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Bryan Adams pulls a Prince on fan sites

Web Sheriff: No more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas

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Canadian soft rocker Bryan Adams is the latest star to grumble at fans for plastering his name and face on unofficial websites.

The crinkly Eighties star and sometime number one slot hogger has enlisted the help of Web Sheriff to convince the likes of bryanadamsfanclub.nl, bryanadams.nu and badfan.com to play nice and agree to a set of guidelines that will allow them to "happily coexist" with Adams.

In the meantime the sites have been taken down temporarily while Adams’ people and the Web Sheriff – a self-proclaimed protector of copyrights on the interweb – get the fans running the websites to sign a rights agreement to use the great mediocre man’s name.

“There is nothing sinister about this at all,” Web Sheriff’s John Giacobbi told The Register. “It’s just that some of the fans [running the sites] are guilty of over-exuberance about the artist... They’re doing what fans do and being enthusiastic but they sometimes take things too far by including links to pirate sites and using unofficial material.”

He said if the fan websites “want to be part of the family then they need to play ball”. And, somewhat surprisingly, the various Europe-based sites mentioned above have apparently agreed to sign on the dotted line.

According to Giacobbi the websites in question are temporarily down while they are cleansed of copyrighted material – bryanadams.nu, for example, had “all sorts of illegal apps and links to pirate sites and so on,” he claimed.

Web Sheriff has been acting on behalf of the middle-of-the-road crooning rocker and his company, Adams Communications Inc, to convince unofficial fan sites to toe the line.

They’ve also had wrangles with individuals on YouTube. Giacobbi said Adams has successfully reclaimed his name on the video site, and added that a Bryan Adams channel will go live at some point this week. You lucky people.

Even a tribute band is undergoing “negotiations” with the Web Sheriff over the use of the name of the man who penned the ballad Everything I Do (I Do It For You) and kept it in the top spot of the UK charts for 16 ear-bleeding weeks in 1991. The Bryan Adams Experience have been asked to change their name to The Bryan Adams Tribute Experience, in order apparently to avoid any confusion with the original rickety-rocker.

“Sorry BA fans, but due to unforeseen events the bryanadamsexperience website is temporarily offline pending negotiations with Web Sheriff,” reads a miserable message on the band’s website. “We hope to be back and running as soon as possible. In the meantime... keep rockin’!”

So how did Web Sheriff convince the unofficial sites to clean up their act?

Giacobbi told us that the process was “unlike the Prince scenario where it came close to going to court”. Instead, he said: “We’ve been agreeing very fair and straightforward guidelines that the sites and artists can live by.”

He also insisted that no legal action will be necessary, but Giacobbi admitted that Netherlands-based bryanadams.nu has been “the worst example”. He claimed it carried links to BitTorrent sites and “pirated material”. Discussions are ongoing to get it to agree to become an official site by linking to endorsed Bryan Adams images and downloads rather than BitTorrent sites.

“That’s the only one I see as being potentially problematic,” he said, before adding that “nothing we’ve asked for from the fan sites is unreasonable”.

Web Sheriff took a much more aggressive stance against Prince fans last year after the diminutive Purple One demanded websites carrying unofficial images and downloads be closed. It issued DMCA notifications on behalf of Prince’s lawyers to a number of unofficial fan sites, in which Web Sheriff claimed that individuals could be sued in a US court if they failed to respond to the takedown request.

“That’s largely calmed down, I’m glad to say, and prudence has prevailed and they now happily coexist,” said Giacobbi, who insisted: "We’re not anti-fan." ®

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