The easiest way to make money on the web is by signing up as an affiliate for Amazon.com and/or Google (Disclaimer: I have both). Although most affiliates achieve only small and occasional income, it is possible to earn significant amounts. With Amazon, you can create your own specialist online store and make it a viable business.
If there is anyone in North Carolina in that position, they have woken up to a nasty headache. Amazon has sent out emails telling them:
We are writing from the Amazon Associates Program to notify you that your Associates account has been closed as of June 26, 2009. This is a direct result of the unconstitutional tax collection scheme expected to be passed any day now by the North Carolina state legislature (the General Assembly) and signed by the governor. As a result, we will no longer pay any referral fees for customers referred to Amazon.com or Endless.com after June 26. We were forced to take this unfortunate action in anticipation of actual enactment because of uncertainties surrounding the legislation’s effective date.
Affiliate James Barrett remarks:
This is absurd! No Legislation has passed and been signed nor does it appear it will … The lack of notice on this so associates could take action shows me Amazon has no respect for those sites it has been getting low cost referrals from.
My knowledge of North Carolina politics is limited; but what interests me is what this says about the Internet economy. A few giants dominate; they can afford to do without your business and you have little recourse if one day they change their terms to your disadvantage, or as in this case, cut you off completely.
The issue of how to tax online stores is important, of course, and I suspect Amazon’s move is part of a strategy to oppose taxes which will impede its business – but implemented, apparently, with scant regard for its affiliate partners.