Unbelievable. It was a Biggie song from his first album, Ready to Die. (It also appeared on the “Nothin’ But The Hotness in ’98” compilation released by Bad Boy but sold exclusively at Foot Locker (if I recall) that I put some money together and bought in my younger years). But, the word unbelievable has taken on a new meaning today as I received a threatening letter from Fross, Zelnick, Lehrman and Zissu, P.C. in New York, New York, who represent themselves as “trademark and unfair counsel for Sean John Combs, also known as P. Diddy.” When it rains, it pours, as they say.
In this letter, they personally attack me for owning the domain seanjohncombs.com, which I had registered a few years ago and have always planned to place a fan site on. This is a bit different from Canon Camera Shop because there is no site, it is not a shop and I never planned for it to be a shop (possibly a small AWS store as a small section of the site, but nothing more). I have always planned for it to be a fan site. Even if you visit the domain, you will see that I have spelled this out. They tell me this is unacceptable. That I have no rights or legitimate interests in the domain name and that I registered it in and am using it in BAD FAITH. Also, my attempts to profit from the goodwill associated with his name violate this, this and this and on top of that, I am cybersquatting which provides for an award of $100,000 plus attorney’s fees. I am such an evil person.
I have no legitimate interest in the domain name? I am acting in bad faith? I am profiting (where?!)? This has to be a joke. No one is profiting from anything. I am operating in the best of faith and I have legitimate interest in the domain name. Let me explain.
I have been a fan of P. Diddy and Bad Boy Entertainment for 8 years. I am 20 years old – I have been a fan since I was 12. 12 years old with virtually no money, scraping together what I had to buy No Way Out (P. Diddy’s first album) and Harlem World (Mase’s first album), which were the first two albums I recall buying with my own money. I own 74 CDs released by Bad Boy Entertainment. SEVENTY FOUR. I am not kidding. Stop laughing, man. I own EVERY album they have EVER released, except for Bad Boy’s R&B Hits, the newest Carl Thomas album and the Mario Winans album (and the Ready to Die Remaster, if you want to count that). All of which I plan to eventually buy. I own 49 additional CDs released by other labels that feature Bad Boy artists – I bought most of these albums because they feature Bad Boy artists, no other reason. Again, no joke. I also have purchased music from online music sites, such as MSN Music. You will be hard pressed to find someone who has a bigger, legally obtained P. Diddy/Bad Boy Entertainment music collection than I do.
I also wear Sean John clothing. Sean John is P. Diddy’s clothing line. I have 2 pairs of jeans, 9 shirts and 2 jackets. That may not seem like a ton, but this is not cheap stuff.
I would have to say that all of those goods combined safely total more than $1,000 spent. Beyond that, I have been a true fan of him. How true? There are Bad Boy fan sites out there that distribute music freely and illegally. I refuse to download music from these sites (and condemn them) for two reasons. First, it is ethically wrong. Second, people that download from these sites do not truly support the artists. I have spent my hard earned money to pay for the actual releases of every single piece of music in my collection. But, no… they go after me. A real fan and supporter. Without fans like me, he wouldn’t be where he is today. My support of him isn’t going to change (much, anyway) because of this (I’m actually listening to “I’m No Killa” by Mase featuring P. Diddy at this very second) because I believe that if he actually knew about this and knew about me, this wouldn’t have happened at all or it would have happened much differently. I believe that more or less, these attorney’s got bored, did a domain search and sent a letter. I mean, I’ve had the domain for 3 years and nearly 2 months (haven’t had a chance to build a site, yet, either) and now they contact me?
My plan for seanjohncombs.com was to be the largest and most active fan site dedicated to Mr. Combs on the Internet. Like him – I think big. This would be a community for fans by fans. There would be no illegal distribution of music such as what exists at other fan sites, either. This would have been a fan site that completely and totally supports the artist. Not one that says “well, we like him – but we shouldn’t have to spend money to listen to his music.”
I don’t plan to put up a fight because it just isn’t feasible for me at this point in time. I have sent them a letter explaining much of what I have expressed here and I hope it can be worked out so that I can keep the domain, but I am doubtful.
I still plan to start a fan site of some sort, but should I bother? With individuals such as these sending out groundless threat letters to true fans, why should anyone bother?