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Being Stupid And Litigious Is No Way To Go Through Life

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In the past we’ve posted communications whenever someone has threatened to sue us. I think it’s entertaining, and it hopefully makes people think twice before firing up the legal machine with ridiculous claims. So when YouTube sent us a cease and desist letter, I posted it. And when that asshole Shannon Terry threatened to sue us out of existence, I posted that too.

Now the most ridiculous claim yet. Richard Figueroa, who claims to have the rights to this image of Ashton Kutcher, is demanding that we pay him $150,000 immediately or else he’ll sue us for $1.5 million.

Hi Michael, My name is Richard Figueroa and I am contacting you on behalf of the image you are using of Ashton Kutcher that Beth Boldt had taken. Beth is upset that your company has been using his image to generate traffic and revenue to your company without her permission.We are asking that you pay Beth $150,000,00 for the image that you have been using to generate business. If you choose not to settle this bill now we will ask for $1,500,000 in damages in loss of income form the image you have been borrowing for creating traffic to your website with here picture.if you google Beth Boldt you will get an idea of who she is in the modeling and entertainment industry.We would like to settle this quietly without the media getting involved however if you choose not to agree on these terms we will file a lawsuit against your company for copyright violation and we all know how that’s going to turn out since she’s the photographer of the image you are using.
So here is her invoice: Please make check out to Beth Boldt in the amount of ($150,000,00) send it to
[deleted contact information]
And after payment is made you may not use the image of Ashton anymore unless you want to negotiate a contract.

Thank you
Richard Figueroa
BethBoldt

Here’s the problem: we never used that image of Ashton Kutcher on any of our websites. The one image we did use (in this post) was supplied by Ooma (Kutcher is the creative director for Ooma), and Ooma says they own that image.

The problem turns out to be that if you do a search on Google (or “the Google” as Figueroa calls it), the image in question appears at the top of the results and is linked to TechCrunch. Why? Well we did some digging and it turns out that someone linked to the image in a comment to one of our posts.

I explained all of this to Figueroa on the phone but he insisted that Google bought us and that we need to remove the image from Google immediately. Sadly, Google has not acquired us, and I have no easy method for removing images from Google’s servers.

Normally I’d just let something like this drop since this guy doesn’t understand anything about copyright law or the Internet, but he has also been calling and emailing our advertisers and threatening to sue them, too (listen to the voicemail below). They are understandably concerned, and Heather and I now have to spend time today calming everyone down.

Don’t be this guy.

The voicemail below is to one of our advertisers. Listen to a second one, sent to Ooma, here.

http://www.talkcrunch.com/wp-content/plugins/podpress/player.swf

Update: Starting at comment #79 below it looks like Richard weighs in with a number of comments. In comment no. 113 he tried to post my phone number and get people to call me and complain but I just deleted it.

Update 2:
Richard has been calling me this evening saying people are crank calling him and that he will take “legal activation” against everyone who calls him. I’ve removed the phone number above. Please stop calling him because he just calls me afterwards.

Update 3: So the link to TechCrunch on Google’s search results is gone and the picture now links to Yahoo Answers. Richard still isn’t happy and is demanding I link that search result to him. I’m just speechless.

Update 4: Richard apologizes.

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