Okay, you’ve gone to your mailbox and you’ve received a letter from Linda’s Lyrics LLC. You open it up and you find you’re the owner of a $7,500 settlement demand letter claiming that you have shared Linda Ellis’ poem called,
“The Dash“. Not only have you shared this poem but, according to the letter, you have caused irreparable harm to her brand and significant financial loss. As you continue to read the letter, you find that you are given only 10 days to come up with the cash or possibly face a federal lawsuit and be sued for up to $150,000 plus court costs and legal fees. If you are like most people, Linda’s letter has scared you silly and probably made you feel sick to your stomach, leaving you wondering how this happened and what to do next
Option One: Ignore Linda Ellis
The first thing you need to do is step back, take a deep breath, and calm down. I promise you that your legal situation is nowhere near as dire as Linda’s letter makes it appear. This letter is carefully crafted, designed, and worded to provoke just this sort of reaction. You will also want to note that as of the writing of this article, to my knowledge, Linda has NEVER taken anyone to court over one of these letters. The Aronson case mentioned in her letter is not comparable with those who have innocently shared her poem on blogs, Facebook or a memorial webpage etc. The Aronson suit was a case of willful and blatant infringement. He is also a criminal in jail. Aronson contracted with Linda to include “The Dash” poem in a book he was writing. He did not pay what he agreed to and also created Dash websites as well. Mr. Aronson ultimately got what he deserved.
Generally, when one receives a settlement demand letter, you have three choices on how to handle it. The first choice is to ignore it. I personally do not favor this choice as in the unlikely event you are taken to court, the court may not look favorably if you ignored repeated attempts to negotiate a settlement. Many people do take this option and simply wait out there three-year statute of limitations. Once your statute of limitations expires (three years from the date on the first letter you received), you can breathe easy as you can no longer be taken to court.
Option Two: Fight Back
Your second option is to not take this lying down and to fight back. Get mad! You should be furious that someone is trying to take $7,500 from you! While I never received a letter from Linda Ellis myself, I did receive a settlement
demand letter from Getty Images a few years ago. After the initial panic and shock caused by the letter wore off, I sat down at my computer and started researching Getty Images and their settlement demand program. Once I realized that Getty’s program was not truly about protecting the artist’s rights but rather a slick business model, I became angry new that I was going to fight this tooth and nail. Of the three options on handling your letter, I offer this one as my personal choice. Not all people have the stomach for it and that is alright. If you don’t have the stomach for it, skip down to Option Three.
If you decide that fighting back is the right choice for you then you are probably wondering how to go about it. First, I would recommend sending at least one letter in response, without admitting guilt and attempt a fair negotiation as well as demanding to see figures on how she arrived at the $7,500 number. Every case is different yet every letter asks for the same $7,500. Let’s say you hit my car and damaged my fender, you agree to pay for damages but I tell you it will cost $6,000 to fix my car. You have every right to ask to see estimates proving that number and you have every right to know how Linda Ellis determines her $7,500 claim along with information and calculations to justify it. Again, in the unlikely event your case should go to court, it would look far better if you could show you tried to negotiate in good faith. If you feel threatened, harassed, or bullied by the letter and/or the negotiation process or you feel that what Linda’s Lyrics is doing is wrong, you have the right to complain loudly.
Filing Complaints Against The Dash Demand Letter and Getting Help
In most cases, you file these types of complaints with the state’s Attorney General’s Office (AGO). However, in Georgia where Linda’s Lyrics is based, there is a separate department to handle these complaints called The Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection. Here is the contact information for this office:
2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Suite 356
Atlanta, Georgia 30334-9077
Tel: 404-651-8600 or 1-800-869-1123 (toll-free in Georgia, outside of the metro Atlanta calling area)
Office hours: 8:00am-5:00pm, Monday-Friday.
Telephone counselors are available between 8:30am-5:00pm Monday-Thursday, and 8:30am-4:00pm on Friday.
Copyright Anti-Bullying Act Wants to Help If You Have Received A Dash Poem Demand Letter
If you truly feel that what Linda’s Lyrics is doing is wrong, unethical and/or immoral and want to make a complaint but aren’t sure how CABALaw will help you, this is a free service. Contact me and let me know that you need help with your letter. I have had a great deal of experience with complaint letters about settlement demand letter programs. I will reply to your contact request and provide you with an email address so you can send me copies of any letters or emails exchanged between you and Linda’s Lyrics along with your story (where you obtained the poem, where you shared the poem, and what way you feel Linda’s Lyrics is not operating ethically and/or how you were treated). Once I have all your information, I will craft a complaint letter tailored around your circumstances. I will email you your letter. All you should have to do is to print it out, sign it, and mail it to the Governor’s Office of Consumer Protection, the Better Business Bureau, the Federal Trade Commission, etc. Addresses and contact information will be provided in the email.
I have run this kind of campaign before with Getty images and I can tell you it does make a difference. Here are a listing of the number of complaints filed before and after the Getty campaign. Also Getty Images has greatly reduced the demand amounts they are seeking to a somewhat more reasonable amount. Getty Images Demand Letters used to average between $800 and $1,500 per image and now they are asking generally around a few hundred dollars (still too high in most cases but an excellent start). They also seem to be willing to listen and negotiate more now whereas before they would tell you what they would accept and there was no negotiating. In no way do I think my Getty Images letter campaign is the only reason these changes happened but I certainly feel it was a factor that contributed to their change.
Remember, when you file one of these complaints, the Georgia Governor’s office will not act as an attorney for you, or give you individual legal advice. What they do is monitor the number of complaints and if they see a pattern and/or a large number of complaints on the same business, they may investigate and/or file a lawsuit on behalf of the entire community being affected. If you do not live in the state of Georgia, I would also recommend filing a complaint with the Attorney General in your state since these letters and emails are crossing state lines.
Option Three: Protect Yourself From Linda Ellis’ Demand Letter, Retain Council
If you do not care for Option One or Option Two, then your third option is to retain legal counsel yourself. If you have a lawyer, have them send a letter on your behalf to Linda’s Lyrics so they can no longer legally contact you directly and must go through your lawyer. There are many people who find the situation stressful and Linda Ellis has been known to be extremely aggressive with her tactics. If you do seek legal counsel please make sure that they are a qualified and experienced copyright attorney. However, I personally recommend Oscar Michelen’s Defense Letter Program. Mr. Michelen has handled 1,000 of these settlement demand letters ranging from Getty Images, Masterfile, Linda’s Lyrics, and many others. To contact him, follow the link and the instructions.
Combine Options Two and Three: Best of Both Worlds
In my view, the best option is to combine both Options Two and Three for maximum effect. Option Three his hiring Oscar Michelen (at a flat fee), who knows more about the Dash Poem and the Linda’s Lyrics Settlement Demand Letter Program than any lawyer in the U.S. It is not an exaggeration because most lawyers have never heard of Linda Ellis, don’t understand copyright law as it applies in this situation, or how she operates her business. Oscar does. Hiring Oscar puts an immediate stop to all the legally threatening letters and emails her office will send. While Oscar handles Linda’s office, you can fire off a written complaint against Linda so that the Governor’s office can track her settlement demand activities.
As I stated in the beginning of the letter, if you have received one of these settlement demand letters, calm down
because it is not as bad as letter makes it sound. You have three options on how to proceed with my personal preference being Option Two. Do not Let Linda’s Lyrics hold your peace of mind or wallet for ransom. If you feel what they are doing is wrong or you feel frightened, threatened or harassed , you have every right to complain. If you send me your information I will gladly assist you in composing your complaint letters. However, because I run a full-time business, I ask that you allow me a sufficient amount of time to get back to you.
If you do not feel up to the task of fighting back, you may, of course, retain legal counsel of your choice or contact Oscar Michelen. I hope you will decide to take some kind of action as Linda continues to operate because far too many victims stay silent and do not let their voices be heard. I recommend that you stand up, speak out, share your story, and make your voice heard. Together we can bring about change.