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What is concern with the so-called “affiliate marketing industry?”

The affiliate marketing industry might facially sound like an innocuous and unobjectionable realm, but a lawsuit recently filed by two entertainment industry A-listers stresses otherwise.

Here’s what it is: the online playing field for industrious individuals and companies that earn commissions by directing Internet browsers to select e-commerce sites. Major commercial players (just think Amazon) rely heavily upon the efforts of affiliate markets driving traffic to their websites.

And they pay those marketers handsomely when consumers’ visits result in sales. One study on the industry posits that as much as 16% of all online orders are made following the steering efforts of marketers.

Sandra Bullock and Ellen DeGeneres don’t have a problem with that, acknowledging the general legitimacy of the industry.

What they manifestly do contest, though, are the defrauding efforts made by parties they term “fakers” in the “Celebrity Endorsement Theft Industry.”

Here’s how that works, according to a lawsuit that Bullock and DeGeneres recently filed in a California court against 100 of those entities. That litigation states that a growing number of bad-faith actors are hosting websites “designed to look like legitimate and independent news reports or magazine articles about various products.”

Those sites then feature fake endorsements by celebrities. The plaintiffs state that they have been personally victimized by such misconduct.

The Bullock/DeGeneres lawsuit alleges both false advertising and unfair competition, as well as the violation of the litigants’ right of publicity. It seeks compensatory damages and an injunction.

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