After discovering that multiple websites had used one of his photos without permission, photographer Jay Lee began sending out DMCA takedown notifications to web hosts in an attempt to protect his copyright. One of the websites was owned by a woman named Candice Schwager, who had 14 of her sites temporarily taken offline as a result of the takedown request. Turns out Schwager is involved in both helping represent special needs children and helping a man named Louis Guthrie get elected as County Sheriff. This is where the story gets weird.
Lee and Schwager engage in an email exchange that grows increasingly bizarre, and both parties subsequently write blog posts presenting their cases. Lee published emails from Schwager (here’s a cached copy of the page) that appear to show her accusing him of conspiring against her charitable business and campaign. Schwager also published a lengthy piece titled “Chronicle’s Jay Lee’s Cheap shots at Atty4kids Nonprofit ~ Garcia Style” on one of her websites, and then emailed Lee stating that she intended to sue him for “libel, defamation, invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and seek punitive damages as well as actual, court costs, attorney fees, and interest.”
Not wanting to engage in a legal battle, Lee quickly took down his post… but not before the story began to go viral online with the help of sites like Slashdot. What began as an effort to protect one’s copyright quickly swirled into a very messy and public battle, and one of the strangest infringement stories we’ve seen thus far.
Thanks for sending in the tip, Joshua!