Oasis Web sites wonder what's the story

The message from Oasis's management to hundreds of the band's fans on the Internet could have come straight from the lyrics of "Wonderwall": "by now you should've somehow realised what you gotta do".

That is, remove by yesterday any "unauthorised" pictures, lyrics, text, sound and video clips from their Web sites, as they were warned to do 30 days ago in a mass e-mailing.

However, the fans' response has resembled that of Liam Gallagher facing a horde of photographers: the cyberspatial equivalent of a V-sign. As "Wonderwall" also suggests: "today is gonna be the day that they're gonna throw it back to you."

Yesterday was the deadline for making changes to the Web sites, according to the message sent out at the end of April by Oasis's management company, Ignition, to hundreds of owners of Web sites hymning the praises of Oasis. For those who did not, "failure to comply with the law will ultimately result in legal action."

But the result could be embarrassing for Ignition. Many of the sites have refused to remove the songs, video clips, lyrics and images, despite the threats.

However, it is unclear whether any prosecution under the Copyright Act would be successful. Short audio or video clips, and photographs, and extracts of lyrics, are allowed under existing "fair use" provisions of copyright law.

Ignition's move has succeeded though in annoying a number of Oasis fans on the Internet. "These fans who write Web sites are the biggest fans and probably buy every CD or whatever that comes out," wrote one. "By doing this you risk alienating fans, rather than appeasing them."

There are more than 250 Oasis fan sites on the Internet, with varying levels of sophistication. But there are no signs that they are eager to comply with the warning, which also carried the names of Creation Records and Sony Records, which issue the band's recordings.

One site, run by Jack Martin in the United States, has written back to Ignition insisting that all the materials on his site are justifiable under the "fair use" clauses. His site shows hundreds of messages from other Internet users and Oasis fans supporting his stand. "I don't feel that this matter is something that Ignition is too keen on pursuing, especially after the response they've gotten from webmasters and the media," he said on Monday. Many other sites show no signs of having changed: music and audio clips, and lyrics abound. None credits Ignition or Oasis.