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Announcing Tony Blake’s New Entrepreneurial Success Forum

By Internet Lawyer

After more than 15 years of providing an online marketing discussion forum, Internet marketer Tony Blake is launching a Web 2.0 version of his Entrepreneurial Success Forum packed with information that you can use to grow your Internet businesses. Tony’s site is one of the three that I check out on a regular basis because of the valuable content you can find from experienced online marketers.

Tony’s been around direct marketing since before Al Gore invented the Internet. If you want an example of some of his older work, check out this video.

This is NOT a sales pitch. Registration at the new site is free.

You’ll find how-to videos and a bunch of other stuff there worth viewing. Tony’s put together a great team of marketing experts covering virtually every topic you need information about when doing business online.
FYI – I’ll be the resident Internet law expert on Blake’s new forum. After you’ve registered, be sure to scroll down to the legal section and check it out. There’s links to some cool resources there plus an interesting discussion on how you can approach a cyber squatter and reduce the price for a domain name that you want.

Note that Tony is giving away more content than you’ll find in many fee-based membership sites. Take advantage of it and grow your business.

Just click this link check out the new site any time after 12 p.m. Pacific/3 p.m. Eastern today when it launches.

Don’t Let the FTC Destroy Your Internet Business

By Internet Lawyer

This can’t be said too often. Be honest when running your business.

Having sound business practices consistent with the Golden Rule may just keep you out of trouble with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Why is this important? How much do you value your business and your freedom? Let’s look at some new examples of those who allegedly played fast and loose with deceptive trade practices.

BlueHippo Will Pay Up to $5,000,000 to settle charges.

ValueClick Settles With FTC for $2,900,000.

Founder of Berkeley Premium Nutraceuticals faces up to 20 years in prison plus forfeiture of tens of millions of dollars.Here are some things that you can do to minimize your risks.

Clearly disclose the terms of sale to your clients. No fine print legalese to take away what you gave in the big bold letters of the sales pitch.

If there’s a continuity program, don’t hide it, and make it easy to opt-out.

If there’s a refund policy (particularly where required by law), obey it. In fact, go the extra mile to make things right.

If there’s a guarantee, honor it. No hassle. No questions asked.

If it is going to take 4 days to ship, tell the client it will take 7-10 days and let the client be pleasantly surprised when it arrives early. If you can’t ship on time, offer a prompt refund.

Remember that happy clients don’t file complaints with the FTC or your state attorney general’s consumer protection office.

Will Hackers’ War Against Scientology Cult Succeed?

By Internet Lawyer

There are few modern cults that generate more controversy and ridicule than Scientology.

In fact, anonymous hackers have released a new video declaring war on the cult.

Whether you support the right of Scientology to exist as a religion or believe is should be crushed as a dangerous cult, the unique issue posed is the ability of dissenters to use the Internet to literally seek the destruction of a multibillion-dollar enterprise. New media is going beyond the power that traditional journalists have had to disseminate information in a way to achieve desired objectives. Perhaps more significantly, it is being done without hiding behind fictitious “objective reporting” claims. The goal — destruction of Scientology — is clearly stated.

For an excellent recap on the current activities of Scientology, check out Dave Lakhani’s analysis:

Tom Cruise, Scientology, L Ron Hubbard, Mass Influence and Andrew Morton

In fact, Lakhani’s analysis, written before the hackers released their video, raises an interesting possibility. If publicizing persecution is a way to attract members to a cult, this hacker video indirectly promotes Scientology. Could it be that Scientologists released it as a manipulative Internet marketing tool? Stay tuned.

Should Google Buy The New York Times?

By Internet Lawyer

If there is an argument to be made that the Sulzbergers should sell the New York Times, you’ll find it aptly summed up in John Ellis’ article that proposes that Google should buy the newspaper. I agree with Ellis that the Sulzbergers should cash out before the moron running it puts it into Chapter 11 through his sheer incompetence. Ellis dances around this issue — but the point is that Pinch Sulzberger isn’t fit to run the night shift at a convenience store. Yet another example of where a Lucky Sperm Club member gets trounced by the free market.

But let’s look at the underlying idea of Google buying the Times. Does it make sense?

From an ideological standpoint, Google’s founders and the Sulzbergers are part of the Moore wing of the Democrat Party. On that basis, it would make sense for Google to rescue a fellow traveler.

Yet Google is publicly traded and one must assume that its shareholders would actually want something of value to come from an acquisition. The question then arises: What does the NY Times offer that Google doesn’t already have?

Distribution? Ha. A marquee name? Not these days. A profit? Just kidding.

If Google does purchase the Times, it will be the flip side of the AOL Time Warner merger fiasco. In this instance, Google is the real deal while the Times is a dead horse that just hasn’t been buried yet because Pinch is too busy beating it.

Some falsely accuse capitalist Rupert Murdoch of making acquisitions based upon political ideology. I’d contend that he buys where he sees profitability. If the NY Times had offered the same revenue potential as the Wall Street Journal, Murdoch would have pursued it instead. Murdoch made the calculated decision that the Journal was a far better deal and he will use it to destroy what’s left of the Times.

As for the Sulzbergers, they should be on the phone begging Google to buy their albatross. Won’t happen. And that’s a win for Google’s shareholders.

Are there dead tree media plays to be made by Internet ventures like Google and Yahoo? Of course. However, those opportunities are scarcer than online media opportunities. Better to buy Matt Drudge’s Drudge Report or The Onion’s satire than a dying newspaper.

Forced Continuity, Negative Word-of-Mouth Marketing, and the FTC

By Internet Lawyer

There’s a reputable direct response marketing organization that has generated a firestorm of negative publicity with its forced continuity program. You can read more about the particular incident at the Copywriters Board and the Warrior Forum. Monthly billing under a forced continuity program was purportedly instituted without full disclosure of the programs existence to purchasers of the initial product that triggered the continuity program after a free trial period.

Let me disclose at the outset that I’m a big fan of the organization in question and was shocked to read about this incident.

If the accusations are true, the organization is exposing itself to legal liability through the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), states’ attorneys general bureaus of consumer protection, and even private lawsuits. Personally, I’m hoping that the prior track record of providing valuable content will dissuade anyone from instigating such proceedings.

Yet even if the organization is not held accountable by law for the alleged misconduct, there the negative word-of-mouth negative publicity serves as judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to sales. The information will not be erased from the Internet — and it will result in lost sales. That’s a shame because there’s a lot of valuable offline and online marketing information one can learn from the organization.

While forced continuity appears to be the flavor of the day for marketing because of profitability, it will probably take the FTC to come down hard on someone for deceptive trade practices before the methods of marketing such programs are cleaned up. If they decide to pick a marketer to make an example of, I just hope it isn’t the one at the center of this controversy.