Thursday, 13 November 2008

Legal case of the week, or, a David fights back

Pity Anthony Michaels. Picture the scene. It's Christmas Eve 2007 in San Diego, and Mr Michaels, rather than indulging in a traditional wholesome festive activity such as wrapping presents, watching a crappy film or drinking heavily in an unpleasantly crowded bar, is crouched over a flickering screen, surfing the interweb.

Suddenly, and with mounting excitement, he sees an email in his inbox telling him that former school friends are trying to contact him on Ah, but there's a catch - to make contact with them, he needs to pay $15 for sexy-sounding Gold membership. Hmmm. Nevertheless, he makes the payment - no doubt casting financial caution to the wind in a nostalgic fit of what yuletide experts call Christmassyness - and excitedly logs discover, dear reader, that it was a lie! No-one had tried to get back in touch with him. The sickening truth is that he had spent that $15 for nothing.

So naturally, being American, he sued.

But as you can see from his claim, he's not just suing on his own behalf but on behalf of what he believes to be many others in his position: in the archaic American legalese of the action, and please put on your best LA Law voice for this bit, "Plaintiff believes that the total number of class members is at least in the hundreds of thousands". Woof! was founded in 1995 and so is a granddaddie in web 2.0 terms. Other sites suggest it has indeed indulged in some questionable marketing activities, and it seems possible (even if you wouldn't put it higher than that) this case could end in it being forced to repay millions of dollars in subscription fees; which could bring it down, down, down.

Well. There's only one response to such a tale. Go, Anthony Michaels, go!! says JMP.

via wired.

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