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
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
Martin says that at his own page, he would have to remove
lyrics as well as images that he has converted into link buttons.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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."