by Kyle Perisic
Amazon dropped the conservative news and law publication Legal Insurrection from its profit sharing associate program, the publication announced Wednesday.
The reason behind why Legal Insurrection was terminated from the associates program raises unanswered questions about Legal Insurrection’s supposed violations of an agreement with Amazon, including Amazon’s abilities to track links in emails and a dubious claim that Legal Insurrection implied Amazon endorsed the publication.
Legal Insurrection came to the conclusion, citing a May 5 Daily Caller News Foundation article, that the reason Amazon terminated their contract could possibly be due to a political bias Amazon has against conservatives. “Clearly someone wanted us gone,” wrote Legal Insurrection’s William Jacobson.
The Amazon Associates program is an affiliate program that Amazon has in which associates earn a portion of Amazon’s profits from sales that come from the associates’ users. Amazon knows the purchases come from specific associates’ users through the use of special links, according to Amazon’s operating agreement. The program is a common way for content creators on the internet to earn an income.
“Legal Insurrection was removed from the Amazon Associates program due to a violation of the terms of the Amazon Associates Operating Agreement,” an Amazon spokesperson stated in a email Friday to The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Amazon claims Legal Insurrection violated two of its agreements. The first one is that Legal Insurrection used language that implied Amazon supports Legal Insurrection.
As an Amazon Associate, “You must clearly state the following, or any substantially similar statement previously allowed under this Agreement … ‘As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases,’” Amazon’s operating agreement says.
The associates also cannot “misrepresent or embellish” their relationship with Amazon, which includes “expressing or implying” that Amazon supports, sponsors, or endorses them, “or express or imply any affiliation between [Amazon] and [the associate] or any other person or entity.”
Amazon’s claim that Legal Insurrection used language that implied Amazon supports Legal Insurrection is dubious at best. Legal Insurrection made an announcement of their acceptance in the Amazon Associates program, according to a March 9 archive of the page.
“Legal Insurrection is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. You can use the search box and links below, or any of the Amazon links in the sidebar,” the announcement said. “It is important to access Amazon through those links. Your purchases are greatly appreciated.”
The same archived page shows a special link that said: “When doing your online shopping, be sure to use this shop Amazon deals link.”
The second claim is that Legal Insurrection used special links in emails, which would also violate the participation requirements in the agreement.
The agreement says associates “will not engage in any promotional, marketing, or other advertising activities in any offline manner, including by using any of our or our affiliates’ trademarks or logos (including any Amazon Mark), any Content, or any Special Link in connection with an offline promotion or in any other offline manner (e.g., in any printed material, mailing, SMS, MMS, email or attachment to email, or other document, or any oral solicitation).”
The claim that Legal Insurrection used “Special Links” in emails before January is true, but Legal Insurrection said it ended the practice when Amazon sent a warning email in January.
“We used to include an Amazon link in our Morning Insurrection newsletter. We were contacted by Amazon in early January 2018, and given five days to fix the use of the link in emails, which it claimed violated the Operating Agreement,” Jacobson wrote.
Legal Insurrection was notified on April 28 that Amazon terminated its membership in the associates program.
Amazon would not provide TheDCNF or Legal Insurrection with details on how the retail giant knew Legal Insurrection was using emails to send special links. Jacobson wrote that Amazon told him that information was “proprietary.”
Amazon would not tell TheDCNF if Legal Insurrection had ended the practice of emailing special links when they were warned in January and then restarted it.
Legal Insurrection was “not aware of such a continuing problem, and never was alerted to it,” a spokesperson told TheDCNF in an email Friday, adding that Amazon wouldn’t give them examples of the violation.
In response to Legal Insurrection’s claims, Amazon provided the following statement in an email to TheDCNF Friday:
“We remain 100 percent focused on providing the best customer experience possible, which includes a customer’s experience with affiliate links and the Amazon Associates program. We have a robust team that monitors Amazon Associates activity, and use a variety of tools and procedures to ensure associates comply with the terms of the Operating Agreement.”
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Kyle Perisic is a reporter at Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow Kyle on Twitter @KylePerisic.