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: ArsTechnica, TechDirt, 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.