James Brausch has entered a contest put on by CD Baby and it seems that there may be some shady practices going on behind the scenes. Could they be tipping the scales in someone else's favor?
You can read the details here. If it were me, I would file the lawsuit if there was no doubt that they illegally rigged the contest. I would, of course want to discuss it with the CD Baby owner first to give them a chance to show me that no malice was actually intended. Sometimes, honest mistakes happen and events aren't always as they seem.
Let's just say hypothetically that CD Baby refused to work with James. Obviously James does not 'need' the money, but there are other important factors that need to be considered. For one thing, quite a bit of time was invested. James' hourly rate is pretty hefty as his time (as should yours) is quite valuable. Also, its likely that a huge increase in traffic would be coming his way as a result of winning the contest. James already receives well over 4,000 visitors a day and it could crank to 5+ figures a day as a CD Baby winner. Publicity generated from filing a suit with CD Baby could help make up for that traffic. Even if James didn't actually follow through with the suit, his time could be compensated for by tying up CD Baby's money, resources and manpower. This combined with the financial compensation (albeit small) could be punishment enough for them to change things. Also the lost extra traffic would be somewhat made up for by the additional publicity. At some point, the FTC would probably step into this on their own after catching wind of what's going on. Now let's cover some other aspects.
Personally, I'm not the "sue 'em" type, but in this case I would have to make an exception. You can't let people get away with blatant illegal tactics at your expense. This is something I would take personally, and if you have the resources, you can help prevent this from happening to others in the future. By punishing them for their shady actions, you may make the internet just a little "cleaner". Some people will keep cheating others as long as they feel like that they can get away with it.
If I were awarded the prize anyway, I would first have to determine on what basis I was awarded. Was I legitimately awarded because I sold the most, or are they merely trying to cover themselves? If they can show me that I won fair & square and that the 404's all worked out evenly among the matrix of competitors, thus actually showing a level playing field, I would not pursue any legal action. However, if they are simply trying to pacify me and can't or won't show justification, then I would certainly move forward. Why? Because winning in this way would simply take any dishonesty a step further. They would in effect be making me a part of their dishonest actions, and by accepting, I would be just as guilty as they are. A good reputation is priceless and not worth ruining over accepting a prize not deserved.
Personally, I'm convinced that James' integrity is of the highest caliber, and he will give them every chance to prove that no harm was ever intended before ever making any kind of rash moves. Whatever he decides to do, if anything, it will be the right thing, you can take that to the bank.