This is Part 5 of the “Cleaning Up the ‘Chan v. Ellis’ Mess” commentary series. If you have not read Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 you should do that first and then come back here. Everything will make more sense to you.
Linda and her lawyer, Elizabeth W. (Betsy) McBride, through their unwise choices wasted many people’s time, energy, and resources over all this. Although many unintended benefits and priceless relationships were formed along the way through this two-year ordeal, none of this had to happen. Hindsight is often 20/20. I cannot say for certain that even with all the knowledge and experience I gained in the last two years, that if I had a chance to go back and redo the February 2013 hearing all again, that I could have prevailed. I think my chances would have improved significantly with what I know today but, perhaps, there was never really any way out of this for me except by going through it.
The Truth of Why This Battle Started
Linda wants to give the impression to others that I, April Brown, and ELI Supporters are simply irrational human beings who simply decided to one day start “picking on her” and “bullying” her. That is truly laughable considering Linda’s long history of legal bullying against churches, non-profits, and other organizations. The reality is that Linda never had anyone who dared speak out or challenge her publicly regarding her overbearing, heavy-handed copyright enforcement scheme. Although minor (and anonymous) complaints about Linda could be found on the Internet, it was April Brown in early 2012 who first used her real name and identity to complain and vocally fight back against Linda and her antics of trying to compel April to submit and pay for an innocent sharing of Linda’s poem. I won’t go into the details here (you can find out more at GetPoeticJustice.com) but suffice it to say, it was more than sending letters and emails to April.
When April came across my radar through her tweets in June 2012, she brought to my and ELI’s attention the issue of poetry copyright extortion. Because ELI had only dealt with copyright extortion as it related to stock photos, imagery, clip art, and newspaper articles, I found the idea of extracting thousands of dollars for the innocent sharing of a poem fascinating and incredulous. April has said to me she felt that I was initially skeptical of her and questioned her credibility. As I told her, it had nothing to do with her. At that time, I simply found the idea of poem extortion hard to believe and comprehend. In fact, the dollar amounts Linda was asking for poem infringements were far higher than anything we typically saw with most stock photos and image infringements.
It didn’t take long for me to start pursuing and researching the matter and a Linda Ellis/Linda Lyrics/Dash Poem Letter Forum was launched as a way to generate dialog, share information, and help victims strategize defend themselves. As we gathered letters from Linda’s letter recipients, we began posting copies of her letters on Scribd for public viewing and commentary. Since then, there have been other letters that have been posted and shared.
On June 6, 2012, John W. Jolin initiated his first “attack” on the ELI Scribd account by submitting a bogus DMCA complaint to Scribd over a document that we legally obtained from a demand letter recipient.
The bogus DMCA complaint irritated me because I then had to waste my time to write a customized DMCA Counter-Notification Letter to explain that the document we shared was legally obtained.
Following this incident, more complaints and stories came in. This ultimately led to the infamous $100,000 demand letter issued by Atlanta law firm, Kalka & Baer, on behalf of Linda to a California author which created quite a stir.
I’d heard of this $100,000 demand letter a couple of months earlier from April but it was not until around December 2012 that I actually spoke with the California author and saw the full copy of the demand letter that was later posted for everyone to comment on. April became friends with this author and was morally outraged by the stunning demand amount. Quite frankly, I understood April’s moral outrage as well as many ELI regulars who followed the “Dash Poem extortion scheme”.
In my moral outrage and misplaced zeal to assist the California author, I obviously went overboard in what I wrote in some forum posts. I let my emotions get the better of me. Nevertheless, read objectively and in full context, the forum posts clearly did not indicate making physical threats or physical danger to her or anyone else.
Linda stirred the pot some more in January 2013 by filing outrageous complaints to Eapps, my web host provider at the time, that ELI was engaged in “death threats” and “threatening and dangerous” activities by reporting on publicly available information. This created a series of unhappy events for me which necessitated the sudden move of ELI to Robert Krausankas’ web host provider. Had Robert not stepped up when he did to assist, I would have had to scramble to find a web host provider that actually had enough of a spine to stand up for its clients unlike Eapps. I would like to add that Robert generously contributes web hosting services to ELI to this very day to support me, Oscar Michelen, and ELI supporters. I can say that Oscar and I continue to be grateful to Robert’s ongoing loyalty, contributions, assistance, and service to the ELI cause.
And when we moved ELI to Robert’s web host provider, Linda once again initiated another “attack” against ELI by her ridiculous complaints to Robert’s upstream provider. Fortunately, he was apprised of Linda’s tactics and was prepared for them unlike Eapps. Although no harm was caused to ELI by this set of complaints, Linda succeeded to once again irritate and annoy us in ways very few copyright extortionists did.
To summarize my “beef” with Linda which contributed to a few “ungentlemanly” posts about her, I prepared a presentation slide for the lower court.
The Truth About ExtortionLetterInfo.com (ELI)
One of the toughest things to do is to explain to “outsiders” what ELI is all about. In a broad sense, ELI discusses copyright issues, copyright enforcement, and copyright extortion in its various forms. However, the “culture” of ELI goes beyond traditional online discussions. There is a “rebellious”, “get educated, get empowered”, and “stand up and fight for yourself” attitude that I encourage and cultivate. The First Amendment legally allows for all kinds of speech, not just the polite, socially-acceptable, politically-correct kind. Because the American Colonists escaped the oppression of the English, the Founding Fathers wisely allowed for smaller, weaker, minority interests to speak out against larger, stronger, majority interests.
While Linda wants to place blame upon the Georgia Supreme Court for ruling incorrectly, even if I had been ruled as “stalking”, there is no way that the Georgia Supreme Court could ignore well-established historic decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court which has repeatedly supported people’s rights to free and open speech (with some very narrow First Amendment exceptions such as “true threat”, “child pornography”, “false statements of fact”, “incitement of violence”, etc.) Linda and her lawyer would do well to pay heed that Linda and Seattle attorney Timothy B. McCormack have treaded on thin ice regarding what I believe to be intentional “false statements of fact”. It is unfortunate that Betsy is not privy to written documents written by Timmy about me and others. If she did, she wouldn’t have been so quick to embrace him.
Linda supposedly believes in the First Amendment and was not trying to shut down the ELI Forums and yet, that is precisely what she and her lawyer, Betsy McBride did with great success. They “permanently” shut down a portion of the ELI Forums because Linda and her cohorts convinced the lower court that I was so “dangerous” that my and ELI users’ right to speak out on ELI was unceremoniously shut down. Even if I had been “stalky”, why were the dozens of other ELI users forbidden to share and post their comments? Because Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act was entirely ignored and disregarded by the lower court.
In the lower court, I presented slides that tried to succinctly explain what ELI was all about as of February 2013. Aside from some small changes in the last two years, these slides are still largely representative of ELI.
This concludes Part 5. Read Part 6.
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