The month or so after sending demand letters can be a stressful time because you are going to get phone calls and emails from people who aren’t particularly happy to have learned that you exist. However, communicating with infringers is part of the collection process. This chapter of Photo Repo details how to prepare yourself before taking calls and answering emails from copyright infringers. Topics include:
- Justifying Your Demand Fee
- Negotiating Settlement Fees
CHAPTER EXCERPT | ON GOOD NEWS CONCERNING IRATE CALLERS…
To date, no irate infringer has ever called me. In fact, I have only had one negative email exchange, and an infringer once sent me $795 through PayPal along with a note, “Hope you can sleep well at night.” Of seventeen current infringers who paid me as of this writing, ten contacted me to apologize and/or request a tax form or invoice (don’t be surprised to get a 1099 come tax season, even for amounts less than $600), four called to negotiate a lower fee, and three sent me a check in the mail without any contact. I have four other payments supposedly on the way, and I had phone or email contact with all of these infringers. As for those who do not pay, don’t expect to hear anything from them at all.
CHAPTER EXCERPT | ON PREPARING TO TALK WITH AN INFRINGER…
Regardless of an infringer’s intention for calling, you must be prepared before starting a conversation. You may have seen documentaries or read news stories about a person who was found guilty of murder based on his own confession, but who now claims he was coerced into confessing. Why in the world would someone confess to something he didn’t do? Start taking surprise calls from infringers who bombard you with questions and you will understand why. Without preparation, you are likely to say things you shouldn’t or get the facts of the case mixed up with other cases. So how do you avoid getting stuck in such a trap?
If you have the luxury of not answering the phone, you can screen your calls by using caller ID and letting unknown callers go to voice mail. If you must answer the phone and an infringer is on the other end, immediately tell him you are on another call and that you will call back within a specified time frame. This gives you a chance to re-familiarize yourself with the facts. Read your notes; read the demand letter; revisit the infringer’s website. If the infringer left a voice mail and asked questions, be prepared to answer them. You must defend your position and your settlement fee, and you cannot do this effectively if you start talking when caught off guard by a surprise phone call.
CHAPTER EXCERPT | ON DEALING WITH ATTORNEYS…
Every now and then an infringer—usually a small business owner—will tell you that he is going to get “his attorney” involved, thinking this will scare you into dropping the matter. Actually, this is great news, so encourage him to have his attorney call you ASAP. Some infringers are dead set on not paying because they think the whole thing is a scam or that you are some sort of low-life who is taking advantage of the law. Attorneys, on the other hand, even if they aren’t intellectual property attorneys, not only understand the law, they also understand how expensive litigation can get. They will recognize that your offer is indeed a good deal, and while they will still try to negotiate, in the end they will advise their clients to pay your settlement fee. I have collected on every case in which an attorney was involved.