Fallout fansite threatened with lawsuit by Bethesda

Discussion in 'NMA News and Information' started by Brother None, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    Here's a PR shitstorm waiting to happen, as the free Fallout poster (hi-res image) site fallout-poster.com has been issued a C&D from Bethesda's legal firm.<blockquote>So far, so good. I made some free posters, set up a quick one-page site and leaned back to enjoy the fact that I was helping Fallout-fans around the globe.

    But suddenly, after a few weeks, I got an email: What’s this in my inbox? A legal letter from the global law firm DLA Piper on behalf of Bethesda?


    Now, I’m not out looking for trouble. I set up the website out of pure “fandom”, and the last thing I wanted – or expected – was to be threatened with a lawsuit by Bethesda. What pisses me off isn’t the fact that they’re looking out for their trademark – as they have every right to do so. What I’m pissed about are large companies abusing their monetary power, hiring global law firms to go after a fan online, immediately threating with a lawsuit.

    Had they had the slighest bit of PR-savyness, they would have shot me a quick personal mail asking me to remove the (supposed) infringing content – and preferrably sent me some nice Fallout-swag as a nice gesture (yes, I am that corrupt).

    But no, they had to bring DLA Piper into the picture. You know what? I’m tired of behaviour like that. I’m tired of intellectual rights holders – be it RIAA, MPAA or in this case Bethesda – going after little guys like myself and threatening them into obedience. Some people doesn’t have the intellectual capacity or money to fight their cause, so they just fold after receiving a letter like that. But just because you can’t afford to fight, doesn’t mean your oponent is right.</blockquote>This is - and should be - a bad PR move. But to be fair to Bethesda, people should understand that lawfirms like DLA Piper often function very independently from the main company and the PR branch of Bethesda. This is reminiscent of the "Scrolls" lawsuit, another one that I would judge was not "from Bethesda" as much as a lawfirm acting in their name. That said, this happening time and again should encourage Bethesda to put some tighter reins on their legal representatives.

    And, secondly, I should note NMA has never been so much as looked at askance by any legal representatives from Bethesda, and they seem perfectly content to let non-profit fansites operate. As such, I can't help but feel this is a mix-up that can easily be made right.

    Thanks Sam Ecorners.
  2. Kyuu

    Kyuu Insert Awesome Title Here

    Jul 19, 2007
    ... All that website is is a collection of high-resolution art (and some vector art) from Fallout posted on one page for easy reference. How the hell does that violate any form of copyright/intellectual-property law?
  3. .Pixote.

    .Pixote. Carbon Dated and Proud

    Sep 14, 2009
    There was no loss on Bethesda behalf (unlike torrent sites), fallout-poster.com should have simply ignored them. Sending a threating letter and proceeding to court are very different things.

    Checkout Piratebay's response to legal threats.

    Subject: Re: Illegal Dissemination of Apple Intellectual Property
    From: anakata
    To: [email]IRamage@OMM.com[/email]
    > April 21, 2005 
    > VIA EMAIL 
    > Fredrik Neij 
    > Registrant of [url]www.piratebay.org[/url] 
    > Re:      Apple Intellectual Property Disseminated by
    > [url]www.piratebay.org[/url] 
    > Dear Mr. Neij: 
    > We represent Apple Computer, Inc.  On or before April 21, 2005, the
    > site [url]www.piratebay.org[/url] was in the process of distributing and/or
    > facilitating the distribution of a misappropriated copy of an
    > unreleased version of Apple's operating system software, Tiger 10.4,
    > Build 8A428.  The software constitutes an Apple trade secret and is
    > copyrighted.  
    Awh, come on, I've heard the expression "a few bad apples", but this is
    just ridiculous.
    > Apple has a well-known, longstanding policy of closely guarding
    > information about its unreleased products as trade secrets.  
    I've heard that before somewhere. I just can't remember where...
    > We demand that you immediately disable the torrent and/or tracker and
    > prevent further distribution of Apple's trade secret and copyrighted
    > material.
    We demand that you provide us with entertainment by sending more legal
    threats. Please?
    > Apple further demands that you provide us with all information
    > relating to the posting of torrents enabling the distribution of Mac
    > OS X Tiger, Build 8A428, including all log files and tracker files
    > associated with such torrents.  Apple also demands all information
    > related to the identity of the persons who created such torrent files
    > and/or who uploaded the software referenced by those torrent files, as
    > well as the identities of all individuals who participated in the
    > uploading and downloading of Apple's software.  If you fail to
    > maintain the evidence of this illegal activity, you will be subject to
    > severe sanctions.  In particular, if you destroy or hide any evidence,
    > you will be subject to civil and criminal penalties.  Please produce
    > all requested information by the end of the day, Friday, April 22,
    > 2005. 
    Even if we had that information, which we don't, do you really think we
    would provide it to you? 
    > Builds of unreleased Apple software are distributed under strict
    > confidentiality agreements.  Your torrent site appears to be engaged
    > in a practice of soliciting and disseminating Apple trade secrets.
    > This practice is grounds for both civil and criminal liability.  To
    > avoid further liability, you must refrain from inducing the breach of
    > any Apple confidentiality agreements, soliciting Apple trade secrets,
    > and distributing Apple trade secrets on your site. 
    ...Or what? You and Hans Brix will send us angry letters? Fortunately
    for you, we don't keep sharks as pets. 
    > Apple is prepared to take further actions to stop the sites illegal
    > activities, and Apple expressly reserves its rights.  I am available
    > to discuss this matter at any time. If you are represented by counsel
    > in this matter, please provide me with the identity of that counsel. 
    Instead of simply recommending that you sodomize yourself with a
    retractable baton, let me recommend a specific model - the ASP 21". The
    previous lawyers tried to use a cheaper brand, but it broke during the
    > Sincerely, 
    > Ian Ramage
    > OMelveny & Myers LLP
    > Embarcadero Center West
    > 275 Battery Street, Suite 2600
    > (415) 984-8783 (direct)
    > (415) 984-8701 (fax)
    > [email]iramage@omm.com[/email]
    > This message and any attached documents contain information from the
    > law firm of OMelveny & Myers LLP that may be confidential and/or
    > privileged. If you are not the intended recipient, you may not read,
    > copy, distribute, or use this information. If you have received this
    > transmission in error, please notify the sender immediately by reply
    > e-mail and then delete this message.
    It's OK with you that we post this message on
    [url]http://static.thepiratebay.org/legal/[/url] ? Because I just did, and I'm so
    afraid of you and your nice titles and shiny offices :-(.
    I wonder if this will encourage people to start making obscene versions of the Vault Boy doing naughty things to his delicate region to spite Bethesda. Not that I'm encouraging a talented artist to make such a thing... :look:
  4. TommyGun

    TommyGun First time out of the vault

    Mar 28, 2012
    This is maybe not the best moment to ask but ... did anyone manage to download the poster art that was available on the site before it was removed?
    Thanks. :silenced:
  5. Huntman

    Huntman First time out of the vault

    Jun 15, 2010
    On Reddit, someone posted a link to an album with 6 of the posters. Imgur link.
  6. Lexx

    Lexx Testament to the ghoul lifespan
    Moderator Modder

    Apr 24, 2005
    Another reason why this is strange: Other guys like there or there are still operating and making money with selling stuff that is obviously very Fallout related.
  7. WorstUsernameEver

    WorstUsernameEver But best title ever!

    May 28, 2010
    That *is* incredibly weird. The action in itself would be heavy-handed but justified, but it's kind of baffling how they're targeting a non-profit website first. We don't know for sure that they didn't contact these two websites though, right?
  8. egalor

    egalor Look, Ma! Two Heads!

    Jun 20, 2007
    Working in the law firm / legal industry, I can say that no sane legal law firm would issue such threats _before_ receiving specific instructions from their client. Otherwise, this is simply unthinkable and could provoke an internal investigation at least.

    On the other hand, it might as well be that Bethesda gave carte blanche to their lawyers to threaten anybody whom they see fit. Again, however, this is not good on Bethesda's part.

    Nonetheless, I am loyal to Bethesda, and think they make great games.
  9. dukem

    dukem First time out of the vault

    Jun 23, 2003
    fallout is clearly in the wrong hands :(
  10. Izual

    Izual Pipe rifle & chopsticks

    Sep 18, 2009
    The guy nailed it. We're all tired of Bethesda's lawyers.
  11. Ravager69

    Ravager69 Sonny, I Watched the Vault Bein' Built!

    Dec 21, 2007
    Well sometimes those firms do operate like that. For example, I was suppose to start paying off my student's loan some time ago. Money was on the account (more than enough), the first rate was substracted by the bank as it should be. But a couple of days later I receive a letter from a bailiff company working for the bank saying that I haven't payed my first rate and if I don't pay it off, they will sue me or something similar. Of course it was an error on their side, but nonetheless the bank had no idea that such a paper was sent to me. They just let the company work independently - of course no one but the bank could make any real legal action, but lawyer\bailiff companies do like scaring people with court cases.
  12. Maxxim

    Maxxim First time out of the vault

    Apr 2, 2003
    The Piper at the Gates of… Legal Hell?
    (sorry, couldn't resist :)
  13. egalor

    egalor Look, Ma! Two Heads!

    Jun 20, 2007
    BTW, a very well known law firm, of topmost tier...
  14. Brother None

    Brother None This ghoul has seen it all
    Staff Member Admin Orderite

    Apr 3, 2003
    Haha, we posted about nuka-cola.eu like half a year ago? Bethesda never seemed that sue-happy, no.

    Different countries, different standards. I'm on the outside looking in, obviously, but this is by far not the first case I've seen in the videogame industry of a sue-happy lawfirm operating separately from the company's PR. It's even worse in Germany.
  15. Maxxim

    Maxxim First time out of the vault

    Apr 2, 2003
    egalor, yeah, I know. I looked them up on Wikipedia because I was curious whether DLA Piper was related to the investment banking firm Piper Jaffray whose analysts often comment on the video game market. Turned out they weren't.

    BTW, DLA Piper's global co-chairman is one Anthony Angel, which I think adds a new level of fun to the wordplay I posted above.