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When Free Speech Becomes Stolen Speech
I'm a fierce defender of freedom of speech, including your right to criticize me, make fun of me, parody me, and call me an ignoranus -- providing you don't steal my name to do it.

In other words, site names like AmyAlkonsucks.com, AmyAlkonisamoron.com, and AmyAlkoneatssnot.com are just fine with me. The moment you take my name, however, and make it look like the site is mine, I'm going to legally fuck you up the ass with a sharp stick, as long and hard as the law and your savings will allow.

I actually think the parody site just put up about me is sort of funny, particularly the part about the minor skin disease spread across the population, and how 2% of it is "The Alkon Family." Too bad the person who put it up doesn't have the sense or the ethics to know not to steal my name and make it the site name look like it's actually mine.

Actually, come to think of it, if they hadn't done that, I'd probably just be pleased, and kind of flattered, and I'd probably put a link to the parody site on my blog.

Posted by aalkon at May 5, 2007 10:59 AM

Comments

Can't we comment on it...and abuse him?

Posted by: Brian at May 5, 2007 3:05 PM

Actually, I have to get the site taken down, and I don't want to drive any traffic there.

The person is such an idiot. Had they just put this up so it didn't look to be my site, they wouldn't have had a problem from me. I've just wasted 20 minutes trying to find the e-mail address of the correct legal counsel to get the site removed.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 5, 2007 3:10 PM

I figured there was a reason you didn't put up the URL. Do you know who it is, or a specific why?

Speaking of, whatever happened to that guy who was Abraham Sunshine or whatever's uncle? Did he finally get over it?

Posted by: Brenda at May 5, 2007 4:13 PM

Actually, I sent him (Forrest MacGregor) an e-mail telling him he needs to turn over the web addresses with my name that he's squatting on. I was so busy with everything Cathy was going through that I didn't have the time to pursue a case against him, which, unfortunately, may be expensive. I think I may have to go through icann in D.C.

For anybody who knows the process of dealing with domain squatters, please advise (this guy bought AmyAlkon.net and other names as a revenge move I criticized the use of the bullshit "Hoxsey treatment" for his nephew who had cancer).

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 5, 2007 4:19 PM

Amy,

Considering you are the queen of revenge, you have to tip your hat to the guy who registered your names.

Having worked for a very well-known brand where we had the same issue, I know that its either going to cost you money to buy the domain names from the person (which doesn't sound like an option), or thousands in legal fees. And that might not be enough to get the domain names assigned to you. You have to show that the purpose of the puchase was designed as a way to impact your reputation, brand or otherwise.

By the way, who is Cathy? Your partner?

Posted by: Brian at May 5, 2007 5:17 PM

Considering you are the queen of revenge, you have to tip your hat to the guy who registered your names.

Quite the contrary. I am not for revenge but for ethical redress of wrongs. What he did is not ethical, and I believe it's against the rules of ICANN (although maybe I have to wait until somebody uses the name to pursue it -- not sure).

He intended to use the ownership of these sites in my name to silence me from free speech -- to intimidate me out of commenting further on the parents' irresponsibility in giving the kid the Hoxsey treatment. The guy is a scumbag.

The difference is, again, I'm all for free speech -- not when you steal my name. MacGregor was free to create a site saying "Amy Alkon is wrong about Cherrix, and she's mean, too," or whatever.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 5, 2007 6:55 PM

Here's more on the subject:

http://www.wipo.int/amc/en/processes/process2/rfc/rfc3/report.html

The Emerging Law of Personality Rights 145. The personality right, also known as the "right of publicity" in certain jurisdictions, has been defined as "the inherent right of every human being to control the commercial use of his or her identity." 93 According to the modern view, the legal right is said to be infringed by an unauthorized use of a person’s identity which is likely to damage the commercial value of the identity and which is not immunized by principles of free speech or free press. 94 The legal right reflects a view that human identity, in certain instances, constitutes an intellectual property right with measurable commercial value. One needs only to consider, for example, a certain young golfer who has emerged to dominate the professional golf tour in recent years to understand the potential value that can be assigned to one’s personal identity by the forces of supply and demand in the marketplace.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 5, 2007 6:56 PM

Actually, in many cases getting one's own name assigned back is not too difficult. Others, especially of the 'sucks' variety, will be nearly impossible, especially if the parody is clear.

Posted by: Jennifer Emick at May 5, 2007 6:58 PM

Do you know the process, Jennifer, and how costly it is?

Forrest MacGregor e-mailed me:

I now own AmyAlkon.net, .biz, .info, .org, nd .us.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 5, 2007 7:15 PM

He paid for 'em; why should you spend any money. He's probably laughing at the tsuris he's caused you already.

I suppose he could post racial epithets or porn or an invocation for readers to accept Jesus as their true savior or something, but that's just him going to more trouble. If it gets actionable, that's the time to pull out the heavy artillery.

Posted by: Todd Everett at May 5, 2007 10:41 PM

Amy -

Going through ICANN will be the most easiest, most cost-effective solution. Julia Roberts brought the first high-profile case against someone who had put up an honest fan site at juliaroberts.(something) and won through the ICANN private arbitration.

Downside? No cash rewards at ICANN. Re-registering the site is the only remedy available to you.

Otherwise, you can sue this person in federal court for copyright and publicity rights violations. But proving actual damages may be difficult, and expensive.

Posted by: snakeman99 at May 5, 2007 11:26 PM

I don't want to sue MacGregor -- I just don't think it's right that he's bought up all these sites with my name and is using them to try to intimidate me from speaking freely.

As for the twit who put up the site I'm talking about here, Gregg was flying back from Detroit tonight, and I could have spent the night giving advice to the 30 or so people I have in my e-mail backlog. Instead, I spent it writing letters and providing documentation for lawyers...grrr! I would like to sue this person for costing me about four hours of work today - three of them during my prime writing time.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 6, 2007 12:17 AM

Cathy is my good friend Cathy Seipp, who just died of lung cancer. I was part of a group of about 20 of her close friends called "Team Cathy" who took care of her, saw that all her needs were met, and saw that she was never alone, until her last moment on the planet. Emmanuelle Richard made a Google calendar, the "Team Cathy Calendar" so we could see she always had somebody there with her at home or somebody to drive her to chemo, etc. -- a good idea, I think, for anybody who has a close friend going through this who has a group of people who want to take care of them.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 6, 2007 7:31 AM

Posted by: Michelle at May 6, 2007 5:36 PM

The link below describes the factors a court may consider, as detailed in the federal statute The Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act: http://www.vincenti.com/html/cybersquatting.html

Posted by: Michelle at May 6, 2007 5:44 PM

Are you Art Michelle or Law Michelle?

[Out of that chador!]

Posted by: Crid at May 6, 2007 8:31 PM

Interesting. We at the Festering Swamp thought it was the work at Troll Dolls at first. Then I noticed it was somewhat funny, and wondered at that. It was too well done to be the work of that loser.

Posted by: Bradley J. Fikes at May 6, 2007 8:43 PM

"Are you Art Michelle or Law Michelle?"

The latter. In a former life, I was an art Michelle... now I'm a lowly law student whose ears perk up at any mention of intellectual/ creative property infringement.

I tend to chime in when I'm procrastinating studying for my finals, or have completed them.

Posted by: Michelle at May 6, 2007 9:51 PM

Wow...thanks so much, Michelle. Especially for that Vincenti link. The problem is that I don't really have the cash around to bring a suit against the guy, who's in another state. Maybe I could let a lawyer who takes the case keep the damages from suing Forrest MacGregor -- or maybe there wouldn't be enough in dollars of damages. I just don't need the insecurity and chill on my free speech of somebody owning these names. And it's just plain wrong.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 6, 2007 9:58 PM

PS The guy is in another state -- somewhere in the south, I think. It doesn't seem like the International Shoe case "minimum contacts" standard would apply here (ie, that he'd have to come to me -- if I sued him in Santa Monica or Los Angeles).

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 6, 2007 10:00 PM

“property rights infringement.”

Posted by: Michelle at May 6, 2007 10:04 PM

Thanks - that's very helpful. Combined that search with International Shoe and found this:

http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:-rwwaMrWDk0J:www.idea.piercelaw.edu/articles/38/38_2/9.Yagura.pdf+“property+rights+infringement%22+International+shoe&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=us&client=safari

The minority approach allows a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant at the plaintiff's primary place of business where the plaintiff actually suffered the economic harm from loss of sales. For example, in Acrison, Inc. v. Control and Metering Limited, the court applied this rule in a patent infringement case where a nonresident patentee sued the defendant German corporation in Illinois. n69 The court stated: "Damage to intellectual property rights (infringement of a patent, trademark or copyright) by definition takes place where the [*315] owner suffers the damage." n70 The court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. n71 In most of the recent domain name cases, the plaintiff brought a trademark infringement action at its primary place of business against a nonresident defendant who registered the plaintiff's trademark as a domain name. In each of the cases, the nonresident defendant had no contacts with the forum state other than through the web site, which could be accessed by Internet users within that forum state

Any idea on how expensive it would be to sue this guy to get my names back if I do it in LA?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 6, 2007 10:19 PM

What this person is doing is pretty pathetic. However, after just reading your first post (without knowing too much about the sordid details) I found myself becoming inspired to make an Amy Alkon spoof site. Or try those All in good fun, of course.

Not sure I will have the time, given that I'm pretty busy creating content for my pro-science/pro-silliness website. In the meanwhile, any other takers? Crid? Lena? I'm sure there's a cookie in it for you somewhere.

Posted by: Jamie at May 7, 2007 12:49 PM

I really am all for it. I think it's very flattering. Just don't use my copyrighted material on the site or steal my name, and I'll most likely thank you.

Incidentally, anybody got a phone number for any of the corporate counsel at Google? Please email it to me at adviceamy AT aol dot com if you do.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at May 7, 2007 3:10 PM

"Any idea on how expensive it would be to sue this guy to get my names back if I do it in LA?"

Very. If the goal is simply the return of the domain to you, ICANN is the way to go.

Posted by: snakeman99 at May 7, 2007 5:07 PM

"Amy Strap-On, the Advice Dominatrix??"

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