I just got a cease and desist letter from a company that claims the Hollywood sign is one of it's clients. They are demanding monetary damages for a tourist photo of the sign I have on my website. Help. WTF? Etc.
So I was at first assuming this was an April fools joke, but they do indeed claim the sign as a client
. And they do send out cease and desists and demand damage payments
for using the photo. And the Hollywood Chamber website does say
you need permission to use images of the sign. This is news to me.
Their claim is that the photo on my website "may represent an unlawful attempt to associate [my website] with the Property and improperly indicates the Chamber's endorsement and / or approval of [my website] and their services."
They want money. I'm suppose to give them all documents necessary for them to determine how much I owe them.
Now....... It's just a tourist photo. And I explicitly make no copyright claims about the photo. And it's not used in any way that even the most determined lawyer could argue constitutes or suggests any association or endorsement. I have Google ads, but I'm not selling anything, and the site has nothing to do with Hollywood, movies, Los Angeles, or movie stars.
I don't think I'm doing anything even remotely wrong here, and I don't want to take the photo off my website. But there is the threat to obtain monetary damages to deal with as well. My initial reaction is to hire a lawyer and counter sue them, but I have no idea where to go with that.
My question - What are my options here, and my best course of action? I'm not rich, so fighting this in court isn't something I can bankroll. But if they are indeed going to try and squeeze $5000 from me I'd rather use that money for a lawyer than just hand it over.