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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.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Nintendo Threatens Suicidegirls Over IP Use

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  • by russint (793669) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:45PM (#10647873) Homepage
    > From: Stop IP Infringement
    > Date: October 27, 2004 10:12:06 AM PDT
    > To: "'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
    >
    > :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.
  • Re:wait a minute... (Score:3, Informative)

    by das_cookie (619577) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @06:52PM (#10647942)
    Just how did anyone at Nintendo discover this? A little non-work-safe surfing?

    More likely they've got staff doing google keyword searches and found it that way.

  • 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.
  • /.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 Hatta (162192) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:11PM (#10648129) Journal
    You mean it raises the question [wsu.edu]
  • Re:WTF? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Poppler (822173) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:21PM (#10648218) Journal
    that stupid ass disclaimer on the email just makes the sender look like a moron.

    I have to deal with big corporations at work, this kind of disclaimer is pretty standard. The sender doesn't really have a choice whether or not to include it.
  • 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.

  • Re:WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

    by phasm42 (588479) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:27PM (#10648290)
    If you'd actually looked at the page, you'd see that it wasn't in the metatags, it was in the page:
    FAVORITE BOOKS: Screw books! Video games: Ninja Gaiden, Halo, Zelda, Final Fantasy I-VI, Dead or Alive, Mortal Kombat, Castlevania, Silent Hill, Earthworm Jim, Mega Man, Unreal, Metroid, Doom, Soul Caliber, Guilty Gear, F-Zero GX, Eternal Darkness, KOTOR, WarCraft
    Also, if you'd read Nintendo's letter carefully, you'd see that they said "Nintendo trademark(s)/works in the hidden text/visible text/meta tags and/or title and/or links", meaning it could have been any of the things they listed. It's obviously a standard letter, so rather than tailoring it to the particular case, they just listed everything to cover all their bases.
  • by Cytlid (95255) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:28PM (#10648303)
    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.
  • Re:WTF? (Score:4, Informative)

    by phasm42 (588479) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:29PM (#10648314)
    It would be if it was actually valid. The grandparent poster obviously didn't bother to actually look at the links. Mod grandparent down.
  • 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
  • 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.
  • by empaler (130732) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @07:39PM (#10648417) Journal
    The link itself is to an unobjectionable page.
  • Re:THE LETTER (Score:3, Informative)

    by TrippTDF (513419) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <dnalih>> on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @08:00PM (#10648585)
    and here [perkinscoie.com]is the attourney that sent the letter... though, and I'm surprised no one else has done this, I question if it's real or not.
  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @08:12PM (#10648678)
    Only some of the chicks on SG are "goth"ish. Most are not. Most are just trampy looking unbathed punk chicks.

    Everyone who talks about how smart and "real" and "nice" the models from the site are are complete fucking idiots and have obviously NOT met any of the girls. I've known MANY of them. SEVERAL are longtime friends. Let me tell you, the average suicide girl is a self-involved, narcissitic, uptight, better-than-everyone-else, uneducated, mouthy, inane, web-cam twat just holding down some shitty part time gig until she can find the perfect dreamy band-guy to take care of her for the rest of her life.

    What's funny is that these stupid sluts pose for SO LITTLE MONEY. They get paid about $200 or $300 for a photoshoot. HAHAHAH. Yeah, you're a big time model when you can pull down a whole whopping $200 for photos that you have no further ownership over for the rest of your life.

    BUnch of idiotic drooling slashdot fags.
  • by MagicDude (727944) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @08:16PM (#10648711)
    They weren't using nintendo characters in playboy, they were using chracters who were made by various third party companies. They didn't have Samus wearing nothing but a blaster, or Zelda posing with the triforce conveniently placed. Those characters will always be truly nintendo, and thus Nintendo will go out of their way to specifically protect them.
  • by mdbales (611785) <mdbales@nosPam.gmail.com> on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @08:34PM (#10648855)
    Nintendo may have gone towards a kiddie console setup, but they do still sell M rated games.

    Actually, they don't. All Nintendo developed games are rated T at worst. The only possible exception is Eternal Darkness, which was developed by former Nintendo second-party producer Silicon Knights

    /nitpick
  • Re:To Insane Levels (Score:4, Informative)

    by canajin56 (660655) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @08:37PM (#10648868)

    Not quite. The Aspriin was lost in the USA, true. However, Thermos was not. Another one that is incorrectly thought to have been lost is Kleenex. Others that are still valid, despite being used as a generic term by most peopleXerox, Dumpster, Coke, Band-Aid, Jeep, Rollerblade, and Speedo. Why are they still valid? Because to lose it, another company has to use it to describe their product, and you have to let them.

    In other words, it doesn't matter how many guys on the street, or TV characters, or whatever, call a waste bin a "Dumpster", they can keep their trademark. However, if another company sells a "Dumpster" the company holding the trademark either must sue, or give up the trademark.

  • by Cytlid (95255) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @10:50PM (#10649671)
    Well probably because I looked at ARIN and found perkinscoie.com to have a /26 and /27 and they're Sprint IPs. First off, they would be in one of those two blocks if it was perkinscoie, (or a 3rd which you could easily look up).

    Secondly, if someone wanted to make the scam complete, I don't know about you but, at the ISP I work at, a customer can't call up and request to have their IPs selected from a block *close to* another customers' block (for sake of making the scam look real.) The ISP usually picks the block so it's highly unlikely that it would be the same network.
  • Re:Is that legal? (Score:3, Informative)

    by dissy (172727) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @11:15PM (#10649831)
    > Is that legal?

    It's more that they have no case.

    First, Nintendo does not even have a trademark on 'zelda', although they do have one on 'metroid'

    Metroid trademark [uspto.gov]
    Zelda trademark [uspto.gov]

    However, trademarks are protected as part of the law of unfair competition. [cornell.edu]

    Additionally, the Copyright Act now reaches architectural design, software, the graphic arts, motion pictures, and sound recordings. [cornell.edu]
    Note that list does not contain 'Name'.

    Finally, to remove any grey areas, a proper name is given to something so others can reference it. That is exactly how its being used here. It's not even being used to reference some other item that nintendo may not want it to be linked with.

    All sources show the email was sent by a bot, simply because it was sent to the name/email address in whois and not the one listed on their website... As a matter of fact, I dont see the spooky@ address listed on their help page at all.

    Legally speaking, until they have it sent in writting (which may simply be in progress) they don't have to respond at all.
    Technically they don't even have to then, atleast until the snail mail from a court, telling them to be in court, arrives :P But thats not usually a good idea in most cases.

    Unfortunatly it's not really illegal to send a letter like this. At least not yet, as there isnt a law suit. Only once there is a lawsuit can one claim its frivilous.

  • by bonch (38532) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @11:18PM (#10649852)
    Once again, the First Amendment is mis-cited.

    The First Amendment prevents the government from censoring you so far as your speech is not blocking someone else's rights. It has NOTHING TO DO WITH PRIVATE GROUPS. It's all about preventing the GOVERNMENT from messing with your rights, not freakin' Slashdot.

    I see miscitations of the First Amendment on Slashdot over and over. It doesn't fucking matter. If Slashdot wanted to censor Suicide Girls from their ad rotation, it wouldn't be a violation of the First Amendment. I'm so tired of people misunderstanding what the First Amendment means.
  • by feed_me_cereal (452042) on Wednesday October 27, 2004 @11:30PM (#10649935)
    uh, he never implied he wasn't a "First Amendment" ACLU-type. It would only be ironic if he would "respond in insulting, hostile and/or crass terms, proving [their] moral superiority." In fact, that statement implied he was an ACLU-type, and that contrary to the original poster's expectations, he was not going to lose his nerve.
  • Live Tour (Score:2, Informative)

    by kingLatency (624983) <[alex.kahn] [at] [comcast.net]> on Thursday October 28, 2004 @02:07AM (#10650881) Homepage
    Apparently you are unaware that Suicide Girls performs live shows at night club venues. Still canned and false (which the site and all the members are), but dynamic and alive.
  • 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.
  • by GreyWolf3000 (468618) on Thursday October 28, 2004 @04:35AM (#10651416) Journal

    What is my prejudice? That women shouldn't show their naked bodies for money?

    Fine, I'm prejudiced. I'm not requiring you to join with me in this antiquated, prosaic ideology of sexual "suppression."

    But I think you have a far stronger prejudice here which you are projecting--that our sexuality has no boundaries, and thus no room for deviation. Yet there isn't a single pair of eyes reading Slashdot that doesn't think at least some act of sexuality is perverse. There are boundaries, and I very much believe that selling your own sexuality, be it the act or the photographict depictions of the act, is damaging to both the viewer and the model. You can draw the line at pedastasy and necrophilia, I'll draw it sex without proper emotional context.

    Yet now there's a moral absolute drawn by the sexual liberation crowd--an absolute that has absolutely no rational context surrounding it. Normalcy cannot exist without definitions, therefore by extension, neither can deviation.

    At this point I'm not so much refuting your point as I am refuting "sexual liberation" in general. I apologize if you feel as if I'm putting words in your mouth, or if it seems like I have a larger axe to grind.

    Your so-called "point" is nothing more than your projection of your own prejudice onto people that you don't know.

    I don't know a single suicide girl, but I'm not wholly ignorant on the matter.

    I'll assume the opposite of my premise--that these women (and by these I mean not just SG's) really do find self-realization or at least gratification by their line of work. That would mean that either they enjoy being naked for the sake of being naked, or they enjoy being naked for the attention (i.e. for the reaction they get from themselves, or the reaction they get from others).

    The first case is unlikely, because we all spend ample time naked by ourselves. That need is already fulfilled. There could be a case for combining this theoretical enjoyment derived from nakedness with earning wage, but this is a real stretch. I'm going to dismiss it on grounds of absurdity.

    The second case actually works for my position Engaging in any act in order to solicit attention from strangers suggests serious psychological problems, not the least of which is self worth!

    I know you probably think I'm this total nut who can't see the world outside of his own narrow perspective. I'd say you're right, but that's the condition humanity has always been in. It is my hope that through honest discourse we can look past ourselves for a minute.

    In my case, that means accepting that while watching women in sexual acts might be gratifying, there are people at the other end of the computer screen that probably don't really like having to do what they're doing.

IF I HAD A MINE SHAFT, I don't think I would just abandon it. There's got to be a better way. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.

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