Oasis Webmaster Defends Fan Web Sites

Oasis are clamping down on unofficial band web sites. Photo by Jay Blakesberg.

To hear University of Kansas student Jack Martin tell his tale,

you'd think he was being banned from playing the Ozzfest with Marilyn Manson.

Martin, along with a couple hundred other Oasis fan page webmasters, received

an email missive last week from the band's official homepage, which instructed

them to remove copyrighted materials from their sites within 30 days or face

legal action.

At the subsequently posted Oasis Webmasters For Internet

Freedom site, OWIF webmaster Martin calls the directive "The Email Heard Round

The World." Flashing red numbers declare the "Days Till Deadline" (21 as of May

13), and a link takes fans to a collection of supportive Oasis lyrics for the

netheads under siege. The site also encourages visitors to sign up for an email

"daily briefing" on the situation.

In a press release, Martin claimed that

"This ultimatum jeopardizes the quality and, in many cases, existence of all

Oasis related, fan web sites."

The 18-year-old told ATN today that,

"There's a lot of people, that have the [copyrighted] material so integrated

into their site that it would be almost be easier to shut their sites down

altogether."

Martin says that at his own page, he would have to remove

lyrics as well as images that he has converted into link buttons.

According

to Oasisnet, the band's official site...



According to Oasisnet, the band's official site, the

material that must be removed encompasses "image, text, sound, and video files

used without permission of the copyright owners. This includes material from

official Sony/Creation/Epic sources and items obtained through other parties

(press interviews, television appearances, unauthorized recordings of live

performances, etc.)."

A spokesperson for Epic Records, Oasis' U.S. label,

was unavailable for comment. Sarah Frederiksen, the author of the letter from

the official web site, replied by email to a letter Martin sent her last week

instructing him to "Please wait for another statement form Oasis Internet

arriving soon."

Thus far no statement has been posted by email or at the

official web site.

Martin notes that the OWIF has made a compromise offer

to Sony and its subsidiaries. "What our main objective is, really, is to get

some sort of deal to allow us to use the images, lyrics, and press releases in

exchange for us removing sound and video files," he said. "But since no one at

the record label seems to want to talk to any of us, it's difficult to

negotiate."

An OWIF press release contends that fan pages are "free

24-hour, global advertising" for the band. Britain's New Musical Express

reports that Creation Records [Oasis' label in the U.K.] representative Johnny

Hopkins sees it differently. "I don't buy that idea that they're a 24-hour

advert for the band at all," the paper quoted Hopkins. "And I'm sorry, I don't

think it's against the spirit of the Internet. It's bootlegging. You don't want

people bootlegging T-shirts, or posters or CDs why should the Internet be any

different? Some of these sites are a labor of love but a lot aren't. They're

just writing loads of false reports."

Martin wonders whether Sony,

Creation, and Epic are truly concerned about copyrighted material, "or if

they're trying to get rid of rumors by totally shutting down sites. I have to

say that if they're trying to get rid of rumors, it'd be better to let us use

the official stuff, that way we could use the official press releases, instead

of having them totally cutting us off.

"If [webmasters] don't have any

official stuff, they'll be more likely in fact to use unconfirmed material,

unfortunately," Martin added. "It's a choice of using unconfirmed material or

having nothing to report at all, they're going to go with the unconfirmed

stuff."

The webmasters received the cease and desist email on May 5. The

message offered webmasters 30 days to observe its rules, at which time Oasisnet

will review all fan sites. Fan pages that comply will be linked to the official

site by a fan page section. Those that do not were threatened with

litigation.

So far, Martin has sought counsel about his situation from a

few sources. The Electronic Frontier Foundation "sent back a short messages

saying that unless we have a fair use exception, we are actually violating

Sony's copyright."

The soon to be college sophomore also spoke with his

father, who is an attorney. "He said to wait until the letters start arriving

via registered mail before I take anything off my site," said Martin. "Then I

would know they were serious."