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Standard Web Affiliate Programs Illegal For Wine in California

The web’s near-ubiquitous affiliate programs, such as those offered by Amazon Associates, are illegal in California for wineries and retailers as well as bloggers and websites, according to information issued today by the state Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control.

The ABC’s opinion came as the result of a query made by Wine Industry Insight on August 13.

STANDARD AFFILIATE PROGRAMS OFFER A PERCENTAGE OF PURCHASE

Affiliate programs like Amazon Associates, are distinguished from standard advertising by offering the affiliate site a percentage of the purchases made by customers who arrive at the merchant side by clicking on a link or banner from the affiliate. Amazon, for example, offers affiliates up to 15% on purchases, although four to five percent is most common.

Anyone — blogger, web site owner etc. — can join Amazon’s affiliate system, and put a banner (or similar) advertisement on the site. Then, if a viewer clicks on the ad, goes to Amazon and buys a book (or any of the other items sold), the affiliate receives a small percentage of the sale.

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Also In This Article:

The full text of the following sections is available to VIP Premium Subscribers).

  • ABC TRADE ENFORCEMENT SAYS PROFIT SHARE IS ILLEGAL
  • INVESTIGATIONS NOT “MADE IN A VACUUM”
  • OPINION HOLDS FOR ALL CALIFORNIA ABC LICENSEES
  • CONSISTENT WITH JUNE 2009 OPINION


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Comments

9 Responses to Standard Web Affiliate Programs Illegal For Wine in California

  1. anonymous

    You fail to mention the biggest wine affiliate program out there: http://www.wine.com/promos/linkshare.asp
    It is also very laudable of you to single handedly get the ABC to issue further opinions that will constrain innovation in the wine industry.

  2. lperdue

    It’s not the question that poses the problem. But the answer. When dealing with the ABC, you might be better to ask for permission than for forgiveness.

  3. Does Amazon offer wine in this way? I’m not aware they do.

    On the larger topic of middleman sales I believe we’ve worked out a safe harbor solution consistent with the court ruling: charge the consumer or third party wine club member a fee for procurring the wines which they purchase directly at a discount.

  4. So does that mean affiliate programs like The Wine Spies, Wine Legacy and Wine-Searcher are now illegal?

  5. lperdue

    I am SO not the person to ask. Only the ABC can make the definitive determination.

  6. Well, there goes my dream of riches once Amazon Wine *finally* launches (whenever that might be – any news, Mr. Perdue?).

    Since the opinion itself is public information, courtesy of our taxes, can you provide a link or a copy?

  7. Is your response from CA ABC a clarification of
    http://www.abc.ca.gov/trade/Advisory-Third%20Party.pdf

    or a completely new advisory (which has yet to appear on their site)?

  8. lperdue

    A full copy is in Wine Industry Insight’s premium subscription section

  9. lperdue

    A specific clarification

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