Bengals Threaten StripeHype with a lawsuit

Well, looks like the Cincinnati Bengals are first in something. The blog network is a collaboration of fan NFL blogs run by fans of the teams. Cincinnati has contacted our main office to threaten us with a lawsuit over using pictures (that are out in the public domain) that we gave copyright credit to the Bengals organization for. We have been forced into a redesign, as we cannot defend ourselves against Mike Brown’s deep pockets. Funny, we’ve been in touch with the Bengals (PR Director Jack Brennan) via email several times (me personally). I’ve invited him to browse the site, comment and make suggestions for our site to a benefit to the Bengals organization. Instead, we get a lawsuit threatened against us (why, Mr. Brennan, could you not just ask us to make changes?).

The Bengals claim we used copyrighted photos and logos. However, we’ve been asking for access for months as a media outlet to be able to interview players, take our own photos, etc. We’ve been turned down, stating that the Bengals “do not issue credentials to non-traditional media”. They sure will sue non-traditional media though, won’t they?

Odd, a fan site, ran by a fan who has been creative in getting access to players to do interviews, and has been less critical that the “traditional media” because I am a fan of the team, and yet Mike Brown wants to attack us. How come, Mr. Brown, are you not going after Channel 12, and Fox19 for using the big “B” logo in their graphics? Please, don’t insult me telling me the media is paying rights to use that logo.

Well, as of today, I quit blogging anything positive on behalf of the Cincinnati Clowns. I’m sure this is what Geoff Hobson would want as well as Mike Brown. Hobson came from the Enquirer as a beat writer of the Bengals. Now he works directly for the team. He’s the only writer for their site, and if you disagree with his commentary, he’ll simply disparage you for it. He writes the same types of stories week end and week out, and if you email him a story suggestion, it goes unheeded, and most often, unresponsive. I don’t write the same types of articles he does, and I get solid readership for a one man blog site that isn’t paid isn’t supported by a multi-million privately held company funded by PUBLIC funds.

As for Mike Brown, he probably doesn’t know exists. Jack Brennan, Mr. PR, does know. The lawyers obviously know. The NFL knows (cause they emailed us about a day after the Bengals did with a threat because of the use of the NFL Draft Logo, of which they were given copyright credit for).

This also means that I cannot give away the Utecht Jersey. My apologies for all of you who were commenting and posting in order to win it. A privately owned jersey, autographed by the player on his own time, and because I’m promoting it as “a Cincinnati Bengals Jersey” I have been accused of copyright infringement for using their trademarked name. So be warned Cincy fans (of which I am no longer), you better refer to your hometown NFL team as “those guys on the river that play football” or Mikey’s boys will come after you looking for more money. Doesn’t it seem like he’s gouged us all enough? Is Mike Brown related to Simon Leis somehow? Seems like the jack-booted Gestapo tactics that the Unpopular Hamilton County Sheriff uses has infiltrated the Bengals PR and Legal departments.

Good luck Bengals fans. I won’t take the Bengals intimidation tactics lying down. For the record, I did not take down the logos/graphics or other material in question. The fansided senior editors did that on their own accord, prior to contacting me. I had no control, and would not have done it myself. As a former Army Ranger, I don’t get intimidated. The Bengals will soon learn that, even if I never change a thing. I will, however, expose them for the organization they truly are, not the organization they try to portray.

Looks like the players aren’t the only ones associated with the Bengals in legal trouble. I’m not even associated with them, and I’m in trouble. Hmmm..maybe a symptom of the organization after all??

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Tags: Chad Johnson Cincinnati Bengals Front Office News FUCK MIKE BROWN Lawsuit Legal

  • IgnatiusJReilly

    Well, it’s nice to know that Mike Brown and the Bengals organization are good at something- to wit, suppressing opposing viewpoints. I guess that consistently offering up a subpar product on the field and an incompetent one in the boardroom- seventeen years running, forces such fascist-tinged practices lest the citizenry rise up and run the Browns out of town wearing creosote and goosedown. Sorry, man. I’ll still be around and I’m glad at least not to have to look at Chad’s gold-toothed display any longer.

  • Andy Wendt

    Nice post.
    By chance I found this story on

    Living just a few miles north of Cincinnati, and being a life long Bengals fan I had to give it a read.
    But I just wanted to say don’t take it personally. I have had the same thing happen to me several times. The smallest of logos or pictures can get noticed by more people than you think. Actually the down side of a popular site is that Anything you do can get noticed by a lot of people. Included in that group are people who could not find anything better to do with their time than to cry over a “copyright” issue.
    So just keep doing what you are doing and remember pictures are nice but content is still king.

  • BloodGulper

    The Bengals fumbled again, this time in May, oh well if they are not smart enough to realize the value of publicity on your site, then let them stir up their own pub on police blotters

  • N00b

    I can understand your frustration, but to walk away from the team you’ve been a fan of for years might be a bit much.

  • Pittsburgh Sports and Mini Ponies

    This coming from a Steelers fan, but keep up the good work. Its sad it took a stupid situation like this for you to see the Bengals how any other NFL fan does. There’s obviously something wrong in the very fabric of the organization when they are more concerned with bloggers rather than, i don’t know, being competitive in the North, putting together a winning team or concerning themselves with the obvious lack of class and substance in many players. I won’t lie and say I’ve followed this blog before today, but you can be assured of another reader come Steelers/Bengals showdowns.

    Take it easy!

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  • admin

    Thanks everyone for the comments. Keep encouraging Dave to stay!

    Zach (FSB)

  • Nick

    I feel for you.  Being a true Bengals fan is sad and depressing at times.  The only solution is to organize the fans and DEMAND change at the top.  You should check out , a group of fans like yourself are trying to do just that.

  • Kato

    There’s a pretty good blog post about this here:

    NSFW! I love the article entitled “Throat F—ing and a Pleasant Italian Dinner”

  • fitz

    fyi, and keep in mind that i’m only a law studnet – not a lawyer – but i just finished my third copyright course and i have a hard time understanding the bengals’ claim here.  once work enters the public domain, its creators have no control over it. 

    the use on this site seems to fall under “fair use.”  think about how book reviewers can give quotes and plot details.  in fact this whole thing seems more like a trademark issue than a copyright issue.

    just my two cents.  it’s terrible that your team is jobbing you like this.

  • Spencer

    Haha- the Bengals want to keep you from using their logos, however they have no problem selling logo-gear on the sidebar ads (by google). 
    It’s a shame that they fear what they don’t understand, and attack you for it. I appreciate your frustration with being personally attacked as a fan of a team… most fans in Bengaldom are merely put off by the offensive product they Bengals have so frequently put on the field.

  • Kyle

    If your site is not-for-profit (as a service for the fans; ad revenue used only – at face value -  to maintain site costs), you can easily claim to be upholding the fair use provision of the copyright act.  Or so I’m told, I’m not a lawyer.
    Call their bluff.

  • IgnatiusJReilly

    Just take the pictures of Chad, TJ, and Carson and adjust the tint to make the orange more yellow. Or invert the colors.

  • RedsFan

    I am a lawyer (not yours, though – and this isn’t legal advice).  I strongly suggest that you talk to an intellectual property lawyer about this.  Based on what you’re saying, you might want to ask about topics like “fair use,” “deep linking,” “first sale doctrine,” and the First Amendment.  If you’re totally cashless, check with the EFF.
    In my personal opinion, the Bengals are probably overreaching on most of their claims.  And are being idiots.

  • Big Time Corporate Lawyer

    I am sorry sir, but you need to cease and desist this post.  You violated and misrepresented the Cleveland Clowns by attributing them to Cincinnati.  You also can’t use Stripe Hype cuz Ballhype owns the copyright for Hyping.  And you violated Google’s copyright on Adsense ads, cuz your ads look exactly the same as their uniquely branded ads.

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  • mongo

    I’m not sure I get it. The team won’t give you credentials, or permission to use their images. Why not just do what other 
    blogs and fansites do and take the pictures at training camp 

    Sure, the threat of a lawsuit is a tad harsh, but it’s not that worthy of hate (in my opinion). You clearly had an idea it could bite you in the ass, or you wouldn’t have been trying to get permission to use the media.

    I feel your disappointment, but not your wrath.


    Grow up and quit crying like a bitch.

    For someone who was supposedly an Army Ranger, you’re one dumb SOB. You weren’t given permission to use something, and yet you still did use their property… and you want to cry about it?

    You are embarrassing yourself and the Rangers… a real Ranger wouldn’t piss/moan/whine/and complain like you’re doing… they would attack the problem from a different angle and make it work.

    You got exactly what you asked for, welcome to the adult world.

  • Slim

    The above comment was clearly made by someone in the Navy (USN in the name, ahem…). From my years in the Marines, I know that all they know how to do is roll-over…and I think you know for what purpose.
    The Bengals have no legal basis for their claims, but they get over because they know a cease-and-desist letter is a scary thing. No worries – keep on doing what you’re doing, avoid the logo itself…but otherwise you should have nothing to worry about.
    Some day, bloggers will look back at bs like this a laugh as the newspapers and tv stations all go belly-up.

  • mongo

    I just don’t think it’s that simple, or that clear cut the Bengals are bad people in all of this. If this guy understands he needs to get permission to use Bengals owned media, doesn’t get permission, and uses it anyway, I think he should expect the letter he got. Would I personally go tell the Bengals, or the NFL, he’s using their media without their permission? No. However, it seems to me this guy is in the wrong.
    I look at this from the viewpoint of a budding graphic designer. If I work hard on my stuff and jump through the legal hoops to copyright/trademark my stuff, I think it should be mine. If I then came across a website using my logos and images (one I had not given permission to use said media), particularly one with MANY ad banners, I’d want my stuff back. As far as how I’d get it back, I wouldn’t send the guy an email. I’d have a lawyer draft a letter and send it certified mail. I’d do this to dot all my “i”s and cross my “t”s in case an actual legal battle ensued.
    I don’t think the Bengals are wrong here, nor do I think their letter was over the top. I would hope to God my designs/photographs will be protected from people benefiting without my permission.
    Is this guy getting rich off Bengals media? Is he taking money out of their pockets? No. But I don’t believe these ads here merely offset expenses either. More to the point, there’s just no reason to use their stuff to begin with. Bengals fans create their own fan art all the time, and take oodles of pictures of their favorite players. Why go through the hassle of using materials you probably shouldn’t when I’d bet regular readers of this blog would be happy to give him use of their images for free?

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  • Big Time Corporate Lawyer

    Seems Stripe Hype listened to me.  They took off the copyrighted picture of Cincy from their header.  Now they just have to take off the silohete’s of players with question marks.  Those guys could be any one of the NFL’s players, so every player has a claim to their images.


  • itsucks to be abengal

    they will take us for the money so they can keep paying chad to run his mouth about how we really suck i wish we woud fire marvin and trade chad  so we coud someday have a playoff team would anybody like a frenchbread sandwitch

  • Jake

    A bit nit picky but the sky isnt falling. It will be ok.  Soon, you can just be mad about normal stuff like player behavior, poor play, and just plain bad luck.  Either way, Who Dey!

  • A Chiefs Fan

    If a team that I’m a fan of and spend my own time and money supporting,  threatened to sue ME, i’d be out too.  That’s messed up.  Why couldn’t they informally ask first.  I don’t know how anyone who is a fan of the NFL and or any Team could find that acceptable and then call YOU a baby, on top of it.  You’re a fan.  You have no obligation to continue to support an organization who wants to sue you for supporting them. By the way, you seem to have more support on KC blogs than Bengals’.  Ironic.

  • Matt

    Although it won’t help too much, I’m going to fire off a nasty e-mail to Katie, Paul, and the gang. This is some bullshit. I found out about your plight from WhoDeyRevolution.

    Best of luck,
    P.S. If you decide to change you’re allegiance, although temporarily, we understand.

  • Mike Duggan

    Hey,  Mike Duggan from the Raisingzona website, another fellow fan-sided blogger.

    I kind of know what you are going through man.  I ran a weekly piece last summer on the Cardinals cheerleaders, where former team cheerleaders would contribute stories from their time on the squad.

    I got emails from the teams head cheerleading coach and from the team website manager, stating that I couldn’t run those stories anymore because it was some kind of breech of trust between the cheer alumni and the team.  Seriously, you would think that anything that could help promote a mediocre franchise like my beloved Cards would be welcomed, but that shows you how some teams are run.

    Don’t let it get to you man, you just keep doing what you’re doing.

  • Oakleafmold

    Come on over, join Steeler Nation, and feel the love.

  • lawvol

    Has the nastygram from the Bengals lawyers been posted publicly? If so, where is it available?

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  • Bo Vandy

    As the former lead blogger for this site, it saddens me to see this David vs Goliath battle take on such a fever pitch.  The Bengals really need to worry less what people are saying about them, and more about a team that is on the verge of collapsing….again

  • JP

    I am not a fan of the “large felines that live in Asia and somehow got linked to an Ohio city by the river”, but this is a sad day for football. And I think it goes beyond that, it is a sad day for us ordinary people because it is a good day for all those money- and power-hungry bigshots. I am really infuriated about this whole thing.

    On a lighter note, as a Colts fan I am upset that Utecht left, but I cannot blame you guys, it was a good pick you made. Just make sure to take good care of Ben! ;)

  • big lionfan

    dude keep doing what your doing dont let them get to you. remeber if they actually went to court they would look really stupid and you know as well as i do they dont need any bad press since they keep destroying themselfs now with releasing odel it just goes to show you marvin lewis is a weak coach has absolutely has no control over his team and they are going nowere again. as for the google infringment that the dumb ass was refering to is about your web site coming up in searches cause its close to another web site so your getting free hits when people search. while this other site is listed at the top and paying lol good for you its not like others have not done this before.
    as for the lawyer get a grip stop harrasing bloggers.
    if they persist on threats contact every media outlet in that area and some beat writer or newscaster will help you out the last thing they want to do is loose the fans they cant aford that so dont give up on your site. and get someone to make a bengals custom artwork for your logos then they got nothing to say.

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