Internet Merchants Association President "Going After" Bloggers / Journalists

In a discussion forum post today, the President of the Internet Merchants Association has threatened to bring suit against several blogs and websites reporting on the actions of the Board of Directors and himself while acting as head of the IMA.

Steve Grossberg President of the IMA is quoted from a direct text posted in the IMA discussion board as saying...

I appreciate your input here but most of what is posted to these sites is far from the truth to put it mildly. We will not be going after the professional type of media outlets like auctionbytes etc, but the aswas blogs, sportinggoodsusa, agenius etc. Our attorney today strongly advised that this was the #1 priority for us to accomplish and he stated this over and over that swift and decisive action is needed.

We will also have the zero tolerance policy on this going forward as you suggested but I am certain after soon people will understand that this stuff is a criminal offense
_________________
Steve

By "going after" we are to assume he means bring suit against... This is an outright threat meant to intimidate and coerce private citizens and members of the media from exercising their right to freedom of speech. 

The Trading Assistant Journal has not been mentioned in this statement but we will stand by the other blogs mentioned in this epoch and give our journalistic brethren every ounce of support we can muster. 

If our support is not enough, possibly the ACLU or the Society of Professional Journalists will come to their aid.  The Society of Professional Journalists collects and distributes contributions for aiding journalists in defending the freedom of speech and press guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.  This is a national organization who has gone toe to toe with District Attorneys, Judges, State Departments, the FBI and the CIA since 1909.  I really do not think the war chest at the IMA is large enough to give this organization pause.

Legal Defence

It is not a criminal offence to post commentary about any non-profit organization or its board of directors. It is certainly not against any rule of law to share an experience as a member of such an organization with other members or the public at large and it is never illegal to state an opinion about anyone at any time unless that opinion has no basis in fact or is intended to damage the other person's reputation or livelihood.  As Journalists we have the protection of the US Constitution, freedom of the press and freedom of speech.

Veiled threats were initiated days ago on this blog and others by commenters who were seeking the "real" names of people who simply posted opinions concerning this story as comments.  These comments are also protected by freedom of speech and several other laws which also protect the owners of websites who allows these comments to be posted.  By asking comment authors for real names, so they could be reported back to the organization, at that point the hand was essentially tipped. 

Mr. Grossberg, I implore you to read my first Article ever about the IMA. 

Take the article in the spirit it was intended. In it I asked, "What About The Members?". 

Don't you think your energy and time could, should, would be better spent in trying to repair the reputation of the Internet Merchants Association and regaining the trust of the membership. Rather than start a new battle for which you do not have the legal means or financial wherewithal to possibly prevail?

I can tell you from our perspective this threat against the aforementioned blogs will not be a quieting influence.  We will support the right to publish any sort of journalistic coverage of any event, as will many other blogs, websites and traditional news media outlets around the country if not the World.  If you believe the IMA has experienced a "media frenzy" in the last few days, I dare say you will be astounded at the coverage which could be brought upon yourself and your organization if this open threat is carried out. 

Please seek the advise and council of a media specialist, a social media expert and a 1st amendment attorney before proceeding any further.  I would really hate to see the financial coffers of the IMA wasted on such battles.  Think of your membership, is this attempt at retribution really worth the membership's money, potentially wasted without the input or consent of the members at large?

The attorneys will gladly spend your member's money, but you will gain little in the effort.

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0 Responses to Internet Merchants Association President "Going After" Bloggers / Journalists

  1. Dave White July 8, 2008 at 7:48 am #

    Scott,

    It seems to me that the IMA is attempting to disguise the issues at hand by threatening those that are reporting on it.

    Putting up a smokescreen of veiled threats in an attempt to hide the issues at hand is a very old tactic.

    I implore the Board of Directors of the IMA to rescind their actions of the past week, conduct an immediate and open election, and get on with the original task of the organization. The members deserve no less.

  2. Steve Grossberg July 8, 2008 at 9:24 am #

    IMA Members Privacy

    Members

    As mentioned in another post we have consulted with legal council from the law firm Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP http://www.bsfllp.com/index.html

    The IMA takes your privacy very seriously as you recently found out and others will as well in the very near future . We have been told that posts from this forum and other information obtained from this forum are appearing out there on non members and former member’s blogs.

    So please list any site you are aware of where there is posting private information from our forum. It does not have to be a copied and pasted post, but any information found on a web site other then an IMA owned web site where you feel the information was obtained as a result of coming from someone who is now or was a member of IMA.

    We will be taking any and all legal action necessary to ensure the privacy of our members is respected.
    _________________
    Steve

  3. Kim - former IMA member July 8, 2008 at 10:50 am #

    TRANSLATION:

    We will spend as much of the money in the funds to keep the BOD’s from having to tell the truth.

    The funds they are willing to spend was SUPPOSE to be spent on education programs, or other items, FOR THE GENERAL MEMBERSHIP.

  4. No More Organizations for Me July 8, 2008 at 11:47 am #

    I just do not get it. IMA was formed when Steve, Ben, et al, started asking questions about PeSA. The leaders at PeSA had the We Know What’s Good For You attitude and did what they wanted without any concern about member imput. Steve asked questions, to the point of harrassment, to the PeSA board until they kicked him, and a lot of others who asked questions, out of the club. One of the issues was that the Treasurer of PeSA was the the wife of the President, Joe Cortese.

    So, they start their own organization, harping on their transparency and non-profit status. Great, they looked good, things started happening for the betterment of the members. Then Steve started acting more and more like Joe Cortese. Deciding what was good for everyone regardless of what they actually wanted. He even got rid of the Treasurer and assigned himself the Treasurer. Now he’s kicking out anyone who asks questions.

    So, what goes around comes around. Steve Grossberg has turned into another Joe Cortese. Odd that he doesn’t see the simularities.

  5. (IM)quitting(A)sap July 8, 2008 at 11:55 am #

    Wow, I like how Steve only mentions the blogs run by former members. I don’t know how or why the membership would support him spending IMA funds to settle personal vendettas against former memebrs – meanwhile the IMA spends no money on marketing or advertising, didn’t spend any money to have a presence and rescruit membership at eBay Live, and doesn’t have any real plans for the large bank account on hand. But spend the money on frivilous lawsuits against the people Steve doesn’t like? SOUNDS GREAT!

    Boy, that is sure some great trade group. Doesn’t it make you want to join right now?

  6. (IM)quitting(A)sap July 8, 2008 at 12:06 pm #

    Here is a question that was posted on the IMA forum but immediately removed: If the IMA is a non-profit organization, then why is the IMA website registered privately to Steve Grossberg? This question was posted on the forum, was immediately taken down from the forum and the person who asked was suspended!

    Click this image to see the whois registry for the IMA:

    http://i351.photobucket.com/albums/q468/IMAhistory/imawhois.jpg

  7. Kim - former IMA member July 8, 2008 at 12:29 pm #

    I keep telling everyone … DO NOT question the great and powerful OZ! LOL

    Really, I don’t know Joe Cortese at all – never met the man. But I have heard the horror stories from Steve and Ben. I took their words with a grain of salt, as my experience with them was that they tend to be rather self promoting.
    Regardless I never saw where it mattered. IMA IS NOT PESA. IT IS IMA.

    I got locked out of the Board of Director Forum as I was typing a post, it never made it on the forum. Soooo, it does not BELONG to anyone but me and I can post it where I see fit.

    Part of what I was attempting to say to the BOD’s was:

    This is NOT PESA. Why do we have to keep comparing ourselves to them.
    I do not believe stifling the voice of the BOD’s is a good move.
    I believe we need to lay out a long term plan for the IMA – and the membership needs to be involved in that process.
    I believe we need to get back to this transparency that is always being touted.

  8. Angela July 8, 2008 at 3:23 pm #

    Is Steve by any chance suffering from delusions of grandeur? I fully expect him to next issue an order that all current and former IMA members must disconnect their satellite, cable, telephone, and other methods of access to media. He’s certainly been displaying what appear to me as paranoia and other classic symptoms this week (and longer from what I’ve read from other members). I’m thinking he may possibly be having a manic episode with psychosis. If this is the case, when he eventually comes out of it, maybe he’ll see reason at that time, do the right thing by stepping down from the board so that he can focus on his mental health and let the IMA heal. I’m not a medical professional and have no way of knowing if this might possibly be the cause of his bazaar behavior, but it might be an explanation. If this is the case, I wish him well and hope he feels much better soon.

  9. Little known fact? July 8, 2008 at 7:21 pm #

    Going about this the wrong way. To be a non profit trade organization that said organization must not show special treatment to any member. If there is any evidence that this is happening, and since the IMA is a non profit organization, that might be a better way of pursuing this.

    The constant comments and bashing (true or not) about Steve and Ben (personal in nature and potentially damaging to their reputation) is a distraction. If you want change focus on the organization of the IMA and go from there.

  10. Scott Pooler July 8, 2008 at 10:05 pm #

    Re:
    ….. He’s certainly been displaying what appear to me as paranoia and other classic symptoms this week (and longer from what I’ve read from other members). I’m thinking he may possibly be having a manic episode with psychosis….

    Angela,

    Please refrain from posting personal attacks or unconfirmed medical or mental diagnosis of anyone discussed on this publication or within the comments section.

    While I certainly appreciate your participation and you are welcome to join the conversation with relevant comments, we will not allow these types of comments to continue here.

    I apologize to Mr. Grossman for the inappropriate nature of the preceding comment, it was automatically approved by our system. I will try to keep it from occurring again.

    Respectfully,
    Scott Pooler

  11. IMA Member July 9, 2008 at 1:39 am #

    Code:
    What has PESA done that IMA can’t do?
    Back to top
    BudgetVideoGames_Steve
    Joined: 16 May 2007
    Posts: 3132
    Posted: Thu 05 Jun, 2008 02:12 [7] Post subject:
    1 Gain non profit status from IRS
    2. Open and transparent elections
    3. member owned.
    4. provides financials statements
    5. give members rights as written in the by-laws
    _________________
    Steve

    Someone needs to remind him of his post.

  12. SneakyDave July 9, 2008 at 12:15 pm #

    You guys are worse than the old OAUA! Go back to PESA, so the rest of us can focus on just one group of kooks.

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