That time David Pecker feared his reputation would be tarnished by nude pics

What’s in a name?
What’s in a name?
Image: Reuters/Marion Curtis
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

If anyone should know what it’s like to be a public figure trying to protect his good name, it is David Pecker.

In 2007, the American Media Inc. CEO sued a California man named Tom Ferris for registering the domain name “davidpecker.com,” which then redirected visitors to “pornographic websites labeled as ‘hardcore,’ ‘xxx’ and ‘freaky sex,’” according to court filings reviewed by Quartz.

Pecker is the spotlight after Jeff Bezos posted on Medium yesterday (Feb. 7) that AMI, through its National Enquirer, tried to blackmail him, threatening to post compromising pictures of him and former news anchor Lauren Sanchez. AMI said today (Feb. 8) it “believes fervently that it acted lawfully in the reporting of the story of Mr. Bezos,” but that its board “has convened and determined that it should promptly and thoroughly investigate” Bezos’s claims.

Pecker’s 2007 complaint alluded to his involvement in $3.6 billion dollars worth of magazine transactions and his business reputation, stating, “Considerable good will has been attached to his name by virtue of his position as one of the leaders in the publishing industry. Mr. Pecker’s personal fame and reputation have caused his name to acquire a secondary meaning.”

Pecker sued for violations of the Lanham Act, an intellectual-property statute, arguing that Ferris wasn’t using the name “David Pecker” for any “legitimate noncommercial or fair use” and that the domain name wasn’t being used in connection with any bona fide goods or services.

An attorney for AMI demanded the porn links be removed from davidpecker.com, and offered to buy the domain name for $100. Ferris rejected the deal and set a minimum price of $1,000.

“Defendant subsequently contacted AMI’s counsel in Florida via telephone and offered to sell the Domain Name to Mr. Pecker for $1,600,” the complaint says. “That offer was rejected and negotiations continued until Defendant, while agreeing to sell the domain name for $600, demanded an additional $15,000 to forgo registering other domain names including the name ‘Pecker.’”

Image for article titled That time David Pecker feared his reputation would be tarnished by nude pics

Two months after Pecker filed suit, the two settled and the case was voluntarily dismissed. The terms of the deal between Pecker and Ferris were not disclosed. But the fact that this case happened at all shows that Pecker knows more than most just how valuable a person’s reputation can be—and the lengths to which he’s gone to preserve his own.

Today, web users who type in “davidpecker.com” are redirected to AMI’s own americanmediainc.com.

Read the full text of Pecker’s complaint here:

See on Kickstarter