In this article, we will explore what it means to have a copyright and how you can protect your original work from copycats with a cease and desist letter. For a low flat rate, Demand Letters can connect you to an attorney that can draft and send a cease and desist to protect your intellectual property interests, with no hidden charges or retainers.
What is Copyright?
Perhaps you have seen the © symbol across different mediums—books, films, even artwork. That symbol designates copyright. Legally, a copyright is a form of intellectual property (IP) law that protects original works of authorship. This includes most art forms, like books, music videos, songs, films, and more; it also includes less-intuitive IP such as computer software and architecture. A copyright is a legal right that manifests automatically – which means that you do not need to register or file any paperwork for that set of rights to be legally acknowledged. Once your original work is created and ‘fixed’ in a tangible form (for example, when it’s written down or recorded), you are automatically deemed the sole copyright-holder and possess all of the IP ownership rights associated with the work.
When you own the copyright to a work, such as a book, you have the sole right to duplicate that work (i.e. publish that work multiple times) or use it in another form (i.e. to produce and direct a film based on the book). Another benefit of copyright ownership is that you have the sole right to license your copyright to other persons or organizations. So, for example, if you wanted someone else to publish your book or to produce and direct a film based on your book, you could license the copyright to them.
This set of rights also means that it is the copyright owner’s responsibility to detect and report misuses of their work. Common misuses include duplication or use without permission, and these misuses are characterized in a legal setting as copyright infringement.
What Are Some Examples of Copyright Infringement?
Generally, copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is duplicated or used without the permission of the original copyright owner. In the example of the book, this could look like producing and directing a film based on the book without the original author’s permission. Copyright infringement can also occur when a photograph is used, without credit, in a Powerpoint presentation, downloading movies and music without paying for commercial use, and even using unlicensed clips of music in podcast episodes.
Cease and Desist Letters
One way to combat copyright infringement is to have an attorney send a cease and desist letter. A cease and desist letter is self-explanatory: it demands that the copyright infringer stop whatever the action is that it infringes on the copyright and refrain from misusing it again. An attorney can draft a cease and desist letter that will be professional, clear, and concise. An attorney will also know exactly what kind of language to include in the letter to lay a solid foundation now should the matter have to be escalated to legal action later.
Generally, a cease and desist letter will include the following:
- A description of the actions that result in infringement of the copyright of the original work;
- Information related to the original work and evidence of ownership;
- Any negative consequences of the infringer’s actions (usually in the form of lost profits or possibly damage to reputation);
- A formal request to cease and desist;
- A detailed explanation of the consequences if the infringer fails or refuses to cease and desist the infringing actions; and
- A deadline by which the infringer must respond to the letter.
Do I Have To Send a Cease & Desist Letter?
Technically, no. There is no legal requirement to send a cease and desist letter. However, litigating these matters in courts is expensive, time-consuming, and often unnecessary. Many copyright infringement issues can be settled without going to court, but the process starts with a cease and desist letter. Sending a cease and desist letter can be a cost-effective way to immediately stop someone from stealing your copyrighted work without resorting to a drawn-out and expensive legal battle.
Do I Really Need To Hire an Attorney for a Letter?
Anyone is allowed to send a cease and desist letter, but having an attorney send one on your behalf is generally a much better idea. A letter sent by a legal professional will carry weight and be taken more seriously than a letter sent by yourself. An attorney is best suited to write a cease and desist letter for you because they can make sure that all the relevant important information is included. An attorney who has assessed your case’s specific facts can help you set the right tone and articulate the correct initial demands to improve the chance that you will reach the best outcome. More importantly, they can serve as a final level of review to ensure that you do not inadvertently compromise any future legal actions or strategies that might otherwise be available to you. In other words – they know how to prevent you from accidentally tanking your own case.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” could never be truer than when it comes to hiring an attorney. Writing a professional, clear, strong letter that encourages a recipient to take the desired action is critical to preventing more expensive costs down the road, like litigation. Most importantly: it is always less expensive to hire an attorney to take the right actions correctly, once, than it is to hire an attorney to fix a situation after mistakes have been made.
If you need an attorney to send a cease and desist letter on your behalf, but you’re not able or willing to pay costly legal fees, Demand Letters was made for you. Demand Letters can connect you to a legal professional that will send a letter for a flat rate, all from the comforts of your home. Click the button below to get started today.