LetsRun.com

www.LetsRun.com – 2700 Woodlands Village Blvd. Flagstaff, AZ 86001– [email protected]

May 14, 2002

 

To: ALLEN I. TULLAR - ATTORNEY AT LAW at GROSS, MCGINLEY, LABARRE & EATON, LLP

CC: Claudia Morf, Sr. V.P./CFO (**@rodale.com)

Amby Burfoot  (**@rodale.com)

Paul A. McGinley, Esquire (**@GMLE.COM)

 

RE:     Rodale Inc. - Unauthorized copying of Peter Snell Interview

 

Dear Mr. Tullar:

 

We are responding to the letter you wrote on Monday, May 13, 2002, concerning the above-referenced matter.

 

Let us correct a few errors in your most-recent letter. For some reason you fail to understand that we have not reproduced the runnersworld.com Peter Snell Interview on the LetsRun.com site.  You stated, “Contrary to your assertion, to the extent that the entire article was reproduced by letsrun.com, that republication hardly constitutes fair use.”  This statement is false because the Peter Snell Interview isn’t being reproduced by letsrun.com at all. We are simply linking to the Interview on Runnersworld.com’s website (http://www.runnersworld.com/home/0,1300,1-0-0-1963-1-0-P,00.html). It is not being reproduced on LetsRun.com as the above hyperlink attests.

Therefore your assertions that “clicking on the hyperlink fails to take viewers directly to Rodale's runnersworld.com website” and “Letsrun.com has not created a hyperlink to Rodale's runnersworld.com website” are false.  Clicking on the hyperlink does take one to the runnersworld.com web-site – it specifically takes them to the Peter Snell Interview on Runnersworld.com. More specifically, it takes them to the “Printer Friendly” version of the Peter Snell Interview.

 

Additionally, you also stated that the Peter Snell Interview we linked to “was stripped of all Rodale ads and navigational information and aids.”  If it was stripped of any ads or navigational information, it was stripped of them by Runnersworld.com not LetsRun.com.  Runnersworld.com decided that the “Printer Friendly” version of the Interview wouldn’t contain any ads. LetsRun.com didn’t make this decision.

 

You also even go as far as to say that our “use of the Rodale trademark runnersworld.com by letsrun.com is also infringing.” That’s utterly false.  We specifically used the trademark “runnersworld.com” so that no one would think the article came from us. Our use of the term “runnersworld.com” is the complete opposite of copyright infringement.  We are purposely using the trademark to show that the article was not written by us and is runnerworld.com’s work. We could remove the term runnersworld.com, but then you would probably be on our case for trying to pass the article off as our own.

 

We find it extremely ironic that you claim that our linking directly to an article or interview on another website, in this case runnersworld.com, is a violation of US Copyright law.  Runnersworld.com does exactly this on a daily basis (this practice is often referred to as “deep linking”).  As of 6:16 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on Monday, May 13th, 2002, the runnersworld.com daily news page (http://www.runnersworld.com/home/0,1300,1-0-0-ZNEWS,00.html) contains an entire section of “deep links” to other running stories.  The section entitled “Splits” currently links directly to 80 other articles (by our count, we may be off by one or two since there are so many) on other sites.  The links do not go to the front page. Moreover, after the links to these articles, runnerworld.com lists the trademarked name that is the source of each particular article (such as “Denver Post” and “Salt Lake Tribune”) in exactly the same fashion that we listed “runnersworld.com”.  Yet you claim that our use of the trademarked term “runnersworld.com” is a second violation.


Additionally, it has come to our attention that Runnersworld.com has at least on one occasion “deep linked” to a page on LetsRun.com in exactly the same fashion that we have “deep linked” to the Peter Snell Interview. On
August 2, 2001, our world championship prediction contest was featured as the “Daily Bookmark” on Runnersworld.com. The link on runnersworld.com took visitors directly to a specific page on our website, and a page that contained no advertising.  Yet this is exactly the same type of behavior when done by us is a supposed violation of copyright and trademark law (See Attachment 2 and http://www.runnersworld.com/dailynew/archives/2001/August/010802.html for evidence).


As Runnersworld.com recognizes, linking directly to another web-site’s article or interview is not a violation of copyright law. It’s unfortunate that you, their lawyer, do not recognize this fact.  The case: Ticketmaster Corp., et al. v. Tickets.Com, Inc. (U.S. District Court, Central District of Californiam, March 27, 2000) established as legal precedent that hyperlinking is not a copyright violation. The ruling in that case stated and I quote (from: http://www.gigalaw.com/library/ticketmaster-tickets-2000-03-27.html):

 

“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.”


We clearly are not violating US copyright law.  As a result, we don’t understand why we keep receiving letters from you threatening a lawsuit.  Perhaps, Runnerworld.com, with its superior financial resources is trying to unfairly intimidate an upstart competitor, who without any advertising is taking some of runnersworld.com’s marketshare.  You say that our actions constitute “unfair competition” which can’t be true as we don’t do anything that Runnersworld.com does not do itself.  The “unfair competition” is coming from Runnersworld.com threatening to sue us. 

 

If you truly are interested in protecting the copyright of runnersworld.com (which you should be) then we urge you to visit the following web-site:  www.mariusbakken.com. If you visit the site, you will see that this particular website reproduces copyright material in its entirety throughout its site.  In fact, the Peter Snell Interview is reproduced in its entirety on that site currently (see http://www.mariusbakken.com/cgi-bin/news/viewnews.cgi?newsid1021086912,59276). We know copyright infringement when we see it and hope your financial resources can put a stop to it when it legitimately occurs. 

 

We wish you luck in pursuing the above mentioned instance of copyright infringement but hope that you will stop harassing us as we are law abiding entrepreneurs. (We’re not sure why Runnersworld.com hasn’t notified you of the copyright infringement on  mariusbakken.com as they have featured it as their link of the day in the past and must be aware of the blatant copyright violations. Our only guess is they must not view www.mariusbakken.com as a threatening competitor and thus they don’t care. Perhaps, Runnersworld.com and Rodale, Inc only care to use their vast resources to squash upstart competitors.)

 

In conclusion, we are pretty much mystified as why we keep getting threatening letters from you on behalf of Runnersworld.com as we have never done anything that they themselves do not do.  Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the world-wide web where deep linking is done by thousands if not millions each and every day.  We will not stop deep linking to articles or interviews to runnersworld.com or any other site per your request.  Deep linking is clearly is protected “fair use” of copyrighted material as established by legal precedent and we are not willing to forsake this first amendment right.

 

In the last month, The Dallas Morning News has threatened to sue a site, barkingdogs.org, for deep linking to its articles. The threat has received much attention in the press because it, much like your own threat of a lawsuit, goes against the very nature of the world wide web.  The web is a world wide web of links, not a world wide straight line to a homepage, and legal precedent and Runnersworld.com’s own website support deep linking. 

 

Public Citizen, the Ralph Nader, public advocacy group has agreed to provide pro-bono the legal services for Barkingdogs.org should The Dallas Morning News actually file a lawsuit.  But no one actually anticipates a lawsuit, since the DallasNews.com (The Dallas Morning News’ web-site) is apparently just trying to intimidate another website. The threat by The Dallas Morning News has garnered coverage in the NYTimes (http://www.nytimes.com/2002/05/06/technology/06WEB.html), AbcNews.com (http://abcnews.go.com/sections/business/DailyNews/links020513.html), Wired.com (http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,52213-1-13,00.html), and Dotcomscoop.com (http://www.dotcomscoop.com/050202.html#belo) among others.

 

(Maybe you shouldn’t read those links because if we understand your argument correctly, we are violating copyright by providing the above links above to you.) 

 

We urge you to read the letters from Public Citizen to the Dallas Morning News’ lawyers: http://www.barkingdogs.org/News_Features/May2002/05092002_citizen/05092002_citizen.shtml explaining the legal precedent on Barkingdogs.org side.

 

If you do not agree with this letter, then we urge someone from Runnersworld.com to call us as it’s much easier (and less expensive) to solve things without involving lawyers.  Tell Amby Burfoot to call us as we’ve gotten along with him great in the past. Our phone # is 928-***-****.  If not, we’re looking forward to getting Public Citizen behind our cause.

 

Sincerely yours,

 

Robert and Weldon Johnosn
LetsRun.com

 

PS. In follow up to the earlier letter we sent you, please not we have found another instance where copyrighted letsrun.com material has been posted on the runnersworld.com message boards without our permission. An article from our April Fools edition has been illegally posted on the Runnersworld.com message board. It can be found at:

http://rwforums.rodale.com/thread.jsp?forum=4&thread=38773&message=296996  

 

 


Attachment 1
Examples of Runnersworld.com directly linking to other websites’ copyrighted articles.
 
(The examples below were copied from the runnersworld.com website verbatim for demonstrative purposes)
From: http://www.runnersworld.com/home/0,1300,1-0-0-ZNEWS,00.html at 6:16 p.m. Eastern Standard Time on May 13, 2002.

 

Splits

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In this section, we provide links to recent English-language stories about running or athletics/track & field that have appeared in newspapers around the globe. You may want to refer to these links for additional information on subjects of particular interest; you'll also find occasional articles from RW Daily contributors.

Some papers require registration for free access to articles.


Diary of a race director (Star Tribune)

Goucher steps back to get ahead (Denver Post)

The art of race directing (Star Tribune)

The highs and lows of race directing (Star Tribune)

Slovenia switch puts Ottey out of Manchester running (Sydney Morning Herald)

Ndereba aims to better 5-K best in Japan (AFP)

London Marathon drug tests all negative (AP)

Reagan's title slips away (Austin American Statesman)

Neither rain, nor cold, nor wind can stop Ed Rousseau (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

Marathon and Beyond: In magazine business for the long run (Champaign News-Gazette)

DC area race results (Washington Post)

Thousands join Race for the Cure (Star Tribune)

Koch, Sons top field in Race for the Cure (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

Twin Cities Marathon fills in 13 days (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

Mogaca's first River Run victory makes it six in a row for Kenyans (Grand Rapids Press)

Local runner proves she's more than just mom (Grand Rapids Press)

Wanjiku warms up to women's River Run title (Grand Rapids Press)

Better late than never for some late rising runners (Grand Rapids Press)

Competition gets tougher every year (Grand Rapids Press)

How Cashman's idea has blossomed into River Run (Grand Rapids Press)

25 years, 25 memories of River Bank Run (Grand Rapids Press)

Campbell's anger at appearance pay cut (Independent)

Toss javelin into her schedule (Boston Globe)

Old story is being relived in British athletics (London Times)

Odlaug regains speed (Chicago Tribune)

Victor takes easy 3,200 (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Stars and fans harder to find after heyday of Hayward Field (Eugene Register Guard)

Oregon must showcase its athletes (Eugene Register Guard)

Lowe takes pole vault to new heights (Salt Lake Tribune)

Zeigle's 1,600 title fits Miner plan (Salt Lake Tribune)

Record gone, but not fiancee (Salt Lake Tribune)

Modesto Relays icon Moore dies (San Francisco Chronicle)

Cheyenne Mountain tops in high jump, 1,600 (Colorado Springs Gazette)

Doherty leads meet as athletes prepare for state (Colorado Springs Gazette)

Robinson bags state record (Seattle Times)

Haag has kick in decathlon (Boston Herald)

Komen race inspires many to participate (St. Paul Pioneer Press)

Master of the great leap forward (London Sunday Independent)

Wild wind doesn't stop state's fleetest of feet (Austin American-Statesman)

Hutto sprinter captures gold, silver (Austin American-Statesman)

Britton was father figure, coach (Austin American-Statesman)

Greene looks to history books (BBC)

Crawford has world in sight (BBC)

Donaldson legs it out (Boston Globe)

Westford runs over record (Boston Globe)

Strong 200 field highlights Twilight (Eugene Register Guard)

Ducks, Pappas ready for multi-event meet (Eugene Register Guard)

Oakridge picks up two wins on first day (Eugene Register Guard)

She keeps running a record pace (LA Times)

Under Vigil's watch, Drossin delivers (Denver Post)

Johnson wins in Japan, breaks 5-K record (The Age)

Stanton out to pass fitness test and Miller (Sydney Morning Herald)

Skyline sprinter is off to very fast finish (San Francisco Chronicle)

Athletes, fans honor Moore's memory (San Francisco Chronicle)

Johnson takes "so-so" hurdles effort in stride (San Francisco Chronicle)

Four Buffs post NCAA marks (Boulder Daily Camera)

Colorado regional HS results (Boulder Daily Camera)

Odds slashed as marathon man enters race against horses (Ananova)

Phoenix man running coast to coast (Daily Press)

Tomlinson links up with Edwards (BBC)

Judge gets 3A title behind Smythe's four wins (Salt Lake Tribune)

CCAA championship results (San Diego Union-Tribune)

World class runners prepare for Fifth Third River Bank Run (Detroit News)

As leaders falter Halferty steps up for 10-K win (Wichita Eagle)

Cram's vision must reverse lack of motivation (London Daily Telegraph)

Slovenia switch puts Ottey out of Manchester running (Sydney Morning Herald)

Cardiff hosts Games warm-up (BBC)

Greene looks to history books (BBC)

Crawford has world in sight (BBC)

Master of the great leap forward (Independent, London)

Old story is being relived in British athletics (The Times, London)

Johnson wins in Japan, breaks 5000 record (The Age, Melbourne)

Stanton out to pass fitness test and Miller (Sydney Morning Herald)

Benita's Osaka sizzler (Herald Sun, Melbourne)

Willis claims 5000 mark (West Australian, Perth)

Cram's vision must reverse lack of motivation, by Sebastian Coe (Telegraph, London)

McConnell beats illness to take title (The Times, London)

Tomlinson links up with Edwards (BBC)

Debate near finish line runs two directions (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Murofushi's bid for three-peat fails (Japan Times)

Kosgei surprised all (East African Standard, Nairobi)

 


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Attachment 2
Examples Of Runnersworld.com directly linking to LetsRun.com

Copied verbatim for example purposes.
From: http://www.runnersworld.com/dailynew/archives/2001/August/010802.html

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