In my first three attempts at collecting on copyright infringements, I successfully settled 44%, 57%, and 55% of the cases. This wasn’t bad considering many of these were pre-registration violations, but nevertheless, there was room for improvement. I took a closer look at my demand letter, the fees I was requesting, and my letter-sending practices, but I could find no glaring shortcomings. Then, during my fourth attempt at collecting in July 2018, I noticed that many of the infringers who did not pay, including several large companies, did not remove my photographs from their websites. This was odd since removing the photo is usually an infringer’s first course of action. All had received my certified letter, and I had a Return Receipt with a signature.
I began to suspect that while my letter was delivered and signed for, perhaps it wasn’t getting into the hands of whoever was in charge of such matters. This gave me the idea to send a second letter by regular mail stating that I had not received payment to settle the copyright dispute, so perhaps my letter had not been delivered to the right person. I extended my settlement offer for two weeks, but did not adjust the fee. I was shocked by how many payments came in as a result. In July 2018, I collected on 77% of my cases (34 out of 44), and ten payments came after sending the follow-up letter. In January 2018, I collected on 80% of the cases, and again, the follow-up letter had much to do with it.
I suspect that many who responded to my follow-up letter were on the fence about paying and finally decided that the matter wasn’t worth further legal and financial headaches. However, I also got calls from people who told me they had no idea what I was talking about and to please send a copy of the original letter to them by email. In two cases involving large companies, I got a call back and an apology, and both had a check in the mail by the end of the week.
Included in Photo Repo is the template for my follow-up letter. Purchasers of the book are free to customize it. I highly recommend that you send a follow-up letter to everyone who did not respond to your original demand letter, even to those who you know got the original letter.