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Old 08-03-2007, 01:34 AM   #1
thegauntlet
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Default Frivolous lawsuit?

Welp...I got served! I am being sued for copyright infringement. No it is not the RIAA or ASCAP (i pay them BTW). I am being sued by another webmaster. He claims I am infringing on his copyrighted meta tags. Can you copyright a meta tag??? Anyways. We have somewhat similiar websites as we both deal with heavy metal.

His Meta Tags:
<META NAME="description" CONTENT="Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Radio, video, news, reviews, interviews, cd premieres, chat, and concerts. The Heavy Metal Supersite since 1995.">

<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="heavy metal, hard rock, internet, online, radio, heavy, metal, guitar, hard, rock, music, mp3, hardradio, heavy metal radio, webcast, news, video, interviews, reviews, releases, podcast, windows media, broadcast, network">

My Meta Tags:
<META NAME="description" CONTENT="hard rock and heavy metal news, videos, metal news, cd reviews, interviews, concerts">

<META NAME="keywords" CONTENT="heavy metal, metal news, news, hard rock, guitar tabs, death metal, metalcore, music, mp3, hardcore, heavy metal radio, news, video, interviews, cd reviews, new releases, linkin park, Anthrax, Iron Maiden, Metallica, Megadeth, Pantera, Ozzy Osbourne, Motley Crue, ac/dc, Judas Priest, Alice Cooper, WASP, Black Sabbath, Guns n' Roses, Slayer, Motorhead">

If I every thought I'd get sued for a meta tag, it would be for having a band name. I don't have his site name anywhere in my keyword or description...or anywhere as a tag in my <head>. I guess it is for my attorney to figure out...oh joy.
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Old 08-03-2007, 12:58 PM   #2
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Wow, that seems like a really trivial and dumb reason for a lawsuit. The tags aren't even the same ... similar, but that's to be expected for similar sites. Do the META tags even matter anymore? Maybe a little, but not much in terms of SEO ...

I suspect he's hoping the lawsuit will just scare you off or something? Not sure what he's thinking on this one.
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Old 08-03-2007, 02:27 PM   #3
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Just when I thought I had seem everything.

Have you checked out the legitimacy of the person who "served" you?
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Old 08-03-2007, 02:50 PM   #4
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Yes, I don't know him personally, but I know of him. One of those people who had one of the first metal websites around, I think he is at 13 years, I am at 11 years with mine so he is just seeing his traffic drying up in my opinion. I'm not too concerned with it, I think I am most curious as to why someone would even be able to copyright a metatag with such generalized keywords. I realize for him, keywords are everything as his site is largely audio based which can't be indexed by google or other bots.
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Old 08-03-2007, 03:46 PM   #5
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Oh, so you haven't had a "legal" letter yet? You mentioned you had been served
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Old 08-04-2007, 11:57 AM   #6
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sorry for the confusion. I only got a 'cease and desist' at this point. Next will be the actual lawsuit I assume as I am not changing anything. I might update the bands in my meta tags as they are old, but having 'heavy metal news' and 'cd reviews' will stay.
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Old 08-06-2007, 08:34 AM   #7
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I'm no legal expert, but I'm pretty sure that is one of the most ridiculous lawsuit threats I've heard yet. Unless your meta tags were identical he doesn't have a leg to stand on, and even if they were identical, I don't think the lawsuit would get anywhere.

-Tim
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Old 08-06-2007, 12:01 PM   #8
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Hopefully if it does go to court he'll have to pay your legal costs when he loses and you'll have one less competitor. Can't believe how idiotic he is for trying that.
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Old 08-07-2007, 12:32 PM   #9
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I doubt this will hold in court... actually as some words of satisfaction, from what I have seen lately many judges have recently taken it upon them selves to actually make an example of those joining in on the latest trend of ridiculous lawsuits, I'm sure this will be ripped in half.
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Old 01-02-2008, 07:46 PM   #10
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OK...today I got served from an attorney...for my metatag usage. I still don't know what I am doing wrong with my metatags, but i got sued over them. It is funny as they cite my usage of the other sites trademark (which I don't have anywhere on my site mentioned nor ever have) along with the metatag usage as being too similiar. I agree, they are similiar...not many ways to say I review cd's and have music news and interviews on my site. My lawyer has the 'bring it on' attitude which is cool, but i hate being sued for something so ludicrus.
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Old 01-03-2008, 06:29 PM   #11
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Of course your lawyer would say "bring it on." He gets paid either way.

Their claim is crazy and certainly won't go far, but make sure you wrangle this in such a way as to ensure you're able to counter-claim for costs. Your victory will be bittersweet if you're still out of pocket several thousand dollars because of this situation.

If nothing else, try to leverage the ludicrous nature of this lawsuit to bring more attention to your website.
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Old 01-05-2008, 06:45 PM   #12
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My lawyer has found numerous lawsuits filed by this guy. He has won some, lost some, had numerous high $ judgements against him to which he has responded by filing bankruptcy (3 times since 1995).
The good thing is I have a ex-federal copyright/trademark judge as a neighbor. When he found out it was filed in a Texas court, he made some calls for me and got Mark Cuban's lawyers on the phone with my lawyer.
The bad is just for me to respond, it will cost around $5,000!!!
Are metatags even relevant anymore? Worse case scenario, I am guilty of using similiar metatags to his copyrighted ones. From what I understand of SEO, metatags aren't even used by the search engines. I did a google search on all the keywords in my tags and his and I do come out higher ranked. But from what I understand, metatags are obsolete.
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Old 01-05-2008, 10:50 PM   #13
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They're not obsolete, but they certainly don't carry the weight that they used to - with any of the major engines.

The "description" tag is still read quite frequently by search engines and is often represented within search results if there's no other readable text on the page. The "keywords" tag is almost entirely ignored these days. It still seems to carry a tiny bit of weight with some engines, but since it's so easy to develop 'spammy' or inaccurate keyword tags, most engines again only seem to pay attention to meta keyword tags if there's little to no visible text on a page.

What will happen if you don't respond? It would be nice to get out of this without having to spend a dime; particularly if the guy who filed the suit has a history of reneging on his financial commitments. You don't want this ridiculously petty little issue to consume too much of your time or resources in 2008.
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Old 01-06-2008, 04:03 AM   #14
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I think there is no way he can sue you for using a metatag with certain text in it.

Maybe he is just trying to get press?
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Old 01-07-2008, 07:25 PM   #15
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So my lawyer, my donated lawyer and the plantiff's lawyer got on the phone today. I guess when you have donated legal help, they don't want things drawn out. Basically this will all go away if I change my metatags in the slightest way, list "interviews" before "CD reviews". By changing the order, his lawyers say they won't be as similiar. I think it is their way of ducking out of this quietly without actually going to trial. My gut is to not change anything and force their next move as I feel they showed signs of weakness. But I will be changing the position so I don't start the year in the red, as hurt as my pride may be.

I don't think he was trying to get any press. I would have loved it over something so trivial. I think the guy is one of those people who has lost a lot of traffic over the years and holds his metatags responsible. I think he'd be better off putting some time into his website and getting some content going.

Last edited by thegauntlet; 01-07-2008 at 09:16 PM.
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