A blogger who posted e-mail addresses for movie studio agents, producers, and executives has drawn the ire of Universal Studios, while setting off debates about what constitutes spam and whether e-mail addresses are public.
Gerard Jones, a 63-year-old retiree living in Oregon, explains on his site that he has been trying to get people to read a book he wrote. He said that after years of hard work he created a Web site to help others send their ideas to editors, publishers, and movie studio decision makers.
Jones said NBC Universal Vice President and Litigation Council Carolyn Hampton (who he calls a "corporate chick lawyer") complained in October to the web hosting company Dotster and ISP Charter Communications about thousands of spam e-mails from people, including those pitching their ideas. He said Charter cut off his e-mail account and Hampton agreed to drop the complaint if he removed the e-mail addresses.
Jones said he removed the e-mail addresses but left a list of names and titles with instructions for following a formula, using first and last names, to determine e-mail addresses. Instead of dropping the complaint, Hampton renewed it a few days ago, he said. Sunday, Jones filed a complaint against Hampton with the California State Bar Association.
In addition to drawing traffic to everyonewhosanyone.com, the dispute has gained coverage on a cinema blog site. A dozen responses to the news were split among supporters and critics of Jones' actions. Some saying the movie industry should welcome ideas given the quality of recent films. One respondent said e-mails are like phone numbers. Another said the industry has to protect itself from claims of theft by people whose ideas could be similar to those in upcoming releases.
Hampton did not immediately return calls for comment. A letter attributed to her on Jones' Web site states that the company disputes his claims that the addresses were posted on the Internet for Jones' personal use.
"Since your site was created, we have seen a marked increase in the amount of spam e-mails regarding unsolicited screenplays being sent to our executives," the letter reads. "The spam serves no purpose, does not have the desired effect of creating an entre into the film business, and is usually sent to lawyers or financial people (all listed on your site) who have no input on the creative side of the business. From our perspective, it is a huge nuisance, and takes away from the productivity of our people."