Well, Saturday evening caught me in a temporary moment of weakness, and I dare say, feeling sorry for myself, and also, drunk, so therefore, legally, not in a lucid state of mind.
A little more background w/ the current situation.
This is not a freedom of speech issue really (although an argument could be made), no this is more a battle with the aforementioned scum suckers, the legal team of Highbee & Associates (or my term of endearment for them - Highbee & Ass.)
They represent a company by the name of Adlife Marketing & Consulting. This company does a few things but mainly what they do is create stock photos for food items that are oftentimes used by grocery store advertisements & newspaper circulars.
In 2011 I did a piece entitled "St. Patrick's Day." Now back then, the internet was a little different. Anyways, I found a photo of a Corned Beef on Google that I used for that piece.
Fast forward almost nine years later & I get a nasty letter from H & Ass about my purported "Copyright Infringement" while referring to me as the "INFRINGER." I laughed & threw it away.
A few weeks letter I got an even nastier letter w/ a demand that I call or email them or else they were going to file in US District Court here in GA. I again kind of scoffed but decided, what the hell, I'll give 'em a ring. The person I spoke to was most unpleasant so I basically ended up hanging up on them.
Fast forward several more weeks later & I get another letter (this time in a big packet) which also included the legal document that they were allegedly about to file in federal court. They also for the first time tell me that while federal copyright law says they can receive up to $150K per infringement, that they were kind of enough to offer me a settlement of $5,100.
At this time, I decide to reach out to a few folks to get some legal consulting & advice. The consensus view is they're full of crap, which was my original feeling, but that these folks have quite the reputation. In fact, Highbee & ASS. are widely considered "Copyright Trolls." You can google it, though as I understand it they pay big money for "internet scrubbing" to lessen the level of hatred for them on the world wide web.
Based on the available data & evidence, a lot of times this situation can be corrected by removing the infringing image & by applying for a retroactive license. So as I began to actually engage one of their associate attorneys via email (I won't drop their name or contact info just yet; just know he's an absolute prick), they finally answer my question about a possible retroactive license fee - $3,000.
Yes, ridiculous I know, but hey - I figured they came down $2,000 & like I told them - I'm not that kind of guy. Again, 2011 things were much different. And again - it was one damn picture of a [expletive deleted] corned beef & cabbage! Also, keep in mind that in 2011 TPC was averaging maybe 10 posts per year mainly just publishing online my pieces from "About Covington to Madison" magazine. At the time the site was not monetized, and after nine years this particular post had about 100 pageviews. 9 years - 100 views. $3,000. So, even though I still think they're full it, I make a counteroffer - $200 to be made in four monthly payments of $50.
Oh well, that's when this crowd started getting really hot! Apparently I offended their sensibilities. It was at that time I told them go pound sand. They come back w/ some even hotter heat so I naturally respond w/ some laser-guided missiles & Molotov cocktails. Finally, as the Coronvirus thing really started heating up, & after reminding them to "keep washing those hands," I said hey - let's take a 2-week break.
Haven't heard from them since. That's been about 2 weeks ago.
My original plan was to email them today & say - "Look, you [expletive deleted]s, I'm just gonna shelve the damn thing; I have no assets in my name. You win - Eat [expletive deleted] & Die! And again - is this what your mother gave birth to you for?" (Although I actually wouldn't have used that line since I already did & this associate attorney admonished me degrading the memory of his deceased mother...oops)
But then yesterday, after a day of reflection & witnessing a humbling outpouring of support, I decided to change my mind.
TPC, a true labor of love (that has cost me a few thousand dollars the last several years) will remain.
Just know that I may be needing to lean on you folks in the very near future.
As always, thanks for reading.
Your semi-esteemed Editor,
Marshall "MB" B. McCart
April 13, 2020
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