The following is the screed that was on https://www.mushroom.com for the better part of today before being pulled. For historic value, I have posted my archived copy. Since Mr. Murphy is apparently the litigious sort, I have changed every occurrence within the text of the word "Mushroom" with the words "Ricky Martin". It's the least I could do for these two great Americans. With that, we give you:

 


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It really sucks that I have to write this...
by Kevin Murphy (and notice- there is a byline)

When I started this site, I did so to have some fun and poke some fun at the industry. I had never seen a "fake gaming news" site, and figured, "Since I've never seen it, I guess I'll just have to make it."

I was waiting for my flight to depart Atlanta, and I came up with the above idea. But what could I call it? It'd be like The Onion, which is, in my opinion, the funniest Internet site there is, but it'd be about games.

Hmm. What would be good?

After a few seconds, it just came to me. "Ricky Martin." Perfect. It'd be a tribute to The Onion, while being Mario's power-up. I wouldn't have to worry about lawsuits because if The Onion is fake, Ricky Martin would obviously be too.

To this day, I still get hate mail for "ripping off" The Onion. Yeah, The Onion is so good that it can parody others, but cannot be parodied itself. If people don't like this site, I don't give a shit. Really. There are a million other sites out there. Go.

Now, about a year later, I have been accused of stealing graphics and HTML from The Onion.

This site was 100% designed in Macromedia Dreamweaver. All the images used herein are thought to be either public domain, or they fall under the "fair use" clause, or they were taken by our staff.

Monday, I found that a "competitor" to Ricky Martin, National Game Review, used one of our images in one of their stories.

I once did a parody of Iliad's User Friendly comic. I took some of his images, took the words out, and typed in my own.

Hours later, I was emailed by Iliad, who very politely asked me to take them down. I did. I asked him why me doctoring his images was wrong. He explained that if he lets me do it, then he has set a precedent, and then virtually anyone can use his images without paying him. If we draw the images ourselves, however, then we're fine.

So we did.

Now, I'm worried about the same thing Iliad was worried about. So, I sent the guys at NGR the following email:

Date: Mon, 7 Jun 1999 13:40:48 -0700 (PDT)
From: Kevin Murphy <[email protected] Martin.com>
To: [email protected]om
Subject: Copyright Infringement

Hey guys,

Please take down the picture used at
https://www.nationalgamereview.com/99.6.6/moree3.html

It was stolen directly from our Web site, and you have no permission to
use it.

This is what I got in return:

howdy,

we'd like to take it down, but its just too hilarious. Let me introduce
you to the 1997 case Polydorous vs. 20th Century fox. in short - "While
broadcasters and filmmakers often obtain clearances for images and
likenesses to avoid libel conflicts, the appeals court ruling indicated
these are not legally required in the case of fictional treatments."

https://www.freedomforum.org/speech/news/971121a.asp

As our friends in Degeneration X like to say, suck it.

your friends,

-NGR

I'd like to think my letter was pretty professional. Theirs was, until they said "suck it." It's a bad idea to use that term when someone you disagree with may want to take legal action against you.

So, I went to the site they cited, and sent a letter to their contact person, asking how they could steal from me legally. I read the paragraph, and it didn't seem to make sense to me. I got this reply:

Mr. Murphy:

Your e-mail was forwarded to the First Amendment Center's research
department. After reviewing the case Polydoros v. Twentieth Century Fox
Film Corporation that National Game Review references we believe it to be
inapplicable to your situation. This case deals with invasion of privacy by
appropriating a person's name or likeness for commercial purposes.

The situation you describe falls more into the copyright area. I suggest
the book "How to Use Images Legally," by Scott Tambert. You can e-mail him
at [email protected] <mailto:[email protected]> or his web site is
https://www.PDImages.com <https://www.PDImages.com> . Mr. Tambert has spent
many years researching the use of images and should be able to answer your
question.

I also suggest you contact the American Institute of Graphic Artists
(https://www.aiga.org) <https://www.aiga.org)> . They regularly deal with
images on web sites and the rights involved.

Tiffany Villager, Research Manager

So, I kindly forwarded those comments to NGR, who still have not commented on it.

Then, I get an email from a fan of ours asking what we did to Old Man Murray. I went to their site, and saw some them bashing us. It was just last week that I had a pretty friendly email exchange with one of their staff! In their trashing of us, they accused this site of stealing HTML from the Onion.

This is what I wrote to them (and notice they didn't print this letter!):

It's really disappointing to me that I had some friendly e-mail exchanged
with Erik last week and then you have to go and blast Ricky Martin this
week.

First off, NGR's satire of us is fine. They can run satire of us all day
and all night long. Neither my staff or I have any problems with that.

What we do have a problem with is their use of our image. They can run a
pic of whomever they want, as long as they legally own the pic, or they
have permission from us.

They don't.

I did a parody of Iliad's User Friendly comic strip a few issues ago. I
blindly took his art and used it on my site, changing the words to the
comics.

I was contacted by him within a matter of hours. He asked me to remove
the comics, because I didn't have the right to use them. If he let me use
them, then he sets a precedent, and then anyone else could use them.
That's bad (for him.)

He told me that if we draw them ourselves, then we are legally in the
right. That's good.

So, I took down the comics, had them drawn, and uploaded them a few days
later.

I do not see why I'm getting blasted by your site for defending my
intellectual property rights. And you're reporting news, so you can use
the picture.

As far as the similar look of Ricky Martin and the Onion, well...I did all
of the graphics and HTML of Ricky Martin myself, so I can legally use all
of it.

As for your comments on Rob Budrick's article, I'm not him, so I can't
speak for him. He wants to write legitimately one day (and I will be
writing for a big publication really soon), and his point was that
companies at E3 are there for publicity, so why would they be pricks to
anyone?

Thank you for your time, and I really hope you can see our side on this,
even if you disagree.

After thinking a bit, I sent this:

While it is ok that you are using the picture from our site, it's not OK
that you have libeled my staff and I.

Please remove the line that says, "Actual Unfunny site:
Ricky Martin (not even the stolen html is as nice.)" as none of the HTML
is stolen. The site was 100% created in Dreamweaver, with some tweaks
done manually, by me.

I feel like a prick, but I know my media law, and you cannot say that The
Ricky Martin steals HTML without solid proof. And if you view the HTML source
for both pages, they look radically different.

 

I knew I was inviting them to make fun of me and this site, but I didn't care. Isn't it weird, how NGR steals from me, yet *I'm* accused of stealing?

Finally, just a few minutes ago, I got this from NGR:

Howdy!

This was not a smart thing to put on your site (ed's note: they are referencing this):

"Ahead of me were a bunch of hacks from one of our competitors, the
National Gaming Review. They were young and frightened-looking. They
weren't ready for this kind of official treatment. They looked around
nervously, like they knew they weren't supposed to be in the same company
as such distinguished luminaries such as PC Gamer, Next Generation and
yours truly."

Its incorrect, the youngest person with us was 24, and the 'frightened'
bit is hilarious. You don't go to a conference with NGR unless you've got
brass balls. Its also incorrect in that everybody with us preregistered,
thus we didn't have to print out our badges. A pretty clear case of libel
by your definition. As soon as your site put this up about us, it the
became open season. The only thing that is funny about you is the way in
which you feel that you can write anything you want, and use pictures from
anyone you like, yet you freak out so horribly when we use one picture
from your site and when Old Man Murray says you stole the Onion's HTML.

Do you honestly believe I am afraid that you will get the law involved in
this? Here's your case: after Ricky Martin put up a bunch of incorrect and
generally slanderous things about our staff, NGR took one of your pictures
for use in a story about how game companies use models to lure pathetic
people to their booths. The picture taken is the most perfect example of
this phenomenon I could even think of finding. We cropped the picture to
remove as much of Burdick's face as possible, then blurred out the rest.
I'm sure a jury will award you millions.

You placed an article about "how nobody treated us with respect at E3,
even though you were VERY professional at the show" between multiple scans
of floor ponies with very professional captions underneath like "Say
cheese, honey. She's the only Eidos girl who hasn't made Playboy. We are
still baffled as to why." If you can't comprehend why this is hilarious, I
suggest you get out of the humor business. Considering you guys attempt
to make fun of people in the industry, its pretty awesome how worked up
you are getting when somebody makes fun of you.

Fucking with National Game Review is a really really bad idea, I hope you
have learned your lesson. In either case the picture will stay up forever
and ever as a little reminder to you and yours. The more you attempt to
annoy us into taking it down, the more determined I will be that it stays
up.

As a close to this episode, I feel I must quote a good friend of mine
with, "suck balls, palsy sow."

Well, obviously, we were not libeling them because that whole article was full of half-truths. It's not our fault you have to have a reading-comprehension above most third graders to understand what's going on.

So, why have I written this? Well, I feel a need to defend this site. Our writers do a damned good job, I think. And we're the only satire site headed by a true journalist (just ask any of the other webmasters where they got their Stylebook, and see if they even know what you're takling about.)

We've been accused of stealing ideas and bits and pieces of other stories as well. Rest assured, it's never happened. I've had my work stolen before, and I know what it feels like. Neither my staff, nor myself, would ever do that to anyone else, ever.

The other thing is that I wanted to show you how unprofessional everyone else is to us. I will admit, I've let my emotions get the better of me in some of my email exchanges with NGR and OMM, but only after they've been completely unprofessional with me first.

Obviously, both NGR and OMM have no respect for copyright or libel laws. That's sad, because when they want legitimate work, they won't be able to get it. But then again, if we, like Edd Schneider at NGR, didn't use our names on this site, we might be more tempted to disregard others' intellectual properties.

So, I wanted to let all of you who got here from OMM know the truth. I've tried to balance it here. I think I've presented both sides of the argument, and I really want to know what you think. Drop me a line, only if you can be halfway intelligent about it.

It's really discouraging. I didn't start this site to make enemies, I did it because I genuinely wanted to show my love for this industry and the people in it, and I show my love for people by making fun of them. It may be twisted, but it's me.

So, there's the whole story. Now, I'm getting back to my life for a while.


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