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Phone book publisher tries to silence critic with legal bullying

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Phone bookEverybody in the Netherlands still receives the paper phone guide once every year, whether they want to or not, even though in these days of Google and the Internet it is nothing but a vehicle for advertisements.

To help stop this form of harassment, a guy called Alexander Klöpping has registered a URL called sterftelefoongidssterf.nl (diephonebookdie) which redirects to the phone book cancellation form. In other words, if you want the phone book to be eliminated (‘die’) from your life, follow that link. (Actually don’t follow it, De Telefoongids are known to ignore your cancellation request anyway.)

Last Monday Klöpping received a threatening e-mail by the publishers of the phone book, a subsidiary of European Directories, that tells him he is engaged in trademark violation and that he must cease and desist.

Klöpping replied that he will take the URL offline as soon as the dead tree merchant stops shoving the equivalent of “months of advertising leaflets”, and “half a percent of all paper used in the Netherlands” through everybody’s mailboxes, including those of people that have indicated they want to receive no advertisements through the legally binding “ja-nee” and “nee-nee” stickers (yes-no and no-no).

Of course, the lawyers from European Directories would have a case if they were to argue that they don’t actually do anything with the addresses through their cancellation form, and if they could prove that Klöpping knew this. But then they’d have to argue that they are breaking the law on more than just one count and I just don’t expect them to do that.

Update 20-8: As a result of Klöpping’s action, parliament has called for making the phone book opt-in.

(Link: Webwereld)

6 Comments »

  1. [...] (European) Phone book publisher tries to silence critic with legal bullying [...]

    Pingback by (European) Phone book publisher tries to silence critic with legal bullying | Toxic Sushi — August 20, 2012 @ 3:50 am

  2. Same in Switzerland. There is no way to have a land line and not have a paper phone directory stuffed in your mailbox every year (one for line that you lease).
    There isn’t even an opting out.
    If you don’t want the phone book cancel your land line.
    There is still a de-facto monopoly of state-owned Swisscom over the copper wires and
    you can’t use them without receiving their advertiing laden tree massacre.

    Comment by giorgio — August 20, 2012 @ 6:27 pm

  3. [...] The Phone Book or Yellow Page companies try legal bullying [...]

    Pingback by The Phone Book or Yellow Page companies try legal bullying « internetmarketingsacramentoreachlocal — August 20, 2012 @ 7:44 pm

  4. [...] Phone book publisher tries to silence critic with legal bullying [...]

    Pingback by Episode 3.22: Overflow | Discourse — August 22, 2012 @ 7:45 pm

  5. [...] Klöpping had registered the domain sterftelefoongidssterf.nl (‘die, phone book, die’), which he redirected to the presumed cancellation page of the phone book. [...]

    Pingback by 24 oranges » Saturday shorts: phone book dies, Dobbe croquet disappears, other free market failures — September 15, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

  6. [...] Dutch phone book publisher claims that “Cancel my Dutch phone book” website infringes its trademark [24 Oranges] [...]

    Pingback by September 17 roundup - Overlawyered — September 17, 2012 @ 6:30 am

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