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Well we must have finally arrived!!!

On Friday, May 10, 2002, we received a letter from the law firm representing Runnersworld.com, indicating that they were threatening a lawsuit if we didn't stop violating US copyright law. They said we had illegally reproduced the "Peter Snell Interview" in its entirety on our  website.  Initially, we thought someone was playing a joke on us, but when we called the number and looked at the web-address, we soon realized it wasn't  a joke.  

However, we were mystified to what the lawyer was talking about as we never have reproduced a Runnersworld.com interview or any other copyrighted material for that matter on our website. We simply hyperlink and/or take quotes (and when we take a quote, we  indicate the source) from stories or interviews; a practice which constitutes "fair use" of copyrighted material.  It's little different than someone footnoting in a research paper.  

We then saw that someone had posted the entire Peter Snell Interview on our largely unmoderated message board, and so we assumed that's what the lawyer was referring to in terms of the copyright infringement. So we removed the reproduction of the interview on the message board as it was a clear violation of copyright. We also wrote them back a hilarious and somewhat sarcastic reply because we thought it was a bit overboard of them to hire a lawyer to ask us to remove something from our message boards. (All they had to do was send us an email notifying us of the violation and we would have removed it instead of hiring a lawyer). In our somewhat sarcastic reply, we threatened to counter sue Runnersworld.com for between $97,200 and $243,000 because a quick search of their own message boards revealed that they contain more than 45,500 words of our own copyrighted material reproduced on their message boards for  72 days and counting (in comparison, ours only contained approximately 900 words of their material and it was only up for one day).

We thought that would be the end of it as we figured we had removed what Runnersworld.com (oops we shouldn't even mention their name as they are now apparently claiming they can sue us for even writing the term runnersworld.com on our website - see below) was objecting to. However, that didn't end things as on Monday, May 13, 2002, we received a second letter from Runnersworld.com's lawyer indicating that the copyright infringement he was referring to was our direct link to the Peter Snell Interview on the Runnersworld website - not the message board reproduction.   This is utter nonsense.

Direct linking or "deep linking" (linking directly beyond the homepage to a specific article)  is something that Runnersworld.com does every day (there were more than 80 direct links on their web-site on Monday, May 13, 2002) and it is something that already been proven to be legal in a court case:
“Further, hyperlinking does not itself involve a violation of the Copyright Act (whatever it may do for other claims) since no copying is involved. The customer is automatically transferred to the particular genuine web page of the original author. There is no deception in what is happening. This is analogous to using a library's card index to get reference to particular items, albeit faster and more efficiently.”
-
from (Ticketmaster Corp., et al. v. Tickets.Com, Inc as summarzied at gigalaw.com
(Maybe we shouldn't have given you that above quote as we believe that runnersworld.com would argue that we just violated US copyright law)
(See our links below for more info on the legal precedent).  

Thus after spending the day doing our best legal research, we fired off another letter telling them how ironic we found it that they were threatening to sue us for something they themselves do and something that is clearly protected by the First Amendment.  Moreover, in the past, Runnersworld.com has at least on one occasion directly linked to a page on our site and one without any advertising (their lawyer made a big point that we stripped the interview of all its ads (which we didn't do), we just linked to the "Printer Friendly" version of the interview as we believed that hyperlink wouldn't change when it went to archives). A person would have to be a complete idiot to not understand that the interview was on their website and not ours.

Well rather than spend time trying to describe the back and forth between us and the Runnersworld.com lawyer, we urge you to read the letters that have been fired back and forth as we find them to be pretty hilarious and they do a much better job of describing things than we do here.  Maybe we should follow our mother's advice and go to law school as we think we did a pretty good job.

We're certainly not backing down. Look what is our quote of the day once again - a quote from The Peter Snell Interview.

God Bless The First Amendment.

(PS. If they don't back down this time, we might try to enlist "Public Citizen" to support us legally and in the press.  In the last month, the Dallas Morning News has threatened to sue Barkingdogs.org for deeplinking (yet while doing it itself), and the threatened lawsuit has garnered the pro-bono legal services of Public Citizen  (oops another direct link and we didn't ask if the page we are linking to contains the correct number of ads) for Barkingdogs and a lot of negative publicity for the Dallas Morning News.

The History:
Runnersworld.com vs. LetsRun.com

(the order of documents is: we received letter #1 on Friday via email. We then called their lawyer trying to figure out what the deal was and left a voicemail. We removed what we thought was the violation (a post on our message boards). Then figuring the issue was settled we were going to send Our Reply #1, when we received Leter #2 from then first.  Then, we sent our humorous #1 letter and letter  #2. So read the left side first below.

All of the Letters Sent Between Us and Runnersworld.com (in one html page)

Letter #1 From Runnersworld.com's lawyer
Friday, May 10th

LetsRun.com's Humorous Reply #1
Monday, May13th

Letter #2 From Runnersworld.com's lawyer
Monday, May13th midday

LetsRun.com's Reply #2
Late Monday May 13th

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