Death Care Industry Refuses to Pay Copyright Troll Over Use of The Dash Poem

I am Nicole Olson, owner operator of Emerald Creative Funeral Support Service, which is located in Sydney, Australia.  This business was established in 2009, and provides memorial stationery and audiovisual presentations for funeral services.

When I first launched my website in 2010, I attached a PDF link to a page on my site with a suggestion list of poems that were ideal for reading at funerals. One of these poems was the Linda Ellis poem “The Dash”, as it is a very popular poem recited at funerals. 

In June 2012, I received a copyright infringement letter from Linda’s Lyrics, the company that manages and protects the work of Linda Ellis. The letter outlined that removal of the poem from the Emerald Creative website was not enough – there was also a demand for $7500 as ‘settlement fee’ for posting the poem. If this settlement fee was not paid, then there was a risk of litigation involving payment of a maximum of $150,000.

My first reaction?  I felt sick, distressed, dizzy.  I stared at this letter, trying absorb its contents, and was flabbergasted it was going to cost me $7,500 for the harmless sharing of “The Dash”.  After some lengthy consideration, I started to question the legitimacy of the letter, as the quality of the letter’s layout seemed odd.  It was also sent via email, which made me question its legality. More importantly, I then questioned how a poem is worth that much.

After checking the Linda Ellis website, it was confirmed the poem was indeed covered by strict copyright.  Further investigation on Google however opened up a Pandora’s box of information on the practice of “copyright trolling”, and outing the Linda’s Lyric letter as an extortion scam. So I removed the poem immediately from my website but refused to pay the settlement fee.

Felt relieved, but that relief soon turned to anger.  Who else was getting this letter?  I didn’t want to see others suffer the same distress I did.  I wanted to find other websites who may have inadvertently posted the poem & alert them to my story. The response was overwhelming.  I also contacted the Australian Funeral Directors Association, who then in turn sent a notification memo to their members of the story.

A follow up email from Linda’s Lyrics arrived some weeks later, offering to reduce the settlement fee to $3,750.  By then I was well armed with copyright trolling information.  I still refused to pay.
Further internet research led me to another letter recipient, April Brown, who has been outspoken about copyright trolling by starting her own publicity campaign ‘Beware Don’t Share the Dash Poem’.  And to the US website, ExtortionLetterInfo.com (ELI) and its discussion forum dedicated to the letter.

April suggested I post a press release of my story, which I did in August 2012.  Not long after this I started getting people contacting me who had received the letter and asking advice on the best course of action. To this day, I still get people contact me after finding that same press release through Google.

Because I decided to be outspoken about the practice, I managed to attract the attention of Linda Ellis herself.  She called my mobile phone early one Sunday morning a few weeks after the press release wanting to talk to me directly. Whilst she was overly friendly, all she could do was repeatedly justify why the letters were being sent out.  So I stood my ground and challenged her every justification. After the phone call ended, I realized this woman had a very much misaligned view of copyright protection.  Then Linda started posting demeaning comments to my Emerald Creative profile on Facebook, then these comments would be deleted 48 hours later.

I have no intention of ever letting this story rest, I would like to ensure that no one else has to fall victim to this scam both now and in the future. Will be interesting to see what the future holds for copyright extortion; would be great to see precedents set that will hopefully turn the practice illegal.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: www.aprilbrown.com/copyright-infringement-the-das

The Three D0's

Do Not Respond

Do Not Be Afraid

Do Tell The World