Getting sued…

Maybe you’ve seen this image before:

And you possibly might have even seen the other two images that go with it:

Well, that’s me. I am the guy who got those e-mails.

I used to run violentnation.com, a website named for a collective of musical and visual artists who were concerned with the violent aspects of American culture. Since nobody seemed to ever contribute to the site but me, I shut it down and move everything to my new site, closing the domain and deleting my photos from the server (actually, I kept the domain for a while debating about what to do with it but that’s neither here nor there).

Anyway, a few days later or so I get the first e-mail.

I ran a search of the referrer logs on the old site, found his site pretty easily and responded asking him about it:

Hello:

I must say I was quite surprised to receive your e-mail. Before we
discuss this, I need to verify something.

Is this your website?

http://www.geocities.com/*******_********/*****_******.html

Please respond as soon as possible. Thank you.

-E_B_A

He responded that it was and had more legal threats (as you can see). I responded educating him on fair use, intellectual property and hot-linking.

He responded back the next day, then the day after that with the third e-mail after apparently talking with a lawyer apologizing and the whole thing is over.

He called me “Mr. E_B_A” which is a continual source of amusement to my on-line friends to this day.

Anyway, his was a geocities free-hosting website with one of the popular free-hosting providers (I’d rather leave his site a mystery as he had some very sensitive personal information on it and I suspected, on the second day, this might start making the rounds on the web one day – as you can see).

Here’s some popular questions I was asked.

Why did I conceal his identity?
I guess because while he did a profoundly stupid thing, it wasn’t terrible enough that he deserves life-long harassment and phone calls, etc.

Why didn’t I goatse him?
At first, I thought it was my cousin pulling a prank on me. Him being the fine, upstanding Christian prude he is, I doubt that would have gone over well. Then I started getting really paranoid and scared I would have to really go to court and the very notion of explaining the guy with the wedding ring to a bonafide judge seemed, well, somewhat risky on my part. So I elected to play it safe.

Is it fake?
No. Well, maybe. I still haven’t ruled out the possibility that someone I know wasn’t playing a prank on me. I have some rather mischievous friends. If it is fake, I’m not responsible for the fakery and I’ve been just as scammed as you.

What happened to the photos?
He replaced them with photos from someone else’s site, last time I saw, apparently learning very little from the ordeal. I checked his code just to be sure. One of them was watermarked so I’m guessing there may be future legal action for THAT infraction.

Did you ever talk to him on the phone?
No. I had the opportunity but I knew I might get riled up enough to cuss him out and my only concern at the time, which looks relatively lame now, was to get rid of him lest he actually sued me for real. I’m a poor bloke with no lawyer, no money for a lawyer and no real legal experience to speak of. I had no clue at the time how serious he was or wasn’t so I chose to take him very seriously and handle him with kid gloves. Put yourself in my position.

Can you show us his site?
I recently dug up the original site. This is not what it looked like then (no doubt because of stolen images) and again, I’ve censored out anything that would identify the poor fellow:

Will I link it up? No, thank you. If he sued over this, imagine what he’d do if I started sharing his site to a bunch of devious internet folks with plenty of tricks up their sleeves that border on harassment. Thanks but I don’t need any more drama then I already got from the duffus.

Has he contacted you since?
Thankfully, no. And I’d like to keep it that way.

Anyway, that’s my little piece on the tragic turn of events that was my near brush with jurisprudence.

My story, sort of, has made it’s way to Fark, kottke and Digg.

This article has been translated into Serb-Croatian!

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Comments

  1. On June 12, 2009 pyrimyd says:

    ah, the classics…

  2. On June 13, 2009 Firoze Shakir says:

    Greatness lies in the humility of the human soul..this a topic dreams are made of on the crazy cybernet.

    Thanks for sharing.

  3. On June 13, 2009 Bilbo says:

    A gentle variant on the Goatse would have been to set up a script that would randomly redirect him to pictures of, say, kittens or medical illustrations. Imagine the confusion it would create in his tiny mind.

  4. On June 13, 2009 Anand says:

    LOL..I seriously doubt that guy having a lawyer..a guy running a blogspot blog and having a lawyer!!

  5. On June 13, 2009 Arno says:

    Priceless *LOL*

    Respect for the way you handled it ;o)

  6. On June 13, 2009 Kari says:

    I feel sorry for you, really. Who’d knew that in the century we’re in, someone would actually think of contacting a lawyer because he/she couldn’t find stolen images.

    Anywho, if it was me, I’d like to keep track, so here are two more places your story has been shared:

    http://dizzythinks.net/2009/06/i-stole-your-images-put-them-back-or-i.html

    http://news.deviantart.com/article/82932/

    Hopefully this will never happen again. Good luck, I hope you never hear anything from this man again.

  7. On June 13, 2009 Amanda says:

    I can’t even believe someone would actually be THIS stupid. XD

    Great source of lulz, though. :)

  8. On June 13, 2009 Christa says:

    What he did, is really stupid, and I agree, posting the link would be wrong too. I’d pity the guy who was stupid enough to consider suing you. Haha.

    Thanks for sharing this though. It made me laugh…seriously.

  9. On June 13, 2009 Michael says:

    Scared you’d have to go to Court? If you know who he is and where his business is, or where he lives, you can sue him for copyright infringement and conversion (for the bandwidth). You sue in YOUR home state and he gets the pleasure of hiring an attorney to show up unable to offer any defense; the guy would end up writing you a check which you deserve for a) making an image he benefited from, then b) hosting it for free, and c) putting up with him.

    Realistically it wouldn’t be a short affair: it’d be a non-affair. It’d settle, which his lawyer knows, because copyright infringement has treble (triple) damages.

  10. On June 13, 2009 doug says:

    Never underestimate just how stupid people can be !

    I recently had someone use their mobile phone to record themselves making threats to me and then hand it to the police as evidence that I had abused her.

    And yes she was blonde !

  11. On June 13, 2009 max says:

    You handled it well, but god is that guy lacking in the common sense department.

  12. On June 13, 2009 Lance says:

    i adore how you handled the situation.. cheers to you, Man!

  13. On June 14, 2009 Sean Nostin says:

    I must admit I got a little infuriated reading about his legal threats. You’re a bigger man than I am for the way you dealt with him. Your response was gold. I can’t imagine I’d have handled it with as much candor. What a dick.

  14. On June 14, 2009 Mel says:

    I have to say, you’re a far nicer person then I would have been. Someone stole an image my girlfriend drew for me of a character design I did – not even an image I drew myself – and I flipped my shit! D8 I would have encouraged him to try and sue, and then counter-sued with a lawyer who would be willing to take the charges he incurred out of the money I won from the settlement. But then, I think I’m just bitter and spiteful towards the world at large. Someone acting with such discourtesy and such a rude, ridiculous, ASSHOLE-ISH behavior instantly makes me want to do horrible, horrible things. Or at least make them want to curl up in a ball and cry because I publicly humiliated them with the stupidity they had to cause the entire fiasco in the first place. >_< GRRRRRRRRRRRR, people like that make me just want to…DSFJKLASJDF! D8< I have no words to express how infuriated this makes me, and I’m not even the one who had to go through it!!! I say Kudos to you, you are so much nicer then I would have been.

    I will say, though, that I think releasing his website would have been a good thing, so that the people he stole images from would be able to find out that he was using them in such a way and they could take their own legal actions. Unless you were able to notify the person he stole from the second time, there’s no telling if they know about this or not. :/ It’s just sad, really, the things some people will do. I hope he has a very very very rude awakening that knocks him flat on his ass and teaches him a wonderfully painful lesson.

  15. On June 14, 2009 Jeff says:

    I’ve had a few experiences with “hotlinking” (someone linking directly to your image to place it on their own), but each transgressor had the good sense not to consult a lawyer when I swapped the images. This is the thing about the Net, everyone should be required to take a “good netizen” course before they can sign on. ;-)

    In my case, I just swapped the images (accompanied by either a sense of humor or a sense of justice). That usually did the trick: here, here, and here. And in all cases, that was enough to settle the case.

  16. On June 14, 2009 Danielle says:

    LOL The most revealing element is on the screenshot you’ve posted – that virtually illegible site offering to help people with marketing and to contact their “President” at a hotmail address… Typical wannabe Donald Trump starting a small business without the least idea of the domain about which he is claiming expertise. Imagine if anyone had been attracted by the site (doubtful) and he’d been paid to set up sites for them, no doubt with stolen images…

  17. On June 14, 2009 Mantari says:

    Real or Internet Conspiracy? Only Mario Dinis knows for sure. Check your local Platinum Lounge for details, and be sure to ask around in the Silver Star seating area.

  18. On June 14, 2009 Tim says:

    And now you can add Waxy.org to the sites pointing us your way. Amusing story, glad it ended as it did.

  19. On June 14, 2009 Gilly says:

    Made my day :)

  20. […] Further to the hotlinked images story, the creator of the images describes what happened next. […]

  21. On June 14, 2009 Mike Hodgson says:

    Ah, good value. That gave me a good laugh. I must say I’m with Gilly, and that I probably would have been a little more…er…terse…with said duffus.

  22. On June 14, 2009 lauren says:

    and I love that he even put “All images and text are copyright….” at the bottom. He understood the principals of copyright enough to include this but not enough to understand that he was STEALING!!!!! Unbelievable!

  23. On June 15, 2009 MuadDave says:

    What’s really funny is that he asserts copyright over “all images and text” on his site! I guess he doesn’t understand or respect that concept.

  24. On June 15, 2009 carolyne says:

    I am always amused when someone offers to “service” me. (servicing: the act of mating by male animals; “the bull was worth good money in servicing fees” )

  25. On June 15, 2009 Robert Loomans says:

    I like Dan’s approach: http://dansdata.blogsome.com/2006/10/17/i-know-its-childish/

    (That’s one one hell of a tooled up rabbit…)

  26. On June 15, 2009 Ron says:

    Looks like the guy is still around: http://www.hitecmarketing.com/

    I’m a photographer (http://www.iamron.com), and laughed heartily at the emails…

  27. On June 16, 2009 juanele says:

    hahahaha that guy really have some nerve! Well, even if he deserved to be actually sued, I guess you handle things in the best of ways, and something that could’ve end in a more serious way now is nothing but an amusing anecdote

  28. On June 16, 2009 Krishna says:

    i think this guess knows u … and tried to play a prank on u… he initially tried to get u scared knowing that u wudnt go to a lawyer(considering that he know u..)
    but then seeing that u dint budge… he probably dint find it amusing to keep the prank going…. i dont expect him to tell u abt it bcos ppl dont like brag abt their failed pranks generally

  29. On June 16, 2009 Odille says:

    Amazing the sheer gall of some people. And apparently hios business is teaching OTHER people how to market their business! It’s a worry.

    I think you were remarkably restrained.

  30. On June 16, 2009 Mik says:

    I would’ve sent him an invoice for the use of my images with a threat of late fees if he didn’t pay up.

    and then changed the images to something else.

  31. On June 16, 2009 Professor Shoelace says:

    (*laughs*) Hilarious!

    My site often suffers from other sites hotlinking to my shoe lacing diagrams. I therefore have them all in one folder, and from time to time I change the name of that folder. Causes heaps of “404 Not Found” errors, but at least it cuts my bandwidth. (*now patiently awaits threatened legal action*)

    Worst case I had was someone SELLING my shoe lacing diagrams on eBay! Even stranger was that one or two people had actually bought them…

  32. On June 17, 2009 Jelle says:

    You, sir, are a pussy :D

    You could’ve harassed him in so many ways and you were really afraid too lose a case if it got to court?

  33. […] stole your images now im gonna sue you @__@? found this on tumblr click __________________ [Katamari][mikumiku][190][Champion][] [LittleMiku][20x][Hunter Lord][] […]

  34. […] the sites displaying other people’s images, but this point was apparently lost on one bright spark, who threatened the host of a site whose images he was hotlinking with a lawsuit (via Kottke.org) after the host took the original site down and deleted the images. Again, while […]

  35. […] the sites displaying other people’s images, but this point was apparently lost on one bright spark, who threatened the host of a site whose images he was hotlinking with a lawsuit (via Kottke.org) after the host took the original site down and deleted the images. Again, while […]

  36. […] displaying other people’s images, but this point was apparently lost on one bright spark, who threatened the host of a site whose images he was hotlinking with a lawsuit (via Kottke.org) after the host took the original site down and deleted the images. Again, while […]

  37. […] displaying other people’s images, but this point was apparently lost on one bright spark, who threatened the host of a site whose images he was hotlinking with a lawsuit (via Kottke.org) after the host took the original site down and deleted the images. Again, while […]

  38. […] displaying other people’s images, but this point was apparently lost on one bright spark, who threatened the host of a site whose images he was hotlinking with a lawsuit (via Kottke.org) after the host took the original site down and deleted the images. Again, while […]

  39. On June 17, 2009 PohTayToez says:

    I’m impressed that he was actually man enough to apologize, a lot of people would just cut contact when proved that wrong

    @Professor Shoelace
    You know, it’s pretty simple to make it so people can’t directly link to your images.

  40. On June 17, 2009 Matt says:

    You’ve made it on Techdirt as well.

    http://techdirt.com/articles/20090615/1337115242.shtml

    Wow….some people love coming up with new ways of being stupid lol

  41. […] displaying other people’s images, but this point was apparently lost on one bright spark, who threatened the host of a site whose images he was hotlinking with a lawsuit (via Kottke.org) after the host took the original site down and deleted the images. Again, while […]

  42. […] peop&#108e’s images, but t&#104is point was apparent&#108y &#108ost on one brig&#104t spark, who th&#114eatened the host of a site whose images he was hot&#108inking with a &#108awsuit (via &#75o&#116&#116&#107&#101.or&#103) after the h&#111&#115t t&#111&#111k the &#111riginal […]

  43. On June 18, 2009 Rick Sarvas says:

    I read this on Techdirt and couldn’t believe it when I read it was true (it wouldn’t be the first time Techdirt omitted an important fact or two). I agree with many of the people that posted here in that you handled this in a much more civil manner than many of us would have.

    Personally I’d have Photoshoped the images to make them slightly blury and then put them back up. If the letters continued, then photo editing would get steadily more more creative.

  44. On June 18, 2009 Mary-Ann says:

    I would have put the images back up, let him get his site sorted (such as it it!) and then changed them to something obscene

  45. On June 18, 2009 Farhan Rehman says:

    hehehe, that’s nothing.. Did you hear about the American woman who’s family pic was used for an advert in a shop in the Czech republic..

    You can read the full story here:
    http://www.extraordinarymommy.com/blog/are-you-kidding-me/stolen-picture/

    So at least your images were just used by some thrid party website, eh? But still funny that he thought to try and sue you ;)

  46. […] a whole new level in hotlinking scumminess that I never even dreamed possible.  If you go over to ShapelessMass.com you can see the original emails that were exchanged, and that he did finally convince the […]

  47. On June 18, 2009 Chuk Rawk says:

    i love it how you were actually worried about having to go to court with this idiot.

  48. On June 18, 2009 Chuk Rawk says:

    HE WAS WRONG! At the end of the day, you were right.

  49. […] the full story, check out the original post here. If you like this, please share […]

  50. On June 24, 2009 Lili B. says:

    I doubt you would ever have had to see the inside of a courthouse over this, or even have had to be within 50 feet of one. He clearly had an insubstantial claim and talking to any lawyer would have set him right on the matter. :)

  51. On June 26, 2009 Twitted by JohnOConnorfoto says:

    […] This post was Twitted by JohnOConnorfoto […]

  52. On June 27, 2009 Colleen says:

    Thanks for posting this! It was one of the best laughs I’ve had all week! Let’s hope his mama doesn’t have anymore like him at home.

  53. […] Was Stealing Your Images And You Took Them Down?" The original article is here: If you read the original article he sent several emails threatening to sue. Who would have […]

  54. On June 30, 2009 Blain says:

    I’ve managed to see this on a message board I’m on, and have to say that it’s the most hilarious thing I’ve ever seen in regards to websites and the use of images. Thank you for making my experiences, and probably many others, with people who nick images briefly enjoyable xD I do have to admit that I’m a bit jealous I haven’t got anything fun like this haha

  55. On July 01, 2009 Andrew Carpenter says:

    His name is Edward. You’ve neglected to blur that out from the final image.

  56. On July 01, 2009 Vo says:

    you should have sued that fucking gay.

  57. On July 01, 2009 Zach says:

    Sounds Like Eric Bauman…. eBaum’s World…. Hahaha

    Funny…

  58. On July 01, 2009 sasi says:

    awesome!!
    prank like reality :D

  59. On July 02, 2009 Stolen server says:

    Witch hunt anybody? i say we hunt him down >:)

  60. On July 03, 2009 Gracey says:

    (sigh)

    …the guy’s “business” is helping others to market their online business. OMG.

    Besides that…all his images and text are copyright?, o hahahahahaha, yeah, but whose copyright.

    That’s too sad.

  61. […] That’s right. This genius actually emailed the copyright owner of images he had stolen off said owner’s website, (using hotlinks and stealing his bandwidth no less) and threatened to SUE HIM unless he puts the images back up immediately. You can see more email fun and read the whole story here. […]

  62. On July 06, 2009 Brrr says:

    This is not as uncommon as one might think. Increasingly, people are taking the attitude that if it’s posted online, that makes it public property. I’ve had people insist to me “if I can google it, I can use it, end of story”.

  63. […] is your favorite source of free photos?  And don’t tell me you steal other people’s graphics from their websites! email2friendSHARETHIS.addEntry({ title: "Yet Another Easy Resource For Free Photography", url: […]

  64. On July 17, 2009 Danny says:

    I had someone hotlink to my images.
    I changed them in my directory to pornographic images and messages like “I steal images from otehr sites, because I have a small penis”

    They soon removed them from their site…
    :-)

  65. […] image on the page of the second site. On popular photo sites this can be a major problem, albeit humorous at times. […]

  66. […] image on the page of the second site. On popular photo sites this can be a major problem, albeit humorous at times. […]

  67. On July 20, 2009 Mikkel Johansen says:

    Ha ha… This is just too funny :)
    I can’t believe how dumb people can be.

    Heres a link to how I found your story:

    http://net.tutsplus.com/tutorials/other/5-fun-and-practical-htaccess-solutions/

  68. On July 20, 2009 Cmabrian says:

    I think it‘s a good joke……you make me laugh……

  69. On July 22, 2009 Steven Hart says:

    This is hilarious! Though on a serious note it might be cool to share the wording used in your communications. If this happened to me I wouldn’t know where to start in regards to stating my legal rights, and to see exactly how you dealt with this would be pretty useful to a lot of freelancers, should it happen to them.

    Though Danny’s suggestion of replacing images with porn sounds like a fun idea! :)

  70. On August 08, 2009 Harold says:

    Hello dude, can you re-upload the images of this post? This post is pretty hilarious, and I enter here today to show this to a friend, but the images are gone…? All the fun were there… I think I’ll have to contact my lawyer.

    Just kidding ;) Please if we get the images back would be nice!

    Greetings,

    Harold

  71. On August 09, 2009 E_B_A says:

    I fixed them. Sorry about that. My site got hacked and I’ve been having to rebuild everything from scratch. Hadn’t gotten that far yet. It’s fixed now, though.

  72. On August 25, 2009 David Sugden says:

    Hi.

    The first thing I thought of when I read this was of the Owl & Crow story on: http://www.kent.ac.uk/law/ip/Wipeout2.htm. Search for THE CROW AND THE OWL by Louise Szente when the page launches.

    I’m glad you ended up ok. The guy initially complaining might easily have been a crow.

    Nice story.

    David

  73. On August 25, 2009 Donagh Mc Sweeney says:

    Haha just saw the most recent images. Now that’s priceless! People tend to think that something is on the internet and freely available that they have some predefined rights to take and use it as they wish! This has been entertaining though to say the least!

  74. On August 26, 2009 Steve Smith says:

    If he sued over this, imagine what he’d do if I started sharing his site to a bunch of devious internet folks with plenty of tricks up their sleeves that border on harassment.

    I respect your reasons not to publish his site address but his site is a website. The intention of all websites is to be able to be seen by anyone (unless password protected).

  75. On September 08, 2009 littleoslo says:

    haha that guy sucks n u really are a nice gay and the whole story is as funny as those urban legend online lol.

  76. On September 08, 2009 littleoslo says:

    haha that guy sucks n u really are a nice guy and the whole story is as funny as those urban legend online lol.

    sorry i mistype the word guy to gay pls delete the previous msg

  77. On September 09, 2009 Jim Abell says:

    Wow, this reminds me of a friend of mine. I know the most basic of HTML and was helping him build his web-business. Each time I’d get his page running right he’d send me more links and banners to add to it. I had his site uploaded into a seperate folder of my personal website so that he could see and test the site as it was coming together, so one day he suddenly happens to decide that the site is ready for the public and sends out a mass e-mail directing people to his URL which then promptly re-directed to the folder on my website. As soon as I found out I promptly changed the extensions on all of the files and changed the main page to simple text explaining that his content was not available becuase it wasn’t his website which then got him all bent out of shape because he had already sent out “invitations” to his potential clients.

  78. On September 27, 2009 xx says:

    You should just send this person an invoice for unlawful use.
    For everyone month he has been using your image, bill him $100 per month, go back to 2005 if you will.
    Theft of images are too common and unless we start invoicing and start teaching them about honoring the copyright law, this sort of thing will happen too frequently.

  79. On October 31, 2009 Mauran says:

    LOL, LOL, LOL, LOL! xD…serious how stupid can the human being be D:?

  80. On November 30, 2009 John says:

    ROFL Bet he tried to sue geocities because he was using them to “build up his business” and now they deleted all his work!

  81. On January 28, 2010 Kitty Addict says:

    now this was beyond stupid LOL
    but you handeled quite nicely!
    congrats… really

  82. On March 23, 2010 Kels says:

    This only porvees that we’re a sue-happy society that’ll look for any excuse to go to court. Whether the excuse is good or not.
    But you handled it very professionally. Well done on your part.

  83. On July 23, 2010 CS-80 Cliff says:

    Hahaha! What a silly twat! If it was my images, I would have switched the images he was linking to for photos of my arse with my web-address and a ‘copyright’ logo written across it in marker-pen! That would give him the message!

  84. On July 31, 2010 Roi says:

    I like how the Geocities service is closed now!

  85. On May 30, 2011 Victor says:

    ROT in HEll, you and your pictures which are of no consequence.
    Thank God I have nothing to do with you, and I don’t use your images for NOTHING!
    Whew!
    Haha, God made me a smart guy, not to use crap from others, that is why I am an autodidact and I learn alone, I learnt English alone without going to school!!
    That is something I GAVE TO MYSELF, i did not ask it from PEOPLE LIKE YOU, heh heh.
    ROT IN HELL, YOU AND YOUR STUFF. WHICH NOBODY NEEDS EXCEPT A POOR GUY IN EARTH WHO ONCE MADE A MISTAKE: USING YOUR STUFF!!!!

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  87. On June 30, 2011 dale moore says:

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  88. On July 02, 2011 rick holloway says:

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  89. On July 02, 2011 Caprice596 says:

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  90. On August 15, 2011 Souldysfunction says:

    You know it doesnt surprise me at all that someone tried to sue over something that wasnt his. We do all remember what started (or atleast news wise started) this sue happy trend when that ritard of a old woman burnt her self with HOT coffee and won a law suit against MCDs just because hot wasnt printed on the Hot coffee she just purchased. I do have to say that is guy handled the situation with much better kindness then I would have.This is what the political politeness movement has created, self-important sue happy i look down my nose at everyone society. Glad to see that for once that the self important ass didnt win what was never his in the first place. Way to go ‘Mr E_B_A’ I commend you for your level head, restraint, and not giving in to the bullshit.

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