Don't Post This Cease-and-Desist Letter, Or Else

from the let's-test-that-theory dept

Greg Beck writes "In an apparent attempt to avoid the Streisand Effect, lawyers sending threat letters sometimes claim that the recipient would violate the firm's copyright by posting it online. This post is about Public Citizen's response to one dumb threat letter and its decision to post the letter online despite the copyright claim." It's funny how popular it has become for lawyers to claim it's illegal to post or even show anyone their cease-and-desist letters. Remember: just because a lawyer says so, it doesn't mean it's true. You can see Public Citizen's response to the letter (pdf), which lays out a variety of reasons why the cease and desist is ridiculous (it's yet another attempt to force criticism offline) and ends with a fantastic response to the claim that the original C&D is covered by copyright and cannot be posted online without additional charges: "By this letter, we are inviting you to test the validity of your theory that the writer of a cease and desist letter can avoid public scrutiny by threatening to file a copyright law suit if his letter is disclosed publicly on the internet." Somehow, I doubt the opposing lawyer will test out this theory.
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Filed Under: cease and desist, copyright, streisand effect

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  1. identicon
    BlueBearr, 8 Oct 2007 @ 10:11am


    How about this:

    Dear Mr. Morris, Esq.:

    I have read your letter dated September 21, 2007. Unfortunately, according to your letter, I do not have the rights to act upon the contents of your letter.

    You state in your letter that I am "not authorized to republish this in any manner." Your letter also says across the top "FOR NEGOTIATION AND SETTLEMENT PURPOSES ONLY."

    Because of the tone of these warnings, I feel that it is inappropriate for me to assume any rights that are not specifically granted to me in your letter. Unfortunately, you do not detail your definition of any of the above restricting terms, and how they relate to the activities that I consider relevant to acting on the contents of your letter. Am I permitted to "review" the contents of the letter? Can I transmit the letter to another location, either physically or in electronic format, for the purposes of more expeditiously reviewing your request? How am I permitted to share the contents with any other individuals (say, any employees, or any site visitors that you claim have posted defamatory content)? May I use the contents to direct activities regarding the content that you regard as defamatory? This are some but by no means all of the usages that I need to have defined in order to be able to consider your request.

    Until and unless you fully describe and define any and all activities and usages that have been granted to me in use of your copyrighted material, I cannot act on any information that is contained in this copyrighted document. If in any subsequent communications you fail to fully define all usage rights that I consider relevant to considering your request, I will again withhold action until this oversight is corrected.

    Accordingly, I am returning your copyrighted material with this letter, as I cannot be held accountable for its contents being misdirected or misused.


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