Tough Competition To Claim The "Quickest to Act Like a Asshat Lawyer" Title

Failblog was originally a creation of Eric Nakagawa, who discovered a method of monetizing lolcats. Had he used that level of creativity for good, we might now all be riding cancer-free solar hovercars to a peaceful Gaza. Thanks a lot, asshole. Anyway, failblog runs pictures of various human failures, with FAIL printed over them for those of its readers who are a little slow on the uptake.

Recently Failblog had a good one. Noting that the Guiness World Records site featured a "Break This Record!" button on many of the pages describing various records, they searched for a record that would make that exhortation embarrassing. It wasn't hard to find:


In case you can't read it, Guinness just encouraged you to break the record for most people killed in a terrorist attack.

Funny. That is to say, amusing, to normal human beings. Not, though, to lawyers. Quick, send in the lawyers. Don't worry, they're here.

Dear Sir/Madam,
I represent and write on behalf of GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS LIMITED . . . .

. . . and so on, claiming trademark infringement. I guess it's possible that Guinness's lawyers are unfamiliar with the concept of fair use. Maybe they don't have fair use in England. God knows their libel law is ludicrous enough; it wouldn't surprise me. Anywhere else in the world, though, this is a patently frivolous cease-and-desist letter.

Failblog, to its credit, mocks them in response:

Thanks for writing us an email regarding the “Record Breaking Fail”. Unfortunately, douchebaggy cyber-bullying emails will only bring upon you more shame on your house. I am also resisting the urge to write this email in ALL CAPS.

It's hard to imagine how Guinness could have thought that this would bring them anything but ridicule.

Last 5 posts by Ken White


  1. Patrick says

    This sounds like a job for Leonard J. Crabs!

    Ironically, failblog's reply would merit a FAIL entry if set alongside one of Lowtax's Leonard Crabs responses to inane takedown notices.

  2. Serge says

    I would say that Ken here failed.

    The website layout of the screenshot posted is from a previous version of the site, deprecated long ago. Current GWR site layout is nothing like the one posted. The screenshot is too old to say that Failblog searched for it with that intent.

  3. says

    So, Serge, does that mean you believe FAILBLOG's depiction is not criticism, comment, or reporting within the meaning of the fair use doctrine?

    Also, how does the fact that this is a prior version of the website, rather than the current version, make it less of a fair use? It seems to me that strengthens, rather than weakens, the fair use argument under several of the elements of that doctrine.

    Oh, and hey, it looks as if the Brits call it "fair dealing," and also extends it to criticism and review and reporting. Fancy that.

  4. Eduardo says

    Can't you sue for libel or defamation in England over just about anything, though? Like, say you take pictures of me making out with my mistress, then print said pictures and caption the pictures "Eduardo and Jennifer Connelly on a Steamy Trist in York." I'd sue you for defaming my good name, even though that was exactly what was happening. Doesn't that kind of thing fly in England?


  5. says

    The original FAIL itself was only mildly amusing—either the site template puts that everywhere or the world record database has a flag set incorrectly for the terrorism record—but the legal response is lots of fun. Heck, maybe this will drive traffic to the Guinness site. I've certainly never visited them before.

  6. Sane Human Being says

    Calm down Ken… I don't think Serge was saying an old version of the Guiness website was somehow less than fair use. He was just pointing out the old site design means Failblog probably just posted an old screenshot someone submitted, and didn't actively search for an embarassing record on their own (like you said they did).

    So yeah: Comprehension Fail.