Major League Baseball
Website Banned By
Major League Baseball
By Elio Velez
Bryan Hoch, the Wave's sports baseball columnist, was ordered last week to shut down his popular fan website, MetsOnline.net. Major League Baseball Properties' Officials said the site illegally used the team and the league trademarks to make a profit. As of press time, the New York Mets, along with MLB, are trying to resuscitate the website in a form that would be acceptable to all parties.
Hoch, 20 years old and a student at SUNY Rockland, created the website when he was 14 years old. Hoch had worked for the Mets official website in 2000 as a writer and administrator. Hoch says, "They (the Mets) told me that they saw what I did with my website and hired me for an unpaid Mets internship."
MLB took over control of the 30 teams' websites in 2001. Hoch received press credentials from the Mets in 2001 to report on games for his website.
The website published content related to the Mets and Major League baseball. The site receives 10 to 15,000 hits per week and is a non-profit site. The website states in a disclaimer that it was not an affiliate of the New York Mets but the contention of MLB's displeasure was with the selling of merchandise from the site.
The merchandise was one of the main points in MLB Properties sending a cease and desist letter on July 25 to Hoch to deactivate the website and transfer the domain name of metsonline.net to MLB. The site had offered merchandise relating to the Metsonline.net logo on t-shirts and other products. The writings and logos of the Mets and MLB were not present on the t-shirts. Hoch says he only made $16 from sales and was going to donate the money to the Twin Towers Fund.
Ethan Orlinsky of MLB Properties has said that the site had featured pictures of the players with logos and trademarks and maybe considered as an official website. David Cohen, Vice President and General Counsel of the New York Mets agrees with the decision of MLB Properties but does not want to stop fan websites. "We have to follow MLB and play by the rules but we don't want to infringe on web fansites. We hope Bryan and MLB Properties come together on a decision as soon as possible."
Another baseball fan website, astrosdaily.com, a Houston Astros fan website, have received a similar cease and desist notice from MLB Properties. The letter was sent on July 5 but Ray Kerby, the website adminsitrator talked to the Astros organization before the imposed deadline to allow the site to remain. The Astros and Kerby then made an agreement to allow the site to continue.
"I won't run a website if the Astros didn't let me", Kerby said. "The Astros went to bat for me and I appreciate it."