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as the more seasoned of us well know, not everyone in the book or movie world is always pleased to hear from as-yet-unpublished writers, whom they regard as deadbeat losers, unwashed, smelly, and otherwise undesirable.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:
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.
Carolyn A. Hampton
Vice President - Litigation Counsel
100 Universal City Plaza, LRW-6
Universal City, CA 91608
2. Text of Gerard Jones's email to Carolyn Hampton
1) They're not "private" email addresses. Carolyn Hampton has a job as a litigation counsel for Universal Pictures; her email address is therefore:
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.
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:
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.
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 (email@example.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.