Australian domain name company Internet Name Group (ING) has confirmed it will be suing website commentator Bruce Simpson over comments he made about the Melbourne-based company’s recent mass-mail marketing campaign.
ING sent letters to .nz domain name holders warning them that the pre-registration period for .info and .biz domain names was about to expire. Several recipients of the letters have complained to Domainz, the New Zealand domain name registry company, about the wording of the letter and about ING’s use of their contact details. Domainz is investigating and says it is taking the matter seriously.
However, ING is also taking comments made about its service seriously. Simpson, who runs the Aardvark website, contacted ING after receiving a number of copies of the letter. After speaking with a member of staff about how ING found his address and contact details, Simpson received a letter from Mark Spektor, legal counsel for ING, threatening legal action if Simpson published anything about his discussion with ING staff, claiming Simpson had “ambushed” the staff member in question.
“The conversation with Mr Sudakov was at all time confidential and off the record," says the lawyer's letter. "Should you publish the contents of the conversation or any part thereof, or link our company in any shape or form to the above article, we will issue proceedings seeking injunctive relief and damages.”
Simpson published the letter, along with a commentary piece on the company.
Spektor says Simpson did not declare himself to be a journalist writing a story from the outset and that ING is working with outside counsel to prepare its legal position. “We take these things very seriously. He used words like ‘scam’ and described our customers as ‘victims’.” Spektor says ING is a legitimate business filling a legitimate niche in the market and he has spoken to several New Zealand companies about .biz and .info domain names.
“They say they aren’t getting the level of service they need in New Zealand from ISPs and that they are pleased to see us there.”
Simpson is sticking to his guns.
“Last time I checked, reporting the facts in context and expressing an opinion wasn't a breach of the defamation laws -- at least not in this country.” Simpson says he’s lost count of the number of times someone has threatened to sue Aardvark for publishing a story.
“Fortunately most people seem to have good legal counsel who advise them of their folly before they make a fool of themselves. I hope ING are similarly well counselled; they've got enough egg on their face as it is.”