Teaching a child to share needs to come with a warning – Share, but don’t share anything with anyone you did not personally create – especially on the internet. April Brown, CEO of Charity Auction World, Auctioneer and Founder of Whisker City feline rescue, has a warning for parents and children alike. Share a simple poem innocently with friends and you might get drawn into the seedy world of copyright infringement trolling. Copyright Trolling is a pejorative term for a party that enforces copyrights for purposes of making money through litigation and threats.
In October of 2011, Brown posted a viral poem copyrighted by author Linda Ellis entitled The Dash. The Dash can be found unauthorized and unlicensed on hundreds of thousands of websites worldwide. Soon the auctioneer began receiving legal looking letters demanding $7500 from John W. Jolin, an employee of Discover Media LLC, claiming to be a copyright representative of Linda’s Lyrics . The letter requested immediate removal of the poem from Brown’s Wordpress blog. She complied with the take down request and ignored the demand. Jolin sent more threatening emails but Brown refused to engage with Jolin. In January 2012, the author, Linda Ellis, began sending personal emails – over a hundred – threatening Brown with litigation. Linda Ellis claimed Brown had violated a Federal law and could be facing criminal charges and risking a $150,000 judgment should Ellis file a case against Brown.
Brown had enough of Ellis’s nasty emails and decided to go public with her story by posting Ellis's emails on the Charity Auction World website. It turns out April Brown is the first person to challenge the author and expose this decade long, worldwide scheme to extort money from well-meaning good citizens. Brown receives emails from India, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia - all telling stories of innocently posting The Dash on bereavement blogs, in funeral services, commemorative web pages and from people who published The Dash in a school or local newspaper. Insured organizations like churches, and synagogs, funeral homes, and non-profit organizations appear to be favored targets. Once an attorney is contacted Linda Ellis reports she collects on 98% of her emails threats, without hiring an attorney and without going to court.
“Going public was the key to connecting people and their stories”, said Brown. “Now many are publicly refusing to pay Linda Ellis while others are quietly ignoring the author”, said Brown. “Linda's claim that The Dash poem - valued at $10 on Simple Truths is worth $7500 because it is on a website for a few days - is ridiculous. Using that logic would mean she should be paying us to promote her poem.” The Dash is available on the Simple Truths website – a website specializing in corporate motivational gifts - for as little as $10 and on a plaque for $30.
It is just this kind of talk that infuriates the author. Ellis responded by accelerating her bullying campaign and enlisted the help of her family and facebook friends. The group created bogus claims and accusations about April and her husband, Mike Brown, their company Charity Auction World and the charity they founded over 22 years ago, Whisker City. Ellis wrote several letters to her husbands’ employer, KIRO Newsradio and the Bonneville Corporation, claiming that Mike Brown, a veteran sports broadcaster, had violated the FCC Ethics Rules. Ellis wrote emails to April's clients warning they too would be sued if they shared The Dash. Ellis posted a list of auctioneers who practice in Seattle on www.lindaellis.net and implored charities to avoid hiring Brown and to instead employ her competitors. Ellis wrote she intended to expose the records of Whisker City implying improprieties in the shelter’s operation. Ellis created a page on www.lindaellis.net devoted to April Brown and her alleged copyright infringement. For months Ellis and her friends posted attacks on Browns’ character and business practices. Linda Ellis bought Google Ad Words “April Brown” and “Charity Auction World” that directed searchers to the slanderous April Brown Copyright Infringement page. In April, 2012, Ellis filed DMCA notices with Vimeo, Blip, Youtube, successfully shutting down several service providers for over 7 weeks. Ellis and her friends flooded Browns blogs and video with vile comments forcing Brown to shut down the comments on all of her on-line content. The NonProfit News Channel, founded by Brown, hosts videos from non-profit organizations and also reports on industry related issues. Charity Auction World hosts training videos and event videos for clients. Brown was able to prove Linda Ellis claims were false and Youtube restored the channels and content.
Brown laments there is a downside to standing her ground. “This is not a someone I want in my life, nor do I take pride in outing her business practices. I am saddened to know the Live Your Dash concept is nothing more than a front for her trolling business.” She also claims the good outweighs the bad. “I have met some of the best people on earth as a result of going public. I’ve also discovered this underworld of bullying and extortion that the news media is ignoring.” Brown spends much of her time sharing her story with non-profits and business organizations . "I intend to stop the sharing of The Dash poem."
Brown intends to keep a bright light on Linda Ellis with her BEWARE DON’T SHARE campaign. Every single person who shares The Dash – authorized or not - becomes a player in The Dash extortion scheme. “Trust me, I wish my friend had never shared that stupid poem with me. The only way I can make this right is to warn others”.