Over the weekend, Amy and I discovered that we'd been the victims of identity theft. After we spent months updating our sites, including an update on Saturday, wrestled with our email host changing hands, notifying people about email address changes, doing countless work to update all of our records, we missed that our happycloudpictures and amylynnbest domains had apparently expired.
And two vultures came in and snatched them up.
This is nothing new, of course. Pretty/Scary.net used to be a .com, before the company that the domain was registered through decided to hold it hostage after a dispute with its co-founder. For no reason other than they could. There are plenty of conscience-free, amoral people out there. Let me tell you about the ones we just discovered.
Our domains couldn't possibly do these two "men" any good. The traffic they generated was modest and was comprised solely of our fans and supporters. We worked hard on both sites, not to mention the companies they represented, and have owned these domains for five years. These two "men" claim that their "robots" found them available and bought them on "online auction". The one who bought HCP claimed he spent $400 for it, because it was such a hot name. (I went through this trying to buy Mike Watt.com a few months back. That "gentleman" wanted to extort $1100 out of me for my own name - thinking I was the bass player, I imagine.) He'd gladly part with it and "give" it back to me for the modest price of $500, due to all the time and effort he put into it. Not to mention the expense.
His name is Sergey. Hey, Sergey: what about all the time and expense we put into it? That doesn't matter to you, does it? Because you saw an opportunity for extortion. And you took it. And you were rude about it in all the email messages we exchanged.
Amy's thief, Jason, is even lower, as far as I'm concerned, because amylynnbest is OBVIOUSLY SOMEONE'S NAME! And he's now holding it hostage and won't even return a phone call or an email to tell us what his outrageous price would be to buy it back.
To sum up: Amy and I have killed ourselves to create something that didn't exist before us. Whether you like our movies or think them enormous wastes of time, we worked to build up Happy Cloud Pictures and Amy Lynn Best. We did it because we believe in ourselves, our friends and our productions. We created. These two guys stole.
I'm sorry. There was technically no "theft". They bought the domains, for whatever price, fair and square. But you can't tell me they were unaware that they were owned and operated by people. I'm sure they didn't care what we went through over the years, nor could they care LESS who we are, what we achieved or what the domains meant to us.
They didn't "steal" the domains.
They tried, however, to steal who we are.
The fact that both Amy's name and Happy Cloud Pictures are both trademarks BELONGING to Happy Cloud Pictures doesn't seem to be an issue that they can concern themselves with. Copyright Law is beneath them. Extortion, now that's the name of the game! They claim (well, Sergey is claiming; still haven't heard from Jason) that the domains will make their companies a lot of money because of the traffic they generate.
Well that traffic, again, is generated by our friends, our fans, our supporters. And people who support independent film and artists.
So I would like to ask that everyone, until further notice, ONLY go to happycloudpictures.net or .org, and amylynnbest.net once they're set up. Don't even go to the previous .com sites out of curiosity. I'm sure they'll be Adult Friend Finders or porn gateways in no time flat. But please, don't sate your curiosity. Don't let Sergey and Jason win. (This plea won't hurt their profits, trust me. I'm sure they've done this to countless souls in the past. Their children won't go hungry by my call for principal.) Rather, allow your curiosity be served by visiting http://who.godaddy.com/whoischeck.aspx?Domain=HAPPYCLOUDPICTURES.COM and http://who.godaddy.com/whoischeck.aspx?Domain=AMYLYNNBEST.COM
Check out who Sergey and Jason are. Their information is public record. No harm would be done by dropping them a quick note, or a phone call, and congratulating them on their victories over people like Amy and myself. I mean, what were we thinking anyway, having dreams and working our asses off to achieve something? What a long way to go! When you can just wait for someone else to do all the hard work and then buy it out from under them? Thank you, Sergey. Thank you, Jason.
Thank you for the lesson.