Man Sues Former Employer For Not Updating Whois... And Then Acting Stupid

from the blame-game dept

Eric Goldman has the details on a fascinating case involving a guy suing his former employer for failing to update the whois info on their domain names (which used his names as the contact) and then pulling a bogus astroturfing marketing stunt that people started blaming him for organizing. Greg Meyerkord worked for Zipatoni, a "promotional marketing company." While there, he was the contact name on their domain registrations. He stopped working for Zipatoni in 2003. However, in 2006 Zipatoni was the company behind the disastrously stupid "fake" viral marketing campaign known as All I Want For Xmas is a PSP. After that was exposed, blogs went to town making fun of Sony... and Zipatoni. As part of that, people went to the whois and "outed" Meyerkord, including calling him a "douchebag."

Because of this, Meyerkord is suing Zipatoni, claiming a privacy violation. A lower court rejected this argument, but an appeals court has sent it back, saying there could be an issue if Zipatoni acted with "malice." That's probably going to be difficult, so the case may not be going anywhere. Goldman notes that it's pretty ridiculous that Zipatoni left the incorrect whois on the domain for so long, but it's not that surprising to me. With many registrars, it's pretty much a "set it and forget it" type of operation, where there's little need to ever review or change the info.
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Filed Under: privacy, viral marketing, whois
Companies: zipatoni


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  1. identicon
    Gatesy, 22 Jan 2009 @ 7:32am

    Have to Disagree

    If a newspaper (remember what those were?) printed an erroneous statement, which could be construed as libelous, chances are the damage would be limited to the paper's area of market dominance. The paper would run a retraction and a few days later, it's forgotten. The papers have been tossed out, and the chances that millions of people saw the offending words are small.

    With the internet and all the technology involved, all of that has changed. Put one sentence up on a web page or "twitter" it and within an hour the entire free world could know about it. The damage done could be extensive and pervasive, since web pages are cached by all the search engines.

    Businesses that use the new technology to conduct their business can no longer just overlook this stuff. A business needs one or two people to be the contact point for such listings and data and they must stand prepared to make the changes within a very short time frame, depending on the situation.

    Why should the new technology users get a pass? A click of the mouse can undo a lot of erroneous data. In my opinion, Zipatoni bears a liability here, and if I were the judge, I'd find in favor of the plaintiff.

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