July 16, 1999
Around 6 months ago, someone from Universal Pictures wrote to me because I had some Universal trailers on my site that they held all the rights to, and they wanted them removed. I quickly looked over my server, found the Universal trailers that were kept there and removed them. I responded, saying that all the trailers that I was hosting had been removed and all that remained were links to other servers which I didn't run or have control over. I received no further replies.
On July 7th, I received the following...
July 7, 1999
Direct Dial: (818) 777-6287
Facsimile: (818) 866-2166
VIA FAX & MAIL (613) 733-8165
Mr. Jean-Pierre Bazinet
16 Rosegarden Cres.
Re: Unauthorized Use of Universal Property
Dear Mr. Bazinet:
You are well aware that Universal representatives have contacted you
before regarding your illegal activity. This matter has now been forwarded
to me for handling. Specifically, I am referring to your blatant display
and sale of trailers of Universal Pictures' ("Universal") motion picture
properties on your website (located at http://www.movie-list.com). Indeed,
you are displaying and selling so many of our properties that they are too
numerous to list them here; yet, rest assured, Universal has the exclusive
rights to said motion picture properties, and these rights include all of
the motion pictures' visual elements.
You are hereby put on notice that the unauthorized display, sale,
reproduction, marketing and/or distribution by you of original and/or copies
of Universal's trailers constitutes copyright infringement, and is in
violation of both state and federal laws concerning copyright protection,
unfair competition and dilution. Your conduct - for which there can be no
defense whatsoever - will likely subject you to liability for damages,
including statutory penalties (of up to $100,000 per infringement), in
addition to attorneys' fees and costs, and a disgorgement of profits from
Universal intends to protect its valuable rights in its motion pictures from
such violations to the full extent afforded by law and equity. In
accordance with that intent, we hereby demand that you immediately remove
all Universal trailers from your website, and that you cease and desist from
marketing, selling, or otherwise making available any CD-rom containing one
or more Universal trailers. If you require assistance in identifying which
properties belong to Universal, then we will be happy to provide that
Please provide written confirmation, no later than July 14, 1999, that you
will comply. If we do not hear from you within this time period, then we
will have no choice but to pursue the matter further to protect our rights.
Such action would include contacting your internet service provider, as your
Finally, please be advised that this letter is not intended to be a
complete statement of the facts or law concerning this matter, nor a waiver
of any of Universal's rights or remedies, whether at law or at equity, all
of which are expressly reserved.
Very truly yours,
Carolyn A. Hampton
I again, went to my server and looked for any Universal trailers I might be hosting, and quickly removed them. I then went through the trailers CD's, marking all the Universal trailers. I removed the titles from the CD's, the webpage listings and made it very clear on the main page (www.movie-list.com/trailercd.html) that no Universal trailers were on the CD-ROMs anymore.
I emailed and faxed back the following.
July 9, 1999
Re: Unauthorized Use Of Universal Property
All Universal trailers on the CD-ROMs have been removed. A full list of
which were removed follows.
All Universal trailer on the http://www.movie-list.com server have been
removed (Army Of Darkness, Babe, Babe: Pig In The City, Backdraft, Fear And
Loathing In Las Vegas and Jaws). All other trailers contained on the site,
are simply links to other servers (such as http://www.universal.com,
http://www.hollywood.com, and http://www.loewscineplex.com)
If you think there are any trailers that I have missed, or if there are any
other problems, please let me know.
As a sidenote: I do not see why Universal should have a problem with me
distributing unaltered promotional material for their movies, providing them
with free advertising and increased sales for their motion pictures. But I
fully intend to comply with any requests regarding legal issues.
Removed from CD-ROMs:
Babe: Pig In The City
Back To The Future (1, 2, 3)
Blues Brothers 2000
Bride Of Chucky
Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas
For Richer Or Poorer
Grace Of My Heart
Kissing A Fool
Kull The Conqueror
Leave It To Beaver
Lost World: Jurassic Park
Meet Joe Black
Mystery Science Theatre 3000
Out Of Sight
Scent Of A Woman
Trigger Effect, The
Village Of The Damned
So far, I don't believe anything strange has happened. I can see how Universal would not like their trailers being sold or hosted on another server. I complied and removed all trailers in both these cases.
The part that shocked me was the reply I received next...
As other Universal representatives previously explained to you, you are not
permitted to link to other sites that contain our copyrighted material
without our authorization. Not only is this activity another violation of
our intellectual property rights, it also violates your internet service
provider's terms of service. Accordingly, you must remove all images from
our films as well as links to other sites that have our trailers.
Thank you, in advance, for your prompt attention to this matter.
Very truly yours,
Carolyn A. Hampton
It seems to me, if my linking to another site requires Universal's authorization, then there are quite a few large internet sites and companies breaking this law on a daily basis...
> Mr. Bazinet:
> As other Universal representatives previously explained to you, you are not
> permitted to link to other sites that contain our copyrighted material
> without our authorization.
Other Universal representatives told me I could not host or sell copyrighted material.
Nobody ever mentioned linking to a site, that may have some of your material on it.
If this were illegal, all search engines (including yahoo.com and lycos.com)
would be violating the law everytime a search were conducted.
If this is truely illegal, send me the law stating this and all the links
will be removed.
> Not only is this activity another violation of
> our intellectual property rights, it also violates your internet service
> provider's terms of service. Accordingly, you must remove all images from
> our films as well as links to other sites that have our trailers.
My internet service provider forbids me from hosting illegal material. There
are NO Universal trailers on my server.
The images (captured from your trailers) will be removed.
Forgive me for sounding blunt, but these attempts to basically shutdown my
personal site seem VERY misplaced. I am not a business and I am causing
Universal NO harm. I am simply pointing users to places on the internet
where they can download completely legal movie trailers, released BY
Universal FOR Universal movies. There are hundreds of other sites, doing
the EXACT same thing and I am very certain, that they have received no
threatening letters, such as I have.
I thought maybe now I would receive a few answers. I thought I made some valid points...
You are simply not telling the truth. I have copies of all of the
correspondence sent to you. Moreover, I have neither the time nor the
obligation to send you copies of case law. Simplenet's terms of service are
sufficient and they expressly forbid the type of activity you are conducting
on your site. If you do not comply with our terms, then I will take up the
issue with simplenet.
I guess not.
July 19, 1999
Finally got an email from SimpleNet... only took them 6 days.
Dear SimpleNet Customer,
If you have received a formal complaint from Universal, we advise that
you comply IMMEDIATELY. If we receive a formal complaint from them, we will
have no choice but to suspend your site (per legal obligation). Rather
than have that unfortunate situation, please cooperate with them.
SimpleNet policies do state that copyrighted material is not permitted
on our accounts without the express authorization of the copyright holder.
In light of your contacting us first, we will not suspend your account at
this time. However, if we do receive a complaint from Universal, we will
have no choice. Thank you for your cooperation in this matter.
SimpleNet Abuse Review
Gee.. thanks for not suspending my site. The point was that there was no copyrighted material
on my site. It's all on other servers, who have the rights to use them.
I'm currently looking into other servers as well.
July 20 1999
I replied with the following:
The point of my letter, was that there was NO copyrighted material on my site.
All I do, is direct users to other sites that have 100% legal material (such
as www.hollywood.com) using links. The same way a search engine links to
different sites when you conduct a search.
Universal is saying that I am not allowed to link to any other servers that
contain their material, even though the servers have the rights to use them.
Again, I emphasize that, I have no copyrighted material on my account.
July 21, 1999
He replied:Mr. Bazinet,
You are not a registered search engine, therefore you cannot consider
yourself under the same guidelines. Universal HAS contacted us at this
time. The situation is now that you must abide WHATEVER Universal insists
upon. If not, we will have no choice but to suspend your site. We are
bound to do so legally. Please comply with them IMMEDIATELY. Thank you
for your cooperation in this matter.
SimpleNet Abuse Review
You have to register to be a search engine now? Funny... I haven't heard that one before.
July 22, 1999
I put up the message board:
July 23, 1999
Sent this to SimpleNet today:Please confirm receipt of this email.
I am removing all links to Universal movies as they requested.
I would also like a copy of anything they have sent you, for legal purposes.
If you could forward them to me, I would appreciate it.
The gutless babies sent me this:Dear Simplenet Customer,
We wish to inform at this time that if you require documentation of
Universal's correspondence with us, you will have to request that of
Universal. This mater is between you and them, our only involvement
would/could be to suspend and reactivate your account based on your
cooperation with them.
SimpleNet Abuse Review
Sent this to Universal today:> If you require assistance in identifying which
> properties belong to Universal, then we will be happy to provide that
I've removed all the Universal trailers I was able to find...
Please let me know if there are any more.
I am currently checking with lawyers as to whether or not you can copyright an Internet Link.
I'll be sure to let you know what they say.
Yours so very truly,
July 27, 1999
Getting some press... Wired.com features this article...Universal: Don't Link to Us
by Oscar S. Cisneros
3:00 a.m. 27.Jul.99.PDT
A Web site that aggregates links to movie trailers online has come under fire from a major movie studio that says the links infringe on its copyrights.
"Every time someone posts something on the Internet it's now for public viewing and most of the time I'm just pointing to the address," said Jean-Pierre Bazinet, owner of Movie-List. "I don't see how you can copyright or make restrictions on posting an address."
Bazinet, whose site features links to externally hosted movie trailers, received a letter from Universal Studios representatives asking him to cease linking to movie trailers on their Web servers.
"[Y]ou are not permitted to link to other sites that contain our copyrighted material without our authorization," the company wrote. "Accordingly, you must remove all images from our films as well as links to other sites that have our servers."
Movie-List's legal scuffling with Universal began almost six months ago when a Universal representative contacted Bazinet and asked him to quit using the movie studio's digitized movie previews. Bazinet had no objections and removed the trailers from his Web servers and CD-ROM collections.
"Then they contacted me and said I wasn't allowed to link to any of their servers containing the trailers -- that I don't understand," he said. "I'm basically sending a user to their servers."
Citing a policy against discussing legal matters in action, Universal declined to comment on the matter.
Legal experts did comment, however, saying the legal landscape surrounding deep linking, or hyperlinking deep into another's Web page, is fraught with unpaved ways.
"The question of deep linking is unsettled in the law right now," said David Hayes, chair of the intellectual property group at the law firm Fenwick & West.
Since no court has ruled on the issue, a guiding precedent has not been established to govern who has the right to link deep into the Web site of another person or company.
Some major Web-site owners contend that because they have a lot invested in their pages they should dictate who can and who can't link into their site. Others, however, contend that they have as much right to direct users to a specific Web page as they do to point out a billboard on the street.
"It's a pretty broad issue because, as you know, linking is ubiquitous on the Web," Hayes said.
Although there are no major court decisions on record, Hayes said a series of settlements in deep linking cases have established a trend. "They were settled by the defendant agreeing to link only to the main page," he said.
For example, when Ticketmaster sued Microsoft for deep linking from its Sidewalk.com site, the software giant eventually backed down. The parties settled out of court, with Microsoft agreeing not to deep link into Ticketmaster's site.
Ticketmaster's main complaint was that users hyperlinking deep into its site were missing several banner ads they would have seen if they had entered through the frontdoor, Hayes said.
"They felt they were getting harmed in their ad revenues -- they weren't getting as many eyeballs," he said. Microsoft, meanwhile, argued its links were a First Amendment right.
Legal experts were watching as Ticketmaster and Microsoft duked it out. Had the companies fought to the end, the decision in their trial might have cleared the fog surrounding the issue.
One expert watching the trial was Jeffery Kuester, an Internet law specialist who maintains his own law and technology resource page called KuesterLaw.
"The Web's not the Web if you can't link," he said. But where the line should be drawn between the right to link and the right to protect one's intellectual property is for the courts to decide, he added.
The trailer links on Movie-List technically point to other servers, but only the URLs mark the pages as studio content. Kuester says the average user is likely to be confused, because the trailers appear to be part of Movie-List's pages.
Both Kuester and Hayes agreed that while HTML originally facilitated deep linking from one scholar's footnote to the original academic source, people shouldn't abuse it.
"I think [Movie-Link's deep linking] does subvert the philosophy on which the Web was founded," Fenwick's Hayes said. He pointed out that although copy machines were designed to make copies, not all reproductions are legal.
Carolyn Hampton at Universal contacted me, by phone, saying that there has been some sort of misunderstanding and that they never intended to shut down the site.
They say, they have no problem with me having Universal movies on the site, but would like me to link to the webpage instead of the trailer itself when it is on a Universal server.
On other servers, such as hollywood.com and loewscineplex.com, she says, it is upto those servers to deal with.
She also has no problem with me having images from the trailers.
Some people chatting away about "deep linking" issues here...http://www.freerepublic.com/forum/a379dd6b855a3.htm
July 28, 1999
We're in french toohttp://www.zdnet.fr/cgi-bin/a_actu.pl?File_ini=a_actu.zd&ID=10263
August 12, 1999
'nother article... I like this one the best.http://www.salonmagazine.com/tech/col/rose/1999/08/12/deep_links/index.html