Copyright infringement notices have been received by webmasters of several popular Pokémon fansites, in regards to content relating to Pokémon Black and White versions.
The first word of these was earlier today, when PokéBeach posted the following to their front page.
| “ WaterPokémonMaster, PokéBeach Webmaster: We just got a letter from Nintendo (edited to remove personal info obviously) asking to take down all of our Black and White images or bad stuff will happen. I called the lawyer who sent the letter and he said he'll be making the rounds on other Pokemon sites as well and that they're doing an investigation. I was first on their list. I'm about to go out while Bangiras plays the game due to a family emergency but I have 24 hours to remove the images. Joy! Anyways, we'll continue to play the game and report what we find like we've been doing. Oh and the lawyer said he likes my site. :p ”
Together with this was posted an edited (to protect personal information) copy of the email notification they received, which reads as follows.
| “ PokéBeach Copyright Infringement Notice:
URGENT & TIME SENSITIVE: IMMEDIATE ATTENTION REQUIRED
September 18, 2010
RE: Infringement of Nintendo of America Inc.’s Intellectual Property Rights
Dear Sir or Madam:
We are legal counsel to Nintendo of America Inc. (referred to here, with its parent and affiliated
companies, as “Nintendo”). As you are no doubt well aware, Nintendo is one of the world’s
leading developers and distributors of video game products. The Pokémon franchise is one of
Nintendo’s most popular game series, and the upcoming release of the Pokémon Black and
Pokémon White video games has garnered significant media attention. The intellectual property
associated with the games, including the copyright in the underlying software code, visual
depictions of the games, and characters found within the games, is the subject of copyright
protection in the United States and abroad.
We recently learned that you have posted screenshots and other protected content from the
Pokémon Black and Pokémon White games to your website at http://pokebeach.com. While
Nintendo appreciates your interest in and support of the Pokémon game series, your publication
of this content infringes Nintendo’s copyrights in violation of federal law. Your activity also and
has the potential to cause substantial damage to Nintendo, and leaves Nintendo with no choice
but to take steps to protect its intellectual property rights.
We have accordingly submitted a copyright infringement notice to your domain registrar under
the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and anticipate that your website will be taken down shortly.
We encourage you to immediately remove from your website all graphics, screenshots, and
other protected content taken from the Pokémon Black and Pokémon White games. Going
forward, you must also refrain from posting any screenshots, videos, or other content that
infringes Nintendo’s rights in the Pokémon series or any other game.
Your full and immediate compliance with the foregoing should render further action on
Nintendo’s part unnecessary. It is essential that we receive your written response confirming
that you have taken these necessary actions by Sunday, September 19, 12:00 p.m. PDT,
however, or Nintendo will have no choice but to consider its alternative legal remedies.
Please contact me if you would like to discuss this matter in further detail. Nothing stated herein
shall constitute a waiver of any rights or remedies of Nintendo of America Inc., its parent or
affiliated companies, all of which are expressly reserved. ”
Bulbagarden can now confirm that Joe Merrick (a.k.a. Serebii) of Serebii.net has also received an infringement notice. While he has requested that we not publish the notice in full, we have been permitted to see the original PDF notification that was sent to him. While there are some minor differences between the two, based on Joe being in the UK rather than the US, the content and format of the notices is for all intents and purposes identical to that received by PokéBeach.
Following further information posted in the discussion thread for this story on the Bulbagarden forums by WaterPokémonMaster, we are now confident in stating that this is not a hoax of any kind, and that these notices are legitimate. Both WaterPokémonMaster and Joe have since contacted the lawyer directly by phone. WaterPokémonMaster has made it clear in his statement on our forums that he does not wish to discuss the content of these discussions. The exact reasons for these notices having been sent to these sites are as of yet still not fully understood by Bulbagarden.
Although news website IGN reported that Bulbagarden had received an infringement notice also, this is false and their article has been duly edited. Two days after the initial reports, Bulbagarden has not received a notice. We have not been able to confirm if any sites other than PokéBeach and Serebii have also received notices. The two sites involved have complied and removed the offending images.