Legal Articles

Cease and Desist Letter Of Copyright Infringement

A Cease and Desist Order is just a form letter with legalize that says “Stop or Else”. Also known as a C&D, there are many templates found on the web, with examples listed below. Find one that meets your needs and customize it for your specifics.

A Cease and Desist Order is a definite step up in implied threat for action. Accordingly, instead of waiting another 5 days, I recommend you shorten the time to respond to 24 to 36 hours. A Cease and Desist Order means business, and it means business now.

While your first contact letter should go to the party directly involved, a Cease and Desist Order might be worth sending to everyone involved. If you have enough information to realize that the individual won’t respond, consider sending the Cease and Desist Order to every contact you can find related to the website, including the website server host and advertisers, to make sure that all parties get a chance to see it.

Usually this legal looking document with a threat of monetary damages does the job. If it does not, then definitely contact the host server with the Cease and Desist Order, advising them to shut down the site if action to comply with the Cease and Desist Order is not seriously. Most hosts will jump to avoid such actions and will temporarily suspend the site. On occasion, you may find that the host server isn’t the “parent” host, but part of a shared host service. Keep following the breadcrumbs up to the parent company who runs the server.

A Cease and Desist Order can consist of some or all of the following:

  • Notification of the copyright infringement and theft of intellectual property.
  • A demand that they cease and desist from infringing your copyrights.
  • A clear time table for response and deadline.
  • Specific request to remove or destroy the page with the stolen content, or another move that will satisfy your need to have the theft stopped or controlled.
  • Inform them that they are liable for any and all attorney’s feeds, court costs, and damages (only valid for registered copyrighted work – so register your work now.)
  • Inform them of any intentions you have to send copies of this Cease and Desist Order to their ISP, host, advertisers to let them know of the infringement.
  • Clearly state you will take further legal action is this is not resolved to your satisfaction by the deadline.
  • If you want, reinforce your statements with the contact information of your lawyer.
  • Request for identities and URLs of all links to the stolen content.
  • Demand for an accounting of all profits and income derived from use of the infringed content.
  • Demand for compensation for any and all profits and income derived from the copyright theft.
  • Demand for compensation due to lost profits, income, and reputation.
  • Clearly state how they are to respond to you regarding this action, by phone, email, in writing (mail), and if they are to respond directly to you or to your legal representative or lawyer.

Make the letter or email as official looking as possible. If your logo is cute and cartoon-like, create a new, professional looking style just for the serious nature of this letter. For emailed Cease and Desist Orders, make them simple, clear, and easy to read, with double spacing between paragraphs and a clear title. Do not use background art or stationery. Make it look like a memorandum.

Legal Articles

Copyright Registration for Photographers

Each time you take a photo, that image is copyrighted. Assuming that you can prove that you took a specific photo, then misuse of that photo could lead to monetary compensation. But the truth is that most intellectual property lawyers won’t touch your case unless the image has been registered with the US Copyright Office. A copyright protects forms of “authorship” (as opposed to trademarks and patents which protect marks and inventions), and registration confers significant legal benefits to the photographer, namely that you can claim statutory damages of up to $150,000 per image infringed.

A non-registered image isn’t eligible for statutory damages, however, the infringed party can seek actual damages and “disgorged” profits (which in some cases can exceed the statutory limit). The amount of compensation can vary in size, and based on a judge’s interpretation of “willfulness” of the infringer.

For example, if a nefarious publisher uses your unregistered image of a grizzly bear in a magazine, you might be able to claim a few hundred dollars (i.e. not enough to pay the lawyer). But if the image is registered, you could get up to $150,000 in statutory damages.

Statutory infringements are assessed on a per image basis, with a single award available even if there are multiple infringements. If the nefarious publisher uses the grizzly bear image in a brochure and an ad, you’re only eligible for $150k in statutory damages, not $300k.

Additionally, if the nefarious publisher grabbed your images from a single magazine, or single website, there is also only one statutory damage available. The essay of grizzly bears ripped from your website and used in an ad is still only eligible for $150k.

Registration has a huge benefit, so make sure you register your images regularly.