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Our government... teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. ~Justice Louis Dembitz Brandeis

From: [email protected] (Adam Curry)
Date: 10 May 1994 03:44:36 -0400

Last update: May 10 1994

I had planned to keep the following quiet until more information was available, but since several journalists have already caught wind of it, I decided to get it out into the open so my side of the story is heard as well.

The domain I maintain and operate on the Internet, mtv.com was founded approximately one year ago. At that time I registered mtv.com with the InterNIC, purely because it was a cool address to have, and it was available. What a great "vanity plate"!

The site quickly became a frequently accessed "hangout" on the net, with an average of 35000 accesses daily from Mosaic clients alone. During the start up months I had many conversations with executives at MTV Networks about my endeavours, which btw, were all financed out of my own pocket, and vps from MTV Programming as well as Viacom New Media were aware of what I was doing on the internet, and although they stated "MTV has no interest in the internet" they gave me their blessing and supported my efforts.

This was enforced when I set up several email accounts on mtv.com for use in MTV's on-air programming. Ever sionce the summer of '93, [email protected] was used for trivia quiz questions, that were then aired on MTV's "Most Wanted" a program I hosted at the time. Solicitations were made on the air, and the address was shown on the screen. For MTV's annual Valentines video dedications, viewers were offered the choice of calling in their dedications, or sending them via email to [email protected]

I never charged MTV Networks for this service, I purely saw it as a cool feature to introduce to MTV's programming, spreading the "gospel", so to speak.

Then I started to get a lot of press about mtv.com, and some people started to wake up at 1515 Broadway (MTV's HQ in New York City). And I was served with a "Cease and desist" on the use of mtv.com. MTV's attourneys claimed that there could be "confusion" for users of the internet, when connecting to *anything* that had the letters mtv in the adress, and then receiving music and entertainment information. I was obviously hurt by this move, but did see what point they were driving at, an asked if we could settle this matter amicably.

The situation cooled down for a couple of months, but when I resigned on-air from my job as a VJ, which MTV chose not to air btw, things started to get ugly.

Long story short, MTV Networks has filed a lawsuit against me, for copyright infringement of their "trademark", that being their "MTV" call letters, as well as having information onlie that was MTVN "property". In this case they are refferring to several press releases I put up on mtv.com, such a an announcement about Beavis and Butthead's "experience" cd release. Understand that MTVN sent me these releases over their own internal computer network for this very purpose! Again, I was only doing this to promote the channel, not for my own personal gain..after all...mtv.com is free access for all, no charge.

Throughout all of this I have offered to maintain the site specifically for mtv, but again they said "we're not interested". Ofcourse I have no problem whatsoever removing all refrences to MTV Networks and it's projects from mtv.com, no that I don't work there anymore gives me even more reason to want to do this, but the kicker is they are moving for an injunction to make me stop using the internet address mtv.com!

This is ofcourse totally unacceptable, I registered the domain name, and I don't plan on giving it up. Sure MTV and their parent company Viacom have a vast legal team, but david also nailed goliath, so I have faith. In the long run, everyone knows that the only *true* winners will be the lawyers.

There are many different viewpoints on this situation, but I feel that the use of mtv in an addressing scheme can't be seen as an infringement of intellectulal propert laws, and a search of the InterNIC database shows at least 15 domain names registered with mtv in the address. Irony is that I incorporated a company called ON RAMP, Inc (tm) and onramp.com was already registered to someone else, but I'm not suing them :)

It appears to me that MTV has their mind set on the address mtv.com, maybe not for now, but posibly for future use, and I feel extremely used, in that I built up quite an audience for that address, and they are basically saying "thank you very much, you may go".

A pre-motion hearing is scheduled for this thursday morning at 11am, wit the honourable Judge McKenna presiding, in an attemp to get an injunction to make me stop using the address mtv.com. I will update the situation as it unfolds.

Adam Curry, [email protected]

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