Andy Pettitte RPF Cease and Desist Incident

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Event
Event: Andy Pettitte RPF Cease and Desist Incident
Participants:
Date(s): March 17, 2003
Type:
Fandom: Baseball RPF
URL:
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On March 17, 2003, the site owners of FanDomination.Net received a cease and desist letter from attorneys for Andy Pettitte regarding a twenty-page story called Milk.

The "criminal conduct" in chapter sixteen is likely description or reference to a same-sex sexual act.

The letter demanded that libelous materials be removed. The site complied with this request.[1][2]

Impact of Letter

This case is oft-cited as an example of the legal dangers of writing RPF. You will see this statement everywhere: "FanDomination.Net recieved a Cease & Desist from Andy Pettitte's legal counsel requesting that the site remove a story from the site which featured Andy Pettitte. This is the first time that an RPF site recieved a C&D for RPF." [3] This quote is from an article by }Laura Hale, one of three essays/articles that were removed from Fanfic Symposium during the summer of 2008. see A 2008 Removal of Three Essays.

From Laura Hale at in comments to the 2005 post RPF?! (post):

More information can be found at [link to the purged journal of PurplePopple] but at any rate, FanDomination.Net recieved a C&D from Andy Pettitte's people accussing FanDomination.Net of defamation. Because our site policy is if a real person says they don't want to be featured in Real Person Fic to us or if we find out through other sources that they don't want real person fic based on them, we removed the material. They were concerned about one particular story. There were three other stories featuring this person which we removed too. They were all ToSed for improper disclaimers. RPF just can't say "I don't own some one." It needs to for legal but covering say it isn't true, it's not real, these events never happened. We notified via e-mail all users affected and added disclaimers on our part to every page with fan fiction while still requiring users to post disclaimers.[4]
From Wikipedia, an explanation:
To date, unlike traditional fan fiction, only one cease and desist letter is known to have been issued against RPF: FanDomination.Net received a letter on March 17, 2003 from a representative of the New York Yankees baseball team. The complaint alleged that the story "If There's Gray Hair On The Field, Play With Balls", which depicted a present-day homosexual encounter between former Yankees players Virgil Trucks, Rugger Ardizoia, and Eddie Bockman, all of whom were then in their eighties, was harmful to the Yankees brand and to the reputations of the players depicted.[5]

The Letter

March 17, 2003

Sender Information: [Private] Sent by: [Private] Thompson & Knight L.L.P. Dallas, Texas, 75201, USA

Recipient Information: [Private] FanDomination.Net IL, 60118, USA

Sent via: email with pdf attachment Re: Defamation on FanDomination.Net website

THOMPSON & KNIGHT LLP ATTORNEYS AND COUNSELORS DALLAS, TEXAS 75201-4693

March 17, 2003 [private] FANDOMINATION.NET [private] Lakeland, Florida 33809

Re: Defamation Relating to Andy Pettitte

Dear Sir or Madam:

This firm represents Andy Pettitte in litigation matters. It has recently come to our attention that your Internet website at http://www.fandomination.net has published at least one false and defamatory article about Mr. Pettitte and his family. Specifically, under the “Sports” category and the “Baseball” subcategory appears a twenty-part article entitled “Milk.” That article is replete with false statements that would tend to harm Mr. Pettitte’s reputation in the community. As such, you are directly liable for the libelous statements contained in the article.

A review of the article reveals that the false statements about Mr. Pettitte and his family were made with knowledge of their falsity or with a reckless disregard for the truth. In fact, at least one part of the article, Chapter 16, includes statements that Mr. Pettitte has engaged in criminal conduct. These accusations are false and amount to libel per se. Thus, Mr. Pettitte is entitled to recovery without proving any special damages sustained from the defamatory statements.

Moreover, given the article’s complete lack of truth, it is only reasonable to conclude that the false statements were made with a specific intent to injure Mr. Pettitte and his reputation. Accordingly, in addition to actual damages, you will be liable for punitive damages. Immediately remove the article “Milk” from your Internet website and refrain from publishing any further false statements or information about Mr. Pettitte or his family members. If we have not received by the close of business on March 19, 2003 your confirmation that the article has, in fact, been removed from the website, we will take appropriate legal action to protect our client’s rights. Sincerely, [signed] [private]

(See attached file: fandomination.pdf)

Thompson & Knight L.L.P.

Dallas, Texas 75201

Text of Letter

Meta/Further Reading

Comments Regarding the Letter

References

  1. "FanDomination.Net". Archived from the original on 2015-10-19. 
  2. Note that the date FanDomination.Net sites on its own history page is incorrect.
  3. History of Fanfiction, Archived version
  4. comment by PurplePopple at FanDomination.Net recieved a C&D so cross your disclaime in Terms of Service Forum, Archived version, March 18, 2003
  5. "Real person fiction". Retrieved October 16, 2015.