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I’m always up for a good laugh, and thanks to a crack “legal team”, I got one last night.
Back in August 2007, I wrote a post about Armando Montelongo, one of the people on the series Flip This House that goes around buying cheap houses and “flips” them quickly to resell them at a higher price after he’s fixed them up. The post focused on a particular episode known as “The Cathouse” that led to Armando’s brother, David, calling his partnership with his brother over as he walked away from the house in disgust over the cheapness Armando was trying to get away with.
This post, approaching its 20-month anniversary of when I wrote it, has been a constant performer for me in terms of visitors and pageviews. I can always tell when an episode of the show with Armando airs because I see a spike in visitors to the post. Beyond that, I no longer watch the show, and I don’t give the Montelongos a second thought.
Well, last night that all changed when I received the following email from firstname.lastname@example.org:
Re: Your web page at http://www.seanpaune.com/2007/08/26/armando-montelongo/
Armando Montelongo’s image is copyrighted. Please remove the photo you have on the above web page immediately.
Armando Montelongo Worldwide, Inc.
This email came in at 1:00 AM CST, and I replied to them at 1:10 AM CST that the image had been removed, and they replied at 1:19 AM with a simple “Thank you.” No biggie, right? Well, I have questions about this whole thing, so lets analyze it, shall we?
– Have you ever seen an email from a lawyer that didn’t include their name, let alone the name of their law firm? The law firm name I could almost excuse because it is quite possible Mr. Montelongo has a full-time lawyer on staff, but no name? Doubtful.
– It came in at 1 AM… on a Sunday night/Monday morning… of Easter weekend… what lawyer is cruising web sites looking for pictures of their clients at a time like that?
– There is an actual process to officially request the removal of copyrighted materials from a web site. I’m not going to name it here as I’m not doing the work for his “legal team”, but you would be hard pressed to find a lawyer that doesn’t know how to do it, but apparently this “legal team” is not aware of it.
In short, I feel the email I got from email@example.com was actually from Armando himself. Do I have proof? No, but considering the things I mentioned above, who else would be looking around for pictures of him at 1:00 AM. I would say “Googling himself”, but my site records show the person coming in via a Yahoo search for “Armando Montelongo”.
So, why do I bring this all up? No matter who it was behind the address, was the image really causing that much harm? It had been there for 20-months, but it doesn’t change the post which is not friendly to him at all. They also didn’t take into consideration this may lead to another post talking about Mr. Montelongo in a negative light. Or that I may contact another blogger who is considering writing about this in a future post of his own.
Reputation management is an amazing thing, and annoying bloggers is not a way to do it. Instead of getting a picture removed, they got a picture removed and yet another post on the Internet that doesn’t cast them in a favorable light. Good thinking.
There is every chance that this was an actual lawyer, actually doing his job, but there is a point where it is better to just let one slide. I obviously don’t like the guy if I took the time to write a rant about him, so what did they think I would do when they reached out to me and told me to remove an image? Yes, they got their way, mainly because I didn’t feel it was worth the headache of arguing with them, and, hey, I had to give them some sort “thank you” for giving me an excuse to write about the guy again.
My gut tells me this wasn’t really a lawyer, but I just also don’t really care. So, thank you, Armando for giving me fodder for another post!