We at the Junto are sad to bring news this morning that our amazingly popular if rather silly March Madness competition is no more. We’ll leave the existing posts up for now, but there’ll be no more posts, no more voting, and therefore no more surprise upsets. Over the weekend, we received a communication from the law firm of Prilo & Foal, acting for a New York publisher that we are unable to name. It turns out our little competition may be in breach of some competition and advertising laws – to be honest it’s all a bit beyond us, but suffice to say it doesn’t seem worth getting into any trouble over a bit of fun.
Here’s an excerpt from the letter we got:
It has come to our attention that the series of posts labelled “Junto March Madness,” and associated online comments, takes a form and includes content in breach of federal competition law under 15 USC § 04113. The members of the Junto constituting a “professional institution or other organization of substantial repute,” it may not engage in behavior that shall diminish or impair the market viability of commercial productions including, in this case, books published by our client, without ensuring compliance with federal fair-practice guidelines and engaging the services of an independent auditor. [...]
In order to resolve this matter we request that you cease and desist all activity of this nature by Tuesday 2nd April.
We’d like to thank everyone for their enthusiastic participation in the competition. We never expected it would be as big a deal as it was, and we certainly didn’t realise we were doing anything illegal. I guess this is what comes from having such “substantial repute”! In any case, it’s been an interesting exercise and we’re glad to have highlighted so many great books – even if it seems like we missed out a few that were published by a certain publisher… We’ll be returning to our regularly scheduled early American history very soon.