A Cup of Conversation – December 2016/January 2017

I had to skip a couple articles; my apologies. Along with my very sick wife needing extended out of town medical care, we had an unexpected funeral to attend for her beloved brother and, oh yes, there’s that nasty business of being sued for copyright infringement.

Apparently, a Google thumbnail image once used in this column is owned by a big city lawyer’s client. The photo was of a man looking into a mirror image of a younger self. The lawyer demanded an immediate removal of the image plus a cashier’s check made out to the lawyer for a substantial amount of money. If these conditions were not met within thirty days, the lawyer would recommend his artist-client sue me in federal court for up to $300,000 in damages plus attorney fees and court costs. Hmmm…sued in federal court? That sounds familiar. You can’t make this stuff up.

I did not initially respond to the letter but did contact the owner to make a humble plea for mercy on grounds of innocent infringement. I did my homework but the artist was deaf to compassion (greed has that effect on people). He was busy selling his talents at $250,000 for a four-day photo shoot to see this was small ball; a no harm error. The only better gig in town is a forty-five minute speech by a public servant to a room of bankers. Instead, my email was forwarded to the opportunistic attorney along with my assertion the demand letter was a shakedown and, by the way, did he know? BA-BOOM! Now, I’m into my own lawyer for more than the price of the legal extortion and just trying to come out of this in one piece. Dad always said to go to law school. Did I listen?

I read an online review of the plaintiff’s attorney. The reviewer named the firm the Jiffy Lube of legal practice. That’s pretty funny. There is undeniable satire in the image of a self-absorbed artist looking into the mirror while his grease-monkey lawyer shakes down the coffee guy writing a good word for free in a small town paper.

I’m sorry about using an image not belonging to me. I should have known but didn’t bother to ask. Now I know. Now you know. It’s a dangerous and litigious world we created, a world where reason and common decency are bygones of a grandparent’s memory. We are proverbial frogs boiling slowly in hot cauldrons of society gone mad. I’d jump but might land in somebody’s soup and be sued for trespassing…or eaten.

For this month, I wanted to use a picture of a frog enjoying a cup of coffee while looking in the mirror at the tadpole of his younger self but it would have cost me a hundred bucks. No way, I have legal and medical bills to pay so kindly just use your imagination.

The good news is Mary Sunshine is healing; love for our brother Billy managed to mend a badly fractured family, and the publisher of this paper gave us a big credit towards future advertising to lessen my lawyer-pain.

Billy drew hundreds of people from all over to say goodbye with a huge party to celebrate his life. That sounds to me like finishing well. So, in the end, through sickness, hardness of heart, greed and even death there is still goodness, healing, charity and redemption. The latter are fingerprints of a loving and forgiving God moving us through that looking glass to the other side. Do you know this love (?)…for now we look into the mirror dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully even as I am fully known. 1 Cor 13:12