The Popehat Signal: Help Needed For Threatened Fansite

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The Popehat Signal

It's time to put out the Popehat Signal on behalf of a threatened web site.

Today, I'm looking for pro bono help (or help at a modest rate) for the proprietor of a fansite for a band. The proprietor of the fansite has been running it for years, promoting the band and its appearances to its fans. Apparently the members of the band knew of this and were cool with it — until recently, when they hired new management, who used a Los Angeles area attorney to send a threatening cease-and-desist issue.

What band? Well, I'll give you a hint — it led to music that I hate. Okay, no seriously, a real hint: one of the members of the band has had trouble with drugs and alcohol and has had run-ins with law enforcement. OK, I can't give you hints.

Anyway, the fansite proprietor is in Boston and the threatening lawyer is in Los Angeles. It looks like a good IP matter with some fair use issues and some potentially interesting laches and waiver arguments. A good lawyer might be able to back the band's new management and new lawyer off.

If you are interested, leave a comment, or drop an email.

Thanks, as always, for those willing to stand up for free expression on the internet.

Edited to add: Attorney Paul Forsyth has stepped up to offer pro bono services to the threatened fansite. Thanks to our broken system, a chance of real justice in situations like these increasingly depends on the willingness of people like Paul to step up. Paul has my sincere thanks and admiration. It would still be great to find appropriate counsel in California and/or Massachusetts as well, in case the matter winds up in litigation.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

17 Comments

16 Comments

  1. mmrtnt  •  Oct 22, 2012 @3:26 pm

    Stuff like this makes me wish I was a real lawyer instead of just a bullshit artist.

  2. Kara  •  Oct 22, 2012 @3:43 pm

    I am not a lawyer and I have nothing to offer .. except to say thank you for being a place/people/site that does things like this. Many years ago I was screwed over by an unscrupulous business partner and a lawyer who knew a lawyer who knew another lawyer found someone to help me out with the understanding that "someday" I'd be able to pay them back – but I couldn't right now. It's folks like all of you who make this world a better place.

  3. Ray  •  Oct 22, 2012 @4:30 pm

    First off, it makes me feel about about the internet that you use it to do things like this.

    Second off, what kind of band goes ahead and sues someone who runs a FAN SITE. Some people make that argument with regards to suing people who download music, but I think it applies without any real qualifications here. I suppose I don't know all the facts, but the band better work pretty hard at keeping that under wraps, because I have to think it will make them look pretty terrible, and will likely have a huge chilling effect on their internet fanbase.

  4. TJIC  •  Oct 23, 2012 @7:18 am

    > Stuff like this makes me wish I was a real lawyer instead of just a bullshit artist.

    Artist?

    Wow, you're good.

    I'm just a bullshit amateur. #need_to_go_to_bullshit_art_school

  5. Al  •  Oct 23, 2012 @7:24 am

    Attention unamed band: Get out in front of this right now. Fire your current management then fly out to Boston and do a benefit gig with the people running the fansite backstage or doing some MC bits or something. Unless the fansite is some kind of front for puppy smuggling terrorists you are looking at a PR nightmare when this goes public.

  6. Josh M.  •  Oct 23, 2012 @7:31 am

    Oh, gods…This has "Streisand Effect" written all over it. I do hope it isn't a band I enjoy…I'll be most displeased if one of the bands I like is this f'ing dumb.

    And if it's not, then I'll be sitting over here with my popcorn.

    Oh, what the hell, who am I kidding? I'll be sitting over here with my popcorn no matter which band it is.

  7. andrews  •  Oct 23, 2012 @7:53 am

    Sounds like a missed opportunity for the band's LA lawyer to actually counsel their client to not do something stupid.

    Here in [state], the law school ranked the grads. Bottom of the class still passed the bar exam, and the "biglaw" jobs for them (foreclosure mills) could not absorb them all. Somewhere out here in my state, we have lawyers writing letters no less stupid than the one your fan site received.

    The question is "why?". Evidently there is no stupidity disqualifier, that if you do stupid stuff you can no longer be a big-shot LA lawyer. There is no such disqualifier in [state], either.

  8. Groovymarlin  •  Oct 23, 2012 @8:30 am

    Not a lawyer, don't even play one on TV, but dying of curiosity to know what band this is. I have a feeling we'll all find out sooner or later, if they don't wise up and advise their new management/attorney to back off!

  9. Backstabbed  •  Oct 23, 2012 @8:38 am

    Hello!
    I'm the owner of the site mentioned here. First, I want to thank Ken for doing this! This site is amazing and help like this is invaluable.

    I guess I can add a few extra comments. I don't want to give out the site information because the fans would be hurt greatly. The site gets at least 3 million unique visitors each month. There is no advertising on the site and nothing generating revenue. I run special projects that were assigned to me by the band and even right NOW I'm currently working on 3 separate projects for them. This came 100000% out of the blue. Absolutely nothing has happened recently to cause this except that they have new management. This has literally been a full time job and I have never been paid by them for anything, not even travel to a show that I was running an event at, EVER. I feel hurt beyond repair. I have direct contact with some of the band members, their management and staff but no one has answered or returned my calls with the exception of one of them who basically acted as though this was something that needed to be done. I would have completely understood if I had done something against them or posted something inappropriate but I have done nothing except to help them and engage the fans for well over 15 years.

  10. Dan Weber  •  Oct 23, 2012 @9:38 am

    If the guy is fan of the band, he probably doesn't want the band dragged (drug?) through the mud.

  11. mmrtnt  •  Oct 23, 2012 @10:24 am

    I'm just a bullshit amateur.

    Art is in the eye of the BS'er I guess…

  12. Art  •  Oct 23, 2012 @12:55 pm

    Count me among those insanely curious as to what band this was. I have a sinking feeling that I know who it is…

  13. Oomph  •  Oct 23, 2012 @1:30 pm

    Streisand Effect aside, what can the band (management) possibly gain by having a fan site shutdown? I could understand if it was a hate site, or perhaps if it was leaking albums before release etc. But really, why don't they try and make NME / Rolling Stone / 'Insert More Relevant Musical Publication Here' cease and desist from publishing reviews of their music while they are at?

  14. Backstabbed  •  Oct 23, 2012 @2:30 pm

    "Oomph", Yes, I agree! The site is FAR from a hate site and as a matter of fact we rally up fans to get them special awards, run large campaigns when there's a "viewers choice" type award, schedule large scale call-ins to radio stations when they're guests and a lot more. To be honest, I know any other fan sites that do the kinds of things that we do.

    "Art" I really doubt that you know who it is. But I'm curious to know who you think it is, LOL!

  15. AlphaCentauri  •  Oct 25, 2012 @3:34 pm
  16. Kelly  •  Oct 26, 2012 @7:59 am

    Is it wrong that I am getting popcorn and waiting impatiently to find out what band this is and *really* hoping it isn't one I like?

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