Legal Question in Technology Law in Massachusetts

Internet employment scams

To Whom It May Concern,

I recently submitted an article on SLD rights to a web site for publication under the premise that I would be paid royalties for the % of hits my article received in the course of a month for as long as my article was read by the online consumer. I have saved all of the original "writers wanted" articles I responded to as well as the correspondence between the web designer and myself. I also have an original copy of the article in a sealed postage paid envelope which I sent to myself upon submitting the article. Since the time of submitting my article, the web designer has changed his email address and taken all information on how to contact him off of the site. I understand that the internet is a risky business, but I still feel that I was lied to

and my personal property stolen. I would like to know if there are any actions I can take to either receive compensation or have my article removed from the site. I look forward to hearing

from you.

Asked on 9/13/99, 1:09 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Bruce Burdick Burdick Law Firm

Re: Internet employment scams

Your post is difficult to decipher. I think you are saying that you contracted via email with a web designer that he (or she) could publish you article on a certain web site and that you would be paid a fee based on the number of hits on the web page for your article. Further I understand that the web designer has changed his email address and deleted all contact information.

This is not rocket science. You should either (a) chalk it up to experience and as a lesson to get your money up front or (b)hire either an investigator or an attorney (who would hire an investigator), locate the web designer and sue him for breech of contract. I suspect the better course is (a), but if you think it is (b), please contact me and I will locate him and determine if there is a deep enough pocket to justify a lawsuit.

Read more
Answered on 9/14/99, 4:30 pm
Lawrence Graves Coolidge & Graves PLLC

Re: Internet employment scams

If the Web site owner is refusing to pay you royalties in accordance with the contract, then you are entitled to withdraw your consent to his publication of your article. It would have been better if you had registered the article with the US Copyright Office, but your preservation of an original in sealed envelope was very astute and should satisfy the evidentiary requirement that the work was created as of the date of mailing.

This is one of those cases where I would advise you to pay for expedited processing of a copyright registration. You can then sue for willful infringement of a registered mark, which entitles you to statutory damages of $100,000. This should get their attention.

Read more
Answered on 9/14/99, 4:44 pm
Gerry Elman Elman Technology Law, P.C.

Re: Internet employment scams

Larry Graves' suggestion about your copyright is right on the mark. But if you can't find the guy who stole your stuff, where and who do you sue?

However, you did suggest that you might be happy to have your writing removed from the site. Even if you can't find the Webmaster, maybe you can identify the Internet Service Provider where the site is hosted and contact them appropriately. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act, enacted last year, gives ISP's an incentive to respond promptly to such requests.

If this is important to you, it would be wise to get advice about your particular situation from a lawyer to whom you confidentially disclose the whole story.

Read more
Answered on 9/14/99, 7:52 pm

Related Questions & Answers

More Computer & Technology Law questions and answers in Massachusetts