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.

Filed Under: cease and desist, copyright, streisand effect

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  1. identicon
    Rand, 21 Oct 2007 @ 5:35pm

    Using the Legal Process

    I find it sad the so many people will provide a knee-jerk reaction. Yes, as an IP attorney, I have to agree the copyright claim is overboard, although technically the letter would be protected. I have little doubt that a Court would find posting of the threat a fair use.

    The better way to get back at the attorneys is to use their own forum against them. Since they are asserting that posting the letter would constitute an infringement, file a declaratory judgment against the firm in your local federal court seeking a declaration that posting the letter would be a fair use. The last thing the attorney wants to be doing is hiring a law firm in your home town to defend a lawsuit that makes him look stupid.

    Additionally, add in a declaratory judgment claim that your use of the underlying action was a fair use - or any other defense. Not only is the litigation conducted on your home court, it also lets the judge know right off the bat that the attorney on the other side is a moron who likes to stretch his case a bit.

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