Join Date: May 2004
Blogging:Da Good, Da Bad, and DeMeco
from Lionel Hutz blog
If you glance to your right, you will notice that the disclaimer once buried near the bottom of the right hand column has been moved up. "Why is that," you are likely thinking. And the answer would be "because I am a nice guy."
Hold on. Let me back up a few days and fill you in. Because, you see, there have been some rather strange and unexpected goings on in the land of DGDB&D over the past three days.
Sunday morning, I plopped down on the couch to map out my fantasy football draft strategy and check email. Which is to say, it was shaping up to be a pretty typical Sunday.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I opened Gmail to find a letter from DeMeco Ryans' lawyer. According to Mr. Lawyer, my use of DeMeco's first name in the title of this blog presented some possible legal and marketing problems for DeMeco. Lawyer then said they would "greatly appreciate" it if I would remove the name.
I was puzzled. Granted, I didn't pay much attention in law school--OK, I didn't pay ANY attention in law school--but I was pretty confident that I was doing nothing wrong. I replied to the barrister, thanking him for a very polite email (his approach was much better than a boilerplate cease-and-desist letter) and asking him to explain what the problem was. I also mentioned that, while I was pretty sure I wasn't doing anything other than exercising some free speech, I was totally willing to work with him and his client (including changing the name) if we could reach some sort of mutually beneficial agreement.
The law-talkin' guy replied, still in a pretty gracious manner. He said that owners of intellectual property have a right to police "the marketplace" in order to prevent loss of income or marketing viability resulting from unauthorized use, that DeMeco's marketing agreements require him to be pro-active in making sure people aren't illegally using him or his image, and that my use could potentially expose DeMeco to lawsuits through no fault of his own. (I had also asked in my previous email if DeMeco was aware of the site and the attorney assured me that he was. Which means DeMeco might be reading this. Email me, dude.)
Anyway, there are some nuggets of truth to what he was saying. In a vacuum, at least. As they applied to my situation, however, this explanation fell a little short. So, another email from me to him. I asked him to point to me where anyone has intellectual property rights in his or her first name, especially as that would apply to a non-commercial blog. (The non-commercial aspect is the key to this whole exchange, really.) Also, because he had mentioned in his previous email that DeMeco was cognizant of the importance of fans and free speech, I suggested that asking a fan to abridge his free speech rights seemed contradictory.
The attorney again replied. He "explained" that DeMeco has common law and statutory rights in his name and substantial rights of publicity. He also said that, insofar as free speech goes, they have no issue whatsoever with me (or anyone) discussing DeMeco's play in the blog; they were merely concerned that his name in the title of the blog could lead someone to think Ryans supported everything that was said here. (Author's note: I want to meet someone that clueless. That's how millionaires are made.)
I proposed the following exchange: I would shorten the name of the blog to the acronym "DGDB&D" in the header, the page title, and by email to anyone who links here. In return, DeMeco would make a donation to the Houston Chapter of Stand Up For Kids. (They get homeless and at-risk children off the street.) Also, if DeMeco was interested, I'd like to do a phone interview. I figured this charitable donation was in keeping with the whole Ahman Green-Jason Simmons thing and would be good press for the team and DeMeco (and, yes, me). Conversely, I offered to move the disclaimer up on the page so that it was more prominent, but stipulated that I would be keeping the name if I did that.
Lawyerman replied the next day (yesterday) and told me he would run it by his client.
Today, I get an email at 7:14 CST. They had chosen the latter option and would be placated if I moved the disclaimer up. So long as I kept it non-commercial. He also said that they would suggest the charity to DeMeco's foundation at some point in the future. Which brings us to where we are right now.
Last edited by Wolf; 08-09-2007 at 08:16 PM.