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New Limits of Liability: 1

New Limits of Liability: 1

October 14, 2003
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" Internationally, there have been successful cases brought against Webmasters over sites that they simply linked to, and did so partially based on the profit earned through the link. With this in mind, a savvy prosecutor could make a case not only against such a broker, but against the purchaser of the ‘tainted’ traffic – especially if a ‘profit’ could be shown as a result of that traffic’s sale – or purchase…  "

Adult Webmasters are finding themselves in the midst of a challenging and ever-changing playing field, where competition increases with every change of the rules. Business and marketing plans need to be revised on an ongoing basis, all in an effort to cope with the seen – and unforeseen factors affecting us.

A couple of issues have caught my attention recently, issues worth consideration by experienced adult Webmasters trying to stay ahead of the curve. The convergence of these issues as further evidence of an increasingly restrictive marketplace occurred to me the other day while scanning an article on a new adult traffic brokering service; an article which included “Pandora’s Box” in its original title…

‘Pandora’s Box:’ the dictionary defines the modern usage of this phrase derived from the tales of antiquity as “A source of many unforeseen troubles…” When it comes to purchasing bulk adult Website traffic from a brokering service, ‘unforeseen troubles’ is just what you might get.

Consider that purchasing traffic – when you ‘know’ its source – is basically a good (and necessary) thing. Trustworthy Search Engines and Directories that sell targeted listings based on the pay per click model can be a vital ingredient in your traffic mix; delivering quality surfers at a (hopefully) profitable price. These folks don’t know about TGPs and link lists – they went to Google and typed in “Free Pussy Pics.” That’s a surfer who is actively seeking your product, and may even be willing to pay for it.

But what about ‘bulk’ traffic deals from expired domains? If all of the traffic comes from expired ‘adult’ site domains only then you will not only see better results, but less risk. What risk? The risk of liability under the misleading domain names provision of the Protect Act. This segment of the so-called ‘Amber Alert’ law makes it a federal offense to use misleading (i.e. not obviously ‘adult’) domain names on porn sites, with stiff fines and jail sentences your potential reward for non-compliance.

While reputable brokers will be able to deliver highly targeted ‘adult domain name’ traffic on demand, smaller, newer, less reputable, or simply less legislatively knowledgeable operators (indeed, anyone in the increasingly competitive traffic business), might consciously or unconsciously redirect either outright ‘mainstream’ traffic, or adult traffic from ‘mainstream sounding’ domains that previously hosted adult sites, in order to boost their delivered volume.

For example, an expired domain name broker will ‘cherry pick’ through the day’s domain listings, seeking for ‘good names’ with established page rank and decent SE listings. If he found, say, ‘videos.com’ on the list, and discovered it had a Yahoo! listing and other favorable SE placements, he’d buy it immediately – and be quite happy about it! The next day, you call up and ask for traffic seeking ‘porn videos.’ Well, ‘videos’ is close enough, so traffic from videos.com starts flowing to your ‘porn videos’ site…

Internationally, there have been successful cases brought against Webmasters over sites that they simply linked to, and did so partially based on the profit earned through the link. With this in mind, a savvy prosecutor could make a case not only against such a broker, but against the purchaser of the ‘tainted’ traffic – especially if a ‘profit’ could be shown as a result of that traffic’s sale – or purchase… While an equally savvy attorney could likewise make a compelling enough argument to keep you out of prison, the ‘life ruining’ cost; both publicly and privately, plus the incredible expense of mounting an appropriate legal defense, will provide a fabulous lesson in the price of proving your ‘innocence.’

While you would hope that ‘the powers that be’ have many more important things to do, there is a potential vulnerability here that could affect many people in this industry. And before you think that this could never happen, consider that Acacia is reportedly eyeing the affiliates of unlicensed sponsors for ‘contributory infringement’ actions. Although that’s a story for another day, I mention here to further illustrate the ways in which the limits of liability are now being redefined – and we must pay attention to this ongoing process, or learn the hard way.

Take some reasonable steps to ensure that the sources of your traffic – especially if you are purchasing it – are solely from ‘adult’ sites in compliance with current regulations. You’ll not only make more money, but be ‘safer’ doing it as well. Stay Tuned for More ~ Stephen


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