Dear Mr Raworth
I am writing in relation to your website http://tomraworth.com (“the Website”), which has recently been brought to my attention.
Independent News and Media Ltd (â€œINMâ€), registered in the UK, is the publisher of The Independent and Independent on Sunday newspapers. Your web page http://tomraworth.com/bindy.html currently displays, in full, the obituary of Bill Griffin which was written by Nicholas Johnson, and originally published in The Independent on 20 September 2007. In addition, this webpage page includes advertisement tags and other content owned by INM.
We are happy for your website to link to stories on the INM website. However, your current use of our copyright material is unauthorised and in breach of the UK Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 (the “Act”) and of international copyright laws.
Of further concern is your webpage, http://tomraworth.com/nsearch.html. This page features a â€˜googleâ€™ search engine which when used with the search term â€œThe Independentâ€ retrieves articles belong to INM but with your websiteâ€™s html address. This is misleading and an infringement of INMâ€™s intellectual property rights. We would ask that you immediately desist using the search engine in this way. If we find this has not been done we will raise the matter with Google’s legal counsel, and request that all necessary action be taken to protect INM’s rights.
The purpose of this email is to put you on notice of our rights, and to request that you remove all of the material owned by INM from your website. If you require further guidance on the issues raised in this email we would invite you to contact our legal department.
Whilst we trust this matter will be resolved quickly and amicably, we must in the meantime expressly reserve all our rights.
Please consider your environmental responsibility before printing this email.
Dear Legal Department,
I’ll reply to this piffle in the morning, hoping that sleep will have stifled my laughter. Do you have many teacups in your office to hold the tiny storms?
Dear Legal Department,
Thank you for your thinly veiled “Cease and Desist” notice yesterday night.
I shall be happy to remove all traces of The Independent from my website, if that is what your employer wishes. Now that you have brought it to my attention, I see no reason to direct people to, or give free advertising for, a once-intelligent newspaper which these days publishes endless “The Fifty Best Things You Don’t Give A Shit About” picture articles, employs fewer journalists, almost no foreign correspondents, more self-regarding columnists and no doubt roomsfull of lawyers. I have written obituaries myself for it, as that section, under James Fergusson and then Diana Gower, was one of the few still worth reading. No more. Clearly The Independent has not the slightest grasp of what is going on around it. It is as if it were drowning while clutching at an iron girder and instructing it not to sink.
While a search of my site reveals no “Bill Griffin” (perhaps repeats of “Family Guy” are pumped constantly into your office) the link you quote certainly leads to an In Memoriam page for Bill Griffith, a fellow-writer and dead friend. You will there see two links: one to the URL for the obituary on The Independent website; the other to a copy. The reason the copy is there is to preserve information that The Independent, along with other “newspapers of record” makes inaccessible online after a certain period. Some then make a charge for accessing the original page. While those of us who still have a Public Lending Library with a Reference Section can freely read the text, those without (or who live abroad) cannot. On any such occasion The Independent and the author of the obituary is credited and there is no attempt to imply the work is my own. I take your point that where, not having had the time to retype the text, I’ve simply swiped the relevant webpage, items other than the obituary itself appear. I would take this as free advertising: you would perhaps take it as somehow stealing webpage design (although in this instance the layout is not retained). As I am only interested in preserving a copy of the obituary I could certainly replace such instances with the text alone. If Mr. Johnson, for example, does not object to that, but the newspaper does, I must assume Property and Contract (and thus money) are the issue (the “Intellectual” part of the equation having been surely supplied by Mr.Johnson).
While I’d be entertained to see you in a legal battle with Google about the results of a search (which would put The Independent in the same camp as the Chinese Government — a nice irony) let us in the two contexts you write about, consider Jeff Nuttall, another friend and noted writer who died four years ago. If you enter “Jeff Nuttall”+”The Independent” in the usual internet Google search engine, the sixth item listed is “Jeff Nuttall – Obituaries, News – The Independent”: links to the newspaper’s website. The first link, to an addition to the original obituary, still works: but the following link, to the obituary itself, does not. It leads to a 404 error (“sorry we haven’t been able to serve the page you requested”) notice: as does the link within the addition, and the link from Nuttall’s entry in Wikipedia. Thus someone searching for Nuttall’s obituary in your newspaper no doubt feels their time has been wasted and perhaps transfers some of that resentment to The Independent.
By the way, the incidences of anyone searching my site for “The Independent” can be counted on my single raised finger.
Should The Independent keep the obituaries, articles, other pages which appear on its online site permanently available I shall be happy to link solely to them. Should you object to me replacing swiped pages with the simple texts (as an example, see http://tomraworth.com/bindy2.html) it will be merely a slight inconvenience to me to delete all references to The Independent from my site.
When I received your email late last night I must admit to a fit of the giggles on reading such pettiness. I hope you do take this personally, as I know you and whomever brought it to your attention are only doing your jobs: that is the tragedy.