Note that anything that follows is my own personal opinion of events, and is backed up only by the facts I provide in this post. Make up your own minds. But I do stand behind my opinion, that honest, decent people would not behave in the way several companies have done in this case. If you define honesty and decency differently, that is your right - go shout it somewhere else.
First of all, in case any of you are ignorant of how these things happen, this has nothing at all to do with Velvet Verbosity. Scrapers steal anything, from anybody. That simply happens to be where I noticed the clue pointing me to the thieves. Scrapers and spammers: look at the 'quality' of that 'blog'. If you enter the main domain name, http://crutoo.com, you will find they maintain a whole list of "Info for You!", also known as scraped content thrown together to lure suckers into clicking on dubious links.
If you checked the scraped page, you will notice they quoted only my work, under someone else's name. Again, not anyone's fault but the scraper and spammer. And, of course, to heap another injury atop stealing and misattributing my work my words are being misused to promote and advertise one of the very things I was speaking out against! So I looked up the WhoIs information for that domain, intending to insist on proper payment for the unauthorised use of my work, plus correction of the attribution. I discovered the scum who make tons of money by stealing other people's words to help them defraud others want to 'protect their privacy', so they hide behind this extremely ill advised service. Link edited; original text was "seeming front for criminal activity".
Portions of the following paragraphs edited to reflect the response I received Monday morning, 23 June 2008.
Why did I call this organisation a seeming front for criminal activity, and later edit my comment? Well, they not only protect their clients' 'privacy' - they isolate them still further, by refusing legal notices sent to domain owners at the only address provided, instead forcing victims to go through their 'screening' first. They could at least forward mail sent on legal matters to their clients. Instead, they slow down justice in the name of 'privacy'. I find that extremely ill advised at best; less of a protection for privacy and more of a useful shelter for sploggers and other lowlifes. However, I did alter my original opinion somewhat when I got a response within 48 hours of my complaint, exposing the splogger's details to the world. It may be they are simply too foolish and idealistic to understand how easily they can be misused, or how much distress they cause the innocent. Nevertheless, I suffered for those 48 hours, wondering just how difficult it would be to take action.
I suspect they will claim they get "too much mail to handle" - well, that's because you let scrapers, spammers, and who knows what else hide behind your skirts. If you didn't accept such people, if you checked out their sites yourself to verify they were honest sites, maybe you wouldn't get so much mail. Of course, that wouldn't be as profitable, would it? Perhaps the reason isn't profit, but whatever it is, if you truly hope to offer a fair, honest service, you shouldn't adopt a policy of this kind.
Portions of the preceeding paragraphs edited to reflect the response I received Monday morning, 23 June 2008. Please note there is no longer any reason to complain to the New Zealand authorities, as that situation has been resolved, and the identity of the true culprit, residing in Texas, is now known to me.
This "service" is based in New Zealand, and I hope all of you will join me in complaining to the New Zealand government. I think it is an outrage any country's laws would allow such a situation to exist. You can e-mail the New Zealand embassy in Washington at info at nzemb dot org or you can contact the US embassy in New Zealand at aucklandacs at state dot gov - correct the ats and dots appropriately, of course.
I am including a quote of my own message to the New Zealand embassy in Washington, which does not provide very useful contact information for such a situation. My message isn't worded very well, I suppose: I'm still very shocked and upset.
"If you simply read my post on my blog here:
[link to this post omitted] you will see the basic details of my complaint.
I am shocked that your country would permit such a blatant front for criminal activity to exist, without even requiring them to accept and to forward legal notifications from victims of the criminals they shield.
Writers do not make a lot of money. I don't have the time or money to fly to New Zealand to pursue some elaborate court case. This has done me immense economic and emotional harm. My words were not only stolen - they were misused to promote one of the very things I was speaking out against!
If the New Zealand government does indeed care about justice and about protecting the victimised without forcing them to jump through hoops too high to reach, please advise me what I can do to take action about this.
If you will simply look over my own blog, and the 'blogs' maintained by the scraper hiding behind a New Zealand organisation, you will see mine is the honest blog of a writer, while the other is a collection of spam. This is a pretty simple issue."