United Media's fifth letter

Date:         Thu, 08 Aug 1996 16:50:37 -0500
Subject:      United Media
To:           DWallach@fs.CS.Princeton.EDU

Thank you for agreeing to remove Dilbert from your Web site. The fact that you approached this issue in good faith with an interest in what the law ought to be was certainly refreshing to me given the attitude of most infringers I generally deal with. (Your situation is also unique in that I got bombarded with e-mails, both pro and con, from people voicing their opinion.)

I also hope you will leave this with a sense that United Media and Scott Adams are not bad guys. UM is in the business of selling intellectual property rights. UM's only product is selling to others the right to copy and display those rights, i.e. the likenesses of the comic strip characters. Consequently, UM zealously protects and guards the value of those rights. If others can use those rights without paying, UM loses its ability to make money. More importantly, perhaps, if UM loses control over the context in which the property is displayed (my favorite example being an inline of the Dilbert strip to the Klu Klux Klan's pornographic web page) it will erode the value of the property in a way that will be very difficult to measure. Finally, I strongly believe that the Copyright Act prohibits inlining. But we don't have to agree on everything.

All this being said, UM grants you, and you alone, the right to display the August 4, 1996 Dilbert comic strip in reduced form as it presently appears on your "Technical Details" page of your Web site. You agree to maintain the quality of the reproduction in a manner consistent with the present appearance of the strip and UM shall have approval over any alterations you propose. (If you want, call me and I'll explain the need for these provisions.)

Again, thank you for your cooperation.

Dan Wallach, CS Department, Rice University
Last modified: Thu Aug 8 20:47:47 EDT 1996