Monday, September 02, 2002

baseball fans to cease and desist

For a while, I was happy that the baseball season didn't end prematurely with a strike. Then I had to go and read an article on the SportingNews site about cease and desist letters that went out from Major League Baseball to four fan web sites. From the article, it's impossible to tell if the sites were operating in a for-profit manner. But they do mention the following statement from the NFL which they seem to indicate ("the NFL takes a less agressive approach.") is a departure from the MLB practice:
"To the extent that it's purely a non-commercial site devoted to commentary about the team, we're supportive and happy that fans are excited about our sport," says Paula Guibault, NFL senior counsel. "It's not an issue for us."
So, what exactly went into those cease-and desist letters? Chilling Effects reproduces the letter that went out to the owner of The letter was sent in the beginning of July, and it looks as though a number of disclaimers may have been added to the page since then.

The effects of the MLB cease and desist letter to the web site are a bit more bitter sweet. The site has ceased publishing baseball related material rather than face off in a legal battle against the major leagues. Details of the letter, and the site administrator's reaction are still available on the site. On the positive side, the journalism student who ran the site has been called up to the big leagues himself, and is now writing stories about the Mets for Fox Sports (more here.) Big Baseball may not have read the email reactions from fans of the site, but it looks as though someone at Fox did.

Another letter recipient covering the New York Yankees reported in his site's forum that he had come to a resolution with MLB where he would change his domain name from to something else. The site has re-emerged at

The USA Today article, where I learned of the name change, indicates that letters went out to 22 fan sites. I understand the need to protect copyrights and trademarks, but it's getting awfully difficult for baseball fans to remain fans, especially ones who love the sport enough to build fan sites.

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