My apologies for getting this update out late, but some new information came my way and I had to compose my thoughts.
Ruffled Feathers: Pip is not naive and neither am I. When he started Pigtails in Paint and when I joined him, we knew we would have to use extreme discipline to make sure we did not create any legal problems for ourselves. We know how touchy people can be and how unaccustomed the layman, particularly in the US, is in viewing the human body. We are also aware of the witch hunt mentality that is taking place with regard to the ostensible exploitation of children. We hoped to persuade the general public and art lovers specifically about the legitimacy of the child nude. We felt we could do this without ruffling any feathers; we would remove any images if an artist complained or if we were persuaded that a particular image violated US law (or in the country of our service provider). Since then, the popularity of the site has grown enormously and it is no longer possible to fly under the radar. We had to deal with both primitive and sophisticated cyber attacks and survived. We took it on the chin when critics would insist that we are really a pornography site pretending to be something else. Well, they are entitled to their opinion and flaunt their ignorance, ignorance we hope to someday dispel. The problem comes when our adversaries do not play fair. Instead of engaging in informed debate, they resort to ruthless and underhanded tactics to shut us down. These people fall into two groups: the zealots and the puppet masters. The zealots are the true believers and think our site is an abomination on the internet and are the front line soldiers getting people worked up to take action. Behind the scenes are certain moneyed interests who feel Pigtails has a chance of upsetting the status quo. They fund those zealots who would otherwise not have the kind of time to make this much trouble.
If I learn of a website that is stupid or silly or ethically questionable, I will simply not pay it a visit. If I believe there is something illegal about it, I would be duty-bound to report it. Then it is up to the authorities to handle it. I do not organize a grass-roots campaign to have it shut down. I know I am not a legal expert of everything and so it is not my place to engage in a cyber war with the operators of these sites. Our adversaries do not respect these protocols. Fueled by the power of their faith (or a cynical easy buck), they take it upon themselves to take the law into their own hands. In one respect, I have been naive. I thought if we operated within the law, we would have no problems with service providers (WordPress, JaguarPC) or domain registrars (Register.com). Due to the widespread ignorance of the law and the role of nudity in general, our adversaries have succeeded in their tactics. First, they bombard the service provider with complaints that Pigtails contains sexually explicit material. Supporters of this site know that is categorically false: 1) no persons are shown in sexually-suggestive poses, 2) no emphasis is placed on the genitalia whenever visible and 3) there are no suspicious displays of adult-child interaction. However, service providers and registrars are companies and are not used to images of the human body and so are unable to make the distinction. These requests for termination of service are almost always accompanied by threats of hacking and other cyber attacks. Since the companies are primarily money making operations and the claims at first blush appear to be true, it is easier for them to make a summary decision rather than investigate the case properly and treat us fairly. They claim Pigtails is in violation of their Terms of Service (TOS), getting them off the hook for contractual violations and then cut us off. In each case, we were notified only after the fact and not given the chance to make our case. The companies were simply uncomfortable hosting our site. Register.com’s actions are particularly egregious; not only did they not make any offer of a refund, but they are punishing our service provider by requiring that he transfer 10 of his other domain registrations to another company, incurring additional costs. From the look of it, these other sites are mundane businesses with no association with Pigtails, no images of children or controversial subject matter of any kind. This move seems like a special effort to keep service providers in line with the status quo.
As it stands, it does appear that we will be able to retain our .org domain, but it will have to be registered through a company that knows how to handle these aggressive tactics. Pip and I are US citizens and it is ludicrous that we would be blocked from having an American domain designation. Our new registrar will undoubtedly have to field complaints and if they do not cave in to the demands of cyber bullies and terrorists, their next step would be to make their appeal to ICANN (although they would have to refrain from their more heavy-handed tactics to make a good impression), the organization responsible for issues regarding domains worldwide. Let us hope that they are sophisticated enough to make sound judgments, but I am not holding out much hope.
Protests and other complaints about Register.com’s actions should be directed to:
Manager: Abuse, Fraud and Executive Escalations
Register.com, a Web.com service
Maritime Center, 2nd Floor, 1505 Barrington St.
Halifax, Nova Scotia B3J 3K5 Canada
Office/FAX: (902) 749-2746
Toll Free: 866-964-4270
I suppose these folks have not thought this problem all the way through. After all, if they believe our adversaries are capable of following through on their threats, what makes them think that technically savvy Pigtails supporters won’t do the same thing?
At least some of our adversaries are up front about intending to shut us down for good. Therefore, we need to be proactive about fighting this hate-mongering and obstruction to progress. Anyone willing to offer legal services, investigation services or have contacts with law enforcement officers willing to assist with this problem is urged to come forward. We must find out who these people are, how they are funded and take the appropriate legal action. Pigtails in Paint does not deserve to be singled out in this manner. Why are our adversaries so terrified of informed debate and its implications for the reform of our society?
Readers are reminded to consult our Facebook page when encountering interruptions of service rather than trying to email me directly. If there is a problem, an explanation will be posted there right away.
Because of the gravity of this situation, all other monthly notices of interest will be postponed until the June ‘Maiden Voyages’. -Ron