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Jerk.com: Who to Contact to Get Removed


Written by Gene Quinn
Patent Attorney & Founder of IPWatchdog, Inc.
Principal Lecturer, PLI Patent Bar Review Course
Posted: January 18, 2013 @ 11:52 am

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Jerk.com is one of those sites on the Internet that is the poster-child for everything wrong with the anonymity of Internet communications. Shrouded in the secrecy provided by the Internet, anonymous cowards become emboldened to say vile things and stoop to ridiculous lows — even publishing pictures of minors and asking the Internet community to vote on whether the minor is a jerk. That is the business Jerk.com is in, and they refuse to remove any profile that has been created regardless of the vile, anonymous comments that have been posted.

An earlier edition of the Jerk.com “REMOVE” page explained:

No one’s profile is ever removed because Jerk is based on searching free open internet searching databases and it’s not possible to remove things from the Internet. You can however use Jerk to manage your reputation and resolve disputes with people who you are in conflict with.

That obviously ridiculous and inaccurate statement of fact and law has been watered down now, but based on what I hear from those who feel aggrieved by Jerk.com suggests that their philosophy seems to continue to be that no one gets removed. Jerk.com almost seems to play the part of victim, suggesting that it is impossible to remove something from their servers. It is certainly possible for Jerk.com to remove a profile.

In order to “manage your reputation” you must sign up for an account. A rather insidious way to gain users, don’t you think?  In the past the only way you could dispute something was to be a paying member of the Jerk.com community, which in my opinion walks the fine line between what is legal and what is an extortion-like tactic.  Based on my knowledge of the law and facts surrounding Jerk.com it strikes me that what they did in the past may well have been a violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which is otherwise known as RICO.

I explained this to Jerk.com’s attorney months ago when they contacted me unhappy about two articles I wrote about Jerk.com.  It seems that Jerk.com is receiving numerous DMCA takedown notices and they feel I have mislead the public. Here is my response to Maria Crimi Speth, who represents Jerk.com:

Your letter says you expect more of me.  I suppose we are even then. I would expect much more from a member of the bar than the type of self serving and inaccurate letter that you sent to me.

If you read the articles I wrote, which I have to assume you did, you noticed that I said that users can get their copyrighted material taken down by using DMCA notices, which your client is supposed to comply with.  That is an accurate statement of the law.  If the copyrights are owned by those sending the notices then Jerk.com must take down the material or risk liability.  As we both know, if your client feels they are getting inappropriate notices there is a remedy that they can pursue.  I never stated that people should abuse the DMCA takedown process.  I only explained that those with lawful copyrights can rely on such notices, which is of course a correct statement of the law.

You say: “a forum website does not commit copyright infringement just because third parties post content.”  Perhaps you are unfamiliar with how your client operates its website from a technical standpoint.  It seems that photographs are automatically retrieved from Facebook and displayed with a banner that says “add to gallery.”  That retrieval by the code that operates your client’s website is hardly passive, as is required by the forum cases.  Perhaps this would be a case of first impression because I’m sure there is some clever argument you can make, but we both are familiar with the numerous cases of Internet bad actors and how they fair in court on cases of first impression as they relate to copyright law matters and Internet matters more generally. The safe harbor protection seems unlikely to me to apply to your client and how they technically operate their website.

I also find it rather amazing that you castigate me but seem unmoved by the actions of your client.  If and when any litigation is ever initiated, it seems that your client is open for a massive RICO claim. Forcing people to pay to submit a claim or challenge the vile things posted seems to me to be hardly distinguishable from a legal standpoint from the old protection rackets.

We will obviously disagree, and I’m sure you will have some clever response to all of this, which I could respond to and we go back and forth, etc. etc.  Notwithstanding, if you would like to author a guest article in op-ed form I will be happy to post it to IPWatchdog.com. You can explain what your client does, how the site works technically, how it is your belief that no laws are being broken and how people just need to suck up and accept the harassment.  Up to you, but I’m happy to provide a forum for you to disagree with me and alert those who have had their copyrighted images misappropriated that they may open themselves up to liability.  Just let me know.

Finally, I would greatly appreciate it if you could give me the name and contact information for your client’s DMCA agent who is registered to receive DMCA notices.  Should I direct folks wishing to provide an appropriate and lawful DMCA takedown notice directly to you and your firm?

Ms. Speth has never responded.  She has not taken me up on the opportunity to explain her client’s rationale in an op-ed article posted to IPWatchdog.com.  Furthermore, Ms. Speth has not told me who their DMCA agent is that will accept DMCA Takedown Notices on behalf of Jerk.com.  In order for Jerk.com to enjoy any potential immunity from a copyright lawsuit they must have a DMCA agent, so I don’t know why she wouldn’t identify that person or entity.

Since I wrote my initial two articles months ago I continue to get numerous e-mails asking for help.  Some people even assume I am somehow affiliated with Jerk.com or that I have the power to get Jerk.com to stop harassing them.  Unfortunately, I have no such special powers.  I am also not in any way, shape or form affiliated with Jerk.com.  I would never represent such an organization.

So what should you do?  Given that Ms. Speth refused to provide me the contact information of the Jerk.com authorized DMCA representative, the best I can recommend is that you contact Ms. Speth and/or her law firm directly.  Her contact information is:

Maria Crimi Speth, Esq.
Jaburg & Wilk, P.C.
3200 N. Central Ave., Suite 2000
Phoenix,  AZ  85012
Phone: 602-248-1000
Fax: 602-248-0522
www.jaburgwilk.com

Jerk.com isn’t the worst website on the Internet by a long shot, but based on what I have been told, have seen for myself and what I know about the law it seems to me that they flagrantly disregard copyright laws. It is important to understand, however, that if you are going to use a DMCA Takedown Notice you should be certain that you are the copyright owner.  If you are in the picture that Jerk.com uses the copyright owner would be the photographer unless you specifically obtained the underlying copyrights by assignment.  So the person who should send the DMCA Takedown Notice is the copyright owner. Alternatively, have the person who took the picture and who owns the copyright assign any and all copyrights to you before you send the DMCA Takedown Notice.  This can easily be achieved by a basic copyright assignment.

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Posted in: Copyright, Gene Quinn, Internet, IP News, IPWatchdog.com Articles

About the Author

is a Patent Attorney and the founder of the popular blog IPWatchdog.com, which has for three of the last four years (i.e., 2010, 2012 and 2103) been recognized as the top intellectual property blog by the American Bar Association. He is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course. As an electrical engineer with a computer engineering focus his specialty is electronic and computer devices, Internet applications, software and business methods.

 

22 comments
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  1. […] Amazon.com has severed ties with Jerk.com. Third, if you wish to try and get removed please see Jerk.com: Who to Contact to Get Removed (published on IPWatchdog.com […]

  2. […] has moved it hosting at least several times. Third, if you wish to try and get removed please see Jerk.com: Who to Contact to Get Removed (published on IPWatchdog.com […]

  3. Gene,

    My post disappeared – can you check the filter?

    Thanks,

  4. The DMCA is not really my forte, but if Jerk.com is really scraping peoples’ photos from Facebook (I found some posts online claiming this was happening also) and publishing them, then Jerk.com has committed massive copyright infringement. Since willfull copyright infringement carries maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per infringement, then Jerk.com could be liable for a massive amount of money (which would of course put them out of business). I don’t think any of the safe harbors would apply in this case since Jerk.com itself is the copier. While thumbnail images are fair use for search engines, I don’t think the courts would rule the same way for sites involved in cyber-harrassment.

    Maybe someone should put together a class action for all those aggrieved.

  5. patent leather-

    I have been talking to attorneys off and on about a class action, but so far haven’t found someone willing to step up. If you know of a firm or attorney let me know. My thought is eventually some prosecutor who wants to make a name for himself/herself will step up on the cyber bullying angle and take them on.

    Cheers.

    -Gene

  6. Anon-

    I’m sorry, but I can’t find it. If it did get caught in the spam filter I think it may have been purged at midnight.

    -Gene

  7. Gene,

    After I posted above I realized a flaw in my logic, that is, copyright statutory damages are only available if registered before the infringment. We should all register the photos we use for Facebook, Linkedin, etc., and then I would welcome sites like Jerk.com to add me to their site so I can sue them for $150,000. As far as a class action, I would love to start something like that myself but as a patent prosecutor I wouldn’t be comfortable dabbling in class actions. If I can think of anyone or anyone at my small firm is interested I’ll shoot you an email. I have a daughter and if one day I saw her photo on a cyber-bullying site I’m sure I would go ballistic. Fortunately I have never been cyber bullied, but I know someone who has and of course it is not pleasant.

  8. Patent Leather-

    Thanks for the info about registration. As I seem to recall registering a copyright is basically pretty much free? I need a new FB photo anyways, and it probably wouldn’t be too difficult for me to make a jerk of myself as far as they are concerned. It would be very fitting to finance my latest project using their proceeds, and I bet it wouldn’t be difficult at all to find contingency representation for a case like this.

  9. Stan, to register a copyright is only $35 (and a group of photos is $65). Just be sure to take the photo yourself (self timers really come in handy here) otherwise you have the headache of getting the copyright assigned to you by the taker. Also, a simple mug shot may arugably not qualify for copyright protection since there is no creativity involved (if anyone knows a case on this, please chime in) so you may want to use a little creative angles, lighting, background, etc., to make sure it is indeed has the modicum of creativity to be copyrightable.

    Now there’s an idea for an IP lawyer with plenty of free time (perhaps a recent law school grad who is a victim of the lousy job market). Filing copyrights for people on their Facebook, Linkedin, etc., photos. I remember once zoominfo.com automatically made a profile about me and copied pages about me including photos (which I found really annoying), but they let me claim my profile and delete it for free (and they aren’t a cyber-bullying site), so c’est la vie.

  10. Jerk, LLC DMCA Agent http://www.copyright.gov/onlinesp/agents/j/jerk_llc.pdf

  11. Rats! I had changed my name, but when I refreshed the page to correct my message, it reverted back. The self photo is what I planned, featuring my latest project as a background. I was hoping for it to be a surprise for them. :/

  12. Gene,

    My post contained some links (which is why I think it got caught).

    The links were to the whois listing of the Jerk dot com website, as well as a recent Florida District Court case in which the anonymity of the actual website holder was effectively pierced in suit. The registrar was forced to divulge the actual party in interest to the plaintiff and the court.

    Interestingly, I have posted in defense of anonymity on blogs (even defending IANAE, with whom I share very little else), but I do not have an issue with anonymity being broached in this type of legal action. I do see clear first amendment justification for the difference.

  13. Anon-

    The Florida case dealt with Jerk.com? Do you know which court specifically? I’d love to take a look at the filings.

    Thanks.

    -Gene

  14. Gene,

    Caught again – this time with just the case number listing for the CIV matter with a 12 then the dash then 21778.

    Not a J_rk case, just a recent case piercing anonymity of web site ownership (it might be the J-word catching the filter).

  15. Anon

    Can you post the link to the listings of Jerk.com as you mentioned in your comments about the case in Florida against the website. Also do you know how it went?

    Anonymous

  16. Anonymous,

    http://www.whois.com/whois/j_erk.com

    However – the filter is rejecting the j_erk word. Cut and paste the link in your browser (the hyperlink will not work), then edit to remove the underscore character.

    The case in Florida ruled against the site owners shrouded in secrecy. Real parties of interest were directed to be revealed to the plaintiff.

  17. I used a camera and stand to take my photo they have posted. How do I prove/claim copyright violations? I use it for Christmas pictures.

    I have emailed the attorney and will fax as well. I can’t believe we have no rights in this matter. I’ve also filed a complaint with the FTC
    Thanks

  18. Susie- Perhaps the best part is that j-rk and et al might be held responsible for theirt actions, whether thet

  19. Protest- Edit is broken.

  20. Whether they happen to like it or not. As alluded to earlier, it might just be a way to discover things.

  21. At the time of writing, the “J” website is down
    Take the opportunity to get your page removed from Google

    go here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/removals
    click “Create a new removal request”
    copy your page URL exactly as found on Google (right click on the search result, “copy link location”)
    click “Continue”
    on the next page, select “Page has been removed or blocked from search engines”
    click “Remove this page”

    It takes a couple of days to process, and it might reappear later, but it worked for me

  22. I’m not sure why this is happening, but I am noticing that Jerk.com has frequently been going down for like 3- 4 days every 2 weeks or so, but then it goes back up. It’s truly disheartening because I get false hope thinking the site is officially down, but then it goes back up. Why is it happening? But Anyways, I don’t understand how law enforcement officials are allowing this site to stay online and fully operate despite the hundreds and hundreds of complaints filed against Jerk.com, they are violating the right to publicity/privacy and engaging in copyright violations as well as engaging harassment of people including children! How is this site legal from any standpoint?

    To check status of Jerk.com, click this link:

    http://www.isitdownrightnow.com/jerk.com.html

    As of now, Jerk.com is down but I am fairly certain that it will be back up and reachable within 1 or 2 days.