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Hey Affiliates - Screw You! (pass it on)

If this new ICANN proposal called “Rapid Suspension System” goes through, I can cheaply file a complaint to get your affiliate landing pages taken down immediately. Shoot first and ask questions later! Think about that… I file for next to nothing, claim your Acai-berri site is confusingly similar to my Acai-beari site, and your landing page goes “bye bye” while your PPC campaigns click away into the red. Don’t even think about arguing… it goes off line FIRST (I’ll make sure it’s on a Friday at 4:45pm heh heh).

Send an email to ICANN right NOW saying “no way to rapid dispute system”(mailto:) it could save your future.

When opportunity knocks you have to answer. This time, it’s a “negative knock”. That means if you don’t answer, you don’t just miss an opportunity but lose out later, when the consequences of your inaction hit you smack in the face. Luckily, this one is easy. It’s a simple email. If you’re smart, you’ll send one right now.

What’s the opportunity? How about an opportunity not to have to battle Joe-abusive when he has your domain taken offline?  There’s a proposal on the table that would make it dirt cheap and simple for just about anyone to file a claim that YOUR domain name infringes on their trademark, and to have your website immediately taken down.

The existing dispute process for internet web sites (domains) costs about $1600 bucks. A trademark holder has to make a case for why your web site is infringing on their trademark, before they can get anything changed. And of course you have a right to answer the complaint. This process keeps things “civil”…. it takes effort and some money to acuse you, and you can respond reasonably (or tell them to take a walk) with no cost. Only after a claim has been made, debated, and judged, does your website come down.

We also have the DMCA, which can be used for more immediate concerns (but which also has a penalty for mis-use).

But now a lobby group for big corporations has pushed to change the  system so they can get your site taken down for a few dollars, based on their claim that it infringes. What do you think? Do you agree with me that this would mean constant headaches for you?  Bad idea.

So tell them so. Just send an email to irt-final-report@icann.org and say “No way! Bad idea!” and tell them you do NOT support this “Uniform Rapid Suspension System”.

I have a website I’ve used for email and a home page for about 8 years, which is a clever twist on a word. I have received  inquiries from companies over the years, because they, too use that same clever twist on the word. They have asked about buying it from me, asked whether I would link to them, or if I would help promote their products (for free). They have never filed a dispute claim because I would probably win and they don’t want to waste $1600. Even though I never trademarked it, I had it first, and it is not (despite their wishes) truly infringing on their trademarks. Under this new proposal, they could take my site offline immediately at almost no cost to themselves. Is that fair? Think about the leverage they would gain if that was a revenue producing site. For each day it was off line, it would be costing ME money, putting pressure on ME to negotiate out of the mess that I had nothing to do with in the first place. When I think like a dirty bastard, I imaging all sorts of cute ways this could be used as an anti competitive  tactic in the affiliate world!

Just think of all of the affiliate sites that could be immediately taken off line because some company claims the websites are “confusingly similar” or files some other grey area complaint, knowing they don’t need to actually make a case, just file a complaint. THINK OF THE LOST PPC REVENUES when your landing page goes offline but you don’t know it!

This is pretty important -send an email TODAY and let ICANN know you won’t tolerate big business telling us how the Internet will be managed. Do it now, because in a few weeks, it might be too late, and you’ll probably regret it as your web sites get  taken down.

Perhaps most important, pass the word. Let everyone in online marketing know about this a.s.a.p. because this is under consideration NOW and the comment period closes in JUNE!

Update: Okay I’m rewriting this… I noted in this update how Shawn Collins podcast got this all wrong, but I’ll grant that a conversational podcast is not the best format for accurate reporting. I’ll also grant that I didn’t want to spend all day arguing about it, so I’m re-thinking how I shall handle this.I saved everything and will review it more carefully.. might even make a transcript. I saved Shawn’s comment in moderation since it just furthered the confusion. I’ll release it when I update or if Shawn wants me to, although I doubt he does.
For those who followed along, One: I feel disrespected by the “swine flu” reference. Two: one of the self-proclaimed leaders of the affiliate industry decided to address the issue in front of his audience, while showing that he doesn’t understand the issue and doesn’t respect those giving it attention. That means it is my civic duty to either call him out on it (a.k.a. challenge the authority) or find out why, and three: I’m not sure how important that fact is, or how much time it deserves.

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11 Responses to “Hey Affiliates - Screw You! (pass it on)”

  1. www.dotwtf.com Says:

    Great article, found it from thedomains.com. Thanks for the info

  2. wannadevelop.com Says:

    Those shady motherf*ckers….

  3. Anthony Main Says:

    Whilst I appreciate your views, Im not sure that they are a little ignorant, now I hold no prior knowledge of the matter, so excuse me if Im stepping over the mark, but I would hope to imagine that ICANN aren’t really that stupid and that they will not be running this new program quite so cut and dry as you make it sound.

    I feel you need to back your summary up with some fact as there doesnt appear to be any official references to this plan of action, other than a request for change

  4. Avery Says:

    This is insane. I’ve had this forwarded to tons of people and am showing as many people as I can. Say no!

  5. NickB Says:

    One good idea might be to create a quick form letter that we can copy and paste into an email. I’ve seen some other political-type sites that have used this successfully. It might help this page “convert” better, and get more emails out the door. Sending my note now. :)

  6. NickB Says:

    This is what I came up with, you can copy/paste if you like. John, if you could check for general accuracy I’d love to hear your feedback.

    —copy below—

    To whom it may concern,

    I am just dropping a line to protest the new ICANN proposal of the “Uniform Rapid Suspension System”, as I feel that this could have serious impacts on the online affiliate business and the PPC campaigns that advertise for these businesses. Please re-consider all of the impacts to small business before you pass this new rule.

    At a bare minimum this proposal could allow bigger companies to implement a “shoot first and ask questions later” policy when it comes to competing websites. Worse, it could be used by a competitor to harm other competing websites, and impact their bottom line.

    As it is now, there is a fairly low barrier (About $1,600) for the existing dispute process for companies that truly feel that their content or rights are being infringed on. I think that if a company is serious about getting a site taken down because of trademark infringement or similar issues, the existing cost and process is actually fairly inexpensive. But this cost also acts as a filter to keep frivolous claims from surfacing.

    Thank you very much for your time and consideration.

  7. Rob Woods Says:

    This is crazy! There needs to be a middle ground somewhere. The company I work for is frequently the victim of trademark infringements and theft of other digital assets. $1600 per complaint makes it impossible for a small to medium company to defend their copyrights but a system that takes a site down with little review and little recourse from the site being taken down is insane.

  8. Geld lenen Says:

    This is just insane! Especially affiliate sites could get some serious issues with this system. It’s not fair, to say the least.

  9. Rick Says:

    Based on these two paragraphs from the pdf I’m not sure that this is as bad as it seems:

    “Where there is any genuine contestable issue as to whether a domain name registration and use is an abusive use of a trademark, the complaint will be denied terminating the URS process without prejudice to further action, e.g., a UDRP or court proceeding. The URS is not intended for use in any questionable proceedings, but only clear cases of trademark abuse.

    Finally, as a balance of fair interests and to prevent abusive use of the process, any trademark owner found to repeatedly misuse the URS, for example for anti-competitive purposes or to violate free speech, will be removed from the system and denied access to the URS for a set period of time.”

  10. john andrews Says:

    @Rick - yes, but I view that as part of the problem. Give someone a hammer and then hand them a rulebook about proper use of the hammer, and you’re gonna find a lot of dented stuff despite the rulebook. Instead, pre-qualify who gets a hammer?

    From what I understand, if the rapid suspension system exists it will be used first, regardless of the rulebook. One lawyer’s “genuine contestable issue” is another lawyer’s “no way that applies here” issue. Why start everything with an assumption of guilt?

    What I would love to see, but never will, is a hearing where specific made up examples of potentially conflicting domains are presented for debate as to whether they are suitably “contestable” or not. That would be so revealing… too revealing probably. But one thing seems certain — affiliates will get screwed because they ride the line called opportunity, time is money, and opportunity waits for no one.

  11. mr doors Says:

    That is incredible, and it is up to their discretion whether my landing page it too similar to another’s? Shocking stuff.

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