I ate at Solarino restaurant in the city earlier this year and posted a review about it. Recently my hosting service has been saying that Fitzroyalty was causing excessive load on their servers. In trying to find the cause, I discovered that the Solarino website contained pages with frames that embedded external reviews, including my review and those from several commercial sites including the Age Epicure section. This constitutes a possible cause of my hosting problems, a breach of my copyright and is an example of extremely poor web design. Embedding external pages in frames is wrong.
A screen capture of the Solarino website made on 17 June 2009 showing the embedded Fitzroyalty review
I called the restaurant on Wednesday 17 June and spoke to one of the owners, Dale. He knew nothing about it and immediately agreed to call the web designer to remove my review. He thought it could be fixed that day. 24 hours later he had recieved no response from the company responsible, wacl3, and had not called me back to confirm, so I called him again to find out that no progress had been made.
Dale was apologetic when I explained again about the hosting problem and he also seemed concerned about the copyright implications. I remained diplomatic as my aim was to get my content removed ASAP, but I made it clear there could be legal implications if the situation was not fixed quickly.
A screen capture of the Solarino website made on 17 June 2009 showing the embedded Age Epicure review
I then used the comment form on the wacl3 site to directly demand the removal of my content. At 11pm on Thursday 18 June I received an email from wacl3 agreeing to remove my review and apologising for the inconvenience. I checked the site again at midday on Friday 19 June and my review had been removed, but I was astounded to see all the other commercial site reviews still there. They deserve to get sued.
Apart from the incompetence of the web design company, what astonished me was Dale’s professed ignorance about (and in my opinion his implicit indifference to) the public relations importance of his website. He admitted to not knowing what content his own website contained or how it was being managed. For a business owner, this is a fundamental failure of risk management that could have significant legal and financial consequences.
The ‘out of sight out of mind’ approach that has businesses outsource work like this to contractors demonstrates that the business does not understand how to manage its brand and reputation, or how marketing strategies can be ruined by idiotic contractors.
Despite offers of free drinks and meals from Dale to compensate for this, I will not be returning to his restaurant. Given that the other reviews are still embedded in his site, I’m not sure that he’s learned anything from the situation and nothing could make me trust a business like this again.
I wish there was an easy way to make people understand copyright and ethical publishing practices. I’d rather write about pleasurable activities than spend my time using the strongest weapon I have, public embarrassment, to defend the intellectual integrity and non-commercial nature of my work.