New Civilization News: Jetsetters wants to sue everybody    
 Jetsetters wants to sue everybody27 comments
2 Dec 2005 @ 21:53, by Flemming Funch

As a webmaster I regularly receive requests to remove some kind of copyright-infringing material somebody has posted. I've never gotten anything for my own blog, but it has happened often for other's blogs. Usually it is an artist who objects to somebody posting one of their pictures. And typically is is stupid of them to object, as it usually is some kind of "Here's a lovely painting from ___ and here's a link to their site". Which really is excellent free promotion for the artist. But many artists seem to be not understand how the web works, so for inexplicable reasons they'd rather be unknown and in control than have lots of people freely mention their stuff. Anyway, typically they ask relatively nicely and the "offending" material gets removed quickly.

But now, I also have this Opentopia site, which has a lot of content that's copied from other places. Mainly places that have a license that allows it. Like, Wikipedia and Open Directory. And at some point I included a lot of articles from GoArticles. It is a site where people can upload articles in any of a number of categories, which are meant to be useful and informative somehow. They're posted with a license that says that anybody can repost them, as long as the footer with the author's information is included. Most of these articles aren't exactly great, but they're somewhat informative. The posters usually put them up for some self-promoting reason, to be able to mention their website, or book, or whatever.

I hadn't really thought of all the people who would contact me based on this content. I was mainly focused on getting some free content, and then thinking about ways of adding value to it, when I got around to it. But quite a few people write to get things corrected. Or, a few suddenly decide they don't like their article to be used by anyone. Usually they include some kind of onerous wording about copyright infringement, but typically they ask fairly nicely, and I just remove their stuff, a little puzzled about why they bothered to post it in the first place, if they didn't want it out there.

The latest one got my attention a little more than normally. A guy named "Kriss Hammond" sends a message with the subject line "Lawsuit against Opentopia.com", and which goes like this:
Please remove all links or other refeence regarding Jetsetters Magazine back to your websites or blog. Please remove all feature stories from Jetsetters Magazine from your websites. Do not reference any of Jetsetters Magazine features within your websites.

We plan a ten million dollar lawsuit against your company unless all links to your sites are removed. Do not use Jetsetters Magazine material in your blogs or as an RSS feed. U.C.C. 1-207 We reserve all our rights without prejudice. We have legal representation to handle this matter. Thank you for removing any material from any of our sites from your sites, including www.jetsettersmagazine.com www.beachbooker.com or www.jetstreams.com or www.cabinweb.com

Ten MILLION dollars, wow, that's quite impressive. I'm really scared! Actually, I laughed out loud.

At first I thought it maybe was one of those magazines you get in planes, and somebody had copied some article without asking permission. But then I looked at the articles in question, and I looked around a little on the web, and saw that it was something quite different.

Kriss Hammond calls himself "The Travel Professor", and he runs some outfit that shows people how to get cheap travel, if they just pose as travel journalists and write articles about the sites and hotels and restaurants they go to. And each article must promote Hammond's site. And apparently they post these on any site they can think of that will take submitted articles. Which essentially that acts as his advertising.

Why he then suddenly doesn't want the articles is a bit puzzling. I looked through my article database and found that there were 162 of his articles, all following the same model, all with the same ad for Jetsetters Magazine at the bottom. So, I deleted all of them. Good riddance.

And I realized that the guy was just responding to Google listings. He sent me several identical messages, with a different Google listing in each one. He was threatening a 10 million dollar lawsuit to anybody who mentioned his own website. Strange. Usually that means one has something big to hide somewhere.

And I think I'm getting it. Among highly placed entries in Google we find blogs presenting a little bit of an exposee of Hammond's possibly questionable business operation. So I think he decided to just write and threaten anybody who says anything about him, without even noticing that some of them were his own promotional articles. Not too smart. I would never have cared the slightest bit who he was if he hadn't done it in such a ridiculous manner. I'd still be providing him with 162 promotional articles, and I wouldn't have been writing this little thing here.

Anyway, a professional travel writer named Carl Parkes had written in his blog a post originally entitled "The Jetsetters Scam". You can now find it in this version: The Jetsetters Story. Parkes changed a couple of words, because Hammond started sending his famous "10 million dollar lawsuit" thing to anybody and everybody. The company that made the blogger template he was using, to Google, and to who knows who.

Read follow-ups: here, here, here, here, and well, there's more after that. Parkes wisely shifts over into posting general good information about travel writer scams, fake publishing houses, etc.

Below you can see one of the letters Hammond sends out to people who're interested in his Travel Writers Network. And you can see his business plan at work there. You pay $300 for membership in his network, and he provides you with templates for how you can present yourself as a travel writer to hotels around the world, and, I assume, get cheap or free rooms, meals, etc. And then you promise to write those articles, mentioning Jetsetters Magazine as much as possible.

Is that a scam? Not necessarily. It sounds kind of questionable. But, yes, for it to be a scam, there'd have to be some victims somewhere. The hotels maybe?

But I'd say that nobody goes around threatening to sue everybody who talks about them unless they have something to hide. You be the judge.

Thank you for responding to the Travel Writers Network.

I am often called the Travel Professor. I am a former travel writing professor at a major U.S. university, and a former travel marketing professor at one of the world's largest travel schools. Jetsetters Magazine began many years ago, now found only online within our award winning travel portal at www.jetstreams.com and our wonderful destination site www.jetsettersmagazine.com.

We have created the Travel Writers Network for those aspiring and professional travel writers. We have many years in the writing business, and we have created a wonderful magazine that allows you to travel the world in style. We have created the Travel Writers Network, a membership network, for writers, artists, photographers, videographers and other artistic people, as an outlet for your writing endeavors. We help set up trips, tours, hotel stays, concert tickets, etc., once you are a paying member of the network.

We have several guidelines and forms that you utilize once you become a member of the Travel Writers Network. These forms help you draft travel requests other than the press trips our staff research. We open the doors for you by contacting a hotel sales or PR staff for a feature writing request. When asked what publication you write for, of course you have the editorial clout behind you with Jetsetters Magazine. Often you can write restaurant reviews, concert and event reviews also.

The Travel Writers Network does not pay for stories. Your compensation is an enhancement of your lifestyle through complimentary or reduced travel, journalistic recognition and the multi-faceted travel opportunities and benefits. We post your stories when completed. Just email them to our home office at jetsetters@hotmail.com

As a member of the Travel Writers Network you can post as many stories as you wish, but we do require at least two travel pieces annually to stay active in The Travel Writers Network. You receive a byline on all your stories. Jetsetters Magazine retains the rights to all stories to avoid the recent Supreme Court copyright decision regarding freelance features appearing online. This decision primarily impacts online magazines such as Jetsetters Magazine.

As you know, many assignments require an editorial letter; again this comes from our staff assistants and editors monitoring The Travel Writers Network. We charge an annual fee of $300 to join The Travel Writers Network for one reason only — to pay for the staff assistants that contact press bureaus, convention and visitors authorities, suppliers, wholesalers, etc. We act on your behalf. We open many travel writing doors for your.

We work for you. For a small amount of money, $300, we offer you the world. It barely covers our costs to operate the program, but we want to run your features, and we want to truly enhance your lifestyle. These assistants and editors coordinate The Travel Writers Network program for your lifestyle enhancement. Your $300 will be quickly reimbursed on usually one trip. And remember, as a freelance, independent travel writer, all expenses are tax deductible.

I know it is easy to be skeptical in paying to join an organization, but there are millions of resorts and hotels that need publicity, and are happy to comp our writers for an article in the online Jetsettters Magazine. Readers can actually book the hotels with real time availability and pricing right from your feature story. No other magazine online or off line offers this feature!

Sincerely;

Kriss Hammond - The Travel Professor
Editor
Jetsetters Magazine

P.S. My next trip is Fiji !!!
--------
May 16th, 2008: There's a new chapter in the story, as Kriss Hammond sent me some new threats. See: Kriss Hammond wants to change my financial status


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27 comments

2 Dec 2005 @ 22:04 by vibrani : I don't think
it's fair or true to make the generalization - it doesn't apply to everyone who threatens to sue or sues. Talking about someone is not the same as posting copyrighted articles by them (without their permission). But if it's slanderous talk, then there could be a case. (re: But I'd say that nobody goes around threatening to sue everybody who talks about them unless they have something to hide.) While we can't control everybody and everything they post on the internet, we have the right to be discerning as to where we want our articles posted and with whom we wish to be affiliated.  


2 Dec 2005 @ 22:14 by vaxen : He's...
probably an OSA spy. Hey, I just won a cool few million dollars, actually over 5, from sweepstakes in the E.U. and Ireland too! So, I've been planning on giving it to my R6 Bank in Geneva where our good friend Shenu runs the presses and takes ''charge'' off the gold and silver we deposit there but instead maybe you can use it against ''frivolous'' law suits?

"Postulates are AS-ISnesses. They are posted beingnesses, just color forms we put up on the color form screen. They fade ir vanish unless assigned false significances to give them USE."---FAF

There were nine flows out of...

NATIVE STATE

"See how far you can go with it."---Yatrus

Hey, MS is using AJAX for their upcoming sheise! Cool...
My postulates are being used by everyone but I don't sue! ;)
Maybe I should? Heh!  



2 Dec 2005 @ 22:21 by ming : Laws
There are certainly legitimate uses of copyright laws and legal action for people who deliberatly are infringing on them, or who are posting blatantly false information.

But there are some people who work up some kind of artificial machinery to have loads of positive mentions from people who get an incentive for writing them, and who also tries to threaten and intimidate anybody who dares to post a different opinion.  



2 Dec 2005 @ 23:07 by vaxen : Yes...
but in the case of legitimate ''Corporations'' such as RTC, as an example, one must remember that those very same codes (UCC) constrain those Corporations who have ceded 'copyright materials,' regardless of whetehr or not they stole them from legitimates, must give suit when the laws (UCC) are infringed upon regardless of by whom and in what context or they lose their ''copyright protections.'' Thus Lady Jane absolutely must give chase...

It's an old Marcabian ploy, true, but we are either ''Players'' on this U-0'' or...

Game Master, Game Maker, Umpire, Game Un-Maker.

I'd rather be a Player than a piece wouldn't you? ;)  



3 Dec 2005 @ 07:34 by Andrius Kulikauskas @193.219.5.40 : Google rank?
Hi Flemming, I'm wondering if it's just a way of building Google rank. Everybody like you who links to him, no matter how negative, builds up his search engine ranking. Imagine if he could infuriate the whole world... then he'd be ranked No.1 !  


3 Dec 2005 @ 09:20 by jstarrs : I can't help wondering what sort of...
..sad ol' sorry kind of life that guy must lead.  


3 Dec 2005 @ 12:12 by ming : Ranking
Well, all his articles are certainly directly aimed at building up google rank.

As to whether he'd expect to get google rank from people like me giving him negative press, I doubt it. Then he wouldn't ask to get stuff removed, for one thing. And as far as I'm concerned, he gets nothing out of it. The link I have to his site above is deliberately a "nofollow" link, which Google simply will ignore, so it won't boost his ranking the slightest.  



4 Dec 2005 @ 03:08 by Ge Zi @24.126.199.23 : nofollow
Flemming, what are these "nofollow" links and how do you create them?  


4 Dec 2005 @ 03:48 by ming : nofollow
You can do it if you do an html link, like this:

<a href="http://www.jetsetters.com" rel="nofollow">jetsetters</a>

Most search engine spiders will respect that and will essentially not follow the link, and thus it won't help the target's ranking. That's the way of linking to a site without passing one's google power on to it. In the blog software here it is automatically used for url's people enter into comments, and referrers that show in the sidebar. I.e. one gets no search engine advantage from referrer or comment spam.  



4 Dec 2005 @ 18:25 by Ge Zi @24.126.199.23 : cool ...
... thanks. Flemming.  


5 Dec 2005 @ 08:41 by jazzolog : Please
let me know if any artist, author, or publisher complains to you about content at jazzoLOG.  


5 Dec 2005 @ 14:07 by ming : Complaints
I sure will. I always pass it on to whoever runs that particular blog. And normally it gets sorted out quickly and peacefully.  


12 Feb 2006 @ 21:22 by Gordon van Vliet @216.153.130.198 : Bizarre behavior
I liked your article. Hard to understand, please promote, oh please don't. Hey promote me as much as you want. And commission me to do a painting. Don't worry... I won't sue you. I say thank you. Gordon van Vliet  


7 Mar 2006 @ 21:32 by Ray @66.137.186.26 : What law?
Hey, I noticed that Hammond pointed to UCC 1-207 in his letter. Funny thing, though: the Uniform Commercial Code has nothing to do with copyright law. Copyright is Federal law, the UCC is state law. What's even better is that, as a simple Google search will reveal, THERE IS NO Section 1-207 in the UCC. He supports his claim by citing a nonexistent provision of an irrelevant law. Made me laugh, but I'm a lawyer.  


7 Jul 2006 @ 23:12 by Paddy Mella @172.142.112.35 : There is always that risk
There is always of risk of open source materials suddenly changing to copyrighted material. It all part of the game  


12 Sep 2006 @ 22:12 by medical information site programmer @172.142.137.80 : Site still going strong
Your site is still doing well, actually it is doing very well. For you folks out there, you may want to check out my site. I am the programmer for a medical website. Thanks.  


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Thanks for the help ;), Sanders.  



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