best. publicity. evar.

Penguin and the great katie.com hijack.

Slashdot summarizes:

"The gist of the story is that Katie Tarbox became a victim of an online sexual predator when she was 13. She wrote a book about it in 2000 and Penguin Putnam made the title of the book 'Katie.Com', which unfortunately was a domain name owned by Katie Jones since 1996. Now Tarbox's lawyer is demanding that Jones turn over the domain name. Penguin refuses to apologize, saying that it would be a violation of their free speech to re-title the book and that Jones never trademarked katie.com, so they can do what they want with the words."

My favorite bit: "Katie Jones points out that the book was originally to be titled 'girl.com' but the name was changed before publication, quite possibly because "girl.com" is a porn site."

Update: Cool, they caved.

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16 Responses:

  1. jkonrath says:

    Redirect katie.com to a hardcore porn site?

  2. lx says:

    Slashdot and other blogs have managed to put up something on the order of at least 100 negative one-star reviews on this matter on Amazon.com just today.

    Quite an awful story all around. One Slashdotter recommended just forwarding the site on to girl.com until the publisher relented, though lord only knows what would happen if she became a counter-antagonist.

    • lx says:

      Scratch that: looks like Amazon.com has culled all the negative reviews from the last few days.

      I suppose you could argue that those reviews weren't really "reviews" per se and deserving of being cut, but I hope the publisher at least realizes the negative public sentiment being cultivated towards the book as a result of this behavior.

      • Considering that the public sentiment they're trying to exploit is the Oprah-watching kind, I doubt they're worried. Unless the nerds magically develop the ability to explain to the average human why they're *not* the bad guys for (ostensibly) picking on a former child-abuse victim.

    • mcfnord says:

      I would impress the quality of your plan upon her if I could. She could achieve the very chaos they tried to avoid. Sometimes war is put upon you, and you simply have to fight it. I envy her position, as much as she feels pained by it. She could deliver whatever monster-fuck she wants upon these insensitive bastards. Precisely because they're insensitive bastards.

  3. ciphergoth says:

    Now, I understand that your position is that we have smashed a window, broken into your house and fallen asleep in your bedroom. This dispute between us over the proper use of the house is distressing to both of us. We propose that you resolve the dispute by turning ownershop of the house over to us forthwith.

  4. register your domain as a trademark, before someone else does and takes it off you.

    How much does it cost to register a trademark? Can we expect to see full-service domain registries adding trademark registration to their services shortly?

    • nelc says:

      If Penguin couldn't be bothered with a simple check on the interweb for the domain name, what makes you think that they'd check for trademarks?

      • Because trademarks have legal force behind them. If A has a trademark and B violates it, B won't win the scrap by having a legal budget orders of magnitude greater than A's. However, if A merely owns a domain name, even one predating the trademark, it's still up in the air. Especially with ICANN's strongly pro-corporate stance.

        • If A has a trademark and B violates it, B won't win the scrap by having a legal budget orders of magnitude greater than A's.

          Hahaha. Is the sky always a clear, beautiful, blue on the world where you live?

          Legal budgets orders of magnitude greater make just about anything feasible, and trademark-holders can still be harrassed beyond their willingness to cope.

  5. belgand says:

    The thing I oddly haven't heard anything about is the craptacular fact that far too many people have decided to just append ".com" (or in some cases another TLD) so we go "oooh... it's about the interweb... hehe... how clever".

    If I had merely noticed the book lying on a shelf I wouldn't assume that there was an accompanying website at that address. It just doesn't seem very likely. It was, instead, a stupid stylistic choice. Sure a few people would end up going to the site anyway just to see, but it wouldn't be relevant and they'd realize such and leave.

    It would have been nice if maybe they asked. Y'know, "Hey we're going to use this as a title of our book and since you own a site at that title thought we should let you know. You're ok with that, right?". Just trying to wrest control of the site away is pretty crappy.

  6. ch says:

    mumble. i wonder if the girl is any relation to edye tarbox, that pittsburgh tv newscaster (wpxi??) in the late 80's. i had a minor crush on her.