Legal issues of these suttle website advertisements

This is an add for a new nintendo video game, Metroid Prime 2: Echos. You wouldn’t know it unless you are very into video games.

This is not new. is an ad for Halo 2. There have been others, like for Burger King. I am wondering, what are the legal aspects of this kind of thing? As far as I can tell, this new one has no indication that it has been created by Nintendo. I’m sure they want to copywright their material, no? Also, they got an .org extension, when they are a company.


Well let me answer the part I’m sure about first. While .orgs were originally limited to non-profit organizations, it is not that way any longer. Anyone can own any of the main 3 domain names, .com, .net and .org.

As for the subtle advertising, I think these are all perfectly legal. If it isn’t done by the company, and it is supportive of the product, then it would be free advertising.

Another point to consider in this type of advertising is that most people have lightning reflexes to anything like a billboard or a commercial. So to keep people interested some commercials have worked to be more subtle and discreet, working on people’s curiosity to keep them paying attention to the ad. That goes the same for these sort of websites, they’re discreet, it’s not flashing and shimmering and blindingly commercial but it is tied to their product.

So yeah, that’s my 2 bits.

Ad man, here.

Generally advertisers like to be overt about who it is that is presenting a message to you, since they want you to remember their name.

But some advertisers understand that ads are unwelcome intruders in your life. These advertisers will scream a bit less loudly, so as not to tick you off too much. This is one reason why a company like Burger King might be receptive to something like the Subservient Chicken. It’s fun, it’s “secret,” it’s cool, and if someone objects, there’s no logo to worry about.

Finally, there are companies whose customers reflexively reject mass marketing. Gamers fall into this psychographic. As a result, marketing efforts have to be much smarter. Links like the ones you’ve provided are subtle, as you pointed out, because the target audience might have rejected the product out of hand if the communications had been more overt or mainstream. As a result of the subtlety, the visitors to these sites feel a bond that comes with being “in the know.”

Is it all crap? Well, does Sprite’s “Obey Your Thirst” tell you to reject all mega colas while touting one?

Legal issues? None, really. Watch the libel, don’t violate trademarks, any claims should be verifiable, puffery is fine; you know, the usual.

Their material is copyrighted regardless of whether they include the copyright notice on it. The notice is optional, does not affect the actual copyright protection, and only makes it easier to prove that the defendant in an infringement suit did not innocently assume the material was not copyrighted. There is plenty of content on the web that is copyrighted but does not include a copyright notice because the author wants to maintain some level of anonymity.

Note that in this particular case the content may or may not be copyrighted. I don’t know. I only point out that the lack of a copyright notice doesn’t tell you anything and you should assume it is protected unless you have explicit release from the creator.