Is the quote an exaggeration? Sure. Maybe. The longer Ed practices the less of a stretch it seems. The following story is true. Names changed to protect the innocent and guilty. Facts altered ever so slightly and not enough to affect the story. Written with permission of Ed’s client. Gender use may or may not be accurate.

Let’s set the stage and its players:

Client  Is 75 years old, retired from a long career in show biz. Takes up painting as a hobby. Attends a local college for non credit adult education courses on painting.  Teacher assigns homework, “pick a famous artist, anyone and do your own interpretation of that artist’s work. Any painting, watercolor, famous or not and bring it in next week”

Famous Artist  Dead since the 20th Century.  During career worked for many companies as an in-house artist and did an unspecified amount of work on his own.

The Work  Created by artist years before he died. The artwork was never registered and can not ever be registered. Whether the artist actually created the work can never be known and no entity or person can register the work on his behalf some 25+ years after his death.

The Law Firm  Also called a “National Law Firm” composed of several hundred “copyright” experts who have offices all over America. They share a website and advertising. Beyond that they appear via advertising to be a big scary firm.  Their affiliation is loose and transparent to any reasonably sophisticated attorney of any specialty. Many to most of the attorneys have never tried a copyright case in their lives.


The law firm has sent repeated letters to the Client pressuring her into paying them $5,000 for infringing on the artist’s copyright.  They demanded and received from the extremely scared senior citizen an “income form” proving that she lives on Social Security. They informed her she had to pay them merely $5,000 for doing her class project and posting it (not for sale) on her website. She was a wreck and is about to pay until she tells her tale of woe to one of Ed’s clients who tells her, “Better call Ed”. Ed does not believe the story at first.

Ed starts dealing with the law firm and is way, way beyond disgusted with this situation. Lawyer at the ”National Law Firm” actually ADMITS in writing that the copyright in the work CAN NOT be registered but “unregistered copyrights are respected and enforced all of the time”.  The law firm lawyer acknowledged that they knew that client was little old lady doing a school project yet relentlessly pursued her for $5,000.

After some extremely colorful correspondence involving our pursuing the law firm for very questionable behavior, the “National Law Firm” requested that we simply “let it go”  We declined and intend to pursue the “National Law Firm” to the extent we can in the state in which these activities took place.

Without a registration in hand no lawyer can sue. A lawyer CAN send a letter and include an application and say once the registration comes through we intend to sue. There are occasions when that is a good time to settle a case or upon an attorney’s advice, ignore it.

The key here is that an attorney (two in fact at the “National Law Firm”) threatened a layperson mentioning copyright over and over in a situation where NO copyright could possibly ever be filed. They did so knowing it would scare and intimidate an elderly woman who has zero experience with the law.

The takeaway is to NEVER respond to a lawyer’s letter yourself. Many lawyers do not adhere to the law or the ethical codes to which they are theoretically bound. That these threatening, coercive and some may say extortionate letters were sent to the literal little old lady would be typical of a scam artist who preys on the elderly.

If you get a letter from a lawyer, again, DO NOT ANSWER IT YOURSELF. See a trusted local lawyer. Here the client almost paid $5,000 for nothing other than to fill the pockets of some lawyers preying on the uninformed. The fact that the client was 75 years old did not make her uninformed. She could have been 35 and made the same error and received the same series of threatening letters. Let’s be careful out there.