Monday, October 31, 2005

Everyone Who's Anyone under threat

Other bloggers and online community generally: please note this post.

Many readers of this blog will be familiar with the Everyone Who's Anyone web site, which is owned and operated by Gerard Jones. That site is now being threatened with closure.

Everyone Who's Anyone is a list of the names, addresses, and other details, of virtually all the literary agents and publishers of any note in the UK, USA, and Canada. Gerard originally assembled this list to facilitate his own efforts to sell his book Ginny Good -- efforts which were eventually successful. Having collected all this information, Gerard made it available to writers everywhere; and in the last year or so he has added a vast amount of further data about film companies.

Not surprisingly, many writers have taken advantage of this vast resource, which represents hundreds of hours of work, and have used it to send enquiry letters to said agents, publishers, and film producers. And, of course, as the more seasoned of us well know, not everyone in the book or movie world is always pleased to hear from as-yet-unpublished writers, whom they regard as deadbeat losers, unwashed, smelly, and otherwise undesirable.

Recently, Universal Studios, which is one of the bigger companies listed on Everyone Who's Anyone, has decided that it can no longer put up with the gross inconvenience of having its executives' email addresses and other data listed on the site, and has lodged a formal complaint with Dotster, the company with which Gerard registered the domain name: the aim of the complaint being to get Gerard's site closed down.

Now, I don't know how you feel about this, but I for one am not happy about it. If big companies -- not to mention politicians -- are able to have web sites closed down simply because they don't happen to like the content of those web sites, then I believe we are in serious trouble.

I therefore draw your attention to this state of affairs and invite you to have a think about it. To assist you in thinking, I am going to set out below the following documents. 1, a copy of the email from Carolyn Hampton to Dotster; 2, a copy of Gerard's email to Carolyn Hampton; 3, a copy of my email to Carolyn Hampton; and 4, some concluding comments.

1. Text of email from Carolyn Hampton

Dear Sir or Madam:

This web site, which is hosted by your servers, lists the names, addresses, phone numbers, titles, and private e-mail addresses of nearly every single one of Universal Studios senior executives (see:

http://everyonewhosanyone.com/tt/tgpc1.html

The site encourages would-be screenwriters to inundate our executives with unsolicited submissions, spam, phone calls, etc. Indeed, since this material was posted by your customer (Gerard Jones), the amount of spam e-mail our executives have received has sky rocketed, with scores of people sending us ideas for screenplays.

Universal has a longstanding company policy of not accepting any ideas or materials which were not solicited by us. For legal and insurance reasons, we seek to avoid future misunderstandings if we independently develop a project which may be similar to someone else's script or idea.

We believe that paragraphs 10 (a, g, j, o) and 11 of your Registration Agreement prohibit Mr. Jones activity on his site as he encourages the public at large to harass our executives, engage in spamming, disrupt our servers, etc. We also believe that the site invades the privacy of our senior executives as their personal information (titles and e-mail addresses) is not available to the public.

We would appreciate it if you could respond at your earliest convenience because we would like to put a stop to the harassment as soon as possible. Thank you, in advance, for your consideration.

Sincerely,

Carolyn A. Hampton
Vice President - Litigation Counsel
Universal Studios
100 Universal City Plaza, LRW-6
Universal City, CA 91608
tel. 818-777-6287
fax 818-866-2166

2. Text of Gerard Jones's email to Carolyn Hampton

Dear Carolyn:

1) They're not "private" email addresses. Carolyn Hampton has a job as a litigation counsel for Universal Pictures; her email address is therefore:

carolyn.hampton@nbcuni.com.

2) I use the list for my own private, personal, legal purposes and don't "encourage would-be screenwriters to inundate (our) executives with unsolicited submissions, spam, phone calls, etc."

3) I got all the information on my site from Google and other search engines. Shut them down.

4) I do not "encourage(s) the public at large to harass (our) executives, engage in spamming, disrupt (our) servers, etc." I have no control over what people do with the information on my site.

5) The site does not invade the privacy of anyone. All the information on it is freely available to anyone with the ability to extrapolate.
http://nbcuni.com/About_NBC_Universal/Executive_Bios
I've simply put the results of my independent research on my website for my convenience.

6) "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press..." --Bill of Rights, Amendment One

I hope this clears things up. To mitigate any trouble you may feel I've caused you or NBC Universal, I'm including a link to a free audio book of the only truly original, worthwhile work of art published or produced anywhere in the world thus far in the 21st Century:

http://everyonewhosanyone.com/audio/

Thanks.

Gerard Jones

3. Text of my email to Carolyn Hampton

I have seen a copy of your complaint in respect of the Everyone Who's Anyone web site which is operated by Gerard Jones.

My sincere advice to you is to withdraw your complaint. If you insist on pursuing this matter, I think you will find that you have achieved an effect precisely opposite to that which you hope to achieve.

I understand that, like most of us, you would like to minimise the number of unwelcome emails and other communications being sent to your senior executives. You are trying to achieve that by persuading Mr Jones's ISP [actually Dotster] to close down his site.

I suspect that, by taking this step, you have ensured that Universal Studios in general, and yourself in particular, will be the subject of a great deal of (well deserved) criticism from the online community. People who, only a few days ago, had never heard of you or your company will suddenly begin to take an interest, and in my opinion the majority of them will not support your position. You will alienate, in short, the very people who could do most to assist the interests of your company.

I for one intend to describe the action that you have taken, on my blog, and to seek support for Mr Jones. I think you will find that other bloggers will do the same.

We all receive unwelcome emails. We either find a way to deal with them or we get off the web.

Michael Allen

4. Concluding comments

Readers of this blog are, by definition, sophisticated and worldly-wise individuals who know full well that major film studios do not read unsolicited screenplays. They don't read them because, decades ago, they grew tired of people complaining that the studio's latest hit was a rip-off of a script sent to them five years earlier. These days, all major producers carry insurance against such eventualities, and their insurance forbids them from even sniffing an envelope which contains an unsolicited script.

That, however, is not the point. I don't like it when big boys beat up little boys. I wouldn't like it if someone tried to close me down, for no good reason, and I don't lke it when it happens to Gerard Jones.

I have sent copies of my email to Carolyn Hampton to some of the top executives at Universal, in the (faint) hope that someone in that organisation might have a smidgen of common sense. You can find the names of the executives here, and some of the email addresses on Gerard Jones's site, here.

I would advise you that, not so long ago, no less an institution than the University of Glasgow caved in at the first hint of a letter from a lawyer -- or, in that case, alleged lawyer.

If you agree with my position on this matter, you may care to write to Carolyn Hampton (carolyn.hampton@nbcuni.com) and say so. On the other hand, if you think she is dead right, you might also care to write to her. She will probably be very pleased to hear from you, because I don't think she'll get many like that.

By the way, since he cannot afford a lawyer, Gerard is hoping to interest the Electronic Frontier Foundation in his case; and this is an organisation which all blog readers should at least know about.

30 comments:

Gerard Jones said...

In you concluding remarks you called her "Frampton." It was a typo. Thanks. G.

Gerard Jones said...

Man, now I can't send email 'cause my isp (charter.net) won't let me. If you could tell Anne Weale that's why I didn't answer her email, that would be cool. Thanks. G.

Anne Weale said...

Couldn't agree more with GOB's point "If big companies -- not to mention politicians -- are able to have web sites closed down simply because they don't happen to like the content of those web sites, then I believe we are in serious trouble."
I've told some of my press contacts what's happening and hope they will bring it to their readers' attention.
Anne

Gerard Jones said...

Ooo, I'm finding out so many interesting things. Your isp can cut you off, i.e., you can't send email, if one person complains that he or she got an email which, in his or her opinion, was spam. No questions, no warning, no appeal process. Fathers and teachers, I ponder, what exactly is spam? Whatever anyone thinks it is? One man's spam is another man's filet mignon. When I send a person an email, it's my true belief that I'm doing that person a huge favor. I stuck up my little website to do people a favor--oh, it's thousands of hours, not hundreds, by the way. Blimy. I'm gonna go sulk. G.

- Leopold said...

Big Entertainment thrives by cutting off smaller outlets for artists and consumers, thereby establishing itself as the only route by which authors can be 'approved' for use. Therefor artists have no choice but to innundate them for attention and the whole process of getting art into the 'mainstream' (which is usually the only option these days) involves having to get attention. Big Entertainment would die without finding new talent, but simultaneously works to close off any new loophole that allows new artists in. This is the situation places like Universal have created and THRIVE upon. Quite hypocritical.

I won't get into my economic theories on this, but Big Entertainment also thrives by pushing out small entertainment with lawsuits and other brute force tactics. Here their two favourite methods come together quite disgustingly.

Thanks for the informative post, Bookman.

Anonymous said...

I don't know... it seems an awful lot like posting an internal employee directory to me. Certainly anyone can figure out that the first name last name @ whatever is the way into most of these places, but Gerald isn’t doing anyone any favors with the list. And is it a free speech issue? What if you were to post my personal phone number and encourage people to call it? Seems more like harrasment. That said, I think your energies are best focused on Dotster – universal has the right to complain, it’s the host that decides whether this is something worth responding to.

Lisa Burton said...

Gerard- you have thousands of unpublished writers behind you. Your site help us little writers get into an exclusive area. You have a freedom to post anything you like on your website and there is nothing wrong with that except stepping on the big man's toes.

EWA is the best!!

Gerard Jones said...

I took down all the email addresses for NBC Universal but even though Ms. Hampton said she'd withdraw the complaint if I did so, she reneged. Now she wants me to take down the secret formula for the email addresses of NBC Universal employees. I told her to shut down Google and wished her luck. I've stuck the whole correspondence on my site. G.

Anonymous said...

"not everyone in the book or movie world is always pleased to hear from as-yet-unpublished writers, whom they regard as deadbeat losers, unwashed, smelly, and otherwise undesirable."

Yup, that pretty much describes old GMJ... "deadbeat, loser, unwashed, smelly and definitely undesirable."

Steve Smith said...

Not to put too fine a point on this, but isn't the unauthorized posting of the e-mail addresses of business executives, particularly executives who have nothing to do with greenlighting scripts or publishing books, a rather egregious violation of their right to privacy?

Anonymous said...

I'm all in favor of shutting the site down, and applaud Universal's effort to do so. I work as an editor at one of the major publishing houses, and I can say as a matter of fact that under the pretense of helping writers, Gerard Jones has actually done a fair bit of harm to those who are seeking publication of their work. The amount of unsolicted submissions we get is overwhelming, and we now as a matter of course delete any email that does not come from someone we know. In the past we might have looked through this slush pile and given these writers a glance. Perhaps someone might have emerged from the pile and ended up published. No longer.

Games have rules. Just because you might want to go to college badly doesn't mean you can get in without taking the SATs or writing an essay. Just because you want to run a marathon doesn't mean you don't have to train. Contacting editors directly has not been an effective route for authors for a very long time. To encourage unpublished writers to do so only harms them by giving them false hope.

Our email addresses are not comparable to listed phone numbers. We have channels set up for unsolicted submissions, and they do not involve direct contact with individual editors. Any site that implies it is at all worthwhile to pester editors directly is deceiving writers who come to it looking for real help. Of course, that's to be expected: You can see from Gerard's hostile exchanges with the few editors who have tried to engage him that his site is not really about offering assistance to anyone. He's a bitter, unpublished guy who feels a need to harass loads of people who have had nothing to do with his own frustrating career. For anyone out there who has an unlisted number, or blocks caller ID, or keeps their email account private--hope that Jones doesn't decide you've wronged him, or your industry has wronged him.

Robert Nagle said...

First, for readers, don't bother the Universal attorney. The more important place to indicate support is with Gerard's ISP. They need to be convinced that Gerard's site is more than simply a spammer. Gerard, if they shut you down, I suggest you complain loudly on webhosting forums. That would make more of a difference than playing email tag with a Big media attorney.

A publisher who isn't looking at unsolicited fiction has nothing to offer the world of writers and readers. Gerard, I say, don't waste any more brain cells on this. Remove their contact information and be done with it. You have more important things to concern yourself with.

Cool mp3s btw. I'm on #25 (yes, I've been listening for the last two weeks!). Quite entertaining. One irony is that the mp3s Gerald produced and distribute may end up winning more fans than these publishing companies. That should be a lesson to all of us.

As for Anonymous' editorializing, , I say: please restrain yourself. However tempting it is to assume that he is "bitter" "frustrated" etc., you really don't have any basis for making these assessments. It is precisely this dismissive attitude that causes writers like me to view mainstream publishers as irrelevant and drives us to self-publishing.

Robert Nagle said...

Of course, one irony is that Ginnie Good had a lot of litigation going on within its pages as well. In fact, although they are on different planes, Ginnie Good shares a lot with Gaddis' Frolic of His Own (lawsuits begetting lawsuits, etc).

Here's what I want to know from the book: did Gordon Lish really refuse to let Gerard quote from his workshop packets? That sounds so pathetic and hilarious. BTW, for a great read about lawyers and creativity, try Freedom of Expression: Overzealous Copyright Bozos and Other Enemies of Creativity by Kembrew McLeod (free for download!)

Gerard Jones said...

I'm not bitter. I crack myself up. I'm also not "unpublished." Vis-a-vis "privacy," these guys are who they are, they do what they do, it's their "corporate" e-mail addresses I stick on my site. And yeah, Lish really didn't give me permission to quote a line or two from my copy of the mimeographed syllabus he passed out to us in 1963. I thought it was pretty funny, myself. I'm still fiddling with the audio book, but it's gonna be extra slick. My url's still working and I got Charter to trun my email back on 'cause the lawyer from Universal obviously lied to them about me sending "spam." I sent copies of our correspondence to some hotshots at GE and Google. Google's the one people ought to be trying to shut down...that's where I get everything I've got on my site. G.

Anonymous said...

I haven't had the opportunity to visit Gerard Jones's Web site for a while. As one of many struggling writers out there, I once used Jones's Web site as a good reference but now that I've been rejected by practically every literary agent in the free world, I now visit his site for entertainment if anything. However, I didn't expect to see a controversy such as this...WOW!
When I used the information on Jones's Web site, I was smart enough to take the information I gleaned from it one step further and find out if these agents/publishers/whatever accepted direct e-mail submissions. I visited their Web Sites, or visited other sites the object of my affection may be listed on, to verify if they would accept my e-mail. Why would anyone who seriously valued their literary work randomly send an e-mail to a money-grubbing film exec looking for the next "The Matrix" or "Lord of the Rings"? So what if you copyrighted your work? Do you honestly think you're protected? What's to stop that film exec from stealing your idea and make the next blockbuster from it? I don't know about you, but I'd be pretty pissed if I saw a character similar to one I've written up on the big screen and I have absolutely nothing to show for it accept lint in my pocketbook.
So I firmly believe Jones cannot be held responsible for the tasteless actions of a few. We could mince words over the classfication of spam is but in my mind, if I'm in the entertainment business, and I receive an e-mail about adopting material relative to my business, then it's not spam. However, if I circumsize men for a living, and I receive an e-mail about buying a sausage casing machine, then it's spam!

Fran said...

I feel like puking. Sometimes it seems like no matter what we writers do, the publishing snobs will berate us, will try to beat us down. Now we've got Universal representatives trying to shut down one of our websites? Universal doesn't have enough power, enough money?

Personally, I find what Universal's representative has done disgusting, so disgusting that maybe I'll boycott buying anything from Universal, like those new TV series DVDs I was looking forward to buying--I'll scratch that if they're Universal.

An agent once lost a submission of mine. I've worked in publishing--I know how easy losing specific papers among mounds of papers is, so this agent's losing mine wasn't a big deal to me and didn't make me angry, until the agent sent me a letter defending himself when I hadn't even attacked him. I had only politely asked if he'd ever received the thing as it had been several months since I'd sent it; he said he'd look for my submission. A few weeks later he sent me a letter saying he lost my submission; he went into the "I get thousands and thousands of submissions a month" mantra. And I saw red.

I sent him a letter reminding him that he was in every single agent listing book I'd ever picked up, and not just his contact info but often personal quotes from him indicating that he gave permission to these book compilers to post his contact info. Is it any wonder then that he received so many submissions when he was listed as being open to receiving them? If he didn't want so many submissions, he shouldn't have solicited them in general. I said all this in the letter; of course he never wrote me back. And of course he was still in all the agent books last time I looked.

Anonymous said...

I'm not bitter. I crack myself up

yes, this condition is referred to by clinicians as "geriatric delinquency"... the successor to "juvenile delinquency" whereby the patient psychologically progresses from being a "Rebel Without A Cause" to being a "Mudpuddle Without A Cause."

you've already revealed your rubble-heap of a life in your book, so it's no use trying to pretend you're hap-hap-happy now.

you've made self-alienation your raison d’être so of course you crack yourself up, no one else can stand being in the same room with you. yes, you may be laughing, but it's not sane laughter, it's that hysterical cracked-up kind you hear emanating from the nuthouse.

Gerard Jones said...

All my inward friends abhorred me: and they whom I loved are turned against me. My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth. Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.

Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh? Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

Heh. G.

return of paracletus said...

it's nice you're reading your bible, Mr. Jones, but you really should read the part that says, he that diggeth a pit shall fall therein. Unlike Job, who was being tested by God, your afflictions are wholly self-induced... the unpleasant result of a "filthy mouth and bad attitude."

it's a bit late to play the innocent lamb after boasting in your book that you've lived the life of a goat.

Iain said...

This debate threatens to get out of hand, but it serves the very useful purpose of widening awareness of a masterpiece which is struggling to achieve recognition.

Gerard Jones’s quixotic war with the literary establishment is giving Ginny Good the sort of publicity which the Bronte sisters gained through the early debate as to their identity, and which John Kennedy Toole gained through being twelve years dead when the brilliance of A Confederacy of Dunces was finally recognised: that is, publicity which has nothing to do with his real achievement.

I am content to concur with the opinion of the GOB as to the quality of GJ’s work, and if you can’t read (or if you’re too poor or too mean to buy the book), then you can listen to it free here. GJ has not yet completed the chapter-by-chapter recordings, but this blend of words and music is a masterpiece in its own right.

Gerard Jones said...

Dam strate. G.

Ron Jenkins said...

This is a copy of an email sent to Carolyn from moi.

Dear Carolyn:

Your bullying of an author and someone who worked hard to help writers can only be called a travesty at best. There is a button located to the right of your keyboard. It's called the delete button. The executives won't get dirty fingers hitting it, and their secretaries can be taught how to use it as well.

A question for you. Would you call junk mail delivered to a mail box advertising Universal's next blockbuster, a form of spam? What about those rolling credits at the end of a movie advertising the company, spam? What about those trailers floating around advertising Universal movies on annoying flashing banners, spam? Universal would make better use of its time producing a half-decent movie than chasing literary ambulances. Feel free to delete this, since you now know where to find the delete key now.

Best,
Ron Jenkins

Anonymous said...

Read Gerard's anti-semitic screed and if you can still defend him as "working hard to help others" then have at it.

http://everyonewhosanyone.com/other5.html

Best to remember the old adage, when you lie down with an anti-semite, you may wake up with the ADL on your back. I mean really, what do you think this thing with NBC Universal is all about anyway?

If only you could have kept your big gob shut for once, none of this would be happening to you now, but then, old habits are hard to break, heh Gerard?!

Anonymous said...

Gerald:
Visit this website: www.chillingeffects.org

Bushido Hacks said...

They say Hollywood is out of ideas. More like Hollywood doesn't want to accept your ideas. The strange thing is that Charter is involved.

The dinosaur industries --entertainment being one of them-- are starving themselves vehimately infront of an all you can eat buffet of ideals.

What is worse, is that they want everyone else to be anorexic just like them.

It is wrong to supress your thoughts. I is evil to supress the thoughts of others.

"Fight the power that chokes your speech...that propogates lies/to keep you weak/Keep you in line"
-- KMFDM "New American Century"

Tyler said...

How come the ones that insult the artists and writers trying to do something positive with their work and get it out there, those insults are coming from wimps hiding behind the "anonymous" slogan including that retard working at a publishing house, another coward afraid to list who they are and what publishing house. They clearly have too much time on their hands to spend blogging on here instead of looking for new talent. Go get a real job!

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