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Massage Today
October, 2001, Vol. 01, Issue 10

Most of AMTA Lawsuit Thrown Out of Court

By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h)

Before the AMTA's lawsuit even got going, Judge George W. Lindberg granted Massage Today's motion to dismiss the AMTA's complaint on four of its six counts. As the remaining two counts involve a single claim, the AMTA has effectively lost 80% of its lawsuit prior to any evidence being presented.

A motion to dismiss is requested when the merits of a lawsuit are in question on face value alone. After reading the AMTA's lawsuit, MPAmedia's attorneys recognized that the AMTA's complaint was inconsistent with applicable federal and state laws, and filed the motion to dismiss. Massage Today's legal council Rick Cigel commented on Judge Lindberg's decision:

"The AMTA lawsuit has been effectively gutted. The Judge dismissed four of the five claims in his ruling. As to the remaining claim, the Judge has set a very high bar for the AMTA to get over. He stated that: 'Count III alleges that plaintiff has a copyright in its 1998 Registry and 1999 Registry, and that defendant infringed plaintiff's copyright rights by producing a work substantially similar to plaintiff's copyrighted works.'"

As the judge's ruling makes clear, the AMTA is mistaken. If the AMTA had copyrighted its registry, the AMTA would have had the right to prevent others from reprinting a registry that was "substantially similar" its own registry. In this case, the AMTA did not copyright its registry, and even the AMTA does not claim that Massage Today has published any type of registry, let alone a registry that is "substantially similar" to the AMTA registry.

In truth, this remaining issue still comes down to who can control the name and address of a massage therapist. The AMTA continues to claim that it should be the one to control its members' names and addresses, referring to them as "AMTA property."1 Massage Today believes that it is the right of each massage therapist to make his or her own choice, and has consistently honored every request made by any massage therapist, AMTA member or not, regarding the privacy of their name.

Additional information provided to Massage Today, including a letter from AMTA president Steven C. Olsen, suggests that many of the AMTA's chapter presidents and directors were unaware of the details of the lawsuit until long after it was filed. This is reflected by a letter from Mr. Olsen to the "AMTA Chapter Presidents," sent almost two months after the AMTA filed its lawsuit.2

Rather than try to cover up the lawsuit, Massage Today informed the entire profession in its very next issue after the lawsuit was filed last May.3 The letters and e-mails received revealed that most of the responding massage therapists, AMTA members included, were not in favor of the AMTA's action. One AMTA member referred to it as "a frivolous and baseless lawsuit."4

Oddly enough, while Mr. Olson is spearheading the lawsuit, apparently to keep AMTA members from receiving Massage Today, he himself has yet to request that he no longer receive the publication. Massage Today is continuing to be sent, free of charge, to every known massage therapist in the United States (including Mr. Olson), with the exception of the handful who have chosen not to receive it.

References

  1. "You Own Your Name," published by the AMTA.
  2. Letter from Steven C. Olson to AMTA Chapter Presidents, dated June 27, 2001.
  3. "AMTA sues to prevent members from receiving free benefits" Massage Today, June 2001. www.massagetoday.com/archives/2001/06/04.html
  4. "AMTA lawsuit: lots of letters & e-mail." Massage Today, July 2001. www.massagetoday.com/archives/2001/07/05.html

 

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