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Tuesday, June 07, 2016



Ripoff Report actually agrees that consumers should have the ability to voice their grievances elsewhere, in addition to Ripoff Report, if they so choose. In that principle we agree with Mr. Levy, Public Citizen, EFF, and the Berkman Center. Mr. Levy has a valid academic concern, but there are practical problems for a business website. Some websites start up by scraping and stealing our content, and then simply take money to hide or otherwise remove complaints from the internet. Imitation is flattery, scraping is piracy. We need strong copyright weapons against those pirate attacks. We require an exclusive license so we can go after content scraping pirates.

We have never enforced a copyright claim against an author who retells their story in other places. Nor do we intend to do that. We want consumers to tell their story to each other and have the voice to inform others about the market. We would love for consumers to use Ripoff Report exclusively, but we do not want to prohibit their ability to voice their grievances on other forums. Even so, taking Mr. Levy’s academic concerns to heart, we are working on a new click box agreement that will state that the user assigns the copyright to Ripoff Report and simultaneously receives a license back. We are open to any other language that will protect Authors who also use other forums and we welcome input from Public Citizen, EFF, and Berkman Center, for whose unflagging support for free speech we are grateful.

A few closing comments:

Mr. Levy overemphasizes the browsewrap issue in the Goren case. Goren lost because he abused copyright law. The browsewrap doesn’t come into that, it’s not really part of the appeal.

Mr. Levy also was not completely fair to Ripoff Report programs, the Corporate Advocacy Program (CAP), and the VIP Arbitration Program.

Ripoff Report’s CAP program: a business must promise to serve consumers better, submit to on-site inspection by a third party, and take care of past and future complaints, including reaching out by email to everyone who posted Ripoff Reports, or they get kicked out of the program. We do publicize that commitment with priority, but Complaints are not removed. It is not fair to mischaracterize the program as complaints “buried in an ocean of praise.” But, to be fair, CAP is expensive, so Mr. Levy isn’t completely wrong.

Ripoff Report’s VIP Arbitration: if there are false statements in a Ripoff Report, aggrieved parties are welcome to challenge the false statements and allow a neutral and professional arbitrator review the documents. It’s better (and less expensive at $2,000) than filing a lawsuit to use VIP arbitration. As long as you can prove that the statements are false, you can vindicate the record. If you can’t, don’t bother to pay $2,000 because true statements and opinions stay posted.

Don’t Let them Get Away With It,

Ed Magedson

Ripoff Report

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