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Living in “The Dash” is getting Funeral Homes Fined $7,500

I got an email a few weeks ago from someone in the industry who said many funeral homes have received a copyright letter from the legal department of Linda Ellis – author of “The Dash”. The poem is basically about how your life is lived in the “dash” on your grave monument that resides between your birthdate and death date. The “dash” is where the details and story of your life are.

I wish I could post the poem here so you would know what I am talking about, but as you will read below, that wouldn’t be in my best interest! In any case, if you do not know what “The Dash” poem is you can most certainly Google it.

If you do Google “The Dash” you will find a number of different articles talking about the copyright letter being sent out. Basically anyone who has it posted on their website should remove it immediately or you are at risk of a $7,500 fine or higher.

Here is what is stated on the author’s website about the use of her poem: http://lindaellis.net/2012/02/copyright-info/.

I was able to reach out to my good friend Poul Lemasters (http://lemastersconsulting.com) about the copyright letter and what funeral homes should do if they currently have the poem posted on their website. Poul was kind enough to provide this reply:

Any allegation of a copyright infringement is a very serious matter.  It is not difficult for a copyright owner to prove an infringement claim, and for the alleged offender – it can be quite costly to defend.  Anyone who believes that someone has infringed on their copyrighted materials has a right to defend their material.  Keep in mind that just because a writing does not say it is copyrighted doesn’t mean that it’s free to use.  All current writings are automatically protected by copyright laws.  More so, just because you didn’t know doesn’t mean you aren’t liable!  And keep in mind that Federal law allows damages from $750 up to $150,000 per infringement.  So what do you do if you have an allegation against you for copyright infringement?  Do not ignore the letter.  If you ignore it and then later find yourself in a suit it could lead to higher damages.  Contact your lawyer.  I know it seems like more money but you should never settle a matter without legal representation.  Plus, it is quite possible that an attorney could get the amount reduced to a more reasonable amount, if the facts show there was an actual infringement.   Lastly, if the matter cannot be resolved through negotiations, consider contacting your insurance company for coverage; some policies cover infringement claims.

I guess if you have this poem on your website or anywhere else in your funeral home where (heaven forbid) people might read it then you should probably take it down and never mention it again, or I guess you could spending the remainder of your “dash” fighting it out in court with the author Linda Ellis!

Ryan Thogmartin

Ryan Thogmartin is founder and CEO of two innovative companies. Connecting Directors LLC (www.connectingdirectors.com) and Disrupt Media Group, LLC (www.disruptmg.com). ConnectingDirectors.com is the premier progressive online publication for funeral professionals. ConnectingDirectors.com is a thriving global publication with a reader base of over 15,000 of the most elite and forward-thinking professionals in the industry.

Disrupt Media Group, LLC is a social media marketing solutions firm. Disrupt MG focuses on proficiently assisting small businesses in creating engaging social media marketing strategies. Without a social media marketing strategy companies and brands are just aimlessly posting without any coherent direction. Social media marketing is more than just having a Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube page; businesses have to have a strategy to telling their story, one that opens the door and starts the conversation.

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  • Rick

    Ryan as long as you have purchased the poem from her you can display it…she just like you has to make a living and what if someone was taking content from your hard work and started to use it?  How would you feel? 

    • James

      People deserve to be fairly compensated for work they create! I am sure you would have a real issues if someone used material from your “site” for their own financial gain and it took money out of your pocket. I would wager you would “dash” a cease and desist letter yourself!

      • Innocentinfringer

        Fairly compensated? $7500 for sharing 242 words with people who are in grief? Fair? Lie your dash Linda. Your frans are watching.
        For information on how to fight this troll visit http://www.extortionletterinfo.com

  • Ashley Rivera

     ”I guess if you have this poem on your website or anywhere else in your
    funeral home where (heaven forbid) people might read it then you should
    probably take it down and never mention it again, or I guess you could
    spending the remainder of your “dash” fighting it out in court with the
    author Linda Ellis!” I laughed so hard when I read the above statement.  Made my day.

  • Site_Designer

    Why shouldn’t she be able to protect her copyright?? We have had someone attempt to directly copy our work and had to send a cease and desist letter outlining the infringement as well as clear consequences for non-compliance.  It worked, too. 

    • UncleJohnsBand

      There is nothing wrong with her protecting her copyright.   You did what most people would do and send a take down notice.  If the take down notice doesn’t work then it is fair to escalate.  But when you see the tactics she is using to scare people into paying her money, you might question whether the means justify the ends.

  • Jkirschenbaum12

    According to her site, you can read the poem during services, but you cannot reproduce or print copies

  • Doug

    The poem is the author’s intellectual property and she has every right to protect her work. Rather than making the author sound like she’s being petty, you should have linked to her website for her point of view of copyright to fairly report both sides of this issue. http://lindaellis.net/2012/02/copyright-info/

    • Auctionapril

      Dough who are  you kidding. Linda Ellis is a copyright troll who makes a living off of trolling not that stupid poem.

  • MisssB

    If you have received a letter, here is a forum that you might be interested in:  http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/linda-ellis-lindas-lyrics-dash-poem-letters-forum/

  • Auctionapril

    Don’t bend over so fast. Check out this blog for more information on Linda Ellis and The Dash poem. Join us in fighting back. Nobody has to pay her and nobody should for fair use. http://www.extortionletterinfo.com/forum/linda-ellis-lindas-lyrics-dash-poem-letters-forum/  And this forum
    http://www.aprilbrown.com/copyright-infringement-the-das/

    You are being harassed by a copyright troll.

  • April Brown

    The Dash Between is a better poem and it’s free.The Dash Betweenby Ron Tranmer©
     
    I stood there near the headstone
    of one I loved, and cried.
    Beneath his name was there engraved,
    date of birth - and date he died.
     
    The thought came quickly to my mind,
    these years leave much unseen.
    Far more meaningful it seems
    is the dash – which lies between.
     
    The years within that little dash
    live on in memory,
    and represent the precious life
    of one who’s dear to me.
     
    In time I too shall pass away
    and in the ground I’ll lie.
    Will those I love and leave behind
    stand at my grave and cry?
     
    Our life here upon the earth
    can end in but a flash.
    Are we wisely using
    the time within our dash?
     
    Do we look for opportunities
    to do a kindly deed,
    and show love and understanding
    to those who are in need?
     
    For If our hearts are full love
    throughout the time we’re here,
    we’ll be loved by all who knew us,
    and our memory they’ll hold dear.
     
    And there upon our headstone,
    shining ever bright and bold,
    that little dash between our years
    will be a dash of gold.
    This poem is copyrighted but may be reproduced for private, non-commercial use. The text must be reproduced completely, without adding or subtracting words, and the author’s name must acknowledged along with the copyright symbol. For commercial interest of this  poem, contact the author,
    Ron Tranmer, at rontranmerpoetry@gmail.com

  • UncleJohnsBand

    This is sad.  There is a vibrant community of people fighting copyright trolls like Linda Ellis.   Anyone getting one of these extortion letters should go to ExtortionLetterInfo.com and look in the forum they have dedicated to dealing with Linda Ellis.  The link is:  http://bit.ly/KDtyIT   Take advantage of the resources there, the resources will help you fight your fight.  Also post your story as we are gearing up for some major media interviews about what is going on.   If the article doesn’t sadden you enough, you should also know that Linda has been hired twice by the National Funderal Directors Association to speak at their events (this is posted on her website).  So, she is getting money from you in every way possible.

  • emerald_nicole

    I agree she has a right to protect her copyright, but she is asking people who simply showed her poem on their website as it is considered inspirational. Those who unknowlingly share it are not doing it to make a profit. Sorry, but $7500? No……sorry, that’s a ridiculous sum of money. She is not even sending a cease and desist letter to start with. A lot of people aren’t aware there is a stringent copyright on this poem, and THAT’S what she she banks on. Its one thing to target businesses for copyright infringement but quite another that she also targets people going through grief who have posted the poem on a personal blog because it was read at a their loved one’s funeral.