Five years ago today, on January 8, 2008, I sent out an email that changed my life, and this blog, in more ways than I would have ever imagined:
Right before Christmas, I received a letter in the mail from Tyler Shandro, a lawyer from the Calgary-based law firm Walsh Wilkins Creighton LLP, representing Alberta Premier Edward Stelmach.
This letter was sent to me regarding my ownership of the domain name edstelmach.ca, which I purchased for approximately $14.00 on April 4, 2007 (four months after Mr. Stelmach became Premier of Alberta). The letter accuses me of interfering with and misappropriating Ed Stelmach’s personality (I’m really not sure where Ed Stelmach’s personality is, but I certainly didn’t take it).
The letter also states that because there are advertisements placed on this blog, Premier Stelmach “is entitled to the amount he would reasonably have received in the market for the permission to use his name.” This makes me wonder how much the owners of a local Edmonton business paid to use Premier Stelmach’s personality last Halloween or how much Rick Mercer paid to use the domain name of another Alberta political personality.
For the majority of the time I have owned edstelmach.ca, I have had the domain name forward to this blog. A week before I received the letter from Premier Stelmach’s lawyer, I changed the forwarding to the wikipedia biography of another Alberta Premier (who also probably would have not thought to register his domain name).
The letter requests that I:
(a) make arrangements with my service provider by December 21, 2007, to ensure that the Website no longer forwards to the blog; and
(b) make arrangements to with my service provider and/or registrar to have the Website registered in their client’s name.
(c) govern myself accordingly (I added this one).
If I chose not comply by their imposed deadline, the letter states that they “have been instructed by our client to commence litigation.”
As someone who has never shied away from criticizing the 36-year old Progressive Conservative government, I have always faced harsh criticism from those who don’t appreciate the views espoused on this blog or agree with my political beliefs. I accept this reality.
Though I am still surprised that the +150 staffed Public Affairs Bureau failed to complete the simple task of registering a $14.00 domain name, I am even more surprised that Premier Ed Stelmach’s first reaction in this situation was to threaten to sue an 24-year old blogger and debt ridden University of Alberta student. As a born and bred Albertan, I do not take well to threats from politicians. Therefore I will be seeking advice from legal counsel on how to proceed with this threat.
Later this week, I will publish some reflections on my experience during the events that were triggered by this letter.