The webcomics blog about webcomics

I’m Not The Only One That Thinks All The New TLDs Are Stupid, Right?

So here’s the deal: some time ago, the various geniuses that run the internet decided that what the world really needed wasn’t more security built into the various protocols by which information is exchanged and we live our lives; instead, the solution to a less-than-perfect internet would be new top level domains. TLDs are the last part of an internet address: your .com, .edu, .org, and various country-specific codes; they’ve been joined by such nonsensical items as .accountants, .blackfriday, .cool, .ninja, .red, and .vodka.

Important note: existing domain holders who might not want to have somebody snag a domain with their name on it were given time to call dibs on variations, either because they wanted it or to defensively keep it from others (say, McDonald’s not wanting somebody else to own Keep that in mind — if you wanted a new TLD, you could get it before it went on general sale, and since it was mostly major corporations that really care about such things, they can afford to proactively snag TLD registrations.

This is the story about what’s happening with

If you watch the twitter machines carefully, you may have noticed one or more webcomics types from the *hampton area of Massachusetts having a conversation about how stupid websites sound with the .horse TLD appended. The jokes went back and forth, and I thought that was it. I made the cardinal mistake of not remembering that a webcomicker that wants a stupid domain will spend the very small amount of money to register it — I know people that have dozens of domain names, pushing a hundred in some cases, most of which sit idle or redirect to other sites they own. So maybe it was inevitable that Jeph Jacques went and registered as a prank.

Walmart, the hyperlarge corporation that owns everything (up to and including your ass) is not noted as having a sense of humor. I’ve had some personal interactions with them that have led me to resolve to never deal with them in any fashion ever again, and I have witnessed first hand their incessant dicking-over of their own employees in the pursuit of ever larger profits. They suck. They also have no appreciation of concepts like prank, joke that nobody would have ever noticed, or Streisand Effect, and have sent Jacques a C&D:

Your use of a Domain Name that incorporates the famous Walmart mark constitutes trademark infringement and dilution of Walmart’s trademark rights and unfair competition. Your use of our mark in the Domain Name is diluting use because it weakens the ability of the Walmart mark and domain name to identify a single source, namely Walmart. Further, your registration and use of the Domain Name misleads consumers into believing that some association exists between Walmart and you, which tarnishes the goodwill and reputation of Walmart’s products, services, and trademarks.

That sounds you hear is either a hundred jokers running out to register a bunch more walmart.whatever domains, or Walmart having to expend the time and effort to do so themselves, not to mention the time and effort to do the whole lawyer thing at Jacques. In any event, they are spending far more time and effort¹ than would ever have been spent to deal with the aftermath of the never going to happen confusion that Jacques would have never, ever caused. Good job, enormous corporation! You haven’t yet escalated to the shooting yourself in the dick stage of mishandling a non-issue on the internet, but the day is still young.

For his part, Jacques looks to be at least running out the two weeks that Walmart’s lawyers gave him to give into their demands — in an email to tech newsletter Ars Technica, he said:

[I]t’s a piece of postmodern Dadaism—nonsense-art using found objects, in this case publicly available images and the name of an megacorporation. Its purpose is to provoke exactly the kind of response it has received, and in doing so to parody the Walmart corporation and its actions. Claiming that defames the Walmart brand somehow is the highest possible satire, and the fact that this accusation came from Walmart itself is a most delicious piece of irony.

And in reply to the Walmart legal team, copied at his Tumblr:

I would argue that is an obvious parody and therefore falls under fair use. Publicly available images of a horse, a Walmart store, and comical music make it clear that the site is meant to be a joke. I would be happy to provide a disclaimer on the website explicitly stating this. If you have any requests for other animals you would like to see added to the image on the website, I would happily comply!

Let’s be clear — if Walmart decides it really wants its way, there is absolutely no chance for Jacques to prevail². They can keep him tied up in proceedings from now until the sun goes cold. Jacques is too smart to let this be the hill he dies on if they want that fight; but they gave him two weeks, and I expect that they will be highly amusing. Plus, the record of the dispute is out there now, and there ain’t jack that Walmart can do to argue that people reporting on their fight with Jacques is infringing, so the story will exist for as long as we remember it.


Spam of the day:

Quality assisted living homes for elderly loved one

Nice try, spammers! My elderly loved ones are going to the crooked home I saw on 60 Minutes!

¹ The usual inclusion of money doesn’t apply here, seeing as how Walmart has more money than God.

² Compare, for example, to the Lucasfilm C&D sent to Rich Stevens or similar by Jeff Rowland for his Internet Ouija board, which — oh, look — is back in production with a Dickbutt intead of an O RLY owl. Although I notice now it also features a Gene Wilder as evil smiling Willy Wonka in place of ceiling cat, so whoever owns Willy Wonka might object now.

In other news, the Daily Grind Iron Man Challenge hit its big decade mark last week. Also, as of the new year there are only two people left.

[…] I went and had dinner with Brad Guigar last night and I didn’t notice that he’d been recently bounced from the Daily Grind Iron Man Challenge, now going on for ten freakin’ years? I suck. Also, apropos of nothing, that author’s […]

brb, gonna see if has been claimed yet…

[…] comment was too good to not share, and I sincerely hope that every single idiotic TLD has somebody willing […]

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