AOL Threatens CopBlock.org Over Picture of Police Officer

On October 3rd, 2011 I received the following email from DLA Piper:

Mr. Ademo Freeman

ademo@copblock.org

Re:       Intellectual Property Rights of AOL, Inc.

To Whom It May Concern:

Our firm is outside counsel to AOL, Inc. and its related entities, including Patch, Inc. (collectively, “AOL”) with respect to copyright matters. As you know, AOL is a leading-edge web services company, including a network of premium and niche content sites, and an extensive offering of world-class tools and platforms. In connection therewith, AOL is the owner of all content (the “Content”) published on its website.  This Content is very valuable to AOL, and AOL has developed and utilizes a specific licensing program, whereby use of AOL’s Content by third parties is discretionarily authorized by AOL and complies with AOL’s specific guidelines as outlined on http://legal.aol.com/copyright-permission.

It has recently come to our attention that, despite AOL’s proprietary rights in and to its Content, you are operating a website, located at the domain name <copblock.org>, upon which you are currently posting and making available to the public identical copies of a photograph in our article – “Local Police Chief Born to Protect and Serve” – athttp://www.copblock.org/8168/local-media-fails-supports-police-and-targets-pittsburgh-copblock/ (the “Infringing Content”).  Such use is not authorized by AOL as outlined the in guidelines noted above, and is thus infringing the proprietary rights of AOL.

As owner of the Content, located at http://sewickley.patch.com/articles/local-police-chief-born-to-protect-and-serve#photo-4338765, AOL has the obligation to prevent the improper use of its proprietary material.  Before pursing any additional avenues to remove the Infringing Content, we are demanding that copblock.org take immediate steps to remove and disable access to all Infringing Content, and agree to never repost or use the Infringing Content or any other AOL Content, absent compliance with the third-party use guidelines identified above.

Due to the nature of this matter, we require that you immediately comply with our demands above and provide us with confirmation of such removal within five (5) business days of your receipt of this letter.  We anticipate and appreciate your cooperation resolving this matter.

Please note that this letter is made without prejudice to any other rights or remedies that may be available to AOL.  Nothing contained herein should be deemed a waiver, admission, or license by AOL, and AOL expressly reserves the right to assert any other factual or legal positions as additional facts come to light, or as the circumstances warrant.

Sincerely,

DLA Piper LLP (US)

AKF/DBR/az

Please consider the environment before printing this email.

The information contained in this email may be confidential and/or legally privileged. It has been sent for the sole use of the intended recipient(s). If the reader of this message is not an intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any unauthorized review, use, disclosure, dissemination, distribution, or copying of this communication, or any of its contents, is strictly prohibited. If you have received this communication in error, please reply to the sender and destroy all copies of the message. To contact us directly, send to postmaster@dlapiper.com. Thank you. 

It should be noted that I never agreed to the confidentially agreement at the conclusion of these emails. After reading this I responded the same day with the following:

To Whom It May Concern,

I’m unaware of any content that is on our site that doesn’t give credit where credit is due. Both the pictures and quotes are link ed to Patch, Inc.’s site. If you’d like to be more clear that may help in resolving any complaints. Also, if possible can you forward any and all complaints to this email as well.
In Liberty,
             Ademo
Eleven days later I received another letter from DLA Piper LLP, yet it wasn’t signed with any name, stating: 
Dear Mr. Freeman:
We are writing in response to your e-mail correspondence of October 3, 2011 in connection with the above-noted matter.
We must insist that you take immediate steps to remove the infringing content at http://www.copblock.org/8168/local-media-fails-supports-police-and-targets-pittsburgh-copblock/ (as demanded in our letter of October 3, 2011), and provide express written confirmation that CopBlock.org has complied with this requests within five (5) business days.
This letter is made without prejudice to any other rights or remedies that may be available to AOL, Inc.  Nothing contained herein should be deemed a waiver, admission, or license by AOL, Inc. and AOL, Inc. expressly reserves the right to assert any other factual or legal positions as additional facts come to light or as the circumstances warrant.
Sincerely,
DLA Piper (US) LLP
AKF/DBR/az

Three days later (I was in NYC) I responded with:


To whom is may concern, 

First, I wish you – whoever you are – would provide your name, business or agency and the exact complaint in which you received – and who filed it. Also, you’ve yet to clarify what content it is that you want me to remove? How can I fullfil your request, if I need to at all, without knowing exactly what content you feel is in violation?Again, I’d be happy to address the concerns if you would be more clear. Right now I’m only confused.
In Liberty,
Ademo
 
Today the Liberty Web Alliance received  this email from DLA Piper, only this time it had a name Ann K. Ford, she’s an AOL “enforcer.” I highly doubt AOL, or their sister company Patch Inc, stumbled across my alleged copyright violation. I wonder who filed the complaint? The officer? The author?  I asked for a copy of the complaint but my request was ignored.
I’m not sure what’s going to happen now but I wanted to publish this for transparency. Are pictures of public officials intellectual property? What’s AOL’s goal here? How does posting this picture harm anyone? Are we causing AOL a loss? Click here to read the post AOL is threatening CopBlock.org over. It should also be noted that a simple google search of Leetsdale PD turns up the picture as well, is google being sued too?

 

 


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Ademo Freeman

was born and raised in Wisconsin, traveled the country in a RV dubbed "MARV" and is an advocate of a voluntary society, where force is replaced with voluntary interactions. He's partaken in projects such as, Motorhome Diaries, Liberty on Tour, Free Keene, Free Talk Live and is the Founder of CopBlock.org. ____________________________________________________________________________ If you enjoy my work at CopBlock.org, please, consider donating $1/month to the CopBlock Network or purchasing CopBlock.org Gear from the store. ____________________________________________________________________________ Find Ademo at these social networks: Facebook Twitter Youtube