with apologies to Poltergeist, the movie
Like a rat that just won’t go away, like a bad penny that just keeps returning, like your Aunt Gertrude who just won’t stop coming to visit each Sunday … one of our all-time “favorite” post subjects is back – and they have become even bolder than ever.
Yes, once again we are hearing from MyPadMedia … and the lack of a link is because we aren’t about to help promote their page rank. They’re continuing to play their games, continuing to use highly deceptive tactics to draw people in, and attempting to use legal manipulations to go after us.
It’s not going to work.
Here’s just a little bit of background for those of you who haven’t been following this story …
Judie received a tweet about a site that promised to provide unlimited access to all kinds of iPad compatible reading material for a one-time fee of $50. She mentioned it to Carly, and Carly agreed it smelled funny. Because the website itself gives no real information about what exactly people will get if they pay the $50 fee, Carly wrote them. But her requests for more information went unanswered, and unlike many other services which cost a fee to join, this particular company didn’t offer a trial period for their service.
Red flag #1: no searchable listings. Pay up, but they won’t tell you what you’re paying for!
Red flag #2: no mention of what publishers are on board.
Red flag #3: no mention of any digital rights management software.
Red flag #4: the legal section of their site: They aren’t actually providing the copyrighted material…
Based on their evasive FAQ and lack of response, our first guess was that they were selling people access to a torrent site, basically showing people how to pirate books. Carly did finally receive a reply from one of their “representatives”, but it wasn’t to offer more info about the service; it was an offer for Gear Diary to receive a 75% revenue share for everyone we pointed to the MyPadMedia site that joined. This raised more red flags, making us even more curious; we needed to find out what they were offering as content. Judie bought a $50 subscription to the service, we went online, and we discovered that we were wrong.
MyPadMedia does not give how-to-download instructions or direct access to pirated books at all; they sell access to free e-book websites which they have framed inside their site with a MyPadMedia header. For those who are unsure of what that means (and since we can’t show you the screenshots showing what they are doing … right now anyway), it would be similar to us creating a site template which brought in a feed showing full posts from … let’s say ChipChick or SlashGear (for example); claiming those posts as our own, and making advertising dollars off of all of the clicks we got when people read the stolen content on the scraper site — thinking that it was our writer’s original content. Make sense? We’d basically be stealing their content and profiting from it.
Moreover, it turned out that the references MyPadMedia made to current famous books, when they led anywhere at all, led to fan fiction as opposed to the actual books. In other words, we quickly discovered that paying the $50 fee gives you access to things you can have for free — and little else; certainly not what is even now being promised on the front page of their site.
We wrote a story about this because we don’t appreciate companies that use deceptive practices to make money. There was nothing in our full exposé which was inaccurate or could not be backed up though email or screenshots. That’s how we do things here on Gear Diary; we want facts, we get them, and then we will render a verdict. In this case the verdict was clear: Unless you enjoy paying for something you can have for free (in this case by visiting FeedBooks.com, manybooks.net or epubbooks.com), you must stay away from this company.
Judie received an e-mail from Jonathan Crawford, the a man claiming ownership of MyPadMedia. She responded. Judie received an additional e-mail threatening her with legal action. She didn’t bother responding. Judie received another email asking for her address. It’s not like she’s hard to find if you are looking to see who Gear Diary is registered under, so again … no need to respond. Here’s the thing: we weren’t and aren’t backing down. We were and are in the right, and we don’t like consumers getting scammed. So the next thing you knew – the apparent owner of the company had gone to our hosting service and complained that we were libeling his company. Our host agreed with us that we were not.
Judie’s access to the MyPadMedia site was revoked without notice, and her money was refunded. Next the apparent owner of the company used copyright law (DMCA) to claim to our host that screenshots we had taken from his website were being used without permission, that they were protected by copyright law, and needed to be taken down. He used an address which Melissa Data says belongs to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, Florida; which even giving him the benefit of the doubt, seems pretty odd. Our server company was unwilling to back us up; they told us we needed to take down the pictures or Gear Diary would be shut down.
We understand the seriousness of DMCA violations, and we understand the purpose of the laws, but this was a loophole being used to allow a company to continue shady business practices. We weren’t about to back down, so we did some inquiries, found a hosting company that promised they would be more supportive, and we moved Gear Diary over to them. We also hosted the “offending pictures” in another country, thinking that might help should MyPadMedia rear their heads again. That was the end of the story, or so we thought.
Fast forward to last week. Judie received an e-mail from our new host saying that they had received a complaint from Jonathan Crawford; he was insisting that we remove the text we had copied verbatim and the screenshots we had taken as supporting evidence for our article from his site. We were told that “While the material [screenshots] may be hosted in another country, linking to or providing link resources (such as embedding) is still considered infringement under the DMCA.” Well, if that’s the law, we aren’t going to argue it.
Since the story isn’t a fresh as it was in June, we decided that instead of tucking our tails under and running to yet another host, we would comply with the DMCA violation and file a Counter Notice. This would mean removing the images for a time and submitting paperwork contesting their removal.
We removed the images and quotes, and replaced each of them with the following graphic …
Perhaps a bit churlish, but it’s accurate enough.
We then did a little bit of researching, and here’s the interesting thing we discovered. If you do a Google search for MyPadMedia, you’ll find a plethora of different websites will come up. The good news for consumers is the first link that comes up is from us, which is likely the reason MyPadMedia keeps harassing us.
Being at the top means that anyone searching for this company will find our report, and they will hopefully think twice before handing over their $50. The rest of the links on the first page are all apparent reviews for the website, but there’s something a little bit fishy about these “reviews”. You see that most of the sites hosting them have only a handful of posts and any advertising on the page is by MyPadMedia — along with direct links to subscribe. In other words, the majority of these sites were created to do one thing… advertise MyPadMedia. Are any red flags going off? They should be.
So what is going on here? It seems pretty clear. MyPadMedia uses deception to go right up to the legal/illegal line without crossing it with what they promise. They appear to have created a host of Web sites which offer “honest” reviews of their service, but they are nothing more than advertisements for it. The site names are changed. The wording is now changed from one to the next. They are even hosted on different servers by different services — heck, one of them is even our current host! All of this is done to advertise the “service” through the use of deception.
Notice how current bestsellers are featured in the background image? They are implied, but never actually promised. Dan equated this to diet ads which show you a sexy woman or a fit man — implying that this will be you after you complete the program, but the fine print always reads “Results not typical”.
Is it illegal? Not necessarily. Is it shady? Yes. Especially since as of today MyPadMedia is still showing a “testimonial” from someone who says they downloaded the entire Twilight series to their iPad, along with a graphic saying that you can start reading top 10 bestsellers when you join. When we subscribed, we found that the only Twilight books offered were fan fiction, and as Carly pointed out previously, the “bestsellers” are books whose copyrights have expired; they are bestsellers from 100 years ago in many cases. Once again, something is implied … but not actually promised.
So yes, we were forced to take down our images, and we have. But amazingly enough, nestled among all the odd MyPadMedia video advertisements on YouTube, was this video. Watch it and you’ll better understand what is going on here. Granted, its author created it after our first article ran — before any of us knew what MyPadMedia was really all about, but what’s interesting is that the author arrived at the same conclusion we did, that the site wasn’t quite kosher.
Is there anything illegal happening here? Not necessarily.
Have they gotten slicker in their use of bogus web sites, even using videos that SHOW bestsellers but never actually promises them. Absolutely.
Is the service worth $50? Nope. We bought a subscription, and that’s why we are able to give a factual assessment.
Are their business practices ethical? Nope. We think that “scummy” is a more appropriate description.
MyPadMedia is still in business, and they aren’t the Amazon Kindle store.
Friends, you have been warned.