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Censorship Entertainment Games

Nintendo Threatens Suicidegirls Over IP Use 845

Posted by Zonk
from the my-personal-preferences-should-not-threaten-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Suicidegirls (a not safe for work adult community) posted a nasty letter they received from Nintendo demanding they remove a member's page on their site because the member listed Metroid and Zelda as their favorite video games." Update: 10/28 02:49 GMT by Z : BoingBoing has an update to the story (probably where the reader saw it in the first place), saying the law firm that represents Nintendo Seattle is looking into it.
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Nintendo Threatens Suicidegirls Over IP Use

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:36PM (#10647760)
    And that made sort of mis... wait, girls? BOOBIES!!!! This may be the first Slashdot article I ever follow the links on.
    • by ArbitraryConstant (763964) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:49PM (#10647913) Homepage
      No chance of intelligent conversation in this thread. At all.
    • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:07PM (#10648100) Journal
      Coincidentally, they advertise on the front page of /. In "MarketPlace Links" on the right.
      SuicideGirls

      The online Men's Magazine for Geeks.

      What suicide has to do with geeks, I don't know. Perhaps it's what the girls do after dating one?
    • by Simonetta (207550) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:11PM (#10648133)
      I attended a booksigning for the new hardcover coffee table book of the Suicide Girls portraits about a month ago at Powell's City of Books in Portland Oregon.

      It was different than I thought it would be. The Suicide Girls concept actually is not porn-oriented. The young woman who developed the idea and took the original photos said that she wanted to capture the unique spirit of the women that she knew and hung out with in Southeast Portland. The Suicide Girls concept is about sharing the self-actualization of women in Portland's post-punk subculture. Suicide Girls was developed to be a celbration of attitude of young women rather than specifically providing a visual stimulation for male sexual climax.

      The Suicide Girls website is primarily designed to provide a place for other women who share the same lifestyle throughout the world to find each other. It's not intended to be a porn site although it has the secondary effect of invoking male sexual arousal. It does that rather well and that goes a long way to pay the overhead costs, but it is not the site's main purpose.

      That's what gives the Suicide Girl photos the ambience that they are mocking male sexuality as opposed to the standard porn approach of manipulating male sexuality for profit.

      Many of the original models attended the event since the website started here in Portland and they live here. Talking to them afterwards they seemed just like ordinary people, not porn stars.

      As for the 'ownership' of the name, the author said that it just "came from an old song".

      Nintendo should just lighten up and forget this nonsense. I suspect that the name probably originated somewhere else because a Japanese Nerd video game giant corporation would not be likely to come up with a name like this. Personally, I suspect that William Burroughs thought it up, and a search of his novels from the 1950s and 1960s would find it as a casual reference.

      No, I am not a 'Suicide Girl' myself.
      • I'm with you here..

        I've met a couple of the suicide girls here in Portland, nice people, very real. The only way I knew that I'd met them was a willy week article that pointed out where they worked (??!!). Never been to the site, my relationships forbids, but I can't see what nintendo would possibly have against a free bump from presumably attractive women.

        After all, it seems like advertisings age old adage is, 'SEX SELLS'. IIRC correctly, if you enter the right code in metroid, you end up playing as
        • by identity0 (77976) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @09:44PM (#10649288) Journal
          The Suicide Girls concept is about sharing the self-actualization of women in Portland's post-punk subculture.
          ....
          I've met a couple of the suicide girls here in Portland, nice people, very real.

          ... and people wonder why I want to move back to Portland? Between this, microbrews, Open Source Dev. Lab and medical marijuana, what more could I ask for?

          Aside from sunlight, I mean.

          Hawt, pale, sun-deprived punk-goth chicks of Portland, watch out! I'm coming to the Promised Land!
      • by Average_Joe_Sixpack (534373) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:46PM (#10648470)
        Suicide Girls was developed to be a celbration of attitude of young women rather than specifically providing a visual stimulation for male sexual climax.

        You do realize most of us lost our "virginity" to the women's underwear section of a Sears catalog.
      • I know this is completely off topic from your well-made points, but it makes me wonder: What defines pornography as pornography? When does something stop being "art" (And I just KNOW I'm going to get flak for that, hence the quotation marks) and become porn?

        Theoretically, nearly anything may be used, by someone, to cause sexual arrousal. However, the main point, the main design may not be for that purpose. But then that begs a few questions. What if two people create an image of two people having sex. The
      • by Drakonian (518722) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @08:01PM (#10648597) Homepage
        The Suicide Girls concept is about sharing the self-actualization of women in Portland's post-punk subculture.

        John Katz? Is that you?

      • by Riktov (632) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @08:28PM (#10648806) Journal

        As for the 'ownership' of the name, the author said that it just "came from an old song".

        Nintendo should just lighten up and forget this nonsense. I suspect that the name probably originated somewhere else because a Japanese Nerd video game giant corporation would not be likely to come up with a name like this. Personally, I suspect that William Burroughs thought it up, and a search of his novels from the 1950s and 1960s would find it as a casual reference.

        The dispute is over the use of "Metroid" and "Zelda". OK, you don't have to RTFA, but at least RTF...Slashdot summary!

      • by hai.uchida (814492) <hai.uchida@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @09:15PM (#10649107)
        The Suicide Girls website is primarily designed to provide a place for other women who share the same lifestyle throughout the world to find each other. It's not intended to be a porn site although it has the secondary effect of invoking male sexual arousal. It does that rather well and that goes a long way to pay the overhead costs, but it is not the site's main purpose.

        I call bullshit. Worse, pretentious bullshit. If they weren't intending to profit from arousing men then they wouldn't be charging for access. It's a straight up porn site, one that found a smart niche-- pictures of "alternative girls" for the guys with weirder tastes (like punk or goth.) Perhaps it makes the models feel better about what they're doing to say they're "empowering" themselves or whatever, but in the end they're taking their clothes off for money.

  • Oops (Score:5, Funny)

    by cuteseal (794590) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:37PM (#10647778) Homepage
    I wonder how many members they "lost" over the incident... :)
  • by iocat (572367) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:37PM (#10647780) Homepage Journal
    Just how did anyone at Nintendo discover this? A little non-work-safe surfing?
  • To Insane Levels (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Norg (824853) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:38PM (#10647789) Homepage
    Honestly, companies have become so overprotective of their intellectual property. We can blame a whole host of things, downoading, overzealous lawsuits against consumers that solve nothing, disregard for the work of others, discrepancies betwixt creators and distributors. It's becoming increasingly ridiculous. I have no doubt that this threat will be met head-on and demolished for the sham that it is. Having received such letters in the past, the bark is truly worse than the bite.
    • by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:43PM (#10647841) Homepage Journal
      What I want to know is exactly how their argument is going to go.

      Nintenlawyer: "Your honor, the defendants like our games enough to tell that fact to other people."

      Da Judge: Um, ok. I hope you have a point somewhere around here.

      Jaysyn
  • Is that legal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ebooher (187230) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:38PM (#10647794) Homepage Journal

    It seems to me, that a trademark infringement like creating a new game with Link and Zelda or Samus Arun in it is very obviously a legal event waiting to happen. But simply stating "Hey, I love playing Zelda" ... That can't possibly be an event Nintendo would win in anything other than "We have enough money to out lawyer you into the poor house"

    Right?

  • by djblair (464047) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:38PM (#10647797)
    Their membership is gonna increase 1000% once Slashdot geeks get a look at these girls!

    (I'm a member and love the site!)
    http://suicidegirls.com/members/djblair/

    -DJ
    • by Fnkmaster (89084) * on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:17PM (#10648190)
      I don't really get it. SG advertises on Slashdot. I've been to the site a few times, but I'm not into uber-goth looking chicks. The site is cool, I kinda like the concept, but these girls don't do it for me, and there is zero diversity - they all look alike, as another reply points out.

      Is everybody on /. into this sort of look? What is with the strange association between geek news site and goth chicks? I don't get it. I'm all for slightly funky girls with some spice, but I also like a bit of class, somebody I can take out to a nice restaurant with and not get thrown out on the street. You know, not the first psychological wreck of a pincushion that comes my way.
  • by BenSpinSpace (683543) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:39PM (#10647802)
    Microsoft learned this the hard way thanks to a certain Mike Rowe's Software company.

    I am not quite sure what the Nintendo executives think they're doing, but a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of 1% of people would have been offended by a couple of this Suicide Girls' favorite games being "Zelda" and "Mario." And yet, they expect far, far more people to buy their new Nintendo portable system. I was just thinking today about how much I wanted this new system... but this unnecessary anal retentive actions has given me a sour taste in my mouth, if only for its blatant stupidity.
    • by calethix (537786) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:04PM (#10648065) Homepage
      Perhaps they're concerned that some young kid googling for web sites about Zelda and Mario will come across a link to suicidegirls.com. That wouldn't do a whole lot for their family image.

      From the content of the letter
      " It has come to our client's attention recently that you are using the Nintendo trademark(s)/works in the hidden text/visible text/meta tags and/or title and/or links of the above-referenced sexually explicit Web site."
      it sounds like that's the case.

      They certainly can't forbid people from listing one of their games as being their favorite though. I would hope that somebody at the law firm or Nintdeno would look at the real issue here and retract their little infringement letter.
    • It is not Nintendo executives. It is a law firm that Nintendo hired to protect its property rights. Dollars to doughnuts Nintendo apologizes and fires the fuck out of somebody.

      It is like when I worked for the MCI High Toll Department. Sometimes someone doesn't do all the research and blocks the Pentagon from making long distance calls.
  • by pla (258480) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:41PM (#10647826) Journal
    SG has had a bad rep for years over aggressively "protecting" their IP.

    Should we all cry foul because a far, far bigger company has decided to pull the same sort of stunt SG has pulled dozens of times?

    I think not.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:46PM (#10647878)
      The difference being that people were taking SG images and content, claiming them as their own or using them in their own ways without crediting Suicidegirls and violating copyright and trademark laws.

      This is just a few members saying "Hey, we like nintendo."

      I enjoy a cool, crisp Coca-Cola. Think they're gonna sue me for saying so? Even on a porn site?
    • by zangdesign (462534) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:48PM (#10647903) Journal
      So, by your reasoning we only protect those who have done only right? What do we do those who have been sent to prison and released for serving their time - let them rot in there? Pretty harsh judgement.

      Another question: was SG justified in protecting their own interests? If it was a copyright infringement situation, then they were within the bounds of the law - whether you like it or not.

      Two wrongs do not make a right.
    • by erikharrison (633719) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:08PM (#10648109)
      What the hell are you talking about? I do not ask lightly.

      Here is a story.

      I photograph flowers for a living. Have a website devoted to it. Have photographed some exotic flowers over the years, and I charge to let botonists see my collection.

      Someone takes those photos and pretends they made them. Makes them publically available. I take legal action, as this hurts my legitimate business.

      A third party happens to mention on my site that a set of specific varieties of daisies prefer a specific fertilizer. Then I get a nasty letter from the fertilizer company for mentioning their product.

      Under your reasoning I'm supposed to be like 'Fuck, my fault for aggresively pursuing those who were ruining my business"?

      Unless you are anti IP across the board (which I doubt) this position makes no sense.

      Additionally I'd like to defend SG a bit by saying that aggresive protection of their photos is completely reasonable. Your average hard core porn site probably does not have a personal relationship with their models, nor is their much expectation of trust. Spreading their work is a legal issue only.

      But Missy knows many of her models personally. They've posed under conditions where they have creative control over how they look and who sees them. Missy has every right to aggresively protect the spread of naked pictures of her friends for god's sake. SG has nothing but a good reputation in the indie adult community, and it is for exactly this kind of "aggresive protection" that they deserve it. I would expect nothing less from Missy, from Eolake Stobblehouse (of domai.com) or Alex Firestone (firegirls.com).

      Honestly, I imagine that Nintendo doesn't want to be associated with, say, child porn, drugs, etc, and runs a webcrawler that matches the use of certain terms ("Mario") with other terms ("boobs") and then emails the admin when it matches This is pretty clear from the email that at best, SG was only looked at by a human eye for about 30 seconds.
  • by Trurl's Machine (651488) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:44PM (#10647854) Journal
    I'm currently reading guide to dumbest events in television history [atomicbooks.com] by David Hofstede and there's an excellent chapter on how NBC tried to sue David Letterman after his "defection" to CBS claiming that there is intellectual property owned by NBC in Letterman's "Stupid Pet Tricks". After a lot of ridicule and mockery, even from their very own Jay Leno, NBC finally backed off. I wish Nintendo could be at least that smart...
  • by Nicholas Evans (731773) <OwlManAtt@gmail.com> on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:44PM (#10647859) Homepage
    IDENTIFIED PROBLEM: Pornographic Web site uses Nintendo in link, text, source code, Zelda and Metroid in text

    But it isn't a problem when playboy uses (nude) nintendo characters?

  • Really Nintendo? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FroBugg (24957) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:46PM (#10647884) Homepage
    The email came from StopInfringement@PerkinsCoie.com.

    Does that look like the email address a multinational corporation would use? Nintendo's sure to have their own in-house lawyers for stuff like this. It just looks to me like some random law firm is looking for suits to file and then hoping Nintendo will pay them for the favor. I'm sure I heard something about laws in certain European countries making this common practice.
    • Re:Really Nintendo? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Galvatron (115029) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:25PM (#10648273)
      It may be common practice in Europe, but my understanding is that the laws here are a bit different. Anyway, the email states "We represent Nintendo of America, Inc.," and it would surely be illegal to say that if it were not true. Most likely Nintendo just contracts out the dull "search for 'Nintendo' on Google and intimidate every questionable site that comes up" job to a firm that specializes in that sort of thing.

      Virtually all the absurd C&D letters I've seen on the web have come from firms representing the company that actually owns the intellectual property in question.

    • Yes, (Score:5, Informative)

      by pavon (30274) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:35PM (#10648384)
      Perkins Coie is one of Seattle's oldest firms, established in 1912. As I mentioned in an early post, they have been doing this sort of thing [wired.com] for Nintendo since at least 2001. Google searches show that several high level employees including a senior vice president, and Head Legal Counsel have had jobs at both companies. I doubt that Nintendo had direct knowledge of this suit, but Perkins Coie is definately working for them.
  • Nice excuse (Score:5, Funny)

    by Zebedeu (739988) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:47PM (#10647898)
    At Nintendo:
    [Boss walks into a worker's cubicle...]
    -Hi anderson, I was just.. whhaa?!? Are you browsing porn in the workplace?
    -Uhh no, you see, [looks at screen, sweating all over] these pervert weirdoes are abusing our company's copyright!
    -You're right! Launch every lawyer! For great justice!
  • by taernim (557097) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:48PM (#10647906) Homepage
    Are we even talking about IP, here?

    What gives Nintendo the right to censor the mere mention of something? They weren't discussing any secrets of IP or using the namesakes or images illegally... their member simply named two games as their favorite.

    How is it even conceivable that they should be allowed to do this??
  • by eht (8912) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:49PM (#10647911)
    Doing a quick search does yield Nintendo as part of their client list, this may just be over zealousness on the part of the law firm or even just a lonely bored employee and not something Nintendo directed them to do. We have seen law firms in the past do this kind of stuff without the IP owner directing them to so do(or at least that's what they tell us).

    Then again it could just be some jerk who spoofed an email to get everyone's dander up.
    • Not the first time. (Score:5, Informative)

      by pavon (30274) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:03PM (#10648047)
      Apparently this is not the first time [wired.com] that lawyers from Perkens Coie have sent meritless cease and decist letters to websites on behalf of Nintendo.

      It would be interesting to find out more about thier relationship with Nintendo. It doesn't make any sense that Nintendo would actually want to sue it's fans for promoting their games. Almost seems like some lawyer who is paid on commision and got over eager, expecting that it would never garner Nintendo's or the press's attention.
  • by BrookHarty (9119) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:49PM (#10647914) Homepage Journal
    ACCESS RESTRICTED

    WARNING NOTICE

    You have attempted to access a site that has been deemed inappropriate for our business and blocked from ALL internal access. A record of this request has been logged and will be provided to Business Security upon request.

    For further information on why this web site was blocked, please go to the SmartFilter website.

    PLEASE REFRAIN FROM ANY FURTHER ATTEMPTS!

    If you feel this message was generated in error or if there is a business justification for unblocking a specific URL , please contact the
    AT&T Wireless Business Security Group.
  • by ToadSprocket (628571) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:50PM (#10647929)
    Nintendo's customers--including many children and their parents--have come to identify the Nintendo trademark(s)/works with the high quality of Nintendo products. Your unauthorized use of the Nintendo trademark(s)/works will tarnish Nintendo's reputation.

    Tarnish it how? Because the children are trolling the SG message boards? Because Hey, when I think Metroid, I automatically associate her with a SG pin-up girl? (Well, I do have a thing for chicks with ink, but I digress)

    Yet another example of why a seemingly huge majority of lawyers contribute absolutely nothing to society. I honestly don't see this diluting the Nintendo trademark at all. What, I can't even mention a word associated with a Nintendo product in certain environments? This is akin to Nintendo saying that "If you are in a strip club, you can't talk to your buddies about Mario Kart."

    Nevermind why you would be talking about Mario in nudie bar.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:55PM (#10647980) Homepage Journal
    Nintendo has invested so much time and money in learning and creating your personal preferences, that they own a stake in them. Perhaps not the controlling stake they'd prefer, but a minority stake that has a say in how your preferences are published. You agree to this limited license to your feelings by breaking the shrinkwrap on their games that you play.
  • by macdaddy (38372) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:59PM (#10648024) Homepage Journal
    It looks like an automatic form letter to me. First look at the From address:

    From: Stop IP Infringement

    Next take a peak at the actual To addres:

    To: "'spooky@suicidegirls.com'"

    The From address isn't from an individual. It certainly makes me think it's a bot. The To address contains the actual recipient address in quotes. I've never seen a MUA automatically use the email address in the double-quoted area. I've seen mass mailers do this before though.

    "spooky@suicidegirls.com" is also the administrative contact address for the domain "suicidegirls.com." Their site's help page contains many other contact addresses, yet the one from WHOIS was what they used. It's easy for a bot to harvest an address from WHOIS. It's next to impossible to find the right address on some random website.

    In addition to that the form letter notes the ARIN contact address of suicidegirls.com ISP. Again this is easily harvested via WHOIS.

    The form letter also makes no attempt to name the site administrator by name or even address the letter to common responsible roles. Instead it repeated the address it harvested from WHOIS.

    I say it's a bot, plain and simple. I'd contact a lawyer for some free advice. They'll probably tell you to ignore it. I'd also make sure your ISP also realizes it's a bot and that what your site member is doing is certainly not illegal (not even remotely, even in communist China). That would be my IANAL advice.

    • by Cytlid (95255)
      Have the guy who recieved it look at the headers, grab the IP it originated from, and compare it to the lawyers office (or the ISP of the lawyers office) that it was appearently from in the email.

      If it's a bot, it would be drastically different. Then it's case closed.
  • by Peter Cooper (660482) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:03PM (#10648052) Homepage Journal
    Uh, you just used the word N*ntendo on the front page... N*ntendo might sue you for using their company name on Slashdot, as you're associating their good image with our wonderful trolling community!
  • /.ted (Score:3, Informative)

    by Southpaw018 (793465) * on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:06PM (#10648095) Journal
    As of 7:02 PM EST suicidegirls.com is starting to buckle under slashdot's server load. Here's a copy of the forum post linked in the article, with many of the blank lines removed so the comment script doesn't yell at me:

    > From: Stop IP Infringement <StopInfringement@PerkinsCoie.com>
    > Date: October 27, 2004 10:12:06 AM PDT
    > To: "'spooky@suicidegirls.com'" <spooky@suicidegirls.com>
    > Subject: Infringement of Nintendo Intellectual Property Rights
    > October 26, 2004
    > VIA EMAIL ONLY
    > Administrator: spooky@suicidegirls.com
    > Re: http:/www/suicidegirls.com/members/RuneLateralus/3 80354/
    > Infringement of Nintendo Intellectual Property Rights
    > IDENTIFIED PROBLEM: Pornographic Web site uses Nintendo in link,
    > text, source code, Zelda and Metroid in text
    >
    > Greetings:
    >
    > We represent Nintendo of America Inc. ("Nintendo"), the owner of the
    > trademark(s) and/or copyrighted works listed above (the "Nintendo
    > trademark(s)/works"). It has come to our client's attention recently
    > that you are using the Nintendo trademark(s)/works in the hidden
    > text/visible text/meta tags and/or title and/or links of the
    > above-referenced sexually explicit Web site. This use is
    > unauthorized, and we are writing to demand that you immediately cease
    > and desist this infringement of Nintendo's intellectual property
    > rights.
    >
    > Nintendo has acquired substantial rights in the Nintendo
    > trademark(s)/works. Nintendo's customers--including many children and
    > their parents--have come to identify the Nintendo trademark(s)/works
    > with the high quality of Nintendo products. Your unauthorized use of
    > the Nintendo trademark(s)/works will tarnish Nintendo's reputation.
    >
    > This infringement of Nintendo's intellectual property rights can
    > subject you to sanctions under applicable federal and state laws.
    > Accordingly, you must immediately cease and desist from any and all
    > use of (1) the Nintendo trademark(s)/works, (2) any other Nintendo
    > trademark(s)/works, and (3) any mark which is confusingly similar to a
    > Nintendo trademark. This includes, but is not limited to, your
    > infringement of Nintendo's intellectual property as explained above.
    >
    > I look forward to your immediate confirmation that you have taken the
    > necessary steps to resolve this matter. To that end, you may contact
    > me at either 2063596742 or StopInfringement@perkinscoie.com.
    >
    > Sincerely,
    > Melissa Morgan Nelson
    > Perkins Coie LLP
    > 1201 Third Avenue, Suite 4800
    > Seattle, WA 98101-3099
    > http://www.perkinscoie.com [perkinscoie.com]
    >
    > :ceh
    >
    > cc: Nintendo of America Inc.
    >
    > ISP: peter.luttrell@3jane.com
    >
    > File: 51.13
    >
    > NOTICE: This communication may contain privileged or other confidential
    > information. If you have received it in error, please advise the
    > sender by
    > reply email and immediately delete the message and any attachments
    > without
    > copying or disclosing the contents. Thank you.

  • by Rary (566291) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:14PM (#10648156)
    Who posted this article?! Isn't there a law somewhere against slashdotting a pr0n site?! Well, there should be.

    For the love of god and all that's holy, don't do that again!!!

  • by rogabean (741411) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:25PM (#10648262)
    go out register like 400 domains and just put up an image of myself naked with just a caption that says "Hi my name is Robert and I like Zelda!"

    oh wait my GF just volunteered to pose for the pic, so ummm forget the part about me naked.

    Oh wait.
  • Really? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ljavelin (41345) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:26PM (#10648279)
    Is there any evidence that this is true?

    OK, someone claims to be a law firm claiming to represent Nintendo. Clearly not a violation of the law. Oh, and the law firm is sending, um, Email. That's kind of weak, isn't it? Not even on a letterhead?

    This story sounds very much like a way to generate web site traffic of Slashdot proportions.
  • Some background... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Remik (412425) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:34PM (#10648376)
    I work for one an Intellectual Property firm (IANAL), so I wanted to share some insight into how things like this come about.

    Most IP firms have 'Investigators' on staff...think of them like P.I.s, but with a legal background, who prefer using Google to walking anywhere. Their job is to sniff out when people are using any of the IP of their clients in a manner that would tarnish the client's image or take one cent out of the client's pocket.

    These people sit at their desks all day searching for "Nintendo" + "Sex", and "Metroid" + "XXX"...I'd bet their search patterns are quite similar to that of an average /. troll.

    When they get a hit, they send a C&D to the ISP, Host or Content creator. I'd say 99% of the time, the site is gone or changed within a couple of days...such is the threat of big-time litigation.

    -R
  • by odin53 (207172) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:57PM (#10648555)
    A lot of posters seem to think there's no basis for the email -- some even said it was frivolous -- but there is a very good legal basis for it: it's called trademark dilution [cornell.edu] (see subsection (c) of the linked section 1125)). It's one of the more questionable additions to trademark law, but it's not new (though relatively young). Essentially, an owner of a famous trademark can sue people who make commercial use of the mark for tarnishing the mark (like sullying the "good name") or impairing the connection between the owner's product and the mark it represents (called "blurring").

    Here, the argument would be that Zelda, etc. are famous marks, that suicidegirls's use of the mark is a commercial use, and that associating a site like suicidegirls with the marks dilutes the marks (n.b. Nintendo is particularly strongly associated with children's games, more than Playstation or Xbox).

    Certainly there are arguments to be made on the other side (e.g., not a famous mark, not a commercial use, there's no actual dilution, etc.), but there's no doubt there's a good legal basis for the cease & desist.
    • by taustin (171655) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @08:00PM (#10648587) Homepage Journal
      Trademarks explicitly do not protect from commentary or criticism (of the literary variety). The trademark holder cannot stop you from saying "this is my favorite game" or even "this game sucks donkey dick," so long as you make it clear it's your opinion.

      In short, no, there's no legal basis for the email, and Nintendo should be crucified for extortion, and hit with substantial SLAPP sanctions if they file a lawsuit.

      I wish I bought their crap, just so I could stop. But then, this is nothing new from Nintendo. They've been dicks for a long, long time.
  • by codeboost (603798) <codeboost@[ ]oo.com ['yah' in gap]> on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @08:16PM (#10648713)
    Dear Nintendo,
    It has come to our attention that one of our users has used the name of your company on his page. Since your company is often associated with videogames for children, it damages our site's reputation by suggesting that we are a childish adult site and don't have enough hardcore material to satisfy every visitor's darkest fetish fantasies.
  • by B747SP (179471) <slashdot@selfabusedelephant.com> on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @08:37PM (#10648874)
    OK, this is the obligatory out-the-lawyer post: The gutter crawling ambulance chaser in this case is one Melissa Morgan Nelson, an associate (is that like office junior?) at Perkins Cole's Seattle office. Her telephone number is +1 (206) 359-3792, and her fax number is +1 (206) 359-9000. If you prefer email, we have that right here: MNelson@perkinscoie.com [mailto], and if you have an appointment to see her then you should turn up at 1201 Third Avenue, Suite 4800, Seattle, WA 98101-3099.

    Of course, one look at her picture [perkinscoie.com] will unearth the real reason for her going after SuicideGirls. She's Unattractive, dowdy, downright ugly even! ie: She's jealous. Ugly girls always hate the pretty ones.

  • by b4jts (816849) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @09:04PM (#10649038)
    What's this? Miyamoto checking out SuicideGirls user profiles - whats the old man up to?
  • by Trailer Trash (60756) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @10:03PM (#10649423) Homepage

    I'm against what's happening here, and I doubt they have a legal leg to stand on, but consider what's happening around the web.

    It's likely that Nintendo pays these lawyers to look around for their trademark being used to promote pornographic sites. Consider the case of John Zuccarini [wired.com], who was using domain name typos (like 15 variations of "cartoonnetwork.com) to lure children to porn sites. He got a commission for each "click", although the clicks were cauased by pop-up hell. He brought in around $1,000,000 in his last year of business.

    It doesn't take more than a couple of minutes on Google to find someone using Nintendo's trademark [thepornseeker.com] to get search engine hits to their porn site. I often hit such sites while searching for information on other famous trademarks. Here's a site [koiy.biz] which uses "linux" as one of the search keywords, and it has nothing to do with Linux.

    Anyway, overzealous lawyers, yes, but they do have a legitimate job.

  • by dominion (3153) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @02:53AM (#10651042) Homepage
    How many times has Sean (the straight male who started and runs the site, while pretending that it's a queer-friendly, woman run enterprise) from Suicidegirls crudely exploited Slashdot for free advertising? This is a pattern that has been happening time and time again, and it's ridiculous that the moderators here haven't realized it.

    Suicidegirls is not a DIY, woman-run project. "Missy" is their PR point-person, who gives a progressive, friendly face to an otherwise pretty sleazy operation. The site is actually owned and run by a guy named Sean Suhl (public knowledge, not saying anything new here), who is not exactly the most progressive guy on the planet. His politics are solidly right-wing (although he's a neo-conservative, who are more libertarian when it comes to sex... as long as someone can make money from it). Dozens of models have quit or been kicked off the site, many of whom were basically removed for being too "opinionated".

    Ultimately, Suicidegirls is the Hot Topic of alternative porn. They took an underground, DIY concept, polished it, and presented it slick and packaged back to the community that created it. You can read more about it in the SGirls community on Livejournal:

    http://www.livejournal.com/users/sgirls [livejournal.com]

    As a disclaimer, I'm not anti-porn. I'm a big fan of any porn that is sincere, DIY, and woman-oriented. There's a whole slew of sites, some of whom have been around longer than SG, such as FatalBeauty [fatalbeauty.com], ManicJane [manicjane.com], VegPorn [vegporn.com], along with DIY erotica zines such as State of Nature [angelfire.com].

    SG is not DIY, they don't challenge patriarchal standards of beauty, and they don't give a crap about the women who pose for the site. This attempt by Sean for cheap publicity is yet another example of the only thing SG really does well: Marketing.

It is the quality rather than the quantity that matters. - Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 B.C. - A.D. 65)

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