Donning Copyright Cloak, DirectBuy Forbids Posting Of Cease And Desist Letter Sent To Consumer Opinion Site

DirectBuy got more pushback than they expected after sending a cease-and-desist to InfomercialScams.com over the site’s users calling the direct to consumer seller of furniture and home supplies a “scam” and a “nightmare.” Absurdly, DirectBuy even tried to threaten legal action if their cease and desist was published, saying it was copyrighted!

DirectBuy also intimated that they hinted they might prosecute the case in Canada, which has no First Amendment or comparable version of the CDA (which protects site owners from liability for information their users post).

InfomercialScams enlisted the aid of The Public Citizen Litigation Group who sent back their own letter:

Before you spend your client’s money on suing in Canada, you might consider whether Leonard has any assets there, and whether an injunction obtained in Canada would be wroth the paper it is written on… Instead of suing in Canada, why not bring suit in Tashkent? At least you’d get an exotic trip out of it, and litigation in a totalitarian state would be more consistent with the view that the Internet makes it too easy for consumer criticisms to be heard.

Ooh, that’s gonna leave a mark.

The best way for companies to get complainers to shutup is to fix the problems they’re complaining about.

Seeing as legal bluster will probably wither in the face of actual, and, most likely unexpected, opposition, perhaps the real victim is DirectBuy, for having their name run through the muck by the amateurish council they’ve retained.

DirectBuy’s C&D
The Public Citizen Litigation Group’s Response
Don’t Post This Cease-and-Desist Letter, Or Else [Consumer Law and Policy Blog]
Direct Buy Complaints [InfomercialScams]

(Photo: ntlworld)

Comments

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  1. TPK says:

    My favorite part of this whole article is the line in the DirecBuy C&D letter which states that the activities of the Infomercial web sites have indeed “adversely affected our client’s business.”

    Good to see that they admit the site is doing its job. Perhaps they will eventually wake up and fix their real problems.

  2. yosarian says:

    Boo-ya!

  3. MalcoveMagnesia says:

    I hesitate to invoke a Fark cliche here, but… PCLG’s response is completely full of “WIN!”.

  4. mthrndr says:

    Who would be suckered into this? I’ve been suckered into a bad moving company deal before and even I would never look twice at this Direct Buy stuff.

  5. llcooljabe says:

    That’s the funniest thing I’ve read all day. how does one go about “digg-ing” something. This should be dugg.

  6. theninjasquad says:

    The funny thing is, DirectBuy hasn’t been overly popular here in Canada. A consumer reporter on a big Toronto news channel did a segment after a lady signed up to Directbuy after being pressured to at one of their meetings, and the membership cost her more then the savings were for what she ordered. She ordered some appliances that DirectBuy said she would get big discounts on, only to find that she saved a few hundred bucks, not even. She asked for a refund, they refused, then the consumer reporter got involved and they finally relented and gave her a refund and said something along the lines that they can’t guarentee savings on everything. It was rather amusing.

  7. theblackdog says:

    I think they’re really mad that Consumer Reports bashed them to death as well, but they’ll have a harder time suing them, so why not go after some webstie instead?

  8. That response was SO awesome!

  9. msthe8r says:

    Do you suppose it’s possible to let Direct Buy know that I hadn’t read the infomercialscams website until their attorney’s idiocy brought it to my attention?
    “..why not bring suit in Tashkent?” Far be it from me to use netspeak, but ROFLMAO.

  10. joeblevins says:

    They are building a store front here in Columbia SC. I really look forward to my exclusive, one time only offer to visit and join.

  11. BigNutty says:

    Direct Buy is following in Video Professor’s footsteps in making more bad publicity instead of running an honest business to begin with.

    Did you know you can only go to a Direct Buy store by appointment only? What a bunch of BS is that? What are they hiding that’s so secret that they don’t even want potential customers to “drop by” and check their store out?

    The Direct Buy infomercial states “We can’t mention brand names because our prices are so low”.

    WTF! Are they serious? Why would anybody buy something from a company that operates like this? I hope they read this and sue me.

  12. adamondi says:

    Hmmmm…. Maybe we will sue you in Canada where there is no First Amendment to protect your right to free speech. This is the most asinine statement I have ever heard. Why don’t they just threaten to get someone in a flying saucer, take them to outer space and murder them? After all, there is no country with jurisdiction to prosecute a murder committed in outer space, right? Ugh.

    I would immediately fire this retarded attorney and find one who had at least half a brain if I were DirectBuy.

  13. pragakhan says:

    I visited this infomercial site for the first time having read this post on consumerist. What a brilliant site, I love it and hope they can fight it.

    But one recurring theme I notice is people get scammed and can’t stop the charges. Couldn’t all of this be avoided with virtual credit cards? Or if your bank doesn’t offer them, a prepaid visa with say 50$ on it to throw away once it gets attached to one of these scams?

    Seems like a lot of lost money, pain and stress can be avoided by all this. Of course I have never tried either of these two suggestions, but I will if it ever ‘sounds to good to be true’.

  14. Uriel says:

    I was under the impression that if someone wanted to sue you, they needed to do so in your state of origin? Oh well, as I like to say, perhaps Direct Buy can crank up some Weezer, check out their cease and desist published on the internet, and weeze a copy up their big fat pimply A-holes. WEEEEEEEEeeeeeeeEEEEEEeeeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzzeeee!!!

  15. CumaeanSibyl says:

    I’m reminded of Samuel B. Kent, somehow.

  16. Buran says:

    Isn’t it totally legal to do whatever you want with anything mailed to you unsolicitedly? (I know that’s not a word).

  17. Buran says:

    @pragakhan: If you can’t stop the charges your bank isn’t doing its job – close the account and get a new one. Change banks if you have to … but you can do it.

  18. geoelectric says:

    First, yeah, this is a stupid self-damaging move on their part.

    However, as far as I know, it -is- copyrighted, and nobody (including the recipient) has the right to redistribute it. Anything creative is copyrighted, including creating legalese. In the US, that’s automatic from creation. I assume Canada is similar.

    To the person who asked, no you can’t, re: unsolicited email. You can pass on physical mail with no problem because of First Sale Doctrine (you own the medium, thus you can redistribute the copy of the work that’s on it) but email doesn’t count that way unless you’re sending along the hard drive.

    One exemption I can think of in the US is fair use, if it’s being displayed with additional commentary. Even then, you’d probably have to use excerpts to be totally safe (fair use isn’t absolute–it’s a legal defense, not a law).

    Another is that if it’s submitted to the court, it becomes a matter of public record. I’m guessing these weren’t submitted, though.

    This sort of controversy (re: copyrighted communications online) was all the rage back in the Usenet days. ClariNet’s Brad Templeton wrote up the “10 Myths of Copyright,” which was very influential and informative.

    [www.templetons.com]

    An excerpt…

    “10) ‘They e-mailed me a copy, so I can post it.’

    To have a copy is not to have the copyright. All the E-mail you write is copyrighted. However, E-mail is not, unless previously agreed, secret. So you can certainly report on what E-mail you are sent, and reveal what it says…”

  19. geoelectric says:

    Oh, and even if the C&D was physical, posting a scan of it still violates copyright, since it’s redistributing the text.

  20. Nick986 says:

    @joeblevins:
    Where is it being built in Columbia?

  21. ry81984 says:

    They should send something like this back to this law firm:

    How can you represent Direct Buy? Do you not have ethics? Will you represent any evil company for the right price? What you said about Direct Buy “provides a high level of customer service”, “well founded reputation for the quality of its services and customer service” are complete lies. You have personally wrote willfully false and baseless statements about Direct Buy. If anyone is hurt by Direct Buy based on your lies, I hold you fully responsible for their losses and expect you to compensate for such losses based on your false positive reviews of Direct Buy.

  22. Parting says:

    That’s a good one :)

    Like any court in Canada would even accept to hear a suit concerning USA based company, cutomers and a website!

    They have more chances to get a hearing on the moon ;)

    I wonder if their legal counsel was avenging some personal inslt from them? Because a first year law student would realize how ridiculous their “we’re sue you in Canada” sounds.

  23. Parting says:

    sorry : customers, not cutomers

  24. chartrule says:

    I am a Canadian

    while I don’t see a section in our constitution regarding freedom of speech there is this;

    Fundamental Freedoms
    Fundamental freedoms 2. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

    (a) freedom of conscience and religion;
    (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;
    (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and
    (d) freedom of association.

    there are a ton of other sections but to me this doesn’t sound too far off from freedom of speech

  25. chartrule says:

    item # B that is !

  26. cde says:

    @BigNutty: Manufactures can now fix minimum pricing, so to avoid being sued, yea, they would avoid announcing a brand name.

  27. MrEvil says:

    They can sue in whatever country they want. However, all it will do is give the defendant a default judgement enforcable ONLY in that country. Transferring a judgement across international borders is just about impossible. You’re better off just filing in the appropriate country to begin with.

    Heck, it’s the same from state to state. However, a judgement from another state is taken into consideration in the other state’s court. (and judgements from other states can show on your credit)

    Just remember when suing someone, make sure you sue them in a state where they own property that can be seized and then auctioned to cover the judgement.

  28. bdgbill says:

    I have never done business with DirectBuy but I despise them anyway.

    Their commercial is aired on nearly every break on CNN here in Canada. I believe I could sit down and write the entire script for this ad verbatim. It is only slightly less irritating than the “Head On” commercials.

  29. polyeaster says:

    Can someone post the text of the response letter? I can’t open .pdf at work.

  30. mrwilson says:

    I wouldn’t be so quick to absolve DirectBuy for its lawyer’s behavior in this matter. I’d be surprised if a decent-sized company like DirectBuy just allowed its lawyer to go and do whatever he wanted without consulting the DirectBuy execs. In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me at all to learn that DirectBuy decided when it hired this firm that it had consciously decided that it wanted “aggressive” counsel to represent its interests in precisely this way. Unless there is some reason to think that this lawyer went rogue, there is no reason not to attribute this at least as much to DirectBuy as to its lawyer.

  31. Uriel says:

    @mrwilson:

    I’m sure they knew what he was saying, and if not, they at least knew that they wanted to try to intimidate their problems away.