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The ESA Saga Continues

Following is the exact copy of the e-mail the ESA (formerly the IDSA) sent to us, requesting the removal of all copyrighted material belonging to their members.

Before this letter, the ESA had already sent an e-mail to our domain registrar in November 2000, requesting that they remove the site. That was more or less a futile action, as Register.com is merely our domain registrar, not our host, and their services agreement clearly imdemnify them from any liabilities or damages that may arise from sites whose domains they manage.

Regardless of this "gaffe," and the strange fact that the ESA did not contact us directly (let alone asking US to do anything), we removed hundreds of games believed to be copyrighted by their members, as an act of goodwill. The large majority of these games were gradually added back to the site, as we hear comforting news from industry insiders (including those who work for ESA members) that certain ESA members no longer care enough about their out-of-print oldies to prosecute those who distribute them.


Thursday, June 14, 2001

Dear Sarinee Achavanuntakul and/or domain-registrar@register.com,

I am an authorized representative of the Interactive Digital Software Association ("IDSA"), which represents the intellectual property interests of over thirty companies that publish interactive games for video game consoles, personal computers, handheld devices and the Internet.

IDSA is providing this letter of notification pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and 17 USC =A7 512 (c) to make you aware of material on your network or system that infringes the exclusive copyright rights of one or more IDSA members. This notice is addressed to you as the agent designated by Sarinee Achavanuntakul and Register.com to receive notifications of claimed infringement, as so reflected in the current records of the U.S. Copyright Office. Under penalty of perjury, we hereby affirm that the IDSA is authorized to act on behalf of the IDSA members whose exclusive copyright rights we believe to be infringed as described herein.

IDSA has a good faith belief that the Internet site found at http://www.theunderdogs.org infringes the rights of one or more IDSA members by offering for illegal sale one or more unauthorized copies of one or more game products protected by copyright, including, but not limited to: Adventures of Lomax, Adventures in Serenia, Adventure Construction Set, The Dambusters, Darklands, Deadlock, Deathtrack, Covert Action, Conqueror AD 1086, et al.

The unauthorized copies of such game product[s] appearing on, or made available through, such site are listed and/or identified on such Internet site by their titles, variations thereof or depictions of associated artwork (any such game titles, copies, listings and/or other depictions of, or references to, any contents of such game product, are hereinafter referred to as "Infringing Material"). Based on the information at its disposal on 6/14/2001 16:05:32 PM Eastern Standard Time, IDSA believes that the statements in this notice are accurate and correctly describe the infringing nature and status of the Infringing Material.

Accordingly, IDSA hereby requests Sarinee Achavanuntakul and Register.com to immediately remove or disable access to the Infringing Material at the URL address identified above.

Should you have any questions, please contact IDSA at the following address, telephone and fax numbers, and/or e-mail address:

Interactive Digital Software Association
Attn: DMCA Enforcement
1211 Connecticut Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
Telephone: 202-223-2400
Fax: 202-223-2401
E-mail: dmca@idsa.com


Robert L. Hunter, IV
Anti-Piracy Enforcement
Interactive Digital Software Association

It is quite ironic that even though that the ESA believes their statement is "accurate and correctly describe the infringing nature," the letter makes some obvious mistakes. First, they accuse us of "illegal sale" of copyrighted games, which we have never done. Further, they listed MicroProse's Darklands as one game we are infringing copyright, while in reality we have only an order link to where one can buy the game. These errors clearly illustrates that the ESA simply never checks the site thoroughly before making decisions. At least they did contact the right people this time ;)

June 15 update: after our protests, the ESA sent us a revised letter, replacing the words "illegal sale" with "illegal downloads." Thank you, Mr. Hunter :)

To comply with the ESA, we have removed around 320 games we believe to be copyrighted by ESA members-- many of those were the same games we removed once before, in November 2000. We (or more accurately our lawyer friends) are currently in touch with the ESA for clarifications on their letter, as well as seeking exemptions or potential assistance in our efforts. If you want to write them at the address above, please be civil. Let the ESA know what diehard gamers we are, not how immature. Please read some letters from visitors who have written them about it, if you are unsure of how to react ;) We would appreciate copies of your letters to add to that page.

The ESA's latest act is unfortunate, as some of their members certainly do care about the preservation of oldies much more than the ESA. We regret the ESA's single-minded emphasis on protecting their members' rights, regardless of the fact that the possibility that some of these games will be re-released, or even given away for free, is extremely remote. What is the likelihood that Sierra will re-release Adventures in Serenia, a 1985 game that was quoted in the ESA's e-mail? We think very few people, if any, at Sierra nowadays even know this classic, let alone the fact that they have copyright over it.

We will step up our efforts to free these oldies, so that one day everyone will be able to see how far the gaming industry has come-- or how low it has sunk, depending on your perspective. The ESA's letter highlights the irony that nowadays, it is not game companies who care about out-of-print classics, part of our 20th century heritage: it is gamers/game collectors like us. May the memories never fade.

-Underdogs, June 15, 2001

Disclaimer: Home of the Underdogs does not claim rights to any software on the site. To the best of our knowledge, these titles have been discontinued by their publishers. If you know otherwise, please contact us and we will remove them accordingly. Thank you for your attention.

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