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GUEST COLUMN: How To Keep From Getting The Letter
As we learn new information about doing a sports site on the web we will pass it on to you.. We all know that some who put up a team page have been asked to cease and desist by either the team or the league. Once this happens it is hard to get information from the parties involved as they are usually under a gag order by either their attorney or the court not to talk about the case.
It also means that you cannot do a page anymore anywhere unless its on How to prepare Emu or some other non-sports related topic. We have tried to piece together information from what we have seen and what we can find out. Most of you are still doing a mirror site or other pages so we advise you to follow these guidelines or you may be getting a letter in the mail that is NOT going to make your day.
None of us knows where this is all going. I believe that includes the leagues and the teams. They have a real catch22 on thier hands. On one hand the Internet is a great way to build up fan support. On the other those same fans can blatantly rip off copyrighted material and ignore contractual agreements with merchandisers, media providers, and so on.
- Do Not use any combination of the league/team name or nickname as a registered domain name.
- Do Not call your page a team page. It doesn't matter what word you put with it, only the league, team, stadium or arena, or other agent appointed by the team or league can do a team page.
- Do Not use copyrighted material. (wtf note: this cannot be emphasized enough)
- Do Not put a disclaimer on your page saying in so many words that you are not affilated with the team/league. That is practically an admission of guilt on your part. There should be no doubt about who your page is not affilated with. Your basically saying that the reader may think you are an official site and you don't want to go there.
Look at it this way. If you ran a bar near the stadium, there is not a team in the country that wouldn't help you hold fan appreciation nights, pre and post game rallies, etc. If on the other hand you started calling yourself the Unofficial Sports bar for your team I don't think they would be very happy. If you Walk like a fan, talk like a fan, and write like a fan, we believe there will never be a problem.
Dick Holl 29 July 1997