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The FootyTweets “Cease and Desist” Story

FootyTweets logo

Before I start here is a link to a Wikipedia article explaining what a Cease and Desist letter is.

If you follow me on Twitter (@ollieparsley) then you will have found out last night (2nd April) that I received a Cease and Desist notice from a company that looks after the Premier League and Football Leagues copyright online. Of course I checked that the company was legitimate and I am unhappy to say that they are legitimate.

This essentially comes from the Football DataCo (that is owned by the Premier League and Football League) via a company that looks after their online copyright. You can read an enlightening wikipedia article about previous contraversies. This one too from a few years ago regarding a Watfor Fanzine site.

What did it say?

The email I first received said FootyTweets was “using the UK Club Crests and League logos without permission from the Clubs or the UK Leagues“. The e-mails that then went back and forth went on to add the fact that I need a licence to display fixtures (I looked on their site and it would be £52,000!). Further to this I was told I need another licence to display match updates. I currently get this from an outside source and then send them to Twitter.

It was also mentioned that a number of clubs (I asked 3 times in separate emails who they were and the question was avoided all 3 times) and they wanted their content removed. So if they won’t tell me who the clubs are I can’t remove their content!

What do I have to change?

  • Remove all UK club logos
  • Remove all UK league logos
  • Stop match updates untill I buy a licence that will allow me to do 9 updates per match (ridiculous). But I can post all the match updates after the game is over. Don’t think thats very useful though.
  • Remove the content of some football clubs, but they won’t say which!

What have I done so far?

  • Removed the Premier League and Football League logos
  • Removed the Football Leagues from the site untill I create some copyright free logos (Championship, League One and League Two)
  • Replaced the Premier League logos with shirts that might look vaguely similar to some shirts worn in a top UK league (don’t want to get into trouble again!)
  • Disabled match updates. BUT! I have an idea for crowd sourcing match updates for you (and me), the true fans.

What I haven’t done

  • I am allowed to carry on with the news articles as normal

Why was I frustrated?

If you were reading my tweets last night you would have felt my frustration. I was so angry and frustrated I took the dog for a walk at 11:30pm. But why was I like this? Rather than bore you with paragraphs I will just list them.

  • I make no money
  • The ads on the site cover a tiny bit of other costs like hosting etc
  • I am sending the clubs a lot of traffic. In some cases thousands a month
  • I have a created a new way for them to engage their fans in a social network that they will probably not venture in to for years
  • I still have 70 club logos to make.
  • I have e-mail each club individually and ask permission to use their logo/crest.
  • I am not insulting them at all, quite the opposite. I am increasing their reach.
  • They won’t tell me the clubs that have complained. I want to know so I can talk to them about how there is not a downside to this for them.
  • They have taken an “old media” stance on this. By which I mean sending these notes rather than embracing the face that they are getting publicity. Which I consider to be backwards and not helping promote themselves as a forward thinking company and are simply “reactive” instead of “proactive”.

Thanks to the fans

I want to take this opportunity to thank everyone for the kind messages they have send. I have not had one single bad reply. Thanks so much I really really appreciate it.

I believe we can overcome this and together make an awesome FootyTweets service

I really believe that we can come together and make our own match updates and news feeds using the power of Twitter, ReTweeting, Hashtags and URL’s. I have some ideas that I will run past in a survey. Hopefully we can get match updates back up and better than before.

Please comment away below and I will try to respond promtly.


Update: I think that if we can come together and create a standard way of writing match updates then I, and others can integrate it into FootyTweets and other apps. What do you think?

For instance I could tweet “#goal Bent scored in the 90th minute #thfc 1 – 0 #mufc”. This would mean that Marcus Bent scored a goal for Tottenham Hotspur in the 90th minute and the current score is now 1-0.

46 Responses to “The FootyTweets “Cease and Desist” Story”

  1. Robert Day says:

    Sorry to hear about the request, it’s a real shame that they can’t work to sort this out instead just asking you to take everything down.

    The crowd sourcing idea for match updates sounds really interesting, can’t wait to see what you come up with in the future.

    • Yeah there is no way to get any sense out of them. I wrote paragraphs back to them and got a few lines back. Completely disinterested in talking about it. I was discussing the idea with @PaulRandall just now and we think with a combination of @replies, hashtags, correct syntax and RT’s it could be friggin awesome.


  2. Paul Randall says:

    I hope the site grows in strength because of this.

    Football is the national sport, and stopping a great service like Footy Tweets would be awful.

    I certainly find it invaluable when I haven’t got Sky Sports News, or Five Live on.

    I have also visited my teams site much, much more than I usually do, and have started going back, even when there isn’t a Footy Tweets link.

  3. @stevecs says:

    It always comes down to money doesn’t it? they don’t care about the fans keeping upto date unless they can make more money out of them and then all of a sudden it’s “all about the fans”

    What’s the bet the company that is sending out the cease and desists thinks it’s a great idea and then steal the idea themselves.

    Every fan who can should now as you have mentioned should # all scores as they happen via what ever medium they get the scores so that other fans can follow them.

    Or will they then try and shut up fans talking about football on twitter unless they can charge them? I wouldn’t put it past them to try. Football makes enough money these days without these faceless corporates who probably don’t even care about the sport trying to extract every last drop of blood from the people who religiously follow there team.

    • You hit the nail on the head!

      I do have a sneaky suspicion that they will try to stop fans tweeting scores. I think if we can all get together to come up with a standard was of sending match updates I, and other web apps can integrate proper crowd sourced match updates into their sites.

      What do you and everyone else think?


  4. i’m a lifelong chelsea fan, but i can’t help but feel kenyon is somehow behind all this ;)

    let’s hope this lights a fire under the public – when they see the hypocrisy and thick-headedness of the football leagues. new ideas and technology are not scary.

    • Thanks for the comment. Your right. Its hard to get it into those thick heads. I tried in numerous e-mails to get my point across. But I am one small man in a massive sea of money making opportunites for them.


  5. Doug S. says:

    I don’t know about the UK but in the US we have “fair use” laws that protect people from this sort of thing. As long as you’re not charging for your service then you should actually be safe, at least as far as match updates is concerned.

    You might want to contact a lawyer.

    • Unfortunately the UK is not as nice about copyright infringement. The US Football teams are fair use as I don’t make money at all and its for the teams benefit.

      There might be something I can look into though. Thanks :)


  6. Rob Huntley says:

    I’m in Canada and have an allegiance to several of the lower echelon clubs. I watch premier league avidly every Saturday here, but get zero exposure in our media about my home town team and other 2nd and 3rd tier favourites. The clubs have websites but I don’t make a routine of reading them regularly. I started on Twitter a few weeks ago and quickly discovered FootyTweets. I don’t read everything but I sure recieve and absorb a lot more information than I have been exposed to otherwise. My rate of visiting the team websites has gone up because of interest to read more sparked by twitter and FootyTweets.

  7. Matt says:

    Very sorry to hear of your predicament.

    I’ve really enjoyed receiving the tweets.

    I think these communications are designed to scare and frustrate you. (If you’re not making any money from it – what could they sue you for?)

    I know you probably don’t want to take the risk (and who could blame you) but if you ignored them it’s doubtful they’d do anything.

    They’d look pretty stupid prosecuting an individual who is essentially just telling his ‘friends’ the score of the game…

    You must be wondering if it’s all worth it though..

    • I will still carry on with everything else. I don’t want to risk it really. I think this is definitely worth it. With 25,000 people across the 3 sites. FootyTweets,RugbyTweets and CricketTweets (FootyTweets has 19,000 of that). There is an audience that wants match updates, news and team logos.


  8. Anonymous Coward says:

    Absolutely disgusted to hear about your experience. Keep up the good work though, we appreciate you and your work even if those corporate scumbags don’t!

  9. John Gill says:

    Sorry to hear you’ve been hit by the lawyers.

    I only discovered footytweets relatively recently and can confirm I’ve had more visits to the official blades site as a result.

    The match updates are handy, normally I’m in the blades irc chat room and the tweets come in later, but if I miss a match they are really handy.

    I’m sure we can crowd-source the tweeting.

    Re: logos I’ve asked for suggestions on the blades list for a suitable logo, also ask for suggestions for our porcine neighbours in S6 ;)

  10. Simon E says:

    Really disappointed to hear of this – I have to say that the FootyTweets service was one of the best ones I’ve come across with keeping up-to-date with my club, the games and whats going on. And its free, so no paying exorbitant amounts to third parties for texts that you don’t want…these must be real cash cows for certain clubs and organisations and thats what they’re worried about. They need to wake up and realise that this is going to happen whether they like it or not. Let us know more about crowd-sourcing…

  11. fourstar says:

    They are a bunch of close-minded idiots; can they not see this is a GOOD thing for fans? Or do they not really care about the real fa…………oh. I see.

    It’s a similar issue with live-streaming non-Sky/Setanta matches; if they won’t do it, we’ll find a way round it and as quickly as they think they can shut things down with their ‘oooh scary’ lawyers letters, a new solution will spring up in its place. They can’t react quickly enough to beat the ingenuity of the hive mind and until they drag themselves kicking and sceaming into the global online world, they’ll be lagging behind with the heads up their old-media arses.

  12. Meji A says:

    Thats bullshit. Hopefully things will pan out.

  13. HippyDi says:

    I am really sad to hear this, when I joined twitter I found you really quickly and have really enjoyed following my fav club Burnley in all their matches!
    Since I live in Cape Town SA it is a fantastic way to follow their progress, as we in the main get Premier League matches on TV here.

    Not sure how the laws apply here I expect they are tightening them in preparation for 2010…FIFA are really laying it on thick!…so many expectations! (I can say it’s going to be great though, the CT Stadium is well on track):-)

    I hope you can sort it out with the greedy powers that be…good luck and thanks for bringing a little bit of footy to me via my pc!

  14. Neil Weightman says:

    What a crying shame! – Frankly I think actions like this seem to only distance ‘Them’ and those like us who they are trying to serve. I could understand if your service was charging money.

    Before I found your tweet updates, I used to ask my followers for a match score – within minutes I’d always get one.

    Wonder what they think of that? It’s 2009 not 1949 they are clearly out of touch with the modern world. They will though eventually… keep your service alive….

    Well done and thanks meantime. Neil (Aberdeen Scotland)

    • artusof says:

      > Wonder what they think of that? It’s 2009 not 1949
      > they are clearly out of touch with the modern world.

      Unfortunately they’re well in touch with the modern world. Modern world = corporate “control freakness”. I really hate that though.

      Anyway, Ollie thanks for giving me a good idea. I’ve created a service like FootyTweets, in Italian language ( I’m not using club logos as well, to avoid legal troubles.

  15. drokka says:

    As another Canadian fan, I can honestly say that with the Tweets I can keep track of when my favourite team plays, otherwise I miss the game altogether. The logo business was the same here though. They made little children’s baseball teams change their name if they were the same as a major league’s team name.
    I appreciate all you’ve done and hope that this can be overcome, because their international fans will walk away again.
    Is there anyway of having the players weigh in on this fiasco?

  16. Thomas says:

    Often cease and desist letters are used to strike the fear of god into someone, whether or not they have legal standing or not. get a lawyer.

  17. Although I am not a lawyer, I believe they are definitely overstepping their remit. While club logos are copyrighted, match updates are not a breach of copyright law. Goals, sendings off and other match incidents are matters of fact in the public domain, not expressions of ideas covered under copyright. If I were you I would get in touch with the Open Rights Group about your right to discuss football without the Premier League getting on your back. Hope this helps.

    • Eddie Robson says:

      Absolutely. I’m amazed that they’re claiming control over whether you can report points of fact. They seem to view this as ‘live coverage’ but I can’t see how the law distinguishes between reporting facts moments after they happen and waiting until the game is over. Maybe I’m wrong, I just don’t see how it can work. Do the BBC, Guardian et al have to shell out this kind of cash just so their staff can watch Sky and post live updates? Madness if so.

    • fourstar says:

      I’m with Chris; the legailty of this wants investigating. If you ned help setting up a fund to pay for the lawyers I’m sure there are thousands of us who would help.

  18. [...] « The FootyTweets “Cease and Desist” Story Back to the [...]

  19. [...] navigate to Twitter and get the latest info on the match. That is, until he got slapped with a “Cease & Desist” notice. It’s the legal equivalent of that snotty little kid who would challenge you to a game of [...]

  20. Amod Munga says:

    Dude. It’s a crying bloody shame. I’m a Cape Town based Manchester United fan and I loved this service. Owing to obligations, it’s not always easy to get in front of a screen to watch a match live. This was the next best thing. I hope you come out on top with this, mate.


    PS: Hope you don’t mind, I blogged this on my side…

  21. [...] la societa’ che gestisce le faccende legali della Football League gli ha intimato di rimuovere i loghi delle squadre e gli aggiornamenti in tempo real…. Sono rimaste solo le notizie, che sono gia’ una bella cosa per un utente [...]

  22. Twenycent says:

    Footy Tweets is by far one of my favourite webservice ever. Thx to this service I discovered Twitter…now I spend my life on it at work and time goes fast ;) More seriously the League doesn’t realize the amount of traffic you send on daily basis to the clubs websites and the benefits they realize thx to your amazing service. It’s a real shame what’s happening to you. They should reward you for what you have done for them, as you said in your post, you have created a community and they should know it’s priceless, especially during the web 2.0 / social media whatever era.
    Good luck and thank you again for your great job!

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