Feb 08
FAKE WEBSITE by Alex J. Socorro  |  Posted in Articles  |  on Thu, Feb 8, 2007

At first glance, the website www.susanroces.com is evidently the work of an amateur scam artist. Considering the bad grammar, the very raw designs and dire lack of contents, the website www.susanroces.com is a clear attempt to use the name of Susan Roces and exploit her popularity for whatever purposes and intents of the website owner.

Main page of the www.susanroces.com, the fake website

But the lurking ulterior motive is slowly showing its hideous countenance. As per the rampaging email of Bing Manalo that landed in our inbox with urgency, the website in question had just begun its campaign for monetary solicitations. The mere thought of getting alluded to a scam raises Bing’s blood pressure by 20 points:

“Baka kasi isipin ng tao na akin din yung susanroces.com. Madami kasi nakakaalam na I did websites for Susan. Since nasa showbiz tayo, sobrang associated ako kay Susan. May mga nakakasalubong nga ako dito na di ko gaano kilala, they would associate me kay Susan. In a way, gusto ko din malinis ang name ko re that website scam. Sana makuha natin name nung moderator ng website na yun.”

It can be remembered that Bing Manalo is a loyalist of Susan Roces and also the administrator of, not one but, two websites namely:

which have links in the Film Academy’s website. Although not actually official websites of Susan Roces, these two websites are authorized by people very close to Susan Roces.

Incidentally, these same people, whose deep concern for Susan Roces cannot be questioned, were the ones who discovered the fake website. Baby K. Jimenez, a former showbiz writer and close friend of Susan, was fuming mad in her email, “grabe itong fake na site na ito – kelangan sagutin. go there to the site n check.” Although residing in the US, Baby K wouldn’t take the situation sitting down because, considering the lousy design, it was a downright insult to her bosom friend. At once, Baby K relayed her dismay to Boots Plata, a film director and husband of Dolor Guevarra who happens to be Susan’s manager. Since both Baby and Boots are not well-versed in the nuances of the internet, they sought the help of the ever-reliable Bing Manalo who eventually forwarded the complaint to the Media Bureau of the Film Academy’s website.

As they say in the old Western movies, there ought to be a law! The internet is a new playing field with an undetermined scope such that legal geniuses are having a hard time in coping with previously unimaginable lawsuits. In some countries, there are laws against infringement violations concerning website names but conclusions are reached only if the plaintiff exerts maximum effort in pursuing the case. Kevin Spacey, an Osca-winning actor, had wanted to gain ownership of www.kevinspacey.com which was registered by Jeffrey Burgar under the name of his outfit called Alberta Hot Rods. The California judge advised Kevin to file a case against Burgar in Canada, where Burgar resides! Incidentally, Burgar is also under fire from Celine Dion, Bruce Springsteen, Jodie Foster, and Mariah Carey — whose domain names he had also registered.

The case was heard in a Canadian court where the decision was written by Bruce E. Meyerson (Chair), Hon. James P. Buchele (Ret.) and Gordon D. Harris, Panelists, dated: August 1, 2002. “The domain name shall be transferred from Respondent to Complainant.” Thus Kevin’s was a test case that can be considered a precedent of sorts. The National Arbitration Forum of Canada explained further on the celebrity name infringement: “Fan appreciation sites that contain fair use reference to the celebrity’s name are not prohibited so long as there is no specific intent to profit by reselling a “personal name” domain to a celebrity for a profit.”

Legalese aside, using a person’s name, in any undertaking, without explicit permission exudes an immoral scent, much more if the person is a known celebrity, whom they say is public property. In our country, there are no known laws except the IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) which is still considered young and needs to go through a lot of test cases. But as with name infringement, we only have protection for trade names.

The disclaimer that relieves Susan Roces from any liability

In fairness to the fake website, a disclaimer is posted in an inner page, freeing Susan Roces from any liability that may arise. In effect, according to a (local) legal opinion, the website owner of www.susanroces.com is somewhat exonerated of a civil wrong. But that legal opinion goes as far as the registration only and covers the angle of the fan mentality. But using anyone’s name without permission, as proved by Kevin Spacey’s case, is a travesty of ethics. Another thing going against the owner of the questioned website is the solicitation involved which can be translated to exploitation of the person for whom the web domain was named after.

Potential complainants may encounter great difficulties in trying to uncover the person or persons behind the questionable website. They would be lucky if the Dot Com offices would furnish them the registration details such as the name and address of the registrant. And prosecution is like asking for the moon. Worse, they may be following the footsteps of Kevin with the probability that the registrant is residing in a small and yet unnamed country.

Comparing www.susanroces.com with Bing’s http://susanroces.friendpages.com and http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Susan_Roces, is like comparing a newly-hatched chick with an ostrich. Bing’s two websites, although both are free-hosting websites as against the dot com site which pays an annual registration plus hosting service fees, are overflowing with contents and brimming with fancy design. In fact, close friends of Susan couldn’t thank Bing enough for his efforts. Another plus factor for Bing’s websites is the big number of daily visitors as attested in the guest book, most of whom are residing outside the country.

Indeed, fans will be fans forever and they will continue finding ways on how to immortalize their idols. And the internet is a convenient venue for that purpose.

On the other hand, scheming devils will be scheming devils no matter what the rules are and no matter what kind of game they are playing. It is always the conscience that dictates.

* The Kevin Spacey infringement case – source: www.domainhandbook.com

Comments to this article can be sent to ajsocorro@yahoo.com