I'm a little torn about mentioning this on here, but it's just too damn weird and seems to get weirder by the day. Back in 2008, a very nice woman (I'm not going to put her name up here unless I have to, in case what's going on isn't her fault) emailed me, saying that she was a local artist and music fan, and she wanted to see about helping out with this little site. We emailed back and forth a few times, she seemed pretty cool, and so we sent her a handful of CDs to review; that's usually how it works.
She emailed not long after that about a Christmas-type craft market she was involved in at a local church, and it sounded cool, so I mentioned something about it on the blog, then ended up going to the actual thing. The woman I'd talked to online spotted me and introduced herself, and she seemed nice, friendly, and sane. Over the course of the next year, she wrote a dozen or so reviews for the site, all of which I liked and happily posted up on SCR.
Now, however, I've gotten a series of increasingly deranged emails from this person's email address, and I'm not sure what the hell is going on. She emailed a while back to wish me & the fam a merry Christmas, to which I sent back the same, and then this week I started receiving bizarro emails like this, ostensibly from her:
MR. JEREMY HART,
YOU HAVE 24 HOURS TO REMOVE ANY MENTION OF THE NAME 'XXXXXX' AND ANY
AND ALL WRITTEN CONTRIBUTIONS
FROM THIS WRITER.
ATTORNEY AT LAW
PAGE 2 OF 2
MR. JEREMY HART OWNER OF WWW.SPACECITYROCK.COM
YOU ARE HEREBY ORDERED TO PERMANENTLY DELETE/ERASE ANY AND ALL CONTRIBUTIONS
MADE BY XXXXX
WHETHER IT BE WRITTEN OR PHOTOGRAPHIC IN NATURE. HER NAME OR CONTRIBUTIONS
ARE TO BE SEEN NO WHERE ON
WWW.SPACECITYROCK.COM OR ANY AFFILIATES OR SUBSIDIARIES THEREOF.
THIS IS YOUR FIRST AND FINAL WARNING.
ATTORNEY AT LAW
Naturally, my first thought was, "holy shit, am I being sued by The Texas Hammer? Badass!", but that probably just shows I watch waaaay too much late-night TV. My second thought was significantly more confused, something along the lines of, "wha?"
I responded that I thought this was a scam and wanted to hear from the writer itself before I did anything. So then the capper came today (with all formatting and language intact, minus stuff that'd identify the actual writer):
To: Jeremy Hart,
XXXXX here. The reason that you totally SUCK at managing and updating your
website is because you are currently living in hell on earth since you
choose money over Jesus & family. You sold your soul to the devil and you
look fucking ugly as shit and have no friends because of it. The only way
that you can get out of the fiery furnace of never-ending hell is when you
remove my name, articles, photos that I provided and/or donated. There shall
be no trace of my name or contributions on this site of yours. I never gave
you copyright permissions. If you choose to deny Christ and you don't follow
these instructions your soul will burn eternally forever and ever and ever
and ever times infinity. WS:
*If you want to get even MORE out of HELL than you should give away *
*everything you own including your house and cars to charity and live in a
homeless shelter or on the street until God directs you further on where to
go and what to do. Let your family take care of themselves. *
*You are an unfit father and deserve only the worst condemnation that's
coming to you.*
- REMOVE IMMEDIATELY --- THE CLOCK IS TICKING AND YOU ARE ALMOST DEAD.
Wow. I'm even more confused about this mess than I was with the first emails. Now, there've been situations in the past where a writer needed me to remove something they'd written -- in general, it's been because they were able to sell a piece to a real-live paid publication, and hey, I can't fault 'em for that. I've always, always, always done what they'd requested and taken it down ASAP. This is a volunteer-driven site, and despite the copyright notice at the bottom of the pages, I don't consider myself to be the final owner of the content; that's primarily there to protect the writers from having their writing swiped by some other site or publication.
In this case, though, I was pretty pissed after reading the last email (there was another in there that quoted Biblical verse and said something about how this person has the keys to Heaven and I don't), and I was not inclined to give in to any demands. Here's my response:
XXXXX -- assuming, of course, that you actually *are* XXXXX, since you sound absolutely nothing like any other correspondence I've received from this address -- I'll make my initial response simple: no. That's the gist of it, but if you'd like further elaboration, read on.
First of all, I suspect this whole thing is a scam by somebody who's pirated this address and who is attempting to make the real XXXXX look bad. Especially because of those initial emails purporting to be from lawyer Jim "The Texas Hammer" Adler (yes, I watch local TV, too), which I'm fairly sure were fraudulent. If I'm wrong about that, and this really *is* XXXXX, I've apparently misjudged you greatly these past several months and sure wish I knew what the heck triggered this.
Second, removing the reviews is extremely unfair to the bands and musicians being reviewed. I'll immediately remove "your" *name* from the reviews, if that's what you'd like, but I'm not taking 'em down. I'll refrain from posting the several sets of pictures you sent, however.
Third, in exchange for the reviews, I sent you CDs (for all but the XXXXX and XXXXX reviews) that were received by me from various PR companies and record labels and for which I am responsible. Unless I am able to return all that promotional material to the labels and PR people in question, I don't feel comfortable removing the reviews. I'm not in the business of giving away CDs just for grins. You want the reviews down? If you really *are* XXXXX, then you should be able to send me back the CDs I sent and delete all related digital media from your hard drive.
Fourth, threats and the like only serve to piss me off and make me *less* likely to do what you want me to do, particularly since you miss the mark repeatedly. I'm choosing money over Jesus and family? Wow -- I'll have to remember to tell my wife when I get home that I've been raking it in all these years with the Website, and we can finally retire to our private island. Please. I have yet to make a single dollar of profit from running this site, but have instead sunk thousands of dollars of my own money into it, because I genuinely love music and want to help out bands and musicians both in Houston and elsewhere.
I suck, as you put it, at managing this site because I have to have a 9-to-5 day job to be able to continue to afford to run it. Claiming that I "choose money" is ridiculous and demonstrates that you don't know what the hell you're talking about. As for how I should give away all my possessions and live in a homeless shelter, well, thanks for the advice, but no.
The ironic thing is that if you'd come to me and said, "hey, I really need you to take down all the stuff I wrote and remove my name from your site; I'm really sorry, but I've got a conflict with having it all up there," I'd have taken it down. Immediately. Since you decided to go about this in this way, however, I'll be damned (get it? ha!) if I give in to your threats and smears. And as for the vitriolic attacks on me and my family, particularly the bit about me being an unfit father, you can go fuck yourself.
Now, I'll admit that I'm no lawyer, so I'm curious to hear what the legal ramifications of this might be. Can I be sued if I refuse to remove the writer's material from the site? As I said above, I've generally done so in the past when it was requested, so I've never run into this before. I definitely can't afford to fight a lawsuit, especially not over some bullshit like this, so I'm just curious as to how long to fight it. Any lawyers out there feel like weighing in? Keep in mind that here at SCR we generally don't use contracts or anything.
I should say, by the way, that if this whole thing didn't seem so damn shady and strange, I'd have gladly taken down the "offending" articles. I'm not going to let a band or musician bully SCR into removing a negative review, no, but I respect the people who selflessly give their time, energy, and creativity to write for this site, and I consider their work to be theirs. So I guess my letter above's a bit of a bluff, or at least just a middle finger to somebody who's either a scam artist or has gone off the rails and started behaving inappropriately.
I'd also wanted to post this up here in the off-chance that whoever's been emailing me is a con artist posing as this writer. If she sees the first part of this post, she'll know I'm talking about her; if this isn't you sending all this crap, email me at "gaijin" at "spacecityrock dot com", please, and let me know. If it is you, well, you can re-read the last sentence of my email above a few more times.
Labels: Admin Stuff, Random Ramblinggaijin || Link || E-mail || 7 comments
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