Copyrighting a URL

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BDub's picture
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Copyrighting a URL

Does anyone know if there's any legal history on anyone trying to claim copyright or trademark infringement as a result of a URL being published?

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That URL thing

BDub,

If by published you mean in use on the internet, there's tons of it. The cybersquatting issue is well documented. On March 31, 2007, The New York Times carried an article about URLs that are intentionally close, ie hoogle.com and winowslivemessenger.com (the misspelling of google and the lack of a "d" are intentional). The huge fracas between etoy and etoys is well known. And the fight over clue.com has legal papers posted on the web about it.

Is that what you mean?

William
www.williamahearn.com

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Blackstealth had to deal with

Blackstealth had to deal with threats of infringement over his url name a couple years ago.
It was a baseless threat, but maybe there's some info in the thread that'll be helpful.
Linky

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Sorry, I know I'm being overl

Sorry, I know I'm being overly vague. I don't want to describe exactly what I'm doing until it's ready for public release.

In a project I'm working on, I use a hosts file to do some redirection to a local server. (Anyone following my forum posts in the last few months has got to be wondering just how badly I'm beating this poor little hosts file).

In this hosts file, I have items such as:

127.0.0.2 example.com

The 'example.com' URL is owned (in my vague little world) by the Example Company. The word 'Example' is a trademark of theirs. If at all possible, I'd like to avoid being sued by Example Company.

I'm wondering if there's any precident of a company saying "Hey! They distributed a copy of our URL in a way we don't like!" and being shot down. Or the other way around.

Perhaps an ad company trying to get their names knocked off of an adblocker default list? Or trying to get a badly reflecting article taken offline by claiming incorrect trademark usage.

Cases in the US would be acceptable, but Canadian examples would be ideal. I've Googled around a bit, but 'copyright' and 'url' both seem to appear on every page of the internet.

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Oh, I should also mention tha

Oh, I should also mention that I'm not redirecting Example Company's site to another page, but through a local proxy which inserts some more xml into the stuff they send me.

I've got little disclaimers at the bottom of any pages that I insert data into mentioning that it's been modified. The proxy requires specific consent of the user to run, so there's no danger of a user being unaware of the modifications and mistaking my injected content for Genuine Example content.

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If I understand you correctly . . .

BDub,

If you are using a company's url in any way that is public, you create grounds for infringement. That is their property. If I remember correctly -- and I may be a bit hazy on this one -- Disney got bent out of shape about a redirect from a porno site. It was one of those "You are entering a site where blah blah blah" and if you disagreed you were taken to a Disney page. Disney didn't like the association but I have no direct recollection about what came of their complaint. If you are adding material to a company's page, you are asking for trouble. From your description above I can't really tell what you're doing.

William
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Bob, I think all you need to

Bob, I think all you need to do is add this little disclaimer to your legal page in the app:

"Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others."

Works for Intel, I see it at the bottom of all their documentation. You can't simply be used for mentioning a trademark, only for if the company thinks you're trying to claim it as your own. Disclosing the brands you mention as being owned by others is enough of a statement on your part that you aren't trying to steal trademarks.

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But that is . . .

Hey,

But that is using a product name in running text. And the only time it's neccessary is when you mention a competitor. As in "Advil relieves 49% more headaches than Aleve according to recent studies." In that case a disclaimer would be necessary. BDub isn't exactly being clear here but it seems that he's taking information (data, whatever) and adding to it before passing it on and the information he's taking may be protected by copyright or other protective mechanisms and the owners may see dilution or other adverse results. But since we don't know exactly what is being done then it's hard to figure out.

William
www.williamahearn.com

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Mousekateers

"Disney got bent out of shape about a redirect from a porno site."

A porn site redirecting "disagree" to a Disney page. Lol!! I love it. You gotta give them credit for a good sense of humor. Too bad a genuine sense of humor is never part of any large corporation, unless it's part of the bottom line, tested and calculated. The PowerPC Macintosh Liberatin Army might want to check out what happened to that case. Their trash is just as funny: PPCMLA

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Moosecadets

Hey,

Microsoft never harassed a vintage Mac website. Apple has. On numerous occasions. One corporation that has no sense of humor whatsoever is Apple. If you play with an Apple brand, you will hear from Apple legal.

William
www.williamahearn.com

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Hey all - Thanks for a

Hey all -

Thanks for all your insights, especially in light of how vague I'm being on this.

William, thanks for your posting. The Disney case in particular caught my attention. I found this article at silicon.com regarding a typosquatting case. Is that they one you're thinking of. Everything else I could find was SEO type company blogs discussing why sites like "Disney", "Google", and "Yahoo" rank highly for the word "exit" in search results.

Doc, I think you're probably right about the disclaimer, but it'd make my month to be able to back it up with some sort of established case. I'm guessing some money pushed at an IP lawyer would probably be my best way to make sure I protect myself as well as possible.

I know how vague I'm being, so here's a specific example of the technology I'm using being used for a different application. This is nothing near what I'm working on, except that all the same worries apply to it.

I'm a software developer for the Mac. One day I decide I want to write the next big piece of web filtering software. Instead of blocking whole pages which contain potentially bad content, I'm going to be a bit more low key and replace individual words that are on my 'swear list' with nicer words. I'm going to be even more specific, only filtering words on specific webpages.

I write a little piece of software that sits between the internet and my computer. It has to be installed by an administrator by typing in their password, and I have a screen that tells them that the content coming through their web browser may be modified. There's a list of default webpages included that could be modified.

The end user installs it and goes to a page full of those silly curse words and it's on my default list. For this example we'll pretend 'Dagnabit' is worth filtering.

The original sentence, sent from the user to the server, was:

Dagnabit! That gang of thieves stole my wallet again.

It goes through my software on the way to the users browser, so they see:

Aw shucks! That gang of theives stole my wallet again.

At the bottom of the page, the words "This page has been modified by OverProtect 1.0. Content has been added to or removed from your viewing of http://www.crochetyblog.com" have been added.

Can I, the software developer, be sued by whoever wrote the original words? For any reason?

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That's an interesting question . . .

BDub

If -- in fact -- you are only modifying obscenities then the possibility of being sued by a commercial entity is dramatically reduced. I doubt Coke or Intel or Sony will be using the F-word or the N-word or any of those words George Carlin likes to use. So what your software does is what broadcasters do to recent movies: bleeping or dubbing offensive words. If it is merely a filter, then I don't see a problem. But . . . I'm not a lawyer and I don't play one on the Internet. Since there are filters that block certain types of websites in their entirety -- is that surpressing someone's freedom of speech? The other question is how would someone know to sue you? You're not changing their websites for everyone, only for those who choose to see it without obscenities.

I would love to hear what a lawyer has to say about this.

William
www.williamahearn.com

Jon
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Freedom of speech doesn't app

Freedom of speech doesn't apply to an individual vs individual, or any other X vs. Y except govt. Private parties have full rights to repress speech and actions, so long as it takes place in avenues that they control, ie TV/Radio stations, movie theaters, malls, etc. A local mall to me recently implemented a no cursing policy, among other things. If someone is loud and/or obscene they can be kicked out of the mall. The mall is a private enterprise and is not run by a government, so the 2nd doesn't apply. I'd assume the same goes for what information gets from the internet on to a users screen.

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