Am I Cybersquatting? What should I do?

36 replies
So several years ago I knew of an athlete who had a lot of potential and had done some impressive things non mainstream. I decided I wanted to make a fan page for him so I registered his name dot com. However I never got around to actually building the page and the domain name basically has stood idle with nothing on it.

Anyway years later this athlete has done very well and has now become mainstream. I was contacted several months ago by his lawyer saying that if I did not sell the domain at a price his client deemed fair they would pursue legal action. I told him I was more than willing to sell the domain at a fair price and their offer was only a few hundred dollars... I tentatively agreed (just via an email conversation) however I have not heard back or received any funds from them to this point.

I guess my question is if I decided I didn't want to sell it or wanted to sell it for more money would it be a smart move? What would happen if they did try to bring legal action on it, would I get in trouble or do I have the right to the domain name if my intentions were to build a fan page?

Btw since I have little experience with this whole thing if anyone thinks there is potential to make a fair amount and wants to partner with me to help facilitate feel free to reach out to me privately.
#cybersquatting
  • Profile picture of the author Anglo Shinobi
    How could they bring legal action against you?

    Be aware that in law there is a maxim which is unspoken yet lived by: "let him who would be deceived, be deceived".

    It is an intimidation tactic which has little legal backing - they word things in a way which puts pressure on you, even if such pressure doesn't lawfully or legally exist.

    First you have to determine where you stand and what your rights are (you can't claim them if you don't know) - and FIGHT with everything you have: yet remember: your position is ALWAYS one of seeking remedy (assuming they are claiming you are a problem)

    I hope I answered your question - sorry I can't be more helpful without knowing more details - but my advice based on what you told me:

    STAND YOUR GROUND - GO FOR THE HIGHER PRICE - DON'T BE INTIMIDATED!

    There, I said it, blame me

    Peace,
    Anglo Shinobi

    Edit - there are hundreds of "unofficial" fan sites - they claim to be "unofficial fan sites" - they exist, without persecution - they would be your best bet for asking for advice.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      I guess my question is if I decided I didn't want to sell it or wanted to sell it for more money would it be a smart move? What would happen if they did try to bring legal action on it, would I get in trouble or do I have the right to the domain name if my intentions were to build a fan page?
      You want someone (not a lawyer) on a forum to tell you it's ok to use a name that may be trademarked (did you even check?) - that you previously agreed to sell - and that you haven't used?

      Could you get into trouble? Yes, you could. Will you get into trouble? Don't know...and neither does anyone else here.

      As usual in every thread like this - there is someone telling you to "fight". Choose your battles wisely and understand the risk. Your "best bet" for advice would be a trademark attorney.
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  • Profile picture of the author MikeMizOne
    If I were you I would've put it up quickly on flippa.com to avoid having to deal with any further legal issues. Sell it and make money, put the blame on someone else.
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    • Profile picture of the author webmarketer
      Consult a lawyer. You're in the wrong forum. Just think about this--

      If you have made a mark in your field and your name is used as a domain name by another party who registered it earlier, how would you feel knowing the other party is going to make money off your rep and image, and most important, what would you do?
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      • Profile picture of the author SunilTanna
        Not a lawyer, but just some speculation based on general background knowledge:

        The lawyer probably contacted you to gather evidence for a potential UDRP action (which is an arbitration type proceding) to gain the domain.

        The fact that you
        1. Have no legitimate rights in the name (no rights based on anything other than your unauthorized use of the celeb's name)
        2. Haven't built a site
        3. Offered to sell for more than the registration fee/costs

        Would probably all count against you. So they could probably acquire the name that way.

        If they go the UDRP route, you would lose the domain. And suffer no real penalty other than to be classified as a cybersquatter (which could count against you in future UDRP actions).

        Of course they might sue in court. And in that cases, there could be actually damages. But the latter's might be unlikely, since it would probably cost them more to acquire the name this way.

        If I was you, I would shut-up in public (since public statements can count against you and are discoverable), keep records of all communications, etc., and immediately consult a lawyer if they do sue. You can research UDRP yourself - google & Wikipedia for starters, and if you read sites like domainnamewire.com you will get a feel for how UDRP actions usually go.
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    • Profile picture of the author AnniePot
      The "Domaining" expert here is Gene Pimental. I suggest you contact him directly to ask his advice. Having said that, he's been working with domains for many years, but he still isn't a lawyer.

      Tread cautiously . . .
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  • The best choice is consulting a domain expert Gene Pimental as suggested by Anniepot and some other experts of the field too and most importantly a lawyer. They can guide you the best way.

    Regards
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  • Profile picture of the author RomeWashington
    Thanks for the responses everyone. I see there's some different points of view. To be honest I'd like to avoid any kind of issues here so thats why I don't mind selling it for relatively cheap. 2 more questions...

    1.) How do I contact Gene Pimental?
    2.) If I were to sell this site on Flippa could I still get in trouble?

    The offer still stands for anyone that thinks this is profitable to partner up with me and sell.
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    • Profile picture of the author webmarketer
      Ask Gene Pimental (as suggested by AnniePot) or your lawyer.


      Originally Posted by RomeWashington View Post

      Thanks for the responses everyone. I see there's some different points of view. To be honest I'd like to avoid any kind of issues here so thats why I don't mind selling it for relatively cheap. 2 more questions...

      1.) How do I contact Gene Pimental?
      2.) If I were to sell this site on Flippa could I still get in trouble?

      The offer still stands for anyone that thinks this is profitable to partner up with me and sell.
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    • Profile picture of the author AnniePot
      Originally Posted by RomeWashington View Post

      Thanks for the responses everyone. I see there's some different points of view. To be honest I'd like to avoid any kind of issues here so thats why I don't mind selling it for relatively cheap. 2 more questions...

      1.) How do I contact Gene Pimental?
      2.) If I were to sell this site on Flippa could I still get in trouble?

      The offer still stands for anyone that thinks this is profitable to partner up with me and sell.
      He's a member here of the Warrior Forum. You could just search om his name, but here is a link to his profile:

      Gene Pimental
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  • Profile picture of the author Anglo Shinobi
    What's with all the fear-mongering?

    I stand by what I said in my post - your best bet is to fight, to stand your ground.

    The legal system do actually understand that small businesses are trying to start up, trying to find their way - and the legal system actually protects you - AS LONG AS YOU ARE SEEN TO BE SEEKING REMEDY in any issues you have.

    If you are seeking remedy then in the eyes of the law: you are part of the solution (or at least trying to be) where as if you were not seeking remedy then you could be seen as part of the problem.

    The advice: go to a lawyer is good advice - but lawyers advice is costly.

    Look up the statute laws that apply to you (if any) and then get yourself a law dictionary - go through it yourself and see where you stand.

    In the same way that doctors are trained to memorize symptoms and medicines to those symptoms - lawyers are trained to memorize statute laws (often completely ignoring ACTUAL law) (law and legal are different) and legal language.

    Again: here in the UK we have many "unofficial" fan sites or "unofficial" fan magazines - for example: Sony Playstation have a magazine, there is also an "unofficial playstation magazine" which uses the word Playstation in their tag-lines.

    If you jump every time a fear-monger tells you to, you will never be successful, you will always be living in fear.

    Be bold, be brave and challenge the courts if you have to.

    Your goal here is to understand the system, learn the law, understand how to lawfully do sound business - you are seeking remedy, seeking how-to's in accordance with law - there is nothing wrong with that - and anybody (in the professional world) who tries to hinder you with this COULD be seen as making "gross negligence" equaling to (common law) fraud.

    There is no justice in penalizing you for seeking remedy.

    Provided you go out there with the right attitude and you are sincere - you have a winning battle on your hands - the worst that could happen is that you learn something new and have to tweak some of your practices.

    Again: the best place to learn the law is the official gov statute register + a good law dictionary (Blacks)

    Call me old school but I much prefer the challenging ways of Kennedy, Malcom, Martin Luther and those that actively challenge norms and justice - to the ways of the willing-slaves of today who would happily bow to any oppressive persons.

    You have rights the same as anybody else - yet, if you don't fight your corner, if you simply submit to what any tom, dick or harry tells you - you are a nobody. or worst: another human (your equal) becomes your MASTER! OUCH!

    Stand for something or fall for anything.

    Learn the truth for yourself to attain certainty - check the statutes, check the law dictionaries, it isn't a lot of work and the result is you attain TRUE knowledge, rather than hearsay.

    I could talk for hours about the many things people generally believe to be true, which are false, and vice versa - I'm sure you can think of many examples from your own life too - so, armed with this wisdom: learn the truth for yourself, then apply it and act on it.

    OR - allow yourself to be bullied out of your profit, your business, your interest, your life - and just willingly hand it all over to the next person who tries to intimidate you.

    Choice is yours pal

    Peace.


    Edit - Perhaps it would be wise for to realize that not everybody shares the "learn it for yourself, understand the truth of the matter fully" mentality that I have.

    And perhaps I am naive to think that you have enough time to study law and online business practices.

    If you have no time to learn - and no courage to stand up for yourself - then: get a lawyer or better still (for the persons who are threatening you) why don't you just hand over the domain and let all the fear go away and go back to blissful ignorance. ( <- I will NEVER condone that)

    Peace - allow the politics,
    Anglo Shinobi


    EDIT #2 - Legal disclaimers are your friend
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    • Profile picture of the author onSubie
      Originally Posted by Anglo Shinobi View Post

      What's with all the fear-mongering?

      I stand by what I said in my post - your best bet is to fight, to stand your ground.
      That would be a big mistake. There are specific laws in place to prevent exactly this type of thing - cybersquating on celebrity names.

      A lawyer will ask for a big retainer if you want to challenge existing legislation with established legal precidents.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anticybersquatting_Consumer_Protection_Act
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  • Profile picture of the author Brent Stangel
    Here's one for you "domain experts." What if I registered my name.com and at some point in the future someone with the same name becomes famous?

    Can say Michael Jordan sue everyone else named Michael Jordan?

    I have a second cousin with the same name. If he uses "My" name somehow to make money, can I sue??

    Seems like a pretty deep hole...
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    • Profile picture of the author DubDubDubDot
      Originally Posted by Brent Stangel View Post

      Here's one for you "domain experts." What if I registered my name.com and at some point in the future someone with the same name becomes famous?

      Can say Michael Jordan sue everyone else named Michael Jordan?
      I've never heard of a transfer order where the domain name matched the personal name of the registrant listed in the whois.

      There was a case (I think this past year) where a father had registered his son's name and they just held the domain without ever using it. Son was college age and the whois had dad's name. UDRP took it away from them on grounds that ownership was in bad faith because (according to the panelist) there is no reason for the college age son to not be using the domain by now.

      That case seems pretty questionable though. If the respondent would have paid for the two added panelists it might not have ended up the same way.
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    • Profile picture of the author onSubie
      Originally Posted by Brent Stangel View Post

      Here's one for you "domain experts." What if I registered my name.com and at some point in the future someone with the same name becomes famous?

      Can say Michael Jordan sue everyone else named Michael Jordan?

      I have a second cousin with the same name. If he uses "My" name somehow to make money, can I sue??

      Seems like a pretty deep hole...
      Check out the legal battle over nissan.com.

      A named Nissan bought the domain (his name) when Nissan was Datsun.

      After Datsun changed to Nissan (tm) they sued for the domain.

      It was years of court battles all detailed at Nissan.Com.
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      • Profile picture of the author dburk
        Hi RomeWashington,

        One of the requirements to claim and successfully win a disputed domain name away from the current registered owner, is to show the current owner has used the domain name in bad faith. What that means is that they must show that you tried to benefit directly from the good name of the trademark holder.

        So as long as you do not use the domain name to publish content about the trademark holder, or anything related to them, or their business, then you are pretty secure in your ownership rights. However, since you publicized your intent to use the name in "bad faith", you may have already placed your ownership rights in jeopardy.

        Another option might be to do a little research to see if you can find anyone with the same name that might be interested in purchasing it. You might have a good chance if you find someone with the same name that is an entertainer, musician, actor, etc.
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        • Profile picture of the author SunilTanna
          Originally Posted by dburk View Post

          Hi RomeWashington,

          One of the requirements to claim and successfully win a disputed domain name away from the current registered owner, is to show the current owner has used the domain name in bad faith. What that means is that they must show that you tried to benefit directly from the good name of the trademark holder.

          So as long as you do not use the domain name to publish content about the trademark holder, or anything related to them, or their business, then you are pretty secure in your ownership rights. However, since you publicized your intent to use the name in "bad faith", you may have already placed your ownership rights in jeopardy.

          Another option might be to do a little research to see if you can find anyone with the same name that might be interested in purchasing it. You might have a good chance if you find someone with theb same name that is an entertainer, musician, actor, etc.
          Not building a site and offering to sell it to a tm owner is often treated as evidence of bad faith in udrp proceedings.
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          • Profile picture of the author dburk
            Originally Posted by SunilTanna View Post

            Not building a site and offering to sell it to a tm owner is often treated as evidence of bad faith in udrp proceedings.
            Yes, I know, that is why I did not suggest that course of action.

            I expressly said "bad faith" means "that you tried to benefit directly from the good name of the trademark holder." Naturally, "building a site and offering to sell it to a tm owner" is just one of many ways to show bad faith. Don't do that.
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            • Profile picture of the author SunilTanna
              Originally Posted by dburk View Post

              Yes, I know, that is why I did not suggest that course of action.

              I expressly said "bad faith" means "that you tried to benefit directly from the good name of the trademark holder." Naturally, "building a site and offering to sell it to a tm owner" is just one of many ways to show bad faaith. Don't do that.
              You're missing my point.

              The original poster has already done all that - he said so in his first post. and he's admitted to it a public forum.
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cybersquatting

    If they have a claim via a UDRP and win, they don't have to pay you a penny. They can just take it and nothing you can do about it.

    I personally would avoid the legal hassle and give them the domain. You don't use it.
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  • Profile picture of the author Anglo Shinobi
    Fair play - thanks for the insights from the warriors I thanked.

    This isn't something I've had direct experience with - so you should listen to the others over myself - I do have experience with fighting my own cases in court and winning (that's why I recommend going through the process - I know more than I would ever have done if I simply bowed when ordered too!).

    Even if you do withdraw from this fight - if it is indeed too big to fight - then, at least take the gold from within my posts - the gold which teaches you to learn and understand for yourself.

    Tackle your problems head on. But seek knowledge from those who have been granted it - and in the specifics of this case: I have little, so you'd be wiser to go to an expert on domain names (others have mentioned some IMHO).

    Anyways, great to see Warrior's giving helpful answers to this brother - thanks for that.

    No more from me on this thread - I do not wish to promote something which will harm you - but I stand by what I said: for the most part you need to be couragous and stand up to your adversaries regardless of what you percieve they have against you.

    If I hadn't of walked out of two "in the bag" "no chance of winning" cases, with wins, perhaps my beliefs wouldn't of been strengthened - seek the truth of the matter for yourself, gain true knowledge and true understanding - even if seems to be a set back in terms of time invested, what you learn from the process of critical study (and how to do it), when applied to ANY AREA OF YOUR LIFE: it will help you massively.

    Flippin' domain name laws - what a joke. This is the internet IMO.

    Peace be with you.
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    Gene doesn't post here much anymore, along with a lot of other old timers.
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  • Profile picture of the author Asadullah72
    On the off chance that you have made an imprint in your field and your name is utilized as an area name by another gathering who enlisted it before, how might you feel knowing the other party is going to profit off your rep and picture, and most imperative, what might you do?
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  • Profile picture of the author Jen Eick
    I'm confused. Was your intent to build a fan page in his honor, or make money off of him??

    I'm sure you know that continuing to try to raise the ante with his lawyer is not going to endear this celebrity to you in any way.

    If you bought the domain for the usual $10 or less, take the generous offer to make more money in the sale than you originally bought it for, and move on to the next project that does not involve taking advantage of him or his name.

    That's just what I would do. It is cyber-squatting at this point and usually, the little guy with the big company's domain name ends up having to cut their losses and give up the name.
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    • Profile picture of the author RomeWashington
      Originally Posted by Jen Eick View Post

      I'm confused. Was your intent to build a fan page in his honor, or make money off of him??

      I'm sure you know that continuing to try to raise the ante with his lawyer is not going to endear this celebrity to you in any way.

      If you bought the domain for the usual $10 or less, take the generous offer to make more money in the sale than you originally bought it for, and move on to the next project that does not involve taking advantage of him or his name.

      That's just what I would do. It is cyber-squatting at this point and usually, the little guy with the big company's domain name ends up having to cut their losses and give up the name.
      I bought these domain several years ago when he was basically a nobody (in terms of celebrity status obviously). I still haven't received the money from him nor has his lawyer answered my last emails.

      Should I maybe I sell this on Flippa, or is that a bad idea now?
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      • Profile picture of the author Kay King
        Yes, it's a bad idea now...it was a bad idea the moment you were alerted to a problem.


        This was a domain registered BECAUSE of someone's expertise and potential - you said that in the initial post.


        You seem determined to play this out so good luck.
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  • Profile picture of the author JillWilson
    Learning something new here.
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  • Profile picture of the author yukon
    Banned
    Do you even have proof the contact was actually a lawyer?

    Was the email from a legit lawyer/domain or a free email like Gmail?
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    • Profile picture of the author RomeWashington
      Originally Posted by yukon View Post

      Do you even have proof the contact was actually a lawyer?

      Was the email from a legit lawyer/domain or a free email like Gmail?
      Yes he definitely is a legit lawyer.

      Randall, I couldn't care less about the domain now which is why I'd be willing to sell it to anyone like on Flippa or something. I don't want any legal ramifications if I do though... That's where my dilemma is at this point...
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      • Profile picture of the author Kay King
        If you don't want legal ramifications - don't sell the domain. No one on this forum can protect you from what you seem determined to do.

        Selling this domain to a new, unsuspecting buyer transfers the problem to the new buyer - who will probably feel you defrauded him if you didn't disclose the history of this domain.

        Nothing like doubling your liability for a few bucks.
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  • Profile picture of the author Randall Magwood
    If it isn't making money for you... let it go and pursue something else. If you want to pursue and keep the domain, make sure the next thing you do first is hire an attorney. Not just any attorney, but 1 that specializes in situations like this. Good luck man. Don't let this kill the fire.
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  • Profile picture of the author irawr
    Banned
    Originally Posted by RomeWashington View Post

    So several years ago I knew of an athlete who had a lot of potential and had done some impressive things non mainstream. I decided I wanted to make a fan page for him so I registered his name dot com. However I never got around to actually building the page and the domain name basically has stood idle with nothing on it.

    Anyway years later this athlete has done very well and has now become mainstream. I was contacted several months ago by his lawyer saying that if I did not sell the domain at a price his client deemed fair they would pursue legal action. I told him I was more than willing to sell the domain at a fair price and their offer was only a few hundred dollars... I tentatively agreed (just via an email conversation) however I have not heard back or received any funds from them to this point.

    I guess my question is if I decided I didn't want to sell it or wanted to sell it for more money would it be a smart move? What would happen if they did try to bring legal action on it, would I get in trouble or do I have the right to the domain name if my intentions were to build a fan page?

    Btw since I have little experience with this whole thing if anyone thinks there is potential to make a fair amount and wants to partner with me to help facilitate feel free to reach out to me privately.
    If it was me and I hadn't used the domain, I would spam about about 50 million backlinks into it and then let it drop.

    This seems ridiculous over a name, did the guy trademark his name?

    This is why people need attorneys in this business.

    Oh and private domain registration, why did you give his lawyer a calling card? I don't think I'm ever registering a domain without it after this thread.
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    • Profile picture of the author RomeWashington
      Originally Posted by irawr View Post

      If it was me and I hadn't used the domain, I would spam about about 50 million backlinks into it and then let it drop.

      This seems ridiculous over a name, did the guy trademark his name?

      This is why people need attorneys in this business.

      Oh and private domain registration, why did you give his lawyer a calling card? I don't think I'm ever registering a domain without it after this thread.
      That backlinks thing is a good idea (although I don't have much experience with it)... However that's where I'd be most fearful of legal action. Right now I'm not making any money off of it so I feel that if I started to thats where I could be sued which I don't want.

      So is adding back links or PPC or anything like that dumb? His name is probably trade marked now but I am almost certain it probably wasn't when I originally registered the domain years ago. Again partners welcome who know about this and think we could make extra money.
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      • Profile picture of the author Kay King
        is probably trade marked now but I am almost certain it probably wasn't
        So -you have not bothered to look up the trademark? Even after being contacted by an attorney? Something doesn't sound right with this - you didn't use the domain for "years" now all of a sudden you want to profit from it?

        You've bumped your own thread now for 6 weeks - wonder what the real agenda here is.
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      • Profile picture of the author Steve B
        Public forums are great . . . aren't they?

        You get to see just how much bad and uninformed advice people with no knowledge or experience in a subject can spew. They will even admit that they have no previous experience with something but will "fight to the death" that their advice is truth!

        People that treat what should be serious business as some kind of a water cooler fantasy seem to be content to fly by the seat of their pants as they deal with issues that can have very costly and grave implications.

        Every business is different. Every set of issues, especially legal issues, deserve your utmost attention and concern. Just because others aren't being prosecuted for their wrongdoings doesn't mean it's a sign that YOU can believe and do whatever you want!

        Steve
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  • Profile picture of the author essmeier
    Can you afford a lawsuit? That's the only thing that matters, regardless of where you stand legally.

    If they offer you anything at all, take it.

    Charlie
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