I run a website, on which betting ‘tipsters’ sell tips. The problem I have is that one of my tipsters is being accused of relaying another persons work. I am not sure of whether these allegations are true or false but the guy accusing him said he will be suing my company for IP theft.
I understand the concepts of IP Law and Copyright but am not sure if it applies to this situation. Just so you understand a little, the guy making the accusations has a program which uses data on horses form to rate them with the top rated being at the top and the worst at the bottom. He charges about £35 a month for this information.
He is claiming that up to 85% of my tipsters horses are the same as his ‘top rated’ horses. So is therefore threatening to sue, I was just wondering if there is any scope to what he is saying as to me its 1 horse in a race of say 7, there is always going to be people who tip the same horse?
He said its a breach of his Disclaimer from which part of it states:
ILLEGAL SHARING OF DATA
You must not share via any medium (Facebook, Twitter, Email, Website) ANY ratings data, best bets,
forum information or any data accessed as part of your FormBet Private Membership. FormBet also forbids individuals signing up as part of a ‘group’ to share subscription costs and any infringement of this will result in immediate termination of the user’s account, a return of any affiliate accrued funds and an Intellectual Property litigation order to reclaim up to £10000 in potential lost earnings will be issued against the subscriber and each of his associates.
Criminal Law – anti-piracy law punishes those who infringe copyright for financial gain – penalties for such infringement, such as pirating CDs, DVDs or computer programs, data include imprisonment and fines
The help of HM Customs and Revenue. The Revenue has the power to seize counterfeit goods that
violate your trade or service mark and bear your company name. If you think someone has been unlawfully importing pirated goods, find contact details for the HMRC at www.hmnrc.gov.uk
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Is there any scope to a litigation claim?
You need a lawyer that is well versed in internet law.
He is trying to scare you into buying his data. There is no way that he will ever convince a judge that a list that is almost the same is theft of data. ANYONE could have created the same list using the same underlying data. He has no rights to the list of horse itself, merely to whatever he created, and it is impossible for him to prove that the other person did so.
You never entered into any such agreement, thus you didn’t violate a contract.
Whether this other guy did is no worry of yours. He can’t sue Facebook, if someone shares his secrets there.
He has no case “85%” won’t prove you looked at his site. He’d need to prove you had looked at his information to prove his claims.
This guy is threatening you with litigation, with costing you money to win your case. Which means you’ll need a lawyer to threaten him back.
I would suggest you that you need a proper consultant to over come from this situation and need a lawyer for fast. The knowledgeable person (lawyer) can give advice to you about this problem.
Having read through the information you have provided I would suggest that the best claim this person can make is one of breach of confidential data by a member of his web site.
Copyright would only apply where there was material reproduction of the information from his site, the names of some horses would not constitute material reproduction although publishing information relating to the ratings data and other information stored in his database may well constitute a breach of the laws around IP protection in databases.
So long as you have not received the information knowing that it was confidential or reasonably believing that it may be confidential then I fail to see where his claim comes from around breach of IP.
It is also important to note that the wording is part of a contract between a user of his site and him. You are not a party to that contract so there is no obligation on you in respect of information provided to you. This will only apply where you are not part of a ‘group’ who established an account with the purpose of sharing subscription costs.
The wording is also very poor and my belief is that he has written this himself rather than get a lawyer to do it for him. There is no description of what constitutes a group, what affiliate accrued funds may be (is that the winning of the individual member?) and the IP litigation order would probably fail under English law as it is an assessment of possible loss and not actual loss on the part of a claimant and more importantly the use of the word “associates” would potentially be struck out as being far to wide since it could cover his fellow workers, friends, family and others who may have some form of indirect association with the individiuals. Even if the courts did seek to interpret it more tightly he would have to show that you were a willing participant in the breach of confidentiality, had entered in to a ‘group’ as identified in the wording and had profited in some way to from the relationship.
You should speak to a lawyer but I think there is very limited liability in this instance as the his claim would be very difficult to prosecute against you. The party publishing the information may well have a case to answer but even there I think that the claim may well be defendable simply by virtue of the poor language in the provision.
OK the first thing is that you say your site is one that facilitates the selling of tips by betting tipsters. Does this mean that the tips are actually published on your site or that individuals enter in to contracts with the individual tipsters directly? If yes then there is probably no claim against you since you are not actually publishing the tips other than as a result of the contract between two independent parties,you are not liable for the fact that one of those individuals is using possible IP owned by another.
If on the other hand the person providing the tips is being published by you to customers who pay you directly for the service (you provide a website for which there is a membership fee and which gives access to tips from a number of sources) then you may have a possible liability but it will all depend on certain facts.
Do you have a contract with the tipsters, what does it say about the information it provides? Your contracts should say that they warrant that the information they provide is not the property of another person or business and that the have the right to publish that information.
Is the individual providing the alleged infringing tips actually a subscriber to this other party’s data? If they are not a subscriber then it would be for this other individual to show that the information being provided had originally be sourced by them from him.
The IP order is not valid, he would actually have to show some form of loss (since any action would need to take place in the UK as opposed to US and therefore there is no penalty only actual loss) and that loss would need to be linked the actual members he would have gained or has lost as a result of your website.
Finally, I think that he would find it hard to prove breach of copyright only breach of confidential information and that would depend on the terms in his contract with customers. The language you have provided does not really
The guy hasn’t got a shot, IMHO. While it’s true that databases can be copyright protected in the UK, that only applies where considerable skill and judgement have been used in arranging them, and a simple tips list where the best runners are at the top and the worst at the bottom is neither original nor creative enough to be copyrighted. I suggest you save money by calling the guy’s bluff and leaving it to his lawyers to state that they won’t take you on because he just doesn’t have a case.