Innovation

Online astrology: Out of the crystal ball and into the courtroom

A recent news article highlights a legal battle that is underway between Kelli and David Fox, who are pioneers of the online horoscope business (they founded Astrology.com in 1995), and NBC Universal's iVillage, which purchased Astrology.com in 1999 for $28 million. Check out the details here: "A star-crossed tale of Internet astrology."

According to the article, "When iVillage bought Astrology.com in 1999, the Foxes stayed on and ran the business until 2003. Some time later, the pair said they became aware of what seemed to be conflicts in the original sale agreements between Astrology.com and iVillage. ... They believe iVillage had muddled the person, Kelli Fox, with their Web site brand. The Foxes also say that iVillage expanded the scope of her name and likeness beyond their agreed 'field of use'—which was online astrology for women—to other areas such as psychic services and horse-betting advice."

Ok, so I subscribe to the daily horoscope e-mail that is offered by iVillage's Astrology.com. This is purely for entertainment purposes, of course. In fact, there are days when I delete the e-mail without even looking at it, and I certainly have never ordered an astrology report, psychic service, or horse-betting advice. Sheeeesh....

Even though I don't run my life or make important decisions based on all that astrology stuff, I was a little bummed to see inside information about the biz. "In terms of software, the [horoscope] business is largely a matter of writing a program that can churn out scripted horoscopes for any sign, any day of the week. Once operation and technology costs are covered, the purveyors of horoscopes sit back and collect ad revenue against those daily readings, as well as fees for sending other marketers 'leads' in the form of e-mail addresses from interested consumers (which must sign up to get their reading)."

It's a software program.... great.... now some of the magic is gone. At least I still have my Rune Stones and Tarot Cards.

About Sonja Thompson

Sonja Thompson started at TechRepublic in October 1999. She is a former Senior Editor at TechRepublic.

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