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Copyright laws are in place to protect a creator's work from misuse, theft and replication. But what happens when you find out someone has broken those laws and is using your personal creations without permission? Before you seek legal action, the first step is to send a cease and desist (copyright) letter to the offender. Here's how to go about it.
What is a cease and desist letter (copyright)?
If you're experiencing a case of copyright infringement, sending a cease and desist letter is the first step towards pursuing legal action. It's a simple letter sent to a business or individual asking them to refrain from using your work.
It also acts as a friendly warning to the recipient that if the requests in the letter are not met by a specified date, legal action will be taken against them. Cease and desist letters can be known by other names such as a copyright infringement letter or a cease and desist all copyright infringement.
If you're looking for advice on putting together a more general cease and desist, in cases dealing with harassment, slander, a breach of contract or otherwise, you can use our guide to general cease and desist letter templates.
Download this template at Lawpath.
When should I use a cease and desist (copyright)?
A cease and desist (copyright) is useful if you think that someone is using or replicating your copyrighted work without your permission. You can serve the letter at any time as a first warning to the offender that you would like them to stop using your work, or face legal action.
For your work to be protected by the Commonwealth Copyright Act 1968, it must:
- Be made by a resident or citizen of Australia,
- Have been made or published in Australia,
- Or, have a connection with a country that is a member of a relevant international copyright treaty.
Cease and desist (copyright) vs letter of demand
A cease and desist and a letter of demand are both used in an attempt to keep proceedings outside of a court of law. As we have already discussed, a cease and desist letter (copyright) includes a request to the offending party to stop using or misusing copyrighted works. In contrast, a letter of demand is typically sent to an individual or business that has failed to deliver what was originally promised. This may be because they have not paid the full amount of money owed or not finished the job as originally specified.
What does a cease and desist (copyright) include and not include?
What is included in a cease and desist (copyright)?
A cease and desist letter should only contain essential information. There is no reason for it to be longer than half a page long. Make sure to address the following elements in your letter:
- Details of the sender
- Details of the recipient of the letter
- Description of the offending behaviour
- Specific legislation that the offender is in breach of
- A warning that legal action may be taken in the future
- Deadline by which the offending action must stop or risk further action
What is not included in a cease and desist (copyright)?
It's common to use a cease and desist letter as the first method of formal communication with an offending party. For this reason, you should ensure that you use neutral, non-threatening language throughout the letter. Avoid using vague language, and make your intentions as straightforward as possible.
How effective is a cease and desist (copyright)?
Recipients of a cease and desist are not under any legal obligation to respond or comply with the requests outlined in the letter. However, most individuals and businesses do take these letters seriously as they understand that the next steps involve legal action.
If your requests are reasonable, the recipient is likely to accept them. If they do not accept them, the next step is to pursue further legal action. This may include filing a second cease and desist letter or filing a lawsuit against them.
Do I need a lawyer for a cease and desist (copyright)?
Putting together a cease and desist is relatively simple, and you do not need a lawyer to write the document. However, cease and desist letters sent by a lawyer tend to have more weighting, as the recipient will take this formal request letter more seriously.
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How do I write a cease and desist (copyright)?
When it comes to writing your cease and desist, remember to use clear and concise language, and only include relevant information. Structure your cease and desist like you would a typical letter, starting with the name and address of the sender in the top right-hand corner, and underneath, on the left, the name and address of the recipient.
In the main body of the letter, remember to ask the recipient to cease from using your work specifically. Explain that if the offending behaviour does not stop by a specified date, then you will pursue legal action.
Sign off the letter with your name and signature.
Where to get free legal documents and templates like a cease and desist (copyright) letter
Using a cease and desist template is a great way to structure your letter correctly. Here are a few websites to find free or purchasable legal templates and documents.
- Lawpath. Sign up to Lawpath's subscription service to access your first legal template for free.
- LawDepot. Search through a broad array of free templates online. You can fill them in online and then download them to your computer to use as you wish.
- LegalVision. In exchange for a monthly membership fee, you can enjoy unlimited access to thousands of legal documents and templates.
- Wonder Legal. Along with 140 other legal templates, you can edit and download a cease and desist from Wonder Legal for $9.99.
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