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Old 08-27-2005   #1
Marcia
 
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Traffic Power Files Suit Against SEO Book

Amazing, in view of all the damage that was done!

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Well Traffic Power just filed a civil lawsuit against me.
NOTICE! YOU HAVE BEEN SUED

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Their lawyer has sorta gave me an ultimatum. Verbally he stated that if I removed ALL content related to Traffic Power from SEO Book.com that they would drop the suit. Currently I am drafting a request for a written statement, since verbal agreements do not override papers, and they already filed papers on me.

I have not decided whether or not it was in by best interests to fight this yet. I have a bit of money, but not tons. I have a bit of time, but not tons.
We have to realize that Aaron's hands are somewhat tied, that he really can't say too much once a civil suit has been filed, but this has far-reaching implications, much further than just Aaron, as far as "freedom of the press" and free expression are concerned.

This is a matter that received widespread coverage all over the net and press, and is common knowledge, with multiple clients having been affected. This is beyond just one individual, it has potential to affect any and all with websites that disseminate information.

Last edited by Marcia : 08-27-2005 at 02:01 PM.
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Old 08-27-2005   #2
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SeoBook is not the only one who is being sued by Matthew Marlon (Traffic Power) right now, but I was asked not to reveal anything about it, so I won't say who. But the other person I know about was served papers just a few days ago.
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Old 08-27-2005   #3
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I didn't read all the document that Aaron published in his blog, but if what it states has to be true for the suit to be successful then they have shot themselves fair and squarely in to foot:-

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18. Plaintiff has always enjoyed a reputation for honesty and truthfulness.
If it weren't so serious for Aaron, that bit would cause laughter around the world.
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Old 08-27-2005   #4
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Phil, I'd imagine that the less anyone says the better until all parties involved get professional legal counsel, if anything at all; but IMHO unless there's some kind of tangible show of solidarity and support, I'll never again even half-way believe one single post about "practices" for the industry - or maybe even that there is such a thing as an "industry" as such, rather than just individuals practicing their art.
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Old 08-27-2005   #5
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Actually, you have a very good point there, Marcia - at least if I understood you correctly. You are saying that the whole "industry" should tangibly support the defenses of these suits - yes? If that's what you are saying, I whole-heartedly agree with you.

The person who emailed me asked if I'd also been sued (because my article ranks #4 in Google for 'traffic power'). He is interested in getting those who have been sued to work together. He wasn't looking for industry-wide support, but in this case, I think there should be industry-wide support in various forms. Some individuals have posted that they'd contribute if Aaron added a "donate" button to his blog, and I'm sure than many more would too. But the numbers would be small and unlikely to raise anywhere near the money that a defense would probably need.

It's the sort of thing that SEMPO could get involved in, even if Aaron and the others aren't members. It could be viewed that the industry spoke up against what TP did to their clients, and some of those in the industry who rightly spoke out are now being sued because of it. It could therefore be seen as an "industry" issue, and just the sort of thing that an "industry" organisation like SEMPO could get involved in. The suits are an attempt by a rogue seo company to prevent people in the seo industry from warning website owners of the risks they face if they become clients of the rogue company.

Have I made any sort of sense?
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Old 08-27-2005   #6
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Makes a lot of sense to me, Phil. It's either an industry issue or their is no industry at all. Just MHO of course, but then I'm a cynic and a skeptic and always have been, even before sprouting a few grey hairs and growing the hard shell that comes with time.
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Old 08-27-2005   #7
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*grumble* Why do people keep bringing up SEMPO for this kind of stuff? You know that's not likely to happen.

I've already been helping Aaron a bit already (not as lawyer, as someone who knows how this stuff works) and will be contacting various US based lawyers I know to see if I can get him some pro bono or cheap help on behalf of the SMA-NA and the SEO industry. No promises, since it's up to the lawyers to choose whether they do so or not. But being a lawyer who is known as helpful to the SEO community would probably be a good thing for business.

I just wish they had sued me. That would have been really funny (though a little bloody...). I guess I'd need a TP site first.

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Old 08-27-2005   #8
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SEMPO was just a suggested possibility, Ian. They created themselves as an organisation for the industry (I don't think they claim to be just an organisation for members), and, imo, it really is the concern of an industry organisation. If it isn't, then I don't know what is.

Incidentally, I know that we all know Aaron, but he isn't the only one in the boat.

<added>
erm.... I didn't catch on that you were comparing SEMPO with SMA-NA. I hadn't heard of the latter until just now.

Last edited by PhilC : 08-27-2005 at 04:26 PM.
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Old 08-27-2005   #9
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They've got their work cut out for them if they're trying to gag the whole internet

Google search

I'd like to see them try to take this one on

http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=365207
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Old 08-27-2005   #10
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I can't see that page in the top 30 - maybe they've already forced Google to remove it - j/k
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Old 08-27-2005   #11
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Incidentally, I know that we all know Aaron, but he isn't the only one in the boat.
A good point. Though it's the first time it's been brought to my attention. Last I heard TP was getting sued by everyone, so it's been awhile. I do get people I know phoning me and saying that they had been cold-called by some SEO company. I usually stop them right there and ask if it's TP or 1P, and so far every one has said yes.

Then I tell them that they are notorious spammers and telemarketers and to run far away, and if they don't believe me, then do a search on the their name. So it seems that some sites are hurting them (though I think the general opinion in the SEO community is hurting them worse).

Note to TP: feel free to sue me for my honestly held opinion. I'll see you in court. Part of my evidence will be supplying the court (and anyone else in the courtroom) with the basis for my honestly held opinion, which would include every single slimy thing you've ever done that was leaked on the net and I know about - could take weeks. There will also be a countersuit for a frivolous and vexation lawsuit, and pretty much anything else I can think of.

Sure hope you lawyer works for free. I know mine does...

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Last edited by mcanerin : 08-27-2005 at 05:00 PM.
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Old 08-27-2005   #12
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..with SMA-NA. I hadn't heard of the latter until just now.
*sob*

The SMA-UK will be over shortly with baseball bats, an "I <heart> SMA" bumper sticker and a member registration form...

j/k

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Old 08-27-2005   #13
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Oh great! I love playing basball. I hope they bring some oranges for half-time.

I've heard of the various SMAs around Europe, but I didn't know there was one in the U.S.
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Old 08-27-2005   #14
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I didn't know there was one in the U.S.
There isn't, the North American arm of SMA is based in Canada. We don't allow poutine here in the U.S.

Last edited by Marcia : 08-27-2005 at 05:15 PM.
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Old 08-27-2005   #15
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There isn't, it's in Canada.
Is too (officially Delaware) NA stands for North America - Canada, US and Mexico. And poutine tastes great! It's the chitlins from the US that I'm concerned about... *barf*

There will be a couple representatives from the SMA-NA arriving shortly, Marcia. You'll have a choice on being force-fed poutine or signing up as a member... (yes, we are currently having a membership drive, why do you ask?)

and ANYWAY... this is off the topic of the evil TP empire squashing the freedoms and opinions of fellow SEO's in order to better advertise their "services" to the unsuspecting public.

One of my clients is a TP ex-client. Their "services" were directly and negligently reponsible for a rankings drop and resulting loss of income for them. They knew (or ought to have known) that their methods were dangerous, and used them anyway, with blissful disregard for the long term welfare of their own clients/customers.

This is bad. Very bad. And suing people to stop them from saying it was bad doesn't make it magically good. I note that the crux of the TP cases is that they are mad because some of their own employees engaged in "whistle-blowing" and are now claiming that they outed "trade-secrets".

Shades of Enron! Darn those honest employees! How dare they tell the truth! You notice that the claim is regarding "trade secrets", not "lies"?

Got news for TP. Spam is not a trade secret. Neither are link farms and hidden links. TP might have used them on a wider scale than most, but they were hardly the originators of the techniques. It was common knowledge before their employees confirmed it - that's why they were BANNED. Duh.

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Old 08-28-2005   #16
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Ian, regarding the trade secrets, couldn't they only sue their ex-employees for leaking those? How is it Aaron's responsibility? Did the employees have non-disclosure agreements? If they didn't, then can they tell anything they want or not?
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Old 08-28-2005   #17
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This looks more and more like a "Bernard Shifman" case - if you haven't read it, please follow the link. It's a lot of fun - that is, if you ae not Berhard

TP is not the only one digging their own grave this way. As I see it, the "stratgy" follows the same path.

1) The company do something bad
2) Someone writes about it
3) The company tries to stop it
4) The attempt to stop it becomes the focus of more postings (like here)
5) The company tries to stop the postings about the case (coming soon!)
6) More postings comes along focused on the compnies attempt to stopp free speach
7) The original case is forgotten and all that is left is a lot of dirt on the company

In time, the company will either have to live with all the dirt online, or spend serious resources trying to clean it up with the risk that cleaning it up will create a whole new case.

If your head hurts stop banging it against the wall!

Last edited by Marcia : 08-28-2005 at 05:29 AM. Reason: Fixed link
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Old 08-28-2005   #18
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Originally Posted by PhilC
SEMPO was just a suggested possibility, Ian. They created themselves as an organisation for the industry (I don't think they claim to be just an organisation for members), and, imo, it really is the concern of an industry organisation. If it isn't, then I don't know what is.

Incidentally, I know that we all know Aaron, but he isn't the only one in the boat.

<added>
erm.... I didn't catch on that you were comparing SEMPO with SMA-NA. I hadn't heard of the latter until just now.
In my opinion (and I will suggest to the SEMPO B.O.D.--I am involved in a few SEMPO committees), this would be the time to stand together and release a joint statement on the issue, instead of trying to paint one organization as better than the other. I find it a little disturbing that you have taken this tact, Ian, but I feel that we can work together as organizations. SEMPO has change a lot since it's problems of 2004...

I (note I am NOT speaking on behalf of anyone at SEMPO here) personally feel that TP should be painted in the picture that we as knowledgable SEM's see them instead of what their lawyers can conjure up.
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Old 08-28-2005   #19
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Allthough I can certainly agree a lot with you, Chris, I am just not sure if it's realistic. I am afraid that it would very fast evolve into a ethics discussion with no end.

I think most of us can agree that TPs business ethics seems a bit off - for example by not being honest about what they sell and charge clients for and what the risk involved might be. But, as soon s we start to move into what they actually did do, in terms of production/seo work, I think it will be very difficult to come to a broad agreement.

A lot of what they produced might have been crappy but TP did certainly not invent "crappy SEO" nor are they likely to be the last ones to supply it. I know I said it many times before, but I really don't think our industry is ready, and probably never will be, to agree on global standards for how and what we produce.

So, if we could limit the cross business/association statement on the issue to only cover the business ethics part of this case then I think we could succeed - but I am just not sure if we can keep that limit...
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Old 08-28-2005   #20
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I think that the seo community was against TP's practises for different reasons. Some of us find that their methods were fine, but it was NOT fine to use them without the clients' knowledge of the risks and full agreement. Other people faulted them for the methods they used as well as not informing the clients.

But those details shouldn't enter into the current situation. We all found that TP abused their clients, and that's the only thing that matters if the seo community as a whole comes together to support the individuals who have been sued.

I really do hope that SEMPO and SMA-NA get together on it with real practical and financial support, even if the financial support includes starting a fund that all SEOs can contribute to, as well as the organisations themselves. I hope the support isn't in the form of moral support and passing resolutions, as in the "Life Of Brian". I hope that something much more practical can be achieved.

Of course, I'm assuming that the people who have been sued would actually want it.
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