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Cybergriping.com

Portal to a variety of creative gripe websites containing invaluable information and sometimes rude commentary about famous people, companies, brands and institutions

This is non-commercial website provided for information purposes only, with multiple links to gripe, sucks and complaint websites: no subscription or other charges and no advertising. So that we remain entirely independent, we do not solicit or accept donations; websites are listed free of charge

A ‘gripe site’ is a type of website devoted to the critique and or mockery of a person, place, corporation or institution. They are also widely known as “sucks”, protest, or complaint sites. The Internet provides a low cost public platform for anyone, even of modest means, to reach a global audience via a “blog” or a “gripe” website. It is the high-tech equivalent of having a soap box at “Speakers Corner” in Hyde Park, London – that long-established bastion of free speech.

The web gives ordinary individuals the opportunity to publicly criticise the rich and powerful, including multinational corporations. Many of these websites contain interesting and entertaining content because the publishers are passionate (and possibly obsessed) about the featured subject. Time and money is invested in the hope of gaining satisfaction by airing a perceived grievance and embarrassing the party which is the target of the “gripe.”

A “sucks.com website” can also be described as a specialized kind of “complaint website” (you could think of sucks.com sites as being a “subset” of complaint sites). A distinguishing characteristic of some sucks.com websites is that they communicate their complaint as part of the domain name itself, typically in conjunction with the name of the organization (often a business) that is the subject of the complaint. This succinct and stunningly effective use of domain names allows a complaint to be communicated without even requiring the viewing of the website.

The following definition of a “gripe site” is from an article authored by a notable American lawyer, Mr Paul Levy, and published by Public Citizen, a Washington D.C. based organization founded by consumer champion Ralph Nader: “A ‘gripe site’ is a web site established to criticize an institution such as a corporation, union, government body, or political figure. Not surprisingly, powerful institutions often do not take kindly to being criticized, and they have invented a variety of ways to try to suppress the speech of their adversaries.” Mr Levy is the worlds leading legal expert on gripe sites and related matters and the founder of Public Citizen’s “Public Internet Free Speech Project.

Sucks/gripe sites are the bleeding edge of the ongoing struggle for free speech on the Internet. The crudity of their names may make many Internet purists uneasy, in that they would rather fight the Internet free-speech battle on a less-offensive front line.

Some websites are focused on a place: –

http://willowbendmallsucks.com is a “sucks” website owned by Hank Mishkoff. It is targeted on a “place”, a 1.5-million-square-foot shopping mall located in Plano, Texas. The following illuminating quotation appears on his website:  “I suspect that you’re familiar with this usage of the verb to suck, but in case you’re not, I looked it up in Merriam-Webster OnLine, where I learned that the “official” slang definition of to suck is “to be objectionable or inadequate.” This, of course, is the sense in which I’m using the term.”

http://www.ptuj.co.uk/intro.htm: Focused on a Chicken Processing Plant in Ptuj, Slovenia. “Chewed-up chicken shit, boiled bones, ground gizzards, broken beaks, fetid feet and lingering litter: they’re all part of the atmosphere awaiting visitors to the Slovenian destination of Ptuj, unless the town’s only English resident gets his way!”

Some “sucks” type websites parody famous people e.g.

http://www.oreilly-sucks.com targets American Bill O’Reilly (commentator) of the Fox News Channel.

http://web.archive.org/web/20001019094133/http://www.melgibson-sucks.com/ alleged in 2000 that the American actor Mel Gibson was biased against Great Britain.

http://shellnews.net/blog/jeroen-van-der-veer-dotcom-home-page.htm provides humorous critique of the Dutch Chief Executive of Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Jeroen van der Veer

Many gripe websites are targeted on companies, firms and brands e.g.

http://adrianadamsesqsucks.blogspot.com The target – Adrian Adams – is a Partner in Californian Law firms Davis-Stirling and Adams Kessler, which serves as corporate and litigation counsel to community associations throughout California

http://www.allstateinsurancesucks.com (AllState Insurance: plus related article in Forbes magazine

http://www.forbes.com/2005/03/07/cx_cw_0308hate_4.html)

http://www.alitaliasucks.com/ Alitalia Airlines – (Italian flagship airline)

http://www.amexsux.com/ (American Express: plus link to related article in Forbes magazine http://www.forbes.com/2005/03/07/cx_cw_0308hate_6.html)

www.bankofamericasucks.com (Bank of America)

http://www.consumersforpeace.org/ (directed at ExxonMobil)

http://www.countrywidehomeloansucks.com/ (Countrywide Home Loan)

http://www.exdhl.com/ (operated by former and current DHL employees)

http://www.exxonsecrets.org/ (Focused on ExxonMobil)

http://www.farmersinsurancegroupsucks.com (Farmers Insurance Group)

http://www.fordreallysucks.com/index.html (Ford)

http://www.halliburtonwatch.org/ (anti- Halliburton)

http://www.homedepotsucks.org/ (Home Depot)

http://www.ihatedell.net/ (I hate Dell)

http://www.mcspotlight.org (focused on the global fast food chain McDonalds)

http://www.forbes.com/2005/03/07/cx_cw_0308hate_5.html 

http://www.mitsubishisucks.com (Mitsubishi)

http://www.mohea.com/mike/words/000158.html (Jiffy Lube sucks)

http://www.ncchelp.org/ (Nissan Motors)

www.ntlhell.co.uk (NTL – a UK telecommunications company )

http://www.paypalsucks.com/ (PayPal: plus link to related article in Forbes magazine: http://www.forbes.com/2005/03/07/cx_cw_0308hate_3.html)

http://pipexbroadband.blogspot.com/index.html (Pipex)

http://www.worldoutofbalance.org/ (focused on ExxonMobil)

http://www.shellnews.net/ (focused on Royal Dutch Shell Group)

http://rayfox.info/ (focused on Royal Dutch Shell)

http://www.royaldutchshellplc.com (website focused on the oil giant Royal Dutch Shell Plc: impact of this site has cost Shell billions of dollars)

http://nuclearcrimes.com/ (focused on Shell)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Royaldutchshellplc.com (a Wikipedia article about royaldutchshellplc.com site)

http://ryanaircampaign.org/ (focused on the budget airline RYANAIR)

http://shellnews.net/blog/shell-scandal-dotcom.htm (also targeted on Shell Oil)

http://www.starbucked.com (StarBucks)

http://www.texascityexplosion.com/ (focused on BP and the Texas City Explosion)

http://www.unitedpackagesmashers.com/ (United Parcel Service: plus link to related article in Forbes magazine

http://www.forbes.com/2005/03/07/cx_cw_0308hate_10.html)

http://www.untied.com/ (United Airlines: plus link to related article in Forbes magazine http://www.forbes.com/2005/03/07/cx_cw_0308hate_9.html) 

http://www.verizonpathetic.com/ (Verizon: plus link to a related article in Forbes magazine

http://www.forbes.com/2005/03/07/cx_cw_0308hate_8.html) 

http://wakeupwalmart.com/ (focused on Wal-Mart)

http://www.walmart-blows.com/ (focused on Wal-Mart plus link to related article in Forbes magazine

http://www.forbes.com/2005/03/07/cx_cw_0308hate_7.html )

http://walmartwatch.com (focused on Wal-Mart)

Some websites are focused on institutions: –

http://www.capellauniversity.org/ (Capella University)

http://www.capella-sucks.com/

http://www.capellanazis.com/

http://www.capellalawsuit.info/mt/

Others websites criticise and or mock political figures: –

e.g. Former U.S. President George W. Bush and former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney: http://bushandcheneysuck.com

http://www.giveitupcheney.org/ (focussed solely on US Vice President Dick Cheney)

Other websites with information about gripe sites and related free speech matters

http://www.eff.org/ (Electronic Frontier Foundation – free speech on the Internet)

http://www.citizen.org/litigation/ (Public Citizen Litigation Group – free speech on the Internet)

http://gripesonline.com/ (A consumer website for all your gripes, rants and moans. Name and shame. Warn others. Have your say.)

http://www.webgripesites.com/ (WebGripeSites.com)

Complaint Sites: Websites set up to assist in consumer complaints

http://www.complaintletter.org.uk/

http://www.weeklygripe.co.uk/

(The Weekly Gripe is your place on the web to have your say about absolutely anything you like. Consumer complaints, irritating habits, annoying people, relationships, family issues and rip off stories – a huge variety of gripes, all with their own moderated discussion forum.)

Site focused on UK housebuilding industry

http://www.snagging.org/

== Legal issues ==

Because the portion of the domain name that precedes “sucks.com” is often a trademarked name, sucks.com sites have engendered a rash of lawsuits, in which businesses typically charge site owners with trademark infringement. For years, decisions (court and arbitration) were uneven (and perhaps even capricious), as no lower-court decision was binding on any other jurisdiction. However, the U.S. case of http://www.citizen.org/litigation/briefs/IntFreeSpch/articles.cfm?ID=6448 Taubman Company Limited Partnership (plaintiff), v. Webfeats and Henry Mishkoff, (defendants) was the first sucks.com case to reach the level of the US Court of Appeals, which definitively ruled that a non-commercial sucks.com site was purely an expression of free speech, and as such was not subject to trademark law. The decision by that Court has been adopted as precedent by other circuits, and is well on its way to becoming established law throughout the US.

The US Court of Appeals weighed in on the issue of the importance of sucks.com sites when they said, in their decision on the case: “Taubman concedes that Mishkoff is ‘free to shout “Taubman Sucks!” from the rooftops…” Essentially, this is what he has done in his domain name. The rooftops of our past have evolved into the Internet domain names of our present. We find that the domain name is a type of public expression, no different in scope than a billboard or a pulpit, and Mishkoff has a First Amendment right to express his opinion about Taubman, and as long as his speech is not commercially misleading, the Lanham Act cannot be summoned to prevent it.”

In May 2005 the multinational oil giant Royal Dutch Shell Plc launched proceedings via the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) to request the transfer of a gripe site domain name royaldutchshellplc.com along with two other Shell related domain names from their holder, Alfred Donovan, a former marketing consultant to Shell. However, Shell lost the case and Donovan retains all of the domain name registrations. The WIPO expert panel came to the same basic conclusion as the U.S. Courts i.e. “The use of a domain name to criticize a company is prima facie fair use. The Respondent is entitled to use the Internet to use his free speech rights and express his opinion in this way, subject to other laws of course (copyright, libel, etc.).” The panel went on to state “In this case, there is no evidence that Respondent’s actions are for commercial gain…” (http://arbiter.wipo.int/domains/decisions/html/2005/d2005-0538.html)

Libel

Libel is an important issue in relation to gripe websites. In June 2004, eight Royal Dutch Shell Group companies collectively obtained an Interim Injunction and Restraining Order against a Shell whistleblower, a Malaysian geologist and former Shell employee, Dr John Huong. The proceedings are in respect of alleged defamatory postings attributed to Dr Huong on a gripe website hosted in North America but owned and operated by an 89 year old British national, Alfred Donovan, a long term critic of Shell. The Shell action is directed solely against Dr Huong. Further proceedings against Dr Huong were issued by the same plaintiff companies in 2006 in respect of publications on Donovan gripe sites in 2005 and 2006. The new proceedings include a “Notice to Show Cause” relating to a “contempt of court” action potentially punishable by imprisonment. The litigation is still in progress.

If anyone wants to suggest a gripe/sucks website for inclusion, please contact: [email protected]

Website owner and publisher, John Donovan.

MIRROR IMAGE WEBSITE

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