paint it black.

I am sure a few of you may have noticed things have been amiss here. And a few of you have been privy to the details. As for the rest of you? Well I got the smack down of sorts. Apparently my cute little blog doesn’t sit well a certain hockey organization. There were some complaints.

My banner; which contained images I didn’t own. The banner which had been up since June, became an issue. Fine whatever. It needed to be changed. Oh and the Tokarski Saves shirts weren’t kosher. Apparently the hockey organization OWNS the players names. I was just a bit irked. No team names, logos or fonts were used and still the tshirts had to go. Alright fine… I guess? And then one of the commenters made a lovely picture of TC Cratsenberg fighting and I relinked it in a post. And I didn’t own that either. Well, I did some digging and under fair use and talking to the Pensblog, there was no reason for that picture to come down. And the picture was originally taken by Gary Peterson. So for that? The kid stays in the picture.

According to CHL rules they own the entire universe essentially. I really started to lose my cool when I was told my personal pictures I had taken of the Chiefs were not allowed to be posted.

We classify photographers at our games in two different groups; fans who are taking pictures for their own personal use and enjoyment and then those who are going to redistribute and republish photos. Your website falls under the second description. The league requires everyone from the booster club to The Spokesman-Review to fill out an application and they’re very protective of how their product (the players images, logos, etc.) is portrayed.

You are kidding me, right? Essentially, they want to control free speech. Now, they would argue otherwise, of course. They would word it differently. But let’s face it, it is what it is. Several emails went back and forth (I’d post the entire thread but it’s lengthy) I was informed I need to get a press and photo pass but due to my site content, the odds were I would not be granted one. I am also frustrated the issue kept shifting and changing. If it wasn’t one thing it was the next. I was really starting to feel beat down and a bit targeted. Believe it or not, I put a good amount of thought into this madness, it’s not some off the cuff thing. Remember my motto of striving to suck less? No really, I always try to suck less. And all this was just a kick in the ribs since it was a few days after my blogaversary.

Clearly, someone doesn’t know how the internet works. See there are these things called blogs and people write in them. Now, some of you might be thinking, “Well what is the issue? Get the press and photo pass.” Because I shouldn’t have to. It’s a blog. I have never claimed to be part of the hockey organization. If anything, I have made it very clear I am in no way attached to or represent the Chiefs. Or you could say, “do you really need pictures?” Absolutely. We are visual beings. I can tell you what a beast Jared Cowen looks like compared to other players, but it doesn’t really mean much until you see a picture of Cow Cow dominating an opponent. Plus their passes allow them to essentially own me. Not in the selling out to the Man sense, but seriously they could potentially interject in my writings. And what would my punishment be to something that wasn’t in line with their system? The passes yanked of course…

And what about these passes? Would I be in theory on par with real, actual journalists? Would I be given the same access? Would be able to sit there and listen to a coach rattle off some cliche ridden response to why the team won or lost? I don’t want that. First of all, if you read this page you might notice the extreme lack of technical jargon because it’s dull, dry and you read one game summary and you have read them all. Second, part of the uh beauty, yeah beauty of this thing is my utter lack of access. I write about fake boyfriends and who can grow a better playoff beard. For some, this is an enjoyable take on a hockey team. As for the others, if it’s not their flavor they can hit the newspapers and I am not the least bit put off. Bonus: the newspaper isn’t as salty mouthed as I am.

Buzz Bissinger presented the case the bloggers are the scourge of the earth, I am paraphrasing. However a good lot of the bloggers take their writing semi to very seriously. His complaint was essentially that a person can write anything and it will be read by many. Yes, this is true. But you have to work to have an audience. And I truly believe perhaps naively, that unless a blog has a greater redeeming value it will not survive. I like to think my redeeming value is a view of a WHL team outside of the norm. I see the vibrant personality in a team I adore. I am fairly certain I said in a few posts back, this my version of a love letter to the Chiefs. Perhaps you might be able to imagine the shock and hurt when more or less I was told that we should just be friends.

What am I going to do? Keep being myself babycakes. I urge all my blogging friendlets to take a half hour or so and make yourself familiar with the fair use copyright laws. You aren’t going to learn it in school, educate yourself. Know what your rights are. I know, that is completely dorky and weighty to say but just know how far you can push things before you get served with papers or avoid the stern talking to that maybe occurs before being served like I had. I am not necessarily advocating flirting with disaster all the time. Then bloggers will be knocked down to plebeian status, instead of whatever rank is above the plebs. I was extremely fortunate to know some lawyers who also happen to have hockey blogs on the side. They were incredibly kind and patient with my picking their brains and sending many emails.

I highly doubt this will reach the fervor of the Covered in Oil debacle.

Later I will post the CHL rules I was sent, since the numbers of those writing about the O, the W and the Q is climbing and being aware in case someone from your local hockey team tosses an email at you, there is some element of preparedness.

Oh and if possible, can you people link this up and down the block? Thanks.

[Update; I realize due to some terrible wording there could be slight confusion. I was not served papers. I was talked to by two members of the organizations PR department. However, I bet legal papers weren’t too far off if I hadn’t complied with a few of their requests. Does the fact I wasn’t contacted by a team or league lawyer make it better or worse? Well, I really don’t know.]

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37 thoughts on “paint it black.

  1. That’s absurd; countless NHL teams freely let fan photos get used all over the place, who are these clowns to think they’ve somehow got to keep the genie in the bottle?

  2. I know I’ve already said this to you in an email, but I’m SO, SO sorry! It just sucks that the organization you love so much is dicking you around. I’m glad you’re going to stay your bad ass self though.

  3. I still can’t believe that they own the names. If I was a hockey player, that’d be enough to keep me off of a team. I don’t like the feeling of being owned.
    Maybe we should just get TC to shoot flames at them…

  4. This kind of stuff makes my head hurt. I’d have no idea about this team or it’s players if not for your blog and the links I’ve followed to it in the past. For that, I guess, you should be carved up and served as an example to the rest of us recalcitrant bloggers. I’ll be linking your story and trying to wrap my head around all those fancy legal words about fair use.

  5. FFS. This shit is just getting out of hand.

    It’s a good thing I don’t ever remember to take pictures at Hitmen games. I wonder if the Hitmen/Flames would get after me if I recorded the moment of triumph during the Teddy Bear Toss on Sunday and put it on YouTube?

  6. The first thing for any copyright infringement is ye old cease and desist letter. That runs about 300 bucks for a lawyer to draft. The second thing is that they have to be specific, they can’t be like “You can’t use anything” it’s “for this specific infringement” which means you can within the letter of the law use a new picture that they don’t like because it’s a different infraction. Which means another 300$ letter they gotta get drafted.

    It’s a huge case of annoyance. The reason why they try to put pressure is, as you said, there’s not a lot of knowledge on how the whole system works so they try to bully you into doing what they want the cheap way.

    I am sorry they’re doing this, mainly because you’re one of the more entertaining people to read.

  7. This is ludicrous. Good luck with the narrow-minded, petty, small-brained, beaurocratic jackasses. And good on you for checking on the fair-rights copyright laws. The jerks are probably more used to getting people to fold as soon as they wave a lawyer in front of their face, instead of actually looking into whether or not they have any legal ground to stand on.

  8. “Clearly, someone doesn’t know how the internet works”

    You pretty much nailed it right there.

    I won’t even get into the legal side of this — the hockey team may have some valid points in the eyes of the law.

    But this is the sort of thinking that just doesn’t work anymore. They should be thrilled that a prominent blogger is covering the team. They should be begging you to come to games, to post more pictures, to write more about them.

    Instead they’re stuck in the old way of doing things. They’re not alone, of course. Many companies are struggling with social media. Some are actively fighting against it. Most of those companies are dying, by the way. It’s a losing fight, but the dinosaurs in the tarpits usually don’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late.

  9. Never surrender. E-mail Chemmy. He was telling me something the other day that supposedly will keep him and I safe from MLSE’s lawyerly hordes when they find out about us and I am pretty sure that it covers PERSONAL FRIGGING PICTURES!

    This is as dumb as when companies complained about VHS tapes. Adapt or die dumbasses.

  10. All this had me thinking was “Fuck the Chiefs.”

    Unbelievable that this type of shit is happening.

    I only know about the Spokane Chiefs because of this blog. This blog! Tell the Chiefs to call me. I’ll set ‘em straight.

  11. Yeah good luck with that CHL media pass. I have a chl media pass but that’s only because I do some work for a tv station that covers the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL. I’ve never once seen a blogger in the press box or at a press conference after the game. Not even at the Mem. Cup last spring when the place was full of press. Yes the same mem. cup where your Chiefs broke the cup. Boy, were people mad about that! haha But keep up the good fight! To quote a very famous hippie, ‘Don’t let the man hold you down!’ lol

  12. oh for goodness sake this has my blood boiling!

    I have been reading your blog for some time, and the LOVE you have for your team comes across in mile high waves!

    And it’s infectious too – I reckon I could name half of the Chiefs’ roster right now off the top of my head, I’ve checked out their website and keep an eye on their results, and if it wasn’t for the little detail of being on a different continent I would have loved to come check out a game or two.

    So if you have made me, sitting here in England, fall just a little bit for this team of yours, what does that say about the impact of your writing??? I’d be willing to bet VERY good money that there are a number of people sat in the stands at every single Chiefs game who were first prompted to check them out after being enthused by your words (yes, and pictures too! how dry would a blog be without pictures??)

    They are VERY lucky that you are confident / brave / whatever enough to stand up to them and are going to carry on loving your team in this very public way – because they would be poorer without you in every sense of the word

    fight on, sister!

  13. Would it make things worse or better if I covered my entire blog with Spokane Chiefs images?

    I just asked my Dad, who’s a lawyer, what he thinks about this and he’s not too familiar with copyright and internet law but he says its such a new area of law and that its incredibly hard to litigate matters like this because there’s very little precedent. So, stick to your guns, fight the good fight and maybe you’ll be in a law book someday, haha.

  14. ya know what though? It got you to put Toka in your title bar. Now everytime you come to your blog you get to remember the reasons why you love the chiefs.

    When a team is as bad at self promotion as the chiefs seem to be, they should be thankful that they have an unpaid chump like you doing their work for them. I say chump in the kindest sense of the word.

  15. When you’re slowly becoming extinct, you do whatever you can to remain relevant. The refusal to recognize alternative forms of media, media like the internet that has had ample time for people to understand, is simply baffling, if not pathetic. If you ignore the pink elephant in the corner, it doesn’t mean there isn’t a pink elephant still in the corner. This is bullying, pure and simple, afraid that a perspective outside of company control may actually be more entertaining and more attuned with what I, as a reader (or lurker, whatever floats your boat, babe), want to see.

    wrap, your love for the Chiefs (coupled with your boy-crazy ways of junior hockey) and hockey in general is irreverent, hilarious, and informative with just a touch of random. Although I hoped to hear the news that the Chiefs wanted to work with you, instead of exercising their last remaining authority against you, I am just as hopeful that your resolve is now that much stronger so you and I can continue to argue about MAGNUS!!! versus Cow Cow.

  16. Wow, what a bunch of crap, for lack of any better way to put it. I wonder how much weight any of those arguments could actually hold – they all just sound so RIDICULOUS.

  17. Hi. I think what they are actually doing is intimidating you into doing what they want you to do. There is nothing they can legally do about posting YOUR pictures or your thoughts on the team. They would get their asses handed to them in court if they ever tried to litigate. As long as you aren’t charging money for membership at this site for access to “exclusive Chiefs photos/interviews/news/merchandise”, you are free to post or say what you like. The next time they contact you, please ask for someone in their legal department. If their legal department or someone claiming to be their legal department gets in touch with you, just tell them if they don’t desist, then you’ll pursue harassment charges against their organization. Feel free to email me.

  18. Oops, sorry, ….and if you talk to legal, see if they plan to file a cease and desist, and if so, based on what?; and request a hard copy of all the above…but don’t do what they ask just because they scare you…you would win and they know it, but if you WANT to stay on their “good side” take em for some free tickets at least, otherwise….let it go. 1st Amendment of the Constitution of the U.S., plus REALLY bad publicity=YOU WIN. Your call.

  19. Rage linked us to you, and we in turned linked you on our blog. Hopefully you get MORE traffic. We can only hope that is the outcome of this; you getting more fans. This whole backlash against bloggers needs to stop.

    We hope the Pens organization never goes bat shit crazy.

  20. I would recommend consulting the Electronic Frontier Foundation ( http://www.eff.org/ ) on what to do next.

    The fact that you were not served papers actually is a good sign that the team believes they still can work out an amiable solution and not have to resort through something that will only just generate headaches. And they also know you probably don’t have any real money to take in damages. They would be paying their lawyers more than what they can get from you.

    Does this have anything to do with the “losing your season tickets” drama? Just curious.

    I wish you luck.

  21. on a not-entirely-relevant-but-semi-related note… a few years ago we* were in Guelph watching the Storm v. the London Knights and the jackboot-thug-ushers (middle-aged women) threatened to take our cameras* away – apparently it was “league policy” to not allow photography during the games, at least that’s the line they were aggressively pushing.

    *we = 6 regular completely non-threatening schmucks in assorted hockey jerseys on our annual winter junior hockey (drunken) pilgrimage.
    *cameras = pocket digitals.

    We have not been back to Guelph since.

  22. @maximumwebster: From my understanding there is no consistency in reinforcement of the camera rules. I think honestly they should probably re evaluate their policy and perhaps bring it into this century.

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