Tuesday, December 10, 2013
The Sordid Tale of Phenocal, Synetgy LLC and Some Guy Named Craig Schwartz
A few weeks ago, a guy named Craig Schwartz, who is “duly authorized” to act on the behalf of Synetgy LLC (the makers of Phenocal and a company of *cough* great ethical and moral standards, *cough*) sent a note to our web host (you can read the note here) alleging violation of Section 512(c) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (”DMCA”).The claim, of course, is totally bogus – a simple bullying tactic. Our web host, to their credit, recognized it as such and challenged Craig to to come up with the appropriate legal precedents.Rather than make an effort, Craig simply moved up to the next level – he then sent the same note to our domain name registrar, Dotster, who showed no such backbone, and instead sent us this note….Hello,Please be advised that we have received notice (copy attached) of alleged infringement on your website. Please remove or disable access to the alleged infringing material within 48 hours, and provide written notice to us to that effect when completed.Failure to eliminate or disable access to such alleged infringing material within such time period could result in suspension or termination of your website.Should you have further questions, please contact us.Thank You,Zach PalmerCompliance Managerlegal@dotster-inc.comNOTICE TO COMPLAINING PARTY: Please review the above web site after the expiration of the 48 hour notice period, and notify us in the event you determine that the alleged infringing material has not been eliminated or that access to it has not been disabled, and we will take further action.You’ll notice the warning notice says “alleged.”There’s no substance to any of Craig’s claims, but this registrar’s policy is a simple, Big Co. “cover your ass” one; throw your customer “under the bus” and put the onus on them to demonstrate their “innocence.”Yes, there is a process you can proceed through to contest these allegations.However, Elissa and I knew right away this was not the way to go.If all someone has to do is “allege” a DMCA violation to get your host to threaten to pull down your site, then what’s to prevent other supplement manufacturers with less than glowing reviews of their products from doing same thing?So what did we do?We decided to make the Phenocal review “disappear” from public view (we had no choice) while we transferred the domain to a Canadian registrar.You see, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is an American law, not an International one. So an International registrar is not bound by it. This is something I confirmed with our new service prior to moving the domain. So further allegations of DMCA violation by Craig – or anyone else for that matter, will be duly ignored.Suffice to say, the Phenocal review is back online.Under the circumstances, I regret posting such a “mild” review, but I am certainly not going to yield to temptation and change it. However, I cannot say that this experience has left me with much respect for Craig and Synetgy. The fact that Craig chose to bully and antagonize vs. taking the high road and providing some real legal precedent speaks to his disinterest in due diligence – which reflects poorly on the company he represents. Heck, we have made it clear to retailers over the years – if we’ve got it wrong, or there’s something you’d like to say in your own defense, by all means… contact us and do so.We’ll be happy to post your comments – just like we did for Rob Dente, CEO of Lipovarin.Oh yes, and…One thing Craig and the folks over at Synetgy should have considered before they started down this path is…How much interest does the Phenocal review on UltimateFatBurner.com generate? And will threatening them to remove it draw more attention to the review, our company, and our less than stellar business ethics?These are the questions anyone familiar with the “Streisand Effect” will ask before engaging in any action. From Wikipedia…“The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.”In our case, the review generated almost NO interest from our visitors (I have the Google Analytics screenshots to prove), and only occasional search engine referrals. The only interest it has received of late has been as a result of the attempts to suppress it. In other words, the actions taken by Craig have done more to highlight the product and the company behind it than our review ever did.Money well spent?Hardly.Oh yeah, and here’s the link to the review again.If you’re looking for great hosting – by people who answer the phone, have your back, and fix things when they go wrong (nothing like waking up to see that UltimateFatBurner.com has been hacked and the entire domain is sporting a modified “Pentium” logo with the words, “hacker inside”), then the folks over at Qwk.net are your guys. In all seriousness, UltimateFatBurner.com has been hosted with them for 10+ years and they have never let us down.