Dear Cubscast Listeners,
In the days and weeks leading up to our first attempt at recording a podcast in 2005, I remember joking with my co-hosts Matt (Sheps) and Zach (Sneetch) about how only our mothers would tune in to hear our little show. Thankfully, though, our mothers probably never listened and we were able to create something in Cubscast that just felt right to us. Every Cubs fan needs some fellow fans to bounce ideas off of, to console when necessary, and to together scream at the idiotic baseball gods from time to time when any number greater than or equal to 100 is mentioned in relation to the team.
Through great years of Cubs success and lean years of June swooning, you might think that the three of us and later two of us were those fellow fans I mentioned, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. So often you were that fan that I enjoyed hanging out with and spinning theories on why the Cubs chose to carry up to four 2nd basemen on their roster for parts of several seasons. I graciously thank you for tuning in and contributing to the conversation whenever you did. It kept me sane, knowing that a few times a week I had a place to vent, to laugh and to cheer. This has been an outlet like no other.
I remain convinced that the nicest compliment we ever received was a fan at Cubs Convention a few years ago letting us know that we'd helped him become a better Cubs fan. I'll always be proud of that.
In March of this year, literally about a week after we'd recorded our 600th episode of Cubscast and released it on iTunes, Major League Baseball Advanced Media (MLBAM from here on out) sent us a cease and desist letter demanding that we immediately stop using the Cubscast.com domain name. The letter also said compliance meant to immediately transfer our domain name to them, or else. A few weeks later we found out that MLBAM did not want us using the name "Cubscast" for our show, either.
We have pursued every angle possible in trying to find out exactly why this happened and how we could resolve it amicably. We have had several phone calls with MLBAM to gather the facts and state our opinion on the matter, which is that our site is not deceptive in the least and does not cause confusion (we have had a disclaimer at the bottom of our site for several years), among other things. We outlined our position in a letter back in March. We didn't hear much in response, and then several months passed before MLBAM got back to us, basically sticking to the language in their original letter, asking us to fully comply, and to call them if we had any questions.
Somewhere in the middle of this ordeal we discovered that a major league team besides the Cubs found one of our sister podcast websites and didn't like that they didn't own it, which seems to be the genesis of this ordeal. We offered to immediately shut that site down and transfer the domain to MLBAM, but that is not good enough. MLBAM wants everything, including Cubscast.
Of all the things an organization with such great resources as Major League Baseball can do, this seems like a low note and a waste of talent to me. I love baseball, but I wish they would move quickly to embrace fan involvement, fan communities, and technology. Other leagues such as the NBA are setting the bar high, and baseball has some serious catching up to do. Watching a great sport like baseball is one thing, but being connected to other fans makes watching and experiencing a season a thousand times better.
Anyway, we are complying with MLBAM's request and shutting down the Cubscast site, effective immediately. I'm doing my part in this despite having my doubts about the legality of MLBAM's claim. I understand that they own the mark "Cubs" and I'm not a legal expert by any means, but in my opinion the jury's still out on whether or not using a mark to describe a fan club is actually an infringement or not. In our case using the word "Cubs" is simply the most accurate way to describe what we are. We host a free podcast about the Cubs. It's a shame that nobody including us ends up having enough fearlessness (and money) to see a judge rule on this issue. It would undoubtedly shed some light on this matter.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this. It's good to finally share these matters with you as they've been gnawing at me for some time. That said, rest assured that you have a fellow Cubs fan for life.
Thanks as always for listening,
Andrew Figgins "Lou"