The Hot Topic: Crackdown Or Smackdown?

Rob Taylor

Greetings and welcome to another epidode of THT… A Lot has gone on in recent weeks, so lets take a quick peek..

Unforgiven was at best a C grade show for me, Flair’s win for the IC title was somewhat ruined by him Arsing about with those women (next thing Vince will say one is his daug…oh thats right already done…) Flair will be a good IC champ though, I hope they avoid the obvious Triple H feud and pair him with Masters…That would be an interesting IC title fued…something we haven’t had since Jericho and Christian…Sorry Shelton, but it’s true…

What dragged Unforgiven down for me was poor build up to most of the matches. Cade and Murdoch were default winners of the title, it really is time to put the tag belts on one show for a while… Kerwin White and Benjamin had all the drama of a wet teabag… Snitsky and Big Show was a by the numbers replacement for the truly interesting Show/Masters feud that got binned.

The Cage match clawed it back, as did a surprisingly mature performance from Masters. He took advantage of the rub HBK seemed forced to give. Angle and Cena was let down by the DQ… sure it gets Cena over as doing anything to retain, but I’d have rather seen Angle go over, only for Vince to overturn it.

Mark Copani was finally released in one of the least shocking moves of the year. A lot is being said that the guy was only using WWE as a stepping stone, well didn’t Brock Lesnar do just that in favor of a football career that ended even quicker than Hassan’s WWE career? Didn’t Hulk Hogan admit he wants to try and get Brooke publicity while he is back? WWE will have blood on its hands for a long time over this one…the irony is that things are back on track with Bret Hart now… but once more It’s handling of workers who have unexpected problems is it’s achillies heel.

Onto our main topic, and it’s actually one I am right with WWE on…to an extent.

Over recent weeks, there have been reports of a crackdown by WWE Legal on websites using it’s trademarks, pictures, intellectual property and storylines.

From news sites to dedicated fan sites, pictures have been “ripped down” at the behest of WWE, who argue their use infringes copyright and the cries of “foul” from fans and site owners are audible in every corner of the net.

This was inevitable….and sorry to say, totally correct… As a semi-pro musician, I have to pay if I want to cover a song and sell a copy of it at my gigs. Just as I would want someone to do if they recorded and covered one of my songs. I could probably “get away” with doing it, but I’d be furious if someone “got away” with selling a song I wrote for their own gain without even asking me. For a long time wrestling and the net has been either oblivious, ignorant or apathetic to that concept. Wrestling sites in general steal from everywhere.

Take the example of E-Fedding…How many of you who indulge in the hobby of Roleplaying a wrestler have come across or played in a fed that blatantly allows real life wrestlers? How many feds have you seen that have “Stone Cold” Steve Austin v Jericho as it’s main event?

As someone who fedded for over 10 years, I am proud never to have been involved in such a fed, not that those who do should be ashamed…but they have been using someone elses character. Admittedly most feds do not charge their players, but many do get money from advertising… Money that is being made from WWE copyrights, if I created a gimmick and found Joe Bloggs from Iowa making ad money on the back of them… I’d sue too…

News sites have long had sections with photo’s and video’s to draw hits and many are businesses, they charge advertisers based on the number of hits they get. Sure most come to them for news, but every time someone takes a copy of a photo, they are stealing a copyright. Not necesarrily the WWE or TNA’s, but the guy who physically took the picture… Some post them on sites cos they want to, and that is fine, but can every site say they check with every photographer it’s ok.

Of course there are some matters where WWE is being a little excessive, if someone is doing a simple tribute or fan site, with no advertising, I see little harm in using one or two “stock” pictures, that is pictures either cleared for use by the fed, wrestler, photographer…whoever has the right to say yes… WWE could create such a stock, of authorised photos that genuine, non-profit sites could use.

In the UK we have a law called “fair-dealing” that means copyright is able to be circumvented if the use is for educational purposes, a website for a school project for example, or for review purposes. Broadcasting is a no-no though, and publishing a site on the web is broadcasting…

WWE and indeed TNA as it grows have a library of images,video,music,interviews & speech it has taken time, money and effort to build. It has a value to them as an organisation and is the foundation of their business… If everyone takes TNA pics or videos and puts them on their news site, how would TNA be able to grow? It has a value to us as fans too, but their right as producers of that library is their right to charge what they want to for us to view or use it for our gain. WWE has shareholders, people who put their money into the company on the basis of that library, without all those past shows,incidents, PPV’s and TV. WWE has nothing, no legacy, no reason for the shows it puts out weekly. So it will naturally protect that library and thus it’s share price, cos if those shareholders pull their investments…bye bye WWE.

So next time you rip a pic off of a site or download a ring entrance just remember that you are actually damaging the business you love and in today’s uncertain times, Wrestling needs every dollar it can muster.

As ever tell me what you think at….only joking

Till next time.

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