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Should Companies Be Responsible When Their Affiliates Spam?

from the better-management-needed dept

Wired News is pointing out that a big contributor to the spam mess are all of these affiliate marketing programs that encourage people to use any method possible to get sales with their affiliate ID attached. In many cases, perfectly legitimate companies are simply looking the other way, claiming they’re not responsible at all for what their affiliates do. However, the FTC and ISPs are starting to look at cracking down on companies who don’t reign in rogue affiliate spammers. Still, it’s not really clear if the company’s themselves should be legally liable. In some sense, it’s like the whole Grokster case: they just set up the program. The people who are abusing it should be responsible. On the flip side, however, companies should realize that spamming affiliates give their brand a really bad name, and should realize that it’s in their own best long term interests to keep the spammers out. Unfortunately, fewer and fewer businesses seem to take the long term view any more.

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Comments on “Should Companies Be Responsible When Their Affiliates Spam?”

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Griffon says:

Yeah had this with netflix

Yeah I had some spam from a Netflix affiliate to a spam trap account. I let netflix know about the issue and though they denied responsibility and stated that they don’t let their partners spam yada yada they did seem to take the matter seriously once it reached the right people. Sad that more companies don’t take protecting their reputation more seriously. But any potential sale/revenue will allmost allways take precedence over quistionable tactics.

Marc Armstrong says:

Blockbuster Online

I am a member of Blockbuster’s online DVD rental service and I was getting 10 to 20 spams a day from some of their affilliates. I called the Blockbuster customer service number, talked to somebody there, gave them my email address, and told them that if the spamming doesn’t stop within a week, they will lose me as a customer. 4 days later I got my last spam about Blockbuster. They must have a do not contact list that their affilliate must use or something along those lines. I was quite amazed that the spam actually stopped.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Definition

af?fil?i?ate ( P ) Pronunciation Key (-fl-t)
v. af?fil?i?at?ed, af?fil?i?at?ing, af?fil?i?ates
v. tr.
To adopt or accept as a member, subordinate associate, or branch: The HMO affiliated the clinics last year.
To associate (oneself) as a subordinate, subsidiary, employee, or member: affiliated herself with a new law firm.
To assign the origin of.

THEREFORE, if the company in question ALLOWS an AFFILIATE to spam me, then the company that CHOOSES to do business with their AFFILIATES that spam me, then THEY are ULTIMATELY responsible for the spam.

Mike (profile) says:

spamming affiliates

While I am not a lawyer, my recollection from business law 101 is that the affiliate relationship is a pretty clear case of Agency. You hire an agent, you are responsible for what the Agent does in pursuit of the business relationship. You can put gobbledegook in the contract with the Agent, but courts have pretty much gone for rational interpretations of Agency and it’s hard to weasel out of it.

Summary: the sellers are responsible for whatever crimes the spammers commit in an effort to find them customers.

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