On Friday, 27th June 1997, the old Crackerbox Palace site was shut down by Geocities at the request of George Harrison's lawyers. Apparently I had infringed on Mr Harrison's "intellectual property rights". The only notification I received about this was the following email message from Geocities after they had already shut the site down.
Date: Fri, 27 Jun 1997 11:03:03 -0700 From: alertMy first reaction was to notify recipients of The DarkHorse Bulletin of the closure of Crackerbox Palace. It didn't take long before the messages of support started reaching me. (Thank you!)
To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Copyright Violation Dear Community Member, Your web site has been removed from GeoCities for copyright violations. [Name deleted] law firm representing Mr. Harrison has requested that your web site be withdrawn from our service for infringing on Mr. Harrison's intellectual property rights. Please do not repost this material. Thank You, Community Response Team www.geocities.com
I understand that George Harrison's lawyers probably had some good reason to close down the old Crackerbox Palace, but what I don't understand is exactly what that reason was. I made sure from the day I started work on Crackerbox Palace that I didn't include any copyright material. The site was to be entirely a tribute to George Harrison. There were no lyrics, no chords, no sound-files, no album covers nor any copyrighted photos. The only thing I can think of that may have breached copyright would be the quote page, but that was hardly threatening.
On Saturday I emailed both Geocities and George's lawyers to ask for an explanation as to how I had breached George's copyright. Geocities replied, telling me to take it up with George's lawyers. George's lawyers so far have ignored my two email messages to them...
On Sunday, 29 June 1997 I started work on this new Crackerbox Palace site. Luckily I had kept all the artwork from the last site, so not all was lost. I decided early on not to use the background that had worked so well for the last site. I must admit, although I really liked that background, this white one's not looking too shabby at all. :)
I phoned George Harrison's lawyers on Friday, 4th July at around 1 am (this is Australian time, I guess it would have been about 3 pm Thursday over there in the UK). I told them about my situation, and that all I wanted from them was an explanation in plain English as to how I had erred, and why the site had to be shut down. They surprisingly enough, passed the buck back to Geocities, saying they were "not in a position to talk about it". I'm sure somebody is in that position... Before hanging up, I asked them who was responsible for the closure of Crackerbox Palace- George Harrison or them (the lawyers). Skirting the question with the dexterity only a lawyer can perfect, they replied, "Well, we work for Mr Harrison."
Since I refuse to believe George had anything to do personally with closing down Crackerbox Palace, I would assume that the lawyers acted on George's behalf (without consulting George on the matter).
All I want is an answer to this very simple question- "Why?" If this question's too hard for George's lawyers, it's probably about time he got some new ones.
I don't want my old site back- that's history. As George Harrison himself once sang- "Ring out the old, ring in the new". It's nice every now and then to have a fresh start, and I look forward to seeing how this new site develops over the coming months.
On Monday, 21 July, I wrote this letter and posted it to George's lawyers. It should take about a week to reach them (Australia - UK airmail takes this long)...
I've used your comments from the Dear Lawyers page. Thanks for those! They're bound to make an impression on those lawyers. We've finally removed that page, so if you didn't get to vent, you missed the bus. But that's OK, because I don't care about those pesky lawyers anymore.
I'll keep you all updated on my progress with those fiendish lawyers. Thank you.
Still no word from those lawyers. I have a feeling I'll never hear from them again. Well, I hope never to hear from them again, because if I do, it'll probably be about this page rather than the old one. As you can probably tell, I've given up on the lawyers, and I don't really care anymore. If they want to be jerks, fine, so long as they leave me alone from now on. :)