An Evel AOL Lawsuit

    December 14, 2006

Daredevil Evel Knievel performs his most death-defying stunt yet: suing search engine behemoth AOL.

America is great. You can come up with a ridiculous moniker, jump a rocket-powered motorcycle over the Grand Canyon while wearing a hideous jumpsuit, and become a legend. Stuntman Evel Knievel is an American icon that is just living the dream.

Another American icon that is just trying to live the dream is rapper Kanye West. West is a Roc-A-Fella records artist, a four time Grammy winner, and multi-platinum selling artist.

In a recent video for “Touch The Sky”, from Kanye’s smash album “Late Registration”, West took on the persona of a Knievel-esque daredevil who was preparing to jump a canyon on a motorcycle.

Apparently the video hit a little too close to home for Mr. Evel, so he slapped Kanye with a federal lawsuit on Monday claiming that West infringed upon his trademark name and likeness. Knievel also claims that the “vulgar and offensive” images in the video were damaging to his reputation.

The stuntman sought compensation for damages and for the distribution of the video to come to a halt.

While this lawsuit in itself seems a little ridiculous, mostly because Knievel claimed West was using his image to “catapult” himself into the public, the daredevil was not finished.

For his most dangerous stunt, Evel Knievel will attempt to sue AOL not for hosting the video, but for the simple fact that users can find the video on other sites through the search engine.

According to the lawsuit, “use of AOL’s own search engine for a video of ‘Evel Knievel’ returned the infringing music video as the second hit generated by the search … Upon information and belief, AOL stopped distributing the infringing music video in response to Evel Knievel’s demand that it do so.”

Even after AOL removed the video, Knievel’s representatives claimed that it could still be found in the search engine’s results. AOL is not responsible for the content of other sites, so it is a bit confusing why he would sue that particular search engine.

In fact, when I searched AOL Video for “Evel Knievel” the first ten results returned were about the controversy of the West lawsuit. A search for “Kanye West” revealed mostly interviews and live clips of the rapper performing and gossip.

There is currently no word on the amount of money Knievel is seeking in damages from either West or AOL.

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Autmn Davis is a staff writer for WebProNews covering ebusiness and technology.