms. Ellis owns and has registered the copyright to her poem.

So, a simple Google search shows that the following organizations were forced to pay her off.  The actual list is much greater as I am sure I didn’t find some groups and I certainly didn’t find groups that didn’t post her insipid apology.

ATL Foundation
Turning Point of Tampa, Inc.
Sermon Central
Daniel D. Meyer / Christ Church of Oak Brook
First Baptist Church, Olds Alabama
Formal Times Newsletter
South Dakota Chapter American Society Farm Managers
Green Valley Villas West, Green Valley Arizona
Garden Court Real Estate Management Corporation
Bookkeeping 411
USA Triathlon Mideast Region
The Magazine of United Methodist Men
IOWA State USBC Women’s Bowling Association
Bourbon Garden Court
Marco Island Civic Association
Main Street Baptist Church
Neidlinger Garden Court News
Argos Garden Court News
Rubel Shelly
All Saints Church, Rome Italy
Texas A&M University
User Talk
Helium.com
Kemper Mill Civic Association
Git Hub
TARA Association
Waukegan Public Schools
Gerry Spence Attorney
Children’s Lit
The Helixx Group
The Hindu
Mount Pleasant Memorials
Character Education
Baylor University Seminary
Neighborhood Link
Real Estate Management Corporation
United States Judo Association
David E. Smith Publications
Church of God, In Truth
Yasni, UK
Willet Elementary School PTA
The Northeastern Pennsylvania Synod
Autism Resource Central
First Baptist Church St. Clair, Missouri
Center for Successful Aging
Marco Island Civic Association
United Methodist Men
Community Partnerships with Youth, Inc.
July Drake Lyrics
FaithSite.com
Southern Plaza Homeowners Association
The Hindu
The Resilient Journey
Waukegan Public School District 60

For someone who has worked so hard to embed herself in the Christian community, based on this list, one might think that she is actually anti-Christian.  I only point this out to show how two-faced she is.

As you can see, she goes after weak, small organizations.  We all know how damaging those folks at the IOWA State USBC Women’s Bowling Association are.  I am sure they cost her a fortune.

The Day The Internet Fully Exposed Linda Ellis

March 26th and March 27th will go down as legendary days in the fight for internet freedom of speech and the fight against copyright trolls and copyright extortionists.   In early March, Linda Ellis secured a Protective Order against Matthew Chan and his website ExtortionLetterInfo.com.

As all of you know, 99.999% of protective orders are issued as part of a domestic dispute and PO’s are a very useful tool to separate people so they can calm down.   However, the dispute between Linda Ellis and Matthew Chan is in no way a domestic matter, it is a business dispute.

Basically, Ellis is angry that Chan exposed Linda Ellis’s business model.  You see, Linda Ellis has never sued anyone who put her Dash Poem on an internet web site.   But, Linda has no problem sending these people letters bragging of big court victories and huge damage awards and scaring the crap out of them.    These letters scare people and that is why Linda Ellis is considered a copyright troll.   She has no intention of suing “innocent infringers”.  Her goal is to scare them out of $7500.  Chan exposed this and Linda Ellis is mad.

All of this came out in the ExtortionLetterInfo forums.  Unfortunately, some of the posts were perhaps too strongly worded according to the Judge (though I believe they are ALL protected by the First Ammendment) and Linda Ellis was able to secure an order from a judge that forced Chan to take down every single one of the approximately 1900 posts in the Linda Ellis forum.   The order also prevents Chan from ever speaking about Ellis or writing about her.  Imagine that, 1900 posts by dozens of people have to come down because approximately 5 were “borderline”.   I have read all of the posts in question and when taken in true context, they are harmless.

I have never, and I mean NEVER, seen a protective order issued when the two people involved, have never met, never emailed, never faxed, never texted, never gone at each other in a forum, never sent smoke signals to each other, never telephoned each other, and basically had nothing that I would call contact.

ExtortionLetterInfo responded with the following press release: ExtortionLetterInfo

As I mentioned in my earlier post, the Electronic Frontier Foundation immediately published an article about how overreaching the Judge’s order is.

There were approximately 5 posts out of 1900 that were in question and several of these 5 posts were written by someone else besides Chan.   Did you know that the owner of an internet forum is protected from what other people post on the forum?   The law is described here:  Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.   Evidently the Judge didn’t read this law even though it was presented to him in court.  Yes, an appeal is in process.

The Internet reacted immediately to the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s article.   Well respected Technology Blogging sites such as:  ArsTechnicaTechDirt, and The Daily Dot.
wrote very thoughtful articles on the subject.  I encourage you to click on the links and read each one of these articles and come to your own conclusions.  FightCopyRightTrolls also published a thoughtful piece.

These are not the only sites.  By my count at least 75 sites picked up the story resulting in between 1000 and 2000 comments and tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of page views.   There is no point in listing all the sites.

March 27th was a crazy day as stories seemed to be popping up every minute exposing Linda Ellis.

A massive high five goes out to the Internet for making this issue go viral.   Now anyone who gets a letter can search the Internet and find out what is really going on and not fear for their financial future.

And guess what?  More publicity is coming.

 

 

 

EFF Sides With Matthew Chan and Other Web Sites Against Linda Ellis

I have been planning to release some more information about Linda Ellis’s Dash Poem copyright-troll scheme.   However, in breaking news, the Electronic Frontier Foundation the nation’s leading activist organization confronting cutting-edge issues defending free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights today issued a scathing article attacking the denial of free speech in matters relating to Linda Ellis.

Today, only HOURS after learning the details of the overly broad order the Georgia State Court issued against ExtortionLetterInfo founder and owner Matthew Chan, the EFF expressed their outrage and explained why free speech needs to be protected when trying to fight copyright-trolls like Linda Ellis.

Their article can be found here:

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2013/03/georgia-court-order-threatens-message-boards-everywhere

Matthew Chan along with April Brown have been the key figures in outing Linda Ellis’s copyrtight-trolling scheme.   Not liking the attention, Linda Ellis filed for a restraining order.  Unfortunately, the Georgia Court system ruled against Matthew Chan and ordered all of the information about Linda Ellis’s copyright-trolling scheme removed from ExtortionLetterInfo.com.

If you have received a letter from Linda Ellis, you should sleep soundly tonight knowing that the Electronic Frontier Foundation is coming to your aid to make sure you get the information you need to deal with Linda Ellis

More on this breaking story as it develops

Another’s Take on Linda Ellis and the Dash Poem

It is pleasantly surprising how much information there is on Linda Ellis and the Dash Poem  on Google.

I came across this post which provides the story of another victim (a school), and the author’s own take on the letter and strategies for dealing with Linda Ellis.

http://rankexploits.com/musings/2013/dont-post-linda-elliss-the-dash/