Using U.S. Copyright Law to Get Removed from Jerk.com

By Gene Quinn
March 9, 2012

UPDATE: First, please realize that IPWatchdog is not in any way affiliated with Jerk.com. We are a blog reporting on intellectual property and Internet issues.  Second, since this article was initially published Jerk.com 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 1/18/2013).

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Jerk.com is one of those sites on the Internet that is the poster-child for everything wrong with the Internet and the anonymous communications that are so commonplace. The Internet is the refuge for cowards that wouldn’t have the guts to approach someone and say what they really feel to their face.  Shrouded in secrecy provided by the Internet anonymous cowards become emboldened to say vile things and stoop to ridiculous lows — even publishing pictures of young children and asking the Internet community to vote on whether the minor is a jerk.

Jerk.com isn’t the worst website on the Internet by a long shot, but the arrogance with which the site is operated and the flagrant disregard for copyright law is astounding. It seems that anyone can anonymously post a picture of anyone else on Jerk.com, including pictures of young children, and then the voting begins with respect to whether that person is a jerk. All of this is done without the knowledge, permission or consent of the individual, or parents of young children.  Once published, anonymous and sometimes vile comments are accepted and posted. Talk about cyberbullying!  Disgusting!

Posting someone on Jerk.com is extremely easy and can be accomplished without the other person even knowing, or parent consenting in the case of children. The posting page on Jerk.com says:

Fill out the form below to find or create a profile on jerk. Include a picture if you can and as much other information as possible. For a fee of $10.00 you can make this person Jerk of the Day. They will remain Jerk of the Day for at least 24 hours often longer.

Jerk.com also says that once someone is posted they cannot be removed, which is an inaccurate statement at least if you are going to allow law and factual reality to influence you.  However, most people will read the non-removal policy and likely give up.  It says:

Just because you have a profile on Jerk does not mean you are a jerk. Less than 5% of the millions of people on Jerk are jerks. Jerk is where you find out if someone is a jerk, is not a jerk, or is a saint in the eyes of others. 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.

Like so many other ignorant people and companies, Jerk.com erroneously believes that whatever is posted to the Internet is freely available to be copied.  The fact that they wish that were true doesn’t make it legally correct.  What Jerk.com is saying here is simply not consistent with U.S. copyright laws, or the copyright laws of the 165 countries that are signatories to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.

Putting aside the fact that Jerk.com is openly, willfully and blatantly engaging in ongoing copyright infringement, it is amazing that law enforcement has shut not down sites like this. Even more amazing is the fact that federal and state legislatures have not stepped up to the plate to stop this cyberbullying, which would be enormously easy to do.

There are already laws on the books that can be used to stop this sort of thing, specifically copyright law and right of publicity law, but it would be much better to have a specific provision that requires a website to obtain your permission before they can post any personally identifying information about you, including your picture or likeness. At the very least there should be legislatively mandated, simple procedures to get your personally identifiable information removed from a website that shanghais your information.

In the meantime, while we wait for federal and state legislators to figure out what is obvious to everyone else, what can you do to get your information removed from a website like Jerk.com?

If the image that Jerk.com uses for you is one to which you own the copyrights getting it removed should not be particularly difficult thanks to U.S. copyright laws. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, more commonly known as the DMCA, gives copyright owners the right to send “takedown notices” to those who are infringing upon the owner’s copyrights. Essentially, if someone has taken your original work and posted it to their website without your approval you can pressure the web host company to take down the material. Web hosts enjoy broad immunity from lawsuit in the United States for copyright infringement provided they act swiftly to remove infringing content once they are made aware of the existence of the content by the copyright owner. The loss of this immunity makes web hosting companies act exceptionally quickly.

DMCA takedown notices are extremely successful.  The DMCA provides immunity from liability for Internet Service Providers as long as they act swiftly to investigate and ultimately remove or disable infringing material once they are notified.  So the website hosting provider leases space on their servers to an individual or business and the lessee posts the infringing material.  If you notify the web host they, in my experience, always take down or disable the infringement because if they don’t then they will be on the hook.  With attorneys fees and statutory damages that can rise to $150,000 (see 17 U.S.C.  § 504(c)) it isn’t hard to see why the DMCA is so effective a tool for copyright owners.  To learn how to use a DMCA take down notice see How to Stop Online Copyright Infringement and Sample DMCA Take Down Letter.

Photographs are copyrightable, so it is clear that Jerk.com is engaging in a widespread and intentional campaign to infringement copyrights, which really should be investigated by the Department of Justice because there are significant criminal penalties for copyright infringement.

The copyright in a photograph is owned by the individual who took the picture.  Copyright protection is available to both published and unpublished works, and attaches at the moment that the photograph is taken. It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the copyright law to the owner of copyright, and there is no such thing as a right to freely copy or an implied right to copy simply because someone posted something on the Internet.

So what you need to do to get your copyrighted material taken down from a website is to send a DMCA Take Down Notice to the entity hosting the content.  If they do not remove or disable the content immediately (typically within 10 days) they become liable for the copyright infringement themselves.

How do you find out the webhost?  The easiest way is to go to Network-Tools.com and type in the domain name for the website.  There are other sites you can use, but this is where I always go.  When you type in Jerk.com you learn that the site is hosted on computers located in the United States and it appears that Amazon.com, Inc. is somehow affiliated with Jerk.com.  If you search the page (CTRL+ F) for “abuse” you will find an e-mail address for communications relating to publishing abuses. You will want to send your DMCA Take Down Notice to this e-mail address.

You will also find that the DNS servers are hosted by dns1.name-services.com, which has an IP Address of 98.124.192.1.  I always search that IP Address as well, by typing the address into the Network-Tools.com and clicking “GO!”  If you do you will find this server, which is where Jerk.com information, data and images are stored, is hosted by ENOM, which is owned by Demand Media, Inc.  If you again search the page (CTRL + F) and look for “abuse” you will find another e-mail address.  You should also send your DMCA Take Down Notice to this e-mail address as well.

Interestingly, while Jerk.com is more than willing to allow private citizens to have their personally identifiable information published they are afraid to let us know who they are and who owns the domain name, opting for private registration.  Isn’t that just like a coward? They are happy to invade upon you and others, but they want to maintain their own privacy.  Pathetic!

Is there anything else you can do?  Yes.  In most states there are laws that prevent the unauthorized use of an individuals likeness without their permission.  These laws are known as right of publicity laws.  If you have difficulty getting information removed you should contact an attorney and inquire about whether you might be able to bring a lawsuit against Jerk.com for violating your right of publicity.  If you follow this path your attorney will be able to get a court to order those providing anonymous domain registration services for Jerk.com to disclose who actually owns the domain name so you can sue the proper party.

The first step would be to sue ENOM and Amazon.com to obtain the identity of the owners of the domain name.  When you prevail in this litigation, which you will, you will then know who to sue directly.  You will also be able to let everyone else know who the cowards are behind Jerk.com so they can likewise sue them for blatant copyright infringement and other intentional actions and torts, of which I can assure you there are many.

If you need assistance please let me know.  If there are enough people aggrieved who are willing to take action a class action lawsuit could potentially be the answer, which would certainly be something that would capture the attention of Jerk.com and the many other websites that deal in this vile form of business.  It might even register on the radar screen for federal and state legislatures who have the power to end this type of thing if they are really interested in doing so.

The Author

Gene Quinn

Gene Quinn is a Patent Attorney and Editor and President & CEO ofIPWatchdog, Inc.. Gene founded IPWatchdog.com in 1999. Gene is also a principal lecturer in the PLI Patent Bar Review Course and Of Counsel to the law firm of Berenato & White, LLC. Gene’s specialty is in the area of strategic patent consulting, patent application drafting and patent prosecution. He consults with attorneys facing peculiar procedural issues at the Patent Office, advises investors and executives on patent law changes and pending litigation matters, and works with start-up businesses throughout the United States and around the world, primarily dealing with software and computer related innovations. is admitted to practice law in New Hampshire, is a Registered Patent Attorney and is also admitted to practice before the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. CLICK HERE to send Gene a message.

Warning & Disclaimer: The pages, articles and comments on IPWatchdog.com do not constitute legal advice, nor do they create any attorney-client relationship. The articles published express the personal opinion and views of the author as of the time of publication and should not be attributed to the author’s employer, clients or the sponsors of IPWatchdog.com. Read more.

Discuss this

There are currently 28 Comments comments.

  1. Family Exploited By Jerk March 27, 2012 2:18 pm

    I have just now reported http://www.jerk.com to Amazon in the hope they take down the whole website. Thank you Mr Quinn I have included this article with my complaint to Amazon along with my reasons the website should not exist.

    Since sending my email I had found this article wanting to know who owns Amazon. http://www.bloggingstocks.com/2007/06/07/who-owns-amazon-com-really/

    I then found that Jeff Bezos is on http://www.jerk.com.

    Jeff Bezos doesn’t have defamatory comments on his name like my family does along with the majority of people included on that website. It is such a pity because then he would get the feeling of exploitation as my family has.

  2. Crystal Haidl April 4, 2012 9:14 am

    John Fanning, the ex CEO of Napster, is the founder– and presumably still owner– of Jerk.com .
    More info is provided in my Huffington Post piece from early 2011 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/crystal-syben-haidl/when-a-jerk-blames-the-in_b_825689.html
    Dave Brown, the owner of is-a-jerk.com , is also cited in the article, though their sites are not partnered. It appears that at least one annonymous person utilizes both sites, which made it seem at first that both sites were connected.
    Agreed, there are far more sites that reflect the ignorant tone and copyright infringement that these sites do. As I point out in the article navigating free speech with anonymous hate speech is a difficult walk, though free speech also means we have the right– and perhaps duty- to decry blatant abuse against others. Especially since John Fanning’s somewhat warped thinking envisioned Jerk to be a definitive, organically created “ubiquitous reputation service across the net.” . Anonymously so, of course. Dan Brown, on the other hand, sees his hate sites as entertainment and perhaps even a social good in the mode of social humor- critique. Their arrogance in regard to any person wanting to remove their name from these sites is what I find to be be most offensive. Kings in their minds, it seems.

  3. Renee C. Quinn April 18, 2012 12:16 pm

    What bothers me more than anything is that they state that the people on jerk.com were “submitted” by others. But what prompted Gene to take a stand against Jerk.com, is there was a minor on Jerk.com who means a lot to both of us. What i noticed though is that although someone supposedly “submitted” this minor’s name and photo to jerk.com, there was not one “jerk” vote listed. If you submit something to a site like that, wouldn’t you place a vote? People may have been submitting others, but I truly believe that Jerk.com was pulling the information from other sources on their own.

    Renee

  4. Family Exploited By Jerk April 19, 2012 12:30 pm

    Has http://www.jerk.com been pulled from the internet now or is my computer being nice to me so I am spared from the mud?

  5. Gene Quinn April 19, 2012 2:39 pm

    Family Exploited-

    For the past 2 days I haven’t been able to access Jerk.com, and I have heard from others saying that the webpage does not load.

    Keep up the pressure! Write your Representatives, Senators and State Attorney Generals.

    -Gene

  6. Anonymous Victim April 29, 2012 11:59 am

    Dear Mr. Quinn,

    I have just sent you an email and have read both your articles as well as the one on Huffington Post from Ms or Mrs Haidl.

    You last reply to the comment from “Family Exploited” raises my hopes that very soon Jerk.com will be shut down. Unfortunately it does load and can be accessed very well. However it does seem that there has been a recent outage, since in the past weeks it did not come up in search results.

    Like I mentioned in the email I am very much looking forward to some sort of online form where people reading your excellent articles can come together and form a class action lawsuit, even for people from outside the US.

    There is a Google group or at least a topic concerning Jerk.com already to be found here: http://productforums.google.com/forum/#!topic/websearch/X-7bBWnx5WE

    If we could set up an international Google group to get all the people together that have been affected by the site I am sure we can also generate enough pressure to get the URL banned and the site shut down once and for all.

    Please do advice how people from outside the US can best unit to form a class action lawsuit against Jerk.com and Amazon.com, to either shut down the site, or at least get their profile(s) completely removed from the site, not only their pictures but the entire URL holding their first and last name.

    I cannot stress enough that I am very willing and determined to see this through, to invest time and money, to not only help myself but all the many thousands of people affected by this site.

    I do thank you for your efforts and time you put into this so far. It will be a pleasure to hear back from you. Like always, please do keep all information supplied to you and IPwatchdog.com in this comment form as well as in the email from 100% private and to yourself.

    Best Regards 🙂

  7. Family Exploited May 4, 2012 8:14 pm

    Since my last comment jerk.com loaded again but is currently down. With luck it will not reappear!

  8. Craig May 9, 2012 10:47 am

    Sadly it is back up. Currently doing an article on this also.
    Not an expert on law by any means, but is there not a case for libel if you are made the “Jerk of the Day” ?

  9. Family Exploited May 12, 2012 6:13 pm

    Although I would love to join a class action against the creator and service providers of http://www.jerk.com I would not like to provide my additional details to a person or persons that have exploited my family more than they already have. Forums display the problems individuals have with the further exploitation of their personal lives. With some luck I was hoping common sense will prevail and web services would not avail http://www.jerk.com to continue. Individuals using internet services are warned not to use the internet in a defaming fashion yet a business is made from the demise of individuals and provided a service. Service providers are profiting from http://www.jerk.com. I believe service providers should be exposed also.

  10. A.D. June 8, 2012 5:25 pm

    I hope this is going well. I have a rare last name, so very few pages show up when you search on a search engine for my name. Today my volunteer coordinator pointed out that, when she did a search for character information on me online, one of those few sites came up as “(my name) is a jerk.” And, it has some six year old picture of me from high school. Extremely embarassing, and defamatory! And it won’t let me take it down, so I went looking for other options and found this article. I don’t think I can participate in your law suit from Canada, but I hope others do and you can get this ridiculous site taken down. Good luck!

  11. Causual Observer June 22, 2012 9:56 am

    I looked up the incorporation information on the Delaware State site and here is how the LLC is registered.
    Harvard Business Services, Inc. (AKA Jerk LLC)
    16192 Coastal Highway
    Lewes, DE 19958

    Contact Person:
    Mr. Richard Bell, II
    (302) 645-7400 | Fax: (302) 645-1280

    Can file complaint on BBB site:
    http://www.bbb.org/delaware/Business-Reviews/incorporating-companies/harvard-business-services-inc-in-lewes-de-26000194/complaints

  12. random person July 23, 2012 11:22 pm

    i hope jerk.com will be totally eliminated together with its files and info. i was embarrassed and annoyed when i found myself in this site today. can i still use DMCA to remove my photo even if i’m not a US citizen and live in another country?

  13. AttorneyMN August 6, 2012 3:25 pm

    Minnesota attorney Aaron Hall speaks with a victim of Jerk.com and explains what can be done to remove yourself here: http://minnesotaattorney.com/how-to-remove-yourself-from-jerk-com-minnesota-internet-attorney/

  14. rohit August 11, 2012 12:14 am

    All addresses are false. google is playing dirty. it makes no sense to request owner of website to delete pages..since all requests/legal notices have gone unheard. the website is notorious at picking unsuspecting victims identities from google+ and google obviously puts jerk.com as the first result (which talks volumes about google’s dirty tactics for promoting its other websites), so that victim will try to register to other websites to bring down the result against his name on google search. Strong action shud be taken against google for intruding upon user-privacy. Guys PLEASE STOP USING GOOGLE+,unless u want to be on jerk.com

  15. guest September 14, 2012 6:32 pm

    Can this website be blocked from google results by using this form?
    http://support.google.com/webmasters

  16. Magdalena barsanti November 12, 2012 6:15 am

    I wish to be removed from the above website jerk.com. I am not happy having my name in a strange website that I have never heard of before! Please keep me informed and I hope strong action is taken to remove them from the Internet.

  17. random person November 16, 2012 9:29 am

    a good samaritan just post a solution here:

    http://www.ipwatchdog.com/2012/04/16/jerk-com-dealing-with-online-harassment-cyberbullying/id=24211/#comment-252007

    look for the post of Z baby/Captain Planet. pls share

  18. Alla December 20, 2012 3:35 pm

    http://www.jerk.com/Alla-Huss-p1012785.html

    http://www.jerk.com/Alla-Huss-p14110260.html

    PLEASE DELETE MY PICTURES

  19. person December 24, 2012 2:44 pm

    i have my pic there and i didn’t even know it. im so pissed of right now. the worse thing is when i googled about how to remove profiles i found other people who had the same problem and some dude who wanted to remove his profile even paid to contact jerk.com and everything but he didn’t get an answer so he tried to make a random profile and just wrote a random name down and jerk.com gave him facebook profiles!!!!!!!!! ths is the wores thing that fcebook is allowing jerk.com to use facebook users profile pics. so now i’m trying to contact facebook which is imposible.
    this is sick and disgusting. how do websites like this even exist?!!!!!!!!!!

  20. Claire January 3, 2013 12:56 pm

    Hello. I would love to join a class action against jerk.com if there is any. thanks!

  21. J.T January 7, 2013 6:29 pm

    Jerk.com is down as of now! Yay!

  22. Family Exploited January 18, 2013 2:58 am

    J.T. Jerk.com goes down then Jerk.com goes back up again.

  23. Trevor February 24, 2013 12:42 am

    My girlfriend and I were both displeased that this site SELLS LICENSE PLATE NUMBERS, Cell Phone numbers and Addresses for a fee. Luckily, our sites are blank, and I’m not sure who, when, or how they were set up. For now there is no information to buy… According to them. But we aren’t paying to find out. HOW DO WE GET DELETED?! We contacted the site, but they told us that they couldn’t. >:( My GF was once a stalking victim from an old coworker/friend who took it too far. This really scares her!

  24. TMM June 26, 2013 2:41 pm

    It is up again. This time under JERK.ORG
    I do not dare search my name in search on jerk.org in fear of generating and/or triggering my old account on jerk.com. But it is looking exactly the same with the same people (some who are not celebs) on home page.

  25. Anonymous September 7, 2013 11:30 pm

    Actually it’s not up anymore. I guess law enforcement found jerk.org and shut it down.

  26. Family Exploited October 15, 2013 2:26 am

    The website is still active under jerk.org. It goes up and down at random.