MyGirlFund Threatens Us For Reviewing Their Website
We wrote a MyGirlFund Review post before we launched ExtraLunchMoney.com a year ago. At the time ELM was only a blog and not the marketplace it is now. MyGirlFund didn’t like what we wrote and threatened us 2 times with legal action because of the opinions expressed in the post. Rather than ask us to correct the information in the post they demanded we shut down our entire website. We don’t agree.
However, we have updated the original post to include new information about MyGirlFund that their lawyers brought to our attention. You can view the original post unedited as we wrote it a year ago here.
The Longer Version
Back in October of 2010 when we were thinking of building what would become extralunchmoney.com (custom adult video and picture marketplace) we didn’t have a clue about what other sites were out there and what they offered. Since we were new we decided to research the types other adult sites and how they operated. There wasn’t much published 3rd party information about these sites so we decided to share what we found with others by writing our own blog posts.
Some of the posts included:
- Where can I sell nude photos of myself
- Selling Yourself: The Ethics of “Girl Funds”
- How Much Money Do Webcam Models REALLY Make?
- see other articles
The point was to write posts from the perspective of someone researching the same questions that we had. We’re not the greatest writers, but we tried to write useful stuff for people. We figured if people liked what we wrote they’d come back and maybe sign up to be notified when our own website launched. We heard MyGirlFund was popular so we decided to see why. So in October of 2010 we wrote and published the MyGirlFund Review post.
A few months later in December of 2010 we received our first cease and desist letter.
MyGirlFund Lawyer Letter 1 December 2010: Take Down Stuff
The interesting thing about this letter is that it makes no mention of what we specifically copyright infringed. It mentions “infringing images and text”, but doesn’t state what images or what text they found troublesome. So even if I wanted to take stuff down I would have no idea what to take down.
The closing of the letter is also ominous. Specifically they say:
If you fail to remove any and all content misappropriated from the MGF website including, but not limited to, all photos, images, visuals and/or text, from your Website within five (5) calendar days, a complaint will be filed seeking an immediate and permanent injunction against your use of such content, compensatory damages, lost profits, punitive damages and attorney’s fees. We will prosecute our client’s intellectual property and other rights to the fullest extent of the law and have a zero tolerance policy for any type of infringement of those rights and/or any defamatory statements contained on your website which misrepresent MGF and its business and attempt to steal MGF clients, customers and/or users. Please guide yourself accordingly.
It’s worth mentioning at this point we hadn’t launched our actual marketplace (we launched in April 2011) yet. Our site at the time was only a blog so I’m not sure how we were stealing their clients and customers.
I wasn’t sure how exactly to respond, but this is what I ended up responding with:
I’m not proud, but being a chicken I decided to sign off with a fake name (I was afraid something bad would happen if they knew my real name). I wasn’t sure how they were going to respond. We expected to hear back, but 5 calendar days passed, then months, then nothing. We took that as a signal that MyGirlFund thought about it, decided they were wrong and would let us continue “on our merry way.”
That was until we received our second letter.
MyGirlFund Lawyer Letter 2 September 2011: Take Down Your Website
It’s worth noting a few things with this letter:
- MGF changed law firms. Whereas the first law had 5 attorneys located in 1 office this new law firm, Baker Botts has 800 lawyers in 13 different offices around the world. I can’t imagine they come cheap.
- Whereas with MyGirlFund Lawyer Letter 1 was just an email addressed to “Sir or Maddam”, Baker Botts’ lawyer Doreen Costa did her homework and found both me and my co-founder’s contact information and names and stage names! They even splurged and Fedex’ed us the letter and emailed us a copy.
- Since they did their homework MyGirlFund knows both my real name and my co-founder’s real name. Not that we are hiding much considering my picture is all over our website and I host ELM Avenue (adult industry video interview) show. Try finding the name of the founder(s) of MyGirlFund…I couldn’t find it.
- Why do all lawyers sign “Very truly yours”?
I haven’t responded yet to this lawyer, but I decided to use this blog post as my official response. I will openly address some of Baker Botts points.
ExtraLunchMoney’s Response to MyGirlFund-Baker Botts Letter
MyGirlFund says we committed wrongdoings
This is further to our client’s letter of December 29, 2010 protesting numerous unlawful activities engaged in by ExtraLunchMoney.com (“ELM”). Despite being place on actual notice of our client’s intellectual property rights and of ELM’s blatant violations, your wrongdoing appears to have continued unabated and to have expanded.
Right off the bat they are charging us with “numerous unlawful activities” from 1 blog post we wrote. Yes, we did receive MGF’s first email. I responded asking for clarification and they never responded. I can’t read minds so I left the post up. Furthermore, I take issue with the accusation that our alleged “wrongdoing” has continued to expand. We only wrote 1 blog post about MyGirlFund in October 2010 and that was it. How are we expanding our supposed wrongdoing?
MyGirlFund says we copied images from them
“First, you have blatantly copied, posted, and distributed screen shots from the website in violation of MGF’s terms and conditions for use”
MyGirlFund says we made false, misleading, derogatory statements
“Second, you have made false, misleading, derogatory and defamatory statements about MGF and its website and have disseminated inaccurate and deceptive comparisons between your respective businesses…”
In this section they throw a lot of unpleasant words at us. From the sounds of it you would think I wrote one long post bashing MyGirlFund. If you read the original review post at one point I write:
“The site seemed like a good deal to me. Girls offer what they are willing to do and guys pay for it. Win-win for everyone. But digging a little deeper it seems like that’s not exactly the case.
There were a couple of things to be aware of when you join MyGirlFund…”
I basically write how it’s not that bad, but before joining you should be aware of some points before joining. In addition we published comments which were both positive and negative of MGF. If we truly were trying to defame MGF we probably would have only published negative comments. But we wanted people to make up their own minds.
As for “deceptive comparisons between” our respective businesses one has to remember at the time this post was published our website, ExtraLunchMoney.com, did not exist as it does today. It was only a blog. The purpose of the post was to discuss and share what we had learn in the course of our research.
In the letter they further mention specific issues they found fault with.
“Representation that communication on MyGirlFund.com is not private, when, in fact, both companies have the same policies as established by the Solicitation and User Contact section of your terms and conditions”
This argument doesn’t make sense. I didn’t misrepresent the fact that MyGirlFund messages are not private…because the truth is they aren’t private. And yes our messages on ExtraLunchMoney.com are not private as well.
“All of your content Belongs to Them (MGF)” when, in fact, MGF has only a conditional license to display the content for the model and does not own or claim any copyright rights in the content”
I admit I got this one wrong. I didn’t realize how copyrights and licenses work, but Doreen is right in that MGF only has a license to use the content. They don’t own it. The funny thing is the images I took screenshots of were images uploaded by MGF users–the same users who still own the rights and granted a license to MGF. These are the same images that MyGirlFund claims we violated their intellectual property rights. But they just told me they don’t own the content.
With the rest of the points in this section of the letter it boils down to one main issue. When we wrote the post almost a year ago we had no website of our own to compare to MGF. However after we launched we never updated this post. In hindsight it’s outdated as we now have a site, MGF has changed their policies, etc…
Just so there’s no confusion, let me set the record straight as to what MGF offers (according to their lawyers) as well as ExtraLunchMoney (as of September 2011).
- MGF does not limit models or participants to the US or Canada; ELM also does not limit
- MGF allows models to set their own prices for products/services; ELM allows some flexibility for price setting (we have have upper and lower limits)
- MGF charges a 35% service fee but also has a dynamic model where fees vary from 35% to 10% / ELM charges a 35% flat fee
- Both MGF and ELM do not allow the exchange of personal contact information in their terms of service
MyGirlFund says we manipulate and control Google Rankings
“Third, you are manipulating the Google rankings on searches for “mygirlfund” to cause your company name to appear near the top of the search results for the purpose of disseminating false and misleading information about MGF and diverting MGF members to your website”
If writing a blog post and then showing up for it on Google is manipulating rankings then I am guilty. Google decides how they want to rank results. I would love to control it, but then so would everyone else. If MGF has an issue with rankings they should take it up with Google. One reason we might rank for “MyGirlFund” is because not many people have written about MyGirlFund so when you write a post it will show up. If MGF is concerned about search engine rankings their money might be better spent on SEO than 800 lawyer law firms.
If it makes them feel any better we have other sites that rank for our term “extralunchmoney” on Google. And some that actually don’t make us look that good.
Here this blogger wrote about us being “creepy.” Do I like our website being called “extra creepy”? No, but am I going to send 800 lawyers after them telling them to take down their post or website? No. I commented on their blog and wrote a response post. At the end of the day it’s the author’s opinion and they have the right to share it.
MyGirlFund’s List of Demands
Like all cease and desist letters there are always demands. Here’s what they demanded:
1) Shut down your website at www.ExtraLunchMoney.com
Really? Shut down our entire website because of one blog post? Wouldn’t it be more reasonable to ask us to take down the blog post we did? I’m afraid we won’t be shutting down our website.
2) Cease and desist from copying, distributing and creating derivative works from Materials appearing on MGF’s website
If it’s about the images, I’ve already replaced them. Even though technically I don’t know if they can consider this content theirs. But I removed them anyway.
3) Cease and desist from publishing any statement that is false, misleading, derogatory, or defamatory, or that tarnishes or denigrates MGF
I’ve changed and corrected errors in our orignal blog post that were brought to my attention via Baker Botts letter. Though a simple email to us and we would have done the same (and it might have been a tad cheaper for them as well).
4) Cease and desist from intentionally manipulating Google Search results
We never intentionally did this. We write a post Google decides to rank us there. It’s like asking a tall person to cease and desist from being tall. Sorry we can’t comply.
To be honest I never looked at ELM and MGF as direct competitors. ELM is a marketplace for people to sell custom jobs and pre-made content. MyGirlFund seems to be more a social network in my opinion (just in case the lawyers are reading). I’m not trying to steal anyone’s models, content, or customers. At the end of the day I believe people are smart enough to decide what works for them and what doesn’t. If they don’t like ELM so be it. If they like MGF better I can live with that. To me the goal is to make the site good enough so people will want to join on their own. However, by MGF sending not 1 but 2 different law firms after our 1 blog post I find it difficult to believe MyGirlFund feels the same way.
Original MyGirlFund Review Post
Just so people don’t accuse us of changing the MGF Review post after we heard from the lawyers to make ourselves look better, I’ve included the Google cached version below as it was before we updated the post
Original MyGirlFund Post on ExtraLunchMoney on October 2010