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FA still stamping on football fan sites

Now they can't use club badges

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The Football Association is continuing to target small fan Web sites, this time insisting that they remove any images of football club badges, which it claims infringe copyright.

As UK paper The Mirror suggests in this morning's edition, if such popular mini sites didn't exist, there would be far more people going to the official sites - possibly buying lots of lovely merchandise while there.

As far as we know, the FA hasn't felt the need to chase up the bigger media companies who use the badges repeatedly.

Official FA spokesman Adrian Bevington says he's not aware of how many sites have been sent legal letters, but insists this is a case of the FA simply protecting its own copyright against abuse. "In one case, we had to send a letter to a site that was acting as a server for these badges and selling them on to people." And as Adrian points out, you can have people making money out of someone else's copyright.

But they're not all after money. High Quality Football Logos (www.hqfl.dk) doesn't charge a thing for its badge downloads, and has an enormous range of football badges from all over the world. Except from the UK (ahem - there are 18 there from Scotland, you Anglocentric git - Ed), because it's heard from the FA (incidentally, Huddersfield FC has evidently given the site permission to run its badge because it is the only one available of the 133 listed).

Bevington is not happy about The Mirror's article either. The Mirror has a historical agreement with the FA that lets it print its badges (so, presumably, it should be grateful and not fuss about others). Does it charge? No, the FA's not making money. [Then why pressure small Web sites?] "The Mirror is seen by millions of people everyday." Aha.

But according to Bevington: "It's not a case of picking on small sites." So, the FA won't be asking any small fan sites to remove their badges? "Each case will have to be taken on its individual merits." But the FA won't send a letter unless the site is making any money, right? "Well, making money or abusing our copyright."

This isn't the first instance of mass legal mailings from the FA either - at the end of November, it did just the same insisting that sites remove their fixture list or pay it £250.

Unsurprisingly, the offer to pay for such widely disseminated material was not taken up. ®

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