Artist uses “fandom” as his legal defense.
It’s pretty well-known that developer Bethesda is pretty protective of its trademarks, and is no stranger to laying down the law to secure its interests. However, when it recently sent a cease and desist letter to internet entrepreneur Erling Løken Andersen, requesting he hand over the reigns to his Fallout-themed art site, Andersen decided to give Bethesda a taste of its own medicine and shot back with his own legal letter.
In late 2011, Andersen set up a website called “Fallout-posters.com”, dedicated to fan images inspired by Fallout 3 and Fallout: New Vegas, several of which were created by Andersen himself. However, Bethesda felt that his site and its content were hitting a little too close to home, and demanded that Andersen take down all of the infringing images and cede control of the website to Bethesda.
Although complying with the request to take down the art, Andersen determined that he hadn’t done anything wrong in purchasing a domain with “Fallout” in the name and composed a lengthy rebuttal contesting each of Bethesda’s infringement claims. In a fair amount of legalese, Andersen posits that both his artwork and his website were created under Fair Use and weren’t made with the goal of contesting any of Bethesda’s trademarks. Andersen even goes so far as to state that Bethesda had no claim over the use of the word “fallout” in the first place.
“I’m not out looking for trouble. I set up the website out of pure ‘fandom’, and the last thing I wanted – or expected – was to be threatened with a lawsuit by Bethesda,” wrote Andersen on his blog. “What pisses me off isn’t the fact that they’re looking out for their trademark – as they have every right to do so. What I’m pissed about are large companies abusing their monetary power, hiring global law firms to go after a fan online, immediately threating [sic] with a lawsuit.”
While it’s certainly impressive that Andersen played the law card in a manner almost as impressive as Bethesda’s lawyers, what’s a little sketchy is how Andersen suggested that Bethesda would’ve gotten a better response had it sent him some Fallout swag first before siccing its lawyers on him. Making things even more awkward is how Andersen decries Bethesda’s method of protecting its trademarks almost within the same breath as stating he understands the reasoning behind sending him a cease and desist in the first place.
Andersen has yet to say if he’s received a reply from Bethesda’s lawyers in regards to his response. For now, the Fallout-posters.com website is still up and operational, albeit with the supposedly infringing artwork removed.