January 09, 2008

[Advice] Using Stelmach's Domain Wisely

This morning one of the main news stories in Alberta was regarding a recent cease and desist notice from cowboy, I mean... Premier Ed Stelmach's lawyers to a UofA student Dave Cournoyer, for having purchased the web domain edstelmach.ca. Dave was using the link initially to forward to his blog site (http://daveberta.blogspot.com/). The lawyers threatened to sue Dave and wanted the $20/month that he had made through adverts on the site. Read the CBC news story here. Needless to say there are hundreds of comments on the issue through Dave's blog and through the media. The following is my advice to Dave:

Just in case you haven't gotten enough useless advice that you've already considered, here's mine (sorry):

1) KEEP THE DOMAIN. I doubt they'll sue you. The cease and desist letter is an old lawyer's trick, and they particularly like using it on people they think are vulnerable and will cave in (like debt ridden university students). Even if they did sue (which they won't) there has got to be a dozen lawyers out there who would help you for free or for a very minimal fee, as well as various interest groups who would cover your legal costs - not to mention the sheer damage it would cause to Stelmach's reputation for suing a university student (which also is an incentive for them not to sue).

2) CHANGE UP THE edstelmach.ca SITE A BIT. You're just not using ...[click on link below to expand to full post] the domain very creatively (forwarding to Wikipedia - that's just boring). I say ditch the ads (so they can't accuse you of profiting with his name), and why not construct a site that is actually about Stelmach and his government's (socially inept) policies. By doing this you'd have a much better chance of arguing that you are using the domain name in line with CIRA's regulations... Just make sure you don't use the site to defame his personality, use it instead to engage us in an informed and factual dialogue about our Premier and his party. The TRUE FACTS speak for themselves: The Tories are just not good for this province, nor the country, nor our planet.

3) Try to look at the big picture here and be honest to yourself: This issue may have made the news this morning, but politically speaking it is totally irrelevant and has the effect of sidetracking our attention from this province's serious political and economic issues - such as the overwhelming problem of homelessness and unaffordable housing, the massive environmental damage being caused by irresponsible oil and gas exploitation and the overuse of coal power, the creeping privatization of our public sphere and the denigration of our democratic institutions (as noted in the example of the AEUB's spying on citizens & your case too I guess). It is my opinion that these latter issues (among others) are those that should be addressed and discussed on edstelmach.ca

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