Monday, March 20, 2006

You Say Tomato, I Say Cease and Desist

Google may run into trouble for linking to other people's sites, arguably because Google is loaded and people hope that it will just pay them off, but what happens if a blogger is sued for linking to another site? Is that even possible?

Anything is possible these days as Neil Gaiman recieved a cease and desist letter from the people who put together the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes movies, asking him not to link to their site without permission. Inconceivable!

The letter he recieved mentions that his links to the Attack of the Killer Tomatoes website are in violation of the Lanham Act (15 USC 1051) and the Copyright Act (17 USC 101).

The letter assumes that Neil operates, a site "dedicated to the belief that the humble tomato fruit is in fact EVIL," with which he denies any connection, making this letter even more perplexing.

This may be nothing more than lawyers establishing a history of protecting a mark, as well as bad lawyering, but it strikes me as troublesome. Isn't the fair use defense for activity such as Neil's (linking to another site) straightforward enough that such claims can be avoided in the first place? This is a central topic of the paper I'm working on and I haven't found much to support this letter's claim.

Neils's thoughts about the lawyers at issue:
Are they perhaps surrealist lawyers, or cooler than that, Dada lawyers, who have decided to spread artistic confusion and mystery across the web with their "legal letters"?
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