Phone book publisher tries to silence critic with legal bullying
Everybody 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.