They're baaaaaaaack! For the last two days, the hapless managers of knitting group listservs have once again been receiving 'cease and desist' notices from Yahoo!, thanks to the Evil Seamstress Overlords at Sew Crass/Sew Sleazy. Many of you know the backstory; if not you can go two months backwards in time and get all the details, starting January 12.
Dozens of listserv managers received the emails again this week, that Yahoo! had received complaints about copyright infringement on their listservs from SFSE. Two months ago when all this went down, our girl Debbie Stoller got her lawyers on the line, and these here lawyers advised all the groups to remove the term "stitch & bitch" from their group names, descriptions, etc on the Yahoo! Groups sites. Not because the infringement claims were based in fact, but because Yahoo! does not investigate the validity of such claims, they just delete you (and several groups were in fact deleted for non-compliance). So we made the changes, grudgingly. Here in Raleigh we call ourselves "SnB_Raleigh" (and you know what the SnB stands for).
So what sparked the latest round of infringement claims, since not a one of these groups has the phrase "stitch & bitch" anywhere on their site these days? Nobody's quite sure yet, because the Evil Seamstress Overlords won't give a satisfactory explanation, but one of the current theories is that they searched message archives for the phrase "stitch & bitch" and then issued complaints of copyright infringement because someone dared to type their beloved phrase in an email to the listserv. Some of the group managers went so far as to instruct their group members never to utter the phrase in type again. The rest of us just made sure our archives were set to "members only." I'm actually subscribing to this particular archive-search theory because SnB_Raleigh has received no such complaints, despite many postings on the topic using the phrase, because our archives have always been private (and we screen new members).
But our story twists... Several of the group managers sent polite counter-complaints to the Yahoo! Copyrights division, insisting that there was no use of the phrase "stitch & bitch" on their sites, so the alleged infractions had no basis. And SHAZAM! By last night several groups had been cleared of the complaints. Finally, a point scored by the local knitting groups in this now-seemingly-endless litany of harrassment by the Evil Seamstress Overlords.
What I can't stop wondering is, Why Are They Doing This? WHY??!!?? We don't stand to gain anything (except a connection to traditional women's networks) by using the Stitch & Bitch phrase, so why is SFSE policing it so militantly? The main clue from this current round of cat & mouse is the response message received by a few of the group managers who sent inquiries to SFSE regarding the complaints. Here's what SFSE had to say:
Due to trademark infringement, your group has been removed because of content and graphics on your site. We request that you remove the term Stitch & Bitch from your website to avoid "confusion" with our Stitch & Bitch Café. We will continue to police our mark.In other words, we're the only game in town, kids. Use our forums, buy our new line of "Stitch & Bitch" TM products, or get the hell out of Dodge. Other than a tart challenge posted by Knoxville Stitch & Bitch, the sound of crickets is nearly deafening over on the officially-sanctioned SFSE "Stitch & Bitch Groups" page.
In order to preserve your group and communication with others, we strongly urge you to use our Stitch and Bitch Café under the classification of Stitch and Bitch Groups. If you do this, you will be able to build, expand and communicate with other sewing, knitting, and crochet groups. This is a free service. You will not be charged to use it. However, if you make any derogatory comments or any malicious slams you will be banned and your email and/or your IP address will be blocked.
If you had a trademark, you would do the same. We have noticed that people are doing this now. If for any reason you feel that your site does not fit within these parameters, please respond as soon as possible. We appreciate your cooperation.
visit us at www.sewfastseweasy.com and buy the best beginner sewing book, "Sew Fast Sew Easy: All You Need to Know When You Start to Sew" by Elissa Meyrich, sewing patterns, *Stitch & Bitch**TM* sewing and knitting products, and classes.
If you're interested in the nitty-gritty, check out the legal background over at the Girl from Auntie.