What is Dozier Internet Law’s Donald E. Morris’s motive?

I am not a lawyer. But I am interested in law, and two posts at New York Personal Injury Attorney deserve mention. Both relate to Dozier Internet Law, the lawyers for DirectBuy that sent a copyrighted cease-and-desist letter to a blog that was critical of their business.

Emphasis is mine on the excerpts below, but the text is NYPIA‘s

From “Personal Injury Law Round-Up #31:”

This one is priceless and really deserves its own post if I weren’t so busy: From Public Citizen’s Consumer Law and Policy Blog comes: Don’t Post This Cease-and-Desist Letter, Or Else. Seems some chuckleheaded lawyer representing DirectBuy — which isn’t happy that some folks think the company’s direct buy plan is a “scam” and a “nightmare” — thinks his threatening cease and desist letter is copyrighted and can’t be posted online. Ha! says Public Citizen, which tells Dozier Internet Law, P.C to stick it where the sun don’t shine. And yes, “chuckleheaded lawyer” is clearly an opinion.

And from “Don’t Post This Letter on the Internet!:”

The writer of the original letter, Donald Morris, seems to have clearly done his client a grave disservice with this stupidity. (I mentioned this the other day in my personal injury law round-up, but thought this chuckleheaded conduct needed its own post.) Perhaps his threats have succeeded before, but the result is that the letter, and the claims against his client, are now being re-broadcast across the internet.

(Mr. Donald E. Morris, Esq. is a practicing lawyer who works in Dozier Internet Law P.C.’s Glen Allen Office and wrote the threatening letter, as you can see in the pdf version).

NYPIA‘s point, I believe, is that the Donald Morris / Dozier law letter was so poorly written that it was “chuckleheaded” and “stupid.” Another possibility, of course, is that the letter may have been intelligent and smart — and aimed at Dozier Internet Law itself. On Dozier’s “page hawking its service in defamation suits includes several incidents of employees and former employees purposefully sabotaging their employers out of spite.

So who is Donald Morris working for, anyway?

Turkey, a Gap country with some European land

Two articles, “Presure on Turkish PM to order Iraq invasion” (hat-tip to Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog) and Rice warns against Armenia bill both point to Turkey as a country in the Islamic Gap and not one in the Core (such as America, Ukraine, India, etc.).

istanbul_bridge_md
Turkey: A Bridge from Europe to the Gap

Turkey, at this time of choice between a future in Europe (which means abandoning dreams of ancient empires, as the Germans, Hungarians, Romanians, and Greeks have already done) or a future in the Gap (which means abandoning the peace, growth, and properity of the West for generations) is making the wrong choice. Her past oppression and murder (even if it wasn’t genocide) of the Armenians, and present petty war against the Kurds (which goes so far as to outlaw the letter “w”) are the marks of country with the geostrateic maturity of a Serbia, at best.

We can be geostrategic friends with Turkey while recognizing that their perspective is fundamentally different from ours, as we are with Pakistan, say, or Saudi Arabia. But they are not a true ally, or even a country with an essentially friendly regime.

The Challenges of OpenOffice, the Rise of OpenDocument

News today that KDE’s open source “KOffice” will be coming to Windows next year. The situation continues to get more complex for OpenOffice, which saw forks to both IBM Lotus Symphony and Go-OO in the past few weeks. The future of OpenOffice.org as the premier open-source office productivity distribution may be in doubt.

But things can’t be better for OpenDocument, the open standard for sharing information that was pioneered by OpenOffice and is the default format of OpenOffice, KOffice, Go-OO, and Symphony. By standardizing on what a document is, the artificial monopolies around word processors, spread sheets, and presentations are torn down, allowing the competition to center around what-is-best and not merely what-was-possible.

I first fell in love with an early version of OpenDocument while working on my computer science thesis, taught it in classes to college seniors, and even use it to save and export from GoogleDocs. Whatever the fate of OpenOffice.org itself, the ISO and OASIS standard OpenDocument format that it pioneered is the future of infoworker data interchange.

OODA Alpha, Introduction: From ‘Variations’ to Publication

I’m in the middle of a really fun project. I am writing a paper for a professor on the OODA loop in education. Our goal is to get it published in a top-line theoretical journal that focuses on Educational Psychology. Additionally, I am hoping to turn it into the “Literature Review” section of a disertation proposal and, ultimately, build a dissertation off it.

Over the next two weeks, I am serializing the current version of the article into a tdaxp series. Consider this an “alpha” release. What follows is a foreshadowing of what to come, though much improved from my earlier “Variations of the OODA Loop. With two exceptions (a true “Introduction” and an overview of other Information Processing models) all the major sections that will appear are there. But the writing style is still closer to my note-taking style that it is to what is common in journals, and many of the references will fall away as later iterations focus more space on fewer sources.

I have two main motives for posting this. One, of course, is hoping for positive comments re-inforcing where I’ve gone right. But even more valuable are comments on where I have gone wrong. Your help is infinitely valuable, and as easy as commenting on anything that caches your interest.

Thank you for reading.

OODA Alpha, a tdaxp series
1. Abstract
2. Dual Processing Systems
3. The OODA Loop
4. Decision
5. Orientation
6. A Theory of Mind
7. Reorientation
8. Disorientation
9. Education
10. Instruction
11. Student Interaction
12. Creativity
13. Conclusion
14. Bibliography

More DirectBuy Complaints (before they hired Dozier Internet Law)

For those joining late: DirectBuy is a “home improvement” company with a mixed track record. There’s a number of mixed reviews of their services, available from both blogs and mainstream media outlets. More recently, after a blogger at Infomercial Scams complained about Direct Buy’s infomercial scam, DirectBuy’s lawyer, Dozier Internet Law, sent him an incompetently written “cease-and-desist” letter that was copyrighted! This “strategic lawsuit against public participation” would be more threatening if it was filed by such “chuckleheads.”

Then blogs stand up. Public Citizen exposed the DirectBuy/Dozier threat, I Hate Linux asked to be sued too, and I posted the plain text of the demand letter.

Unfortunately, DirectBuy generates so many spam websites that it is hard to find out opinions about the company. Therefore, this post contains mainstream media and blogosphere reviews of Direct Buy that did not make it into my previous posts

From the Mainstream Media:

From the Internet:

Over at Mafe Maria, a long complaint against DirectBuy’s deceptive hard sell includes includes this paragraph:

The poor woman doesn’t know that both Joey and I are fricking MBAs and have spent a ridiculous amount of our lives making a living out of understanding concepts like the present value of money and financial risk… Who can guarantee us that they’ll still be around in 2-3 years?… That manufacturers won’t get off that business model in 2-5 years, when we may be ready to buy, finally taking advantage of our extremely expensive upfront investment? Why would we put down $4,500 now, when we’re not ready to redecorate yet, so the savings are uncertain, and most likely far ahead in the future?


Rate That Company has detailed consumer complaints against Direct Buy.

Complaints.com has a detailed posts which reveals that another name for DirectBuy is UCC Total Home. My 3 Cents likewise complains posts a “UCC / DirectBuy Complaint.”

Deaf Biz wonders if DirectBuy is inhospitable to the hearing impaired.

Bringing up memories of the JL Kirk saga, DirectBuy’s hard sell requires you to bring your spouse.

Larry over at The Squeaky Wheel is angry enough at DirectBuy to type ENTIRELY IN CAPS. Pangloff is disappointed enough to write everything about DirectBuy in one loooooong paragraph.

DirectBuy in Buffalo has some problems with the Better Business Bureau. Ditto DirectBuy of Westchester and Direct Buy of Nassau County. What’s going wrong with the DirectBuys in New York?

Servo Magazine has a page full of criticisms against Direct Buy. So does the Yahoo! Answer to ‘How much does a membership in Direct buy cost???‘ But that’s nothing compared to the Edumacation wiki on DirectBuy ComplaintStationComments! And that’s not even the index page of DirectBuy problems!

Is DirectBuy Hacking Wikipedia?

I don’t know, but Wikipedia’s Revision history for “DirectBuy” now discusses “possible user of sleeper accounts. The text that keeps getting removed reads:

Complaints

Many customers have complained that they have been deceived by DirectBuy into signing expensive contracts for the privilege of purchasing goods supplied by the company. A three-year membership usually costs about $5,000, with yearly fees in the hundreds layered on top of that. Furthermore, potential members are told at the information sessions that unless they commit to it right then and there, they will be ineligible for membership for another seven years. While DirectBuy prices have been proven to be lower than some of their competitors’ prices, all purchased items incur a processing and shipping fee, which is not included in the original price quote. In many cases, these additional costs usually bring the total price to that above what can usually be found at many traditional retailers.[citation needed]

Critics of DirectBuy

The section has been removed repeated by users “Wiseard” and 206.228.159.59.”

While it is clear that DirectBuy intimidates those who complain and floods the web with spam, the question of whether they violate Wikipedia‘s conflict of interest policy is an open question. Certainly I’ve run against over-zealous wikipedians in the past (who deleted the entry for “5GW” and wished to destroy information on “Unrestricted Warfare“), so nothing is certain at this time.

Dozier Internet Law harms client’s reputation

Bennett, J. (2007). Attacks from the blogosphere: What Cuppy’s learned the hard way. Franchise Times. September 2007. Available online: http://www.franchisetimes.com/content/story.php?article=00490.

Their copyrighted cease-and-desist letter (excerpts, full text, original pdf) in the DirectBuy case may not be a first for Dozier Internet Law. (For this article I am relying on an excellent article by Julie Bennett that appeared in the September 2007 edition of Franchise Times.)

The story begins with Doug Hibbing, a head honcho at Cuppy’s Coffee and More. Someone has been posting negative things about his company, so…

Hibbing’s next move turned his short problem into a grande one. “We felt we were being libeled and slandered on the Internet,” Hibbing said, “and we wanted to know what our legal rights were. We did a Web search and found John Dozier, (managing partner of Internet Law, P.C., in Glen Allen, Virginia).”

Julie’s pun isn’t only funny, it’s also good foreshadowing. Before Dozier Internet Law became involved, Cuppy’s Coffee was “short.” But because of what John Dozier’s company would do, it became “grande.” Here’s more:

What happened next is something of a mystery. According to Kelly, “almost overnight,” negative posts about Cuppy’s started disappearing from other franchise Web sites. “When the anti-Cuppy’s authors asked me to delete their comments from my site, I said, ‘No. Our policy is not to take down postings, but you can retract them.’ So in the next few days I received several e-mails, including one from the picket lady, saying ‘We were wrong. The people who run Cuppy’s are great guys,’” Kelly said. Even Ben Scoble sent in a new posting, saying he’d been mistaken about Cuppy’s.

Very strange. Cuppy’s Coffee hires Dozier, and negative comments about the company myseriously disappear. Was Dozier Internet Law using copyrighted cease-and-desists even then? I don’t know.

What comes next is worse:

No one asked that anti-Cuppy’s postings be removed from Blue Mau Mau, said Don Sniegowski, who started the franchise blogsite Blue Mau Mau in Salt Lake City in November, 2005. But at about the same time, “someone inserted a malicious piece of software into our program, which took down our entire Web site for a 12-hour period and kept it going on and off for a few days,” he said. Sniegowski told Franchise Times this summer that he still doesn’t know who planted the software.

So at this point, you have negative comments mysteriously disappearing and a virus entering the system. Even if Dozier Internet Law has nothing to do with the virus, the bizarre silencing of critics raises suspions. And then:

His ponderings were picked up by other blogs, which, of course, brought even more attention to Cuppy’s.

“Instead of squelching the story, the disappearing complaints sparked it,” Kelly said. “We heard from people all over the world, who commented on whether the ability of a company to quash negative rumors was a threat to free speech. The Cuppy’s saga turned into a lesson on how franchisors should not deal with the Blogosphere.”

The problem for Cuppy’s Coffee grew so big after Dozier Internet Law “helped” that L.B.D. (Life Before Dozier) was problem-free by comparison!

John Dozier’s comment near the end of the article is either hilarious (if John was behind it) or sad (if this is Donald Morris‘s second “accident”):

Dozier said his law firm does manage to get defamatory postings removed from the Web frequently, “but it takes a tremendous amount of finesse, strategy and tactics.” Dozier would not reveal what tactics he used to make the anti-Cuppy’s postings disappear. “We did what we had to do to get the job done,” he said.

The Bennett article is quite good — read it yourself. Scott Allen over at entrepreneurs.about.com also has a good take.

DirectBuy Spam: The Good, the Bad, the Strange, and the Ugly

Earlier today I described a typical DirectBuy spam website. Further investigation that spam is playing a larger role in the propagation of DirectBuy in the wake up Dozier Internet Law’s incompetent bullying on their behalf than I thought.

The blogs mentioned below are spam blogs, meaning that the are created by computer algorithms. They steal content from other sites, sometimes linking back to the original site, and display oversized ads to generate revenue. “Good” spam blogs are those that at least are helping spread the word about Direct Buy’s tactics (however unwittingly). “Bad” spam blogs appear to be set up by DirectBuy in an attempt to squelch public participation. The “ugly” … well, read on:

The Good
“Business Teacher” links (twice!) to my post on Donald E. Morris while displaying an oversized google ad.

“Internet & Web-Related Blog Feeds” links to Dozier’s history of unhappy clients.

“Lemon Law Directory” is a strange spam blog with no ads (I guess it is used to link to other spam blogs — it appears to be both automated and “clean”) that noticed by full-text of the ‘copyrighted’ cease-and-desist.” “Puykif” links to the same post.

The Bad
“Recommender: Shopping Questions and Answers” appears to have an astroturf “question” that directs readers to dynamic appointment, a front organization for DirectBuy.

The Ugly
Adisgusting spam site has a post titled “Hacking is Wikipedia? DirectBuy” that uses a half-paragraph from my article, “Is DirectBuy Hacking Wikipedia?” to display a large photo advertisement of “Adult Friend Finder members near New York.” (Even worse, of the twelve females shown, only one is actually attractive. Eek!)

Brief Impressions of the October 9, 2007 Republican Primary Debate

Sam Brownback
The Joe Biden of the Republican Party. Even gave a shout-out to Joe by name. It’s hard to see what he adds.

Rudy Giuliani
A flawless performance. His defense of attacking the Line Item Veto — tying it into strict constructionism — turns a negative into a plus. He had the better of the exchange with Romney. 2nd best of hte evening.

Mike Huckabee
If McCain and Giuliani are best suited for fighting a general election campaign, Huckabee is best placed for emphasizing conservative principles. Issues that are currently non-starters but nonetheless part of the conservative agenda, such as the fair tax, are excellently described by Mike. No chance without Romney imploding, but a perfect VP for a conservative nominee.

Duncan Hunter
A one issue candidate: anti-China.

John McCain
Dazzlingly perfect. The vigorous defense of conservative principles, from law taxes to free trade, was a welcome break with the ever creeping populism. If only his “Maverikism” didn’t keep doing things like joining the Left’s war on science. Best of the evening.

Mitt Romney
The John Kerry of the Republican Party. Yesterday I wondered if his consult-the-lawyers comment was liberal-nonsense or vacuous-nonsense. It’s definitely vacuous. Just as Kerry surely as a liberal core, Romney surely has a conservative one. Somewhere. Worst of the evening.

Ron Paul
A one issue candidate: restoration of the Constitutional regime of 1929. Unlike Hunter and Tancredo, Paul’s stance isn’t so much wrong as quixotic. It’s not going to happen.

Tom Tancredo
A one issue candidate: anti-immigration.

Fred Thompson
If the nick against McCain is that he’s too old, it’s hard to see how Thompson has a chance. Disengaged and noncharismatic, Fred’s a long way from the man who made his splash on YouTube. Second worst of the evening.

Anatomy of a DirectBuy Spam Page

DirectBuy, a company that specializes in high-pressure sales tactics and suing bloggers, also creates spam pages and spam domains. I won’t link to them because these cookie-cutter websites clog up search engines, but searching for, “DirectBuy – Tulsa” and “DirectBuy – Los Angeles” will reveal exactly what I am talking about.

Each spam page appears to be identical, except for the town name and some randomly generated material. On top is a “DirectBuy” logo, followed by a horizontal menu with “Home,” Remodeling,” “Building,” and other links, ending with “Free Visitor’s Pass.” The left side menu has entries such as “Home Furnishing,” Home Improvement,” and” Kitchen Remodeling” and a link to “News Articles” (which are press releases — mainstream media news articles about best buy are less positive). There is also a “Member Testimonials” (sic) that includes an unverified quotes saying good things about the company.

The main body of the page has a sizeable flash animation, the left two-thirds of which are pictures of products you can presumably “buy direct” at DirectBuy, while the right one-third contains the text “Achieve your dream home for much less that you’d except! – Find out how at DirectBuy. Request a Visitor’s Pass.”

The rest of the body of the page has nearly identical text. The format appears to be “Direct Buy of CITY has helped people just like you save thousands of dollars since 1971. With [number of showrooms] in CITY, you too can have the power…” &c.

A word should be said about visitor’s passes, which are mentioned several times on the front page(s). The “pass” concept is part of a high pressure take-it-or-never-come-back sales approach that is described elsewhere in the blogosphere and also by Consumer Reports.