Please help me with a VERY distressing problem!


Boy I hope this is the right forum for this. Please forgive me if it’s not. I’m literally shaking right now. I’m sorry that this will be so long-winded.

So, I run a review/research blog in which I look at old television recordings, broadcasts, and so on. I’ve taken great pains to make sure that everything I do is within the law, fair use, and so on. I take copyright law seriously and strive to never break it. I use pictures and my writing, but never video clips, and I state in my information page that I do not and will not make copies of videos for sale or trade, nor will I post videos online. I’m very, very clear about that.That WOULD be breaking copyright law, and I won’t do it. It would be illegal, and to knowingly break that law, I feel, would be a sin.

Here’s my problem. Sometime back, I wrote an article on a certain cable broadcast, and some months later, I received an email from a guy stating his dad recorded the same program for him, but it was accidentally erased, and he wanted a copy of mine, as his dad later passed away and it brought back memories. I politely told him that I was sorry for his loss, but I just don’t make copies. I thought that was the end of it.

He later sent me another email, reiterating what he said before, but this time basically telling me (in not so many words) that he was more deserving of it than me. He essentially said I was dangling it in front of him for fun, which was never the case. This email actually made me pretty angry, as if my response the first time (not to mention the rules on my site, which he had to have seen, as they’re right by my email info) wasn’t good enough. I ignored this email and marked him as spam. This all occurred several months ago. I hadn’t heard from him since, and again I thought that was the end of the matter.

Well, apparently the spam didn’t “take,” because just tonight I received another message from him. Now, he’s threatening to kill himself if I don’t send it to him, so painful are the memories of his father that I guess I’m somehow destroying. The rational part of me says this is just a ploy (a ridiculous one at that), but on the other hand, I keep thinking, “well, what if this guy really IS that disturbed?”

But then, the guy apparently has a website with a bunch of television recordings he puts on DVD for trade. I can’t remember if he sent me the link or if it’s something I stumbled upon. Either way, that’s a HUGE red flag.

Nevertheless, I’m incredibly distraught by this. I’m also furious that I’ve been put in this situation; this is a fun hobby that I enjoy writing about - how did something progress to this level? I don’t know if the guy is just bluffing, if he’s seriously that depressed, or what. I feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place, no matter what I do will be a sin (provided the guy is telling the truth and actually is suicidal). Obviously the guy is a little off no matter what if he’s lying to this degree to get a copy of something, but then, what if…? I just don’t know. Rationally, this sounds like a “oh give me a break” situation, but then, I keep second-guessing myself.

He sent me his address, and he lives nowhere near me. I really think my best course of action is to contact the police in his area. I called my brother, and that was his suggestion as well.

Please, any advice you can offer would be much appreciated.(And Prayers! Please, Pray for this guy! )


Call the police and report a suicidal person.


Report it to the police.


Done. Called them, explained the history with this guy, and forwarded them the email. It’s in God’s hands now. Please Lord let everything be okay with this situation.


You’ve done all you can, so I don’t think you need to worry about it anymore.

His words sound very much like a ploy to emotionally badger you into giving him what he wants. I had a somewhat similar experience online. I was selling a canoe and I had ignorantly undervalued it by a large amount. Among many responses, I had one guy who was e-mailing me every 30 minutes trying to get me to sell it to him right away before anyone else. He almost had me when he pitched it as “exactly” the one his kids wanted and it was going to make his kids so happy to be able to use it up at the lake.

Then I Googled the guy’s phone number and realized he’s a canoe flipper. He had sold this same canoe model twice already in the previous year. Thanks to his aggression triggering more investigation on my part, I re-posted it and sold it at full value :smiley:

Your guy’s story and escalation sounds so preposterous that I doubt it could be anything other than an emotional ploy. You shouldn’t spend any more time worrying about it. The police will probably show up at his house and he’ll have to explain why he wasted their time for nothing!


I think you’re 100% right, and the word “preposterous” fits the situation perfectly. This is a fun little hobby of mine - it may lead to greater things in the future (I’ve seen some hints), but at the end of the day, it’s just for entertainment; in the grand scheme of things, it’s not really important. And never would have I expected that my hobby would lead to such a strange scenario.

Looking at things in the light of day today, and after talking it over further with friends and family, I really do think this was little more than an attempt by him to emotionally blackmail me. Hopefully the cops put a little scare into him on that front! Suicide is not something that should ever be joked about or thrown around with abandon.

Because he included his home address, I was able to do a little online search (freely available information on the web; nothing creepy), and that, in conjunction with some things on his own website, has thrown up several red flags that don’t correlate with details he had given me previously. Without going into greater detail, I’m really thinking this was a lie from the get-go, to circumnavigate my clearly stated rules regarding copyrights and so on. When the initial attempt didn’t work, he laid on the guilt factor, and when that didn’t work, well, you’ve heard what his next course of action was.

And, if there was some kernel of truth to what he said (which I doubt), frankly, he’s got problems that go far beyond obtaining an old television broadcast. If that’s the case, it really is in God’s hands.

All that said, I actually feel more angry than anything right now. Provided this was all a lie, how DARE someone blatantly ignore the rules I have set in place to remain within the law, and then lay such a heavy emotional burden on me. It shows a total disregard for the feelings of the person on the other end of the line (me, in this case), and is supremely selfish to boot. I simply can’t comprehend how someone would or could fabricate such a story just to add an irrelevant piece of video to their collection. But, it’s the anonymous internet, such are the risks; I knew when I began this venture a few years ago that I would in all likelihood have to deal with some salty feelings/messages. I just never imagined someone would take things to such an extreme.

But, I know getting mad isn’t going to help anything. Obviously the guy, even if he isn’t suicidal, could use some Prayers. So, I humbly ask that you all send up one or two for him. I suppose that’s the best, and maybe only, thing anyone could really do at this point. Maybe God will show him, in some way, how potentially damaging what he did could be. If nothing else, maybe it will save someone like me the emotional anguish (albeit brief emotional anguish) that was caused by his actions.

And, if there’s one good thing about the experience, it’s that I was reminded how I can lean on family, friends, even you all here at CAF. I don’t have to sort things out on my own all the time. It’s something I always knew I could do, but it’s nice to be refreshed once in awhile.

Thank you all for your help!


I’ve seen people do crazy things because of their obsession to their hobbies, even without a profit motive. Which leads me to yet another story…

I listen to a genre of music that is very underground: small labels, small following, lots of band/fan interaction, etc. There was a guy a few years ago who was so crazed about being an “in the know” insider that he would approach new bands, pretend to represent a label, and get them to give him their unreleased recordings (which is standard practice when a label is considering signing a band).

Then he would post them on the Internet. The guy destroyed several bands’ potential record deals by releasing their creative effort out to the world for free download. He didn’t make any money off of it; he just really wanted to have the music in his possession before anyone else and was compelled to post it to the world to prove that he had it. He genuinely loved the music. The guy clearly had mental problems related to his hobby obsession. Your guy could be something similar.


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