This year has seen Bethesda Software’s legal team settle a pair of high-profile disputes with Minecraft creator Mojang and original Fallout publisher Interplay, but now the company behind The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 3 is turning its litigious attention to one of its fans.
In a post on his blog last week, Norwegian Fallout fan Erling Loken Andersen recapped a back-and-forth dispute he’s been having with Bethesda’s legal team over a Fallout poster art fan site he set up. Andersen said it started in December when he received a takedown notice from Bethesda’s lawyers claiming his collection of freely downloadable Fallout-inspired posters were infringing on the company’s intellectual property rights. The publisher also insisted that Andersen hand over the domain for his site, fallout-posters.com.
“What pisses me off isn’t the fact that they’re looking out for their trademark – as they have every right to do so,” Anderson wrote. “What I’m pissed about are large companies abusing their monetary power, hiring global law firms to go after a fan online, immediately threating with a lawsuit.” [Emphasis and grammar in original.]
He continued, “I’m tired of intellectual rights holders–be it RIAA, MPAA or in this case Bethesda–going after little guys like myself and threatening them into obedience. Some people doesn’t have the intellectual capacity or money to fight their cause, so they just fold after receiving a letter like that. But just because you can’t afford to fight, doesn’t mean your oponent is right.”
In his response to Bethesda, Andersen argued that his posters fell under the doctrine of fair use and were therefore not infringing on intellectual property rights. Although Andersen has pulled the art in question from his site, he has not turned fallout-posters.com over to Bethesda, and let the company know he would not willingly part with it.
As of press time, Bethesda had not responded to GameSpot’s request for comment.