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Thread: Is the use of waylandmass.us domain name misleading?

  1. #16
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    96

    Default

    Alan,

    After reading your post of 11:11 pm last night, I'm satisfied that you do not have any underhanded intent in your choice of URL (apart from a touch of mischievousness, perhaps). Although it remains, in fact, potentially misleading in its near-identity with the official Town website, the disclaimers that you described go a long way to solving that problem: even if viewers are mistakenly drawn to your site because of its URL, they should run across your clarifying disclaimers.

    Incidentally, to test this assumption (I too am a Physics maven, although defrocked), I went to the WVN newsletter and clicked on one of your videos. The disclaimer/clarification was good (although some of the dark fonts were hard to make out against the black background), and the quality of the recording was very impressive. As a Town politics junkie, I expect that I'll be visiting your site frequently, and I thank you for this service.

    Since you educated me on IP URL formats, let me return the favor on a point of Constitutional law: You referred in your post to "exercising [your] first amendment rights". However, the First Amendment isn't applicable to this matter. The First Amendment states in its entirety "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Since no federal or state action is involved in the matter of your choice of a URL or the content of your posts, there is no applicable Constitutional protection.

  2. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Wayland MA 463 Old Conn Path
    Posts
    382

    Default Continuation...

    Steve,

    About the first amendment and its protection that I thought I had under it... you are saying that since the state or federal government has no action in preventing me from my choice of my URL then the first amendment is not applicable. So its the government which can't make a law to limit my freedom of speech.. if godaddy.com (the registrar) were to refuse me then they could do that and I would simply go somewhere else to register it. So the US, or Mass or Wayland could not limit my ability to have this URL. Is this what your saying?

    For clarity, the most compelling reason why I select any given URL is for purposes of marketing. That is, it must be easy to remember and it must be close to the subject it will deal with. The shortness of the URL is also part of it but 'easy to remember' is everything. The URL I selected fits that bill to a 'T'. So I would differ on the mischievous angle although I do understand why you might feel that way.

    I appreciate the compliments on the movie productions and yes, I will be tweaking the colors and wording over time to make it better as suggestions come in, yours included. The disclaimer on the home page would be both for clarity and for education.. perhaps even a lesson on the .ma.us story. One of the things I like best about the idea is that, as a webcam production, I can point the camera into the faces of the speakers in the audience and see expressions and body language. You never get that on 'potted plant' governmental TV.

    Lastly, and I bring this up out of curiosity...

    When I compare the amount of angst that you and others seemed to have about my choice of www.waylandmass.us; I then compare that to the angst that I have when I look at the situation with www.WaylandSchoolCommittee.org.

    Here is what I'm thinking...

    www.waylandmass.us is a private site, not connected to the town and is funded privately and by a private citizen.
    With the proper disclaimers in place, all should be quite happy with it. I could advocate on it, collect emails, show movies, field discussion boards, link to newspapers, print editorials and so on... all free from the chains of legality with the OCPF.

    On the other hand...

    www.WaylandSchoolCommittee.org is a private site since its registered by an individual and paid for by that individual to the registering authority (and he is reimbursed by his colleagues on the SC) but register.com and tucows.com see him as the controlling entity and the paying entity.

    The site is connected to the bandwidth and good name of the Town of Wayland which are resources that are paid for by public monies.

    The site has the direct name of an official town committee and one that he is on and has been chair of. The site collects email address's (albeit with an opt out). The site contains a lengthy and carefully crafted disclaimer to make it more palatable with its link to www.wayland.ma.us and finally the site is well known to advocate for ballot questions.

    By being connected to the town's site and advocating for ballot questions it seems to go against the spirit of the Anderson decision. The advisory bulletins are just that, advisory and they are not law and they are not crystal clear either. It just seems to me that the site is trying to have it both ways.

    IMHO; The cleanest way to handle this is to put the site under the direct monetary and logistical control of the town of Wayland and then there is no problem with appearance or any possible infractions of legality.

    If convenience of update is the issue, the logistics could be worked out for that so that its current owner could still modify the content.

    This second scenario sounds alot more mischievous than anything you might have imagined me doing with www.waylandmass.us.

  3. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    96

    Default

    Alan --

    As you and I discussed offline, I'm disinclined to give legal advice in a public forum, lest someone misunderstand/misapply a general or hypothetical statement. Moreover, while it's easy to state that the First Amendment doesn't apply to the particular facts of your URL choice, it's considerably more complicated to hypothesize about when and under what circumstances the government can "limit [your] freedom of speech" or "limit [your] ability to have this URL". So I'll pass.

    One last point on your choice of URL: Since, as you said, "the most compelling reason why [you] select[ed] [this] URL is for purposes of marketing", that "it must be easy to remember and it must be close to the subject it will deal with", and that "[t]he shortness of the URL is also part of it but 'easy to remember' is everything", the question remains why you did not pick something with a ".com" address rather that a ".us" address so as to avoid a seeming governmental imprimatur.

  4. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Wayland MA 463 Old Conn Path
    Posts
    382

    Default why US?

    I live in Wayland Mass in the US so www.waylandmass.us

    Simple !!

  5. #20
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    96

    Default

    Or even better, you live in Wayland Mass and the domain with which everyone is most familiar (and which is not similar to the Town website and would therefore not mislead) is ".com", so www.waylandmass.com.

    Simpler !!

  6. #21
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Wayland MA 463 Old Conn Path
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    382

    Default But Steve...

    There was this other part to my Continuation.... that you haven't commented on.. and in terms of being mislead...

    www.waylandmass.us is a private site, not connected to the town and is funded privately and by a private citizen.
    With the proper disclaimers in place, all should be quite happy with it. I could advocate on it, collect emails, show movies, field discussion boards, link to newspapers, print editorials and so on... all free from the chains of legality with the OCPF.

    On the other hand...

    www.WaylandSchoolCommittee.org is a private site since its registered by an individual and paid for by that individual to the registering authority (and he is reimbursed by his colleagues on the SC) but register.com and tucows.com see him as the controlling entity and the paying entity.

    The site is connected to the bandwidth and good name of the Town of Wayland which are resources that are paid for by public monies.

    The site has the direct name of an official town committee and one that he is on and has been chair of. The site collects email address's (albeit with an opt out). The site contains a lengthy and carefully crafted disclaimer to make it more palatable with its link to www.wayland.ma.us and finally the site is well known to advocate for ballot questions.

    By being connected to the town's site and advocating for ballot questions it seems to go against the spirit of the Anderson decision. The advisory bulletins are just that, advisory and they are not law and they are not crystal clear either. It just seems to me that the site is trying to have it both ways.

    IMHO; The cleanest way to handle this is to put the site under the direct monetary and logistical control of the town of Wayland and then there is no problem with appearance or any possible infractions of legality.

    If convenience of update is the issue, the logistics could be worked out for that so that its current owner could still modify the content.

    This second scenario sounds alot more mischievous than anything you might have imagined me doing with www.waylandmass.us.

  7. #22
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    96

    Default

    Alan --

    In terms of the potential for being misleading, the address for your site -- www.waylandmass.us -- is virtually identical to the address for the official Town site, and therefore has a high likelihood of causing readers to believe that they are visiting the Town website. Your disclaimers will help disabuse a reader of this confusion, but that's not as good as avoiding the confusion in the first place.

    On the other hand, the School Committee's site --www.WaylandSchoolCommittee.org -- is neither misleading nor confusing. It IS the School Committee's site, and any reader who goes there thinking that it is the School Committee's site is not being misled. (The issue of it's being "privately" created is irrelevant to this point and nothing more than a red herring.)

  8. #23
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Wayland MA 463 Old Conn Path
    Posts
    382

    Default Well I hear you but...

    Steve,

    This is where we disagree and the facts of situation do seem to support my viewpoint.

    If www.WaylandSchoolCommittee.org was the town's website then the town would be the registrant (its not), it would provide the hosting (it doesn't), it would directly pay the bill directly (it also doesn't) and it would be within either the domain .ma.us or .k12.ma.us. Which is obviously isn't. A bunch of committee members kicking in $120 bucks a year and saying that it is with a top heavy disclaimer makes it what it is, a private site, funded privately and what is most problematic it advocates for ballot questions on the town's bandwith and good name - while collecting emails on the taxpayer's dime. I'm very confused that you have such a problem with my site URL and not the aforementioned set of circumstances.

    In other words, it takes more than saying IS (in capitals) to make it the town's website.

    I guess this is a matter that will have to be sorted out.

    But in any case I will be using www.waylandmass.us and I will do it without attaching it to the town's webserver, I will be the registrar and I will pay the bill for it, the appropriate disclaimers will be in place.

  9. #24
    Join Date
    Mar 2008
    Location
    Wayland, MA
    Posts
    52

    Default What is OPCF?

    Office _____ Campaign Finance?

  10. #25
    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Location
    Wayland MA
    Posts
    1,431

    Default

    OCPF is the Office of Campaign and Political Finance.
    http://www.mass.gov/ocpf/

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