Friday March 4th AGON announced a controversial move to monopolize the chess games from the Candidates 2016. During the following days little more than a white paper was available on their official website, and communication with AGON or its director Ilya Merenzon went unanswered. As a result, Chessdom’s CEO Anton Mihailov decided to bring the issue to the public domain via an open statement. That prompted AGON to finally initiate conversation by listing series of conditions. In a good spirit, Chessdom decided to compromise and accept all suggested points, in the name of higher chess promotion and spread of the game. However, AGON’s tone deviated from the initial points and reached to baseless court threats and unwarranted bullying strategies.
Everyone will be made to agree to AGON’s policy
AGON’s new policy, that tries to defy the very basis of chess, has disturbed many. But even higher perturbations are expected when users see the actual conditions they have to agree on when entering the official website. AGON’s lawyers were “kind” enough to threaten Chessdom again and to send the full click wrap agreement. Soon we will present the full story to you, until then here is an excerpt:
“You may not copy, reproduce, distribute, publish, enter into a database, display, perform, modify, create derivative works, transmit, or in any way exploit any part of Broadcasting Materials (ed chess moves), except that you may access and display materials and all other content displayed on the website for non-commercial, personal, entertainment use on a single computer or device only.”
Update 1: Emil Sutovsky and “The mother of all chess websites” speak
After learning the details of AGON’s WorldChess agreement, The Week In Chess aka “The mother of all chess websites”, has issued a short but clear statement. On Twitter Mark Crowther stated, “I’m not planning to use their website.”
Emil Sutovsky, renowned Grandmaster and President of the Association of Chess Professionals, also shared his personal opinion, “I believe that the chess world is not ready for any restrictions of the kind, except for the live video footage, which surely can be copyrighted. An attempt to copyright the moves, whether it is about live relay or database storing, commentary from the experts on the chess portals or publishing the reports in the mainstream papers ought to reduce significantly the number of spectators for the particular event and harm chess in general. I have discussed the issue with several proponents of copyright in chess, and some of their points are valid – but it seems to me that it is not only the chess world is not ready for it, but also those who try to monetize it, don’t have a proper answer on many copyright-related questions.”
Emil Sutovsky also added that he is concerned about the short notice of AGON and that ACP will come out with a statement in the near future, after possibly consulting its legal advisory.
Update 2: Twitter gurus and Qatar Masters director shocked by AGON’s decision
One of the most active Twitter chess people, Tarjei Svensen from Norway, has expressed his surprise on AGON’s policy, “Agon again threatening lawsuit against sites broadcasting Candidates. Now want to restrict games being published up to TWO hours after game.”
The director of the prestigious Qatar Masters tournament, Mohamed Al-Medaihki, has added more, “You can’t just threaten people one week before the start of the event! There is no time even to negotiate the broadcasting fees!”
Update 3:Ian Rogers raises a voice
Journalists around the world have been concerned about the Candidates and two major mainstream websites have decided to boycott them (more about this later). Among those voices is the renowned journalist Ian Roggers who comments, “Whatever the legality of AGON’s ban, to announce it days before the Candidates, with commentary teams ready to go, is simply unprofessional.”
Update 4: The news on AGON’s policy now in Russian
Update 5: Asim Pereira
Asim Pereira from mychessapps.com is also disappointed, “This is a very sad development for Chess. Every major event like this (Candidates) is a great opportunity to promote the game further. However, restricting fans to a single website is letting this opportunity slip away. The kind of popularity and innovation which multiple broadcast partners provide, can never be matched by a single site. Chess fans would be disappointed.”
Update 6: Darko Polimac
Darko Polimac, FIDE Trainer, EDU Comission member at European Chess Union, and Director at Chess School Polimac Kilkenny, decided to speak on the hot topic too. “It is very bad decision which will hit back at AGON and FIDE. Very unpopular move which is just a blow for chess”
Update 7: the common voice
We are sorry that we do not have the capability to bring every comment you send us through the contact form or Twitter. But here we will summarize two general concerns 1) AGON have no chance of providing in a single website the services that one can find around the internet, thus diminishing the value of the user experience and 2) Even if they somehow make the people agree to the controversial click warp, the WorldChess site has no chance to hold the traffic.