You are a tarot professional and like all other tarot professionals doing business in the 21st century, you’re on the Internet. You have a great web presence. You have cool content up.
And then this happens: You spent hours over the weekend writing content for your website and poured so much of your knowledge and effort into it. Or you went through the trouble of getting exclusive licenses to use cool photographs for your site. And now suddenly, a lesser tarot professional has ripped your stuff off your site and posted it on his own page. Your jaw hits the space bar on your keyboard.
What do you do?
You send out a C&D, fool.
Cease and Desist Demand Letters
A cease and desist demand letter (often referred to as a C&D) is basically a strongly-worded letter to someone requesting that they stop doing something that they shouldn’t be doing. It’s often used to get the legal ball rolling in defamation cases (libel, slander), alleged infringement of personality rights (such as right of publicity), claims of invasion of privacy, false light, or other claims of misappropriation.
Perhaps the one most familiar to us is the C&D notice sent out for alleged intellectual property infringement. That’s copyright, trademark, and patent, but also use of trade secrets. For the tarot professional, the one likely to be most applicable is the C&D notice for copyright infringement. Defamation and the other misappropriation claims I mentioned come up, too, but that’s for another time. Let’s focus on C&D for copyright infringement today.
C&Ds are often sent out by attorneys on behalf of their clients, and the client pays a couple hundred bucks for the attorney to drop the case file on a paralegal’s desk, who is going to open up a template not unlike the one provided below for your free download, input the applicable client information, and then print it on heavy, creamy, expensive lawyer’s letterhead. What you’re really paying for there, I hope you realize, is that heavy, creamy, expensive lawyer’s letterhead and the scare factor that it causes when someone receives it.
You can just as easily send out C&Ds yourself. It’s going to be less scary to the recipient, I admit, but sometimes that is all it will take to get the infringing material off the web.
Free C&D Templates for Alleged Copyright Infringement
If you’re dealing with a situation much like the one I’m talking about, then consider the templates that you can download below. There’s a template for the first C&D you would send out and, if the person doesn’t take down the infringing material within your given deadline, the licensing notice claiming owed fees. There are sample case studies explaining how the templates might be applied. There’s also a template for a Section 512 Notice you’d send to the service provider or webhost that the infringing material is on. You’ll want to send that out as well along with the first C&D and carbon-copy your infringer to let that person know you mean business.
The MS Word document contains verbiage you’re free to use in any way you like, though I’m obliged to tell you that you should consult your attorney, in particular one who specializes in intellectual property law. Downloading cookie cutter templates off the Internet and Do-It-Yourself lawyering rarely ends well. So consider the download to be a general reference only.
The document also provides 3 case studies to demonstrate use of the templates. See how the templates are used in specific cases and how the hypothetical individual changed around the wording on the template to apply to the specific case in question.
You’ll see a couple of different templates in that downloadable DOCX file. The first is the initial C&D you’d send to the individual who is infringing on your copyrighted work. If that doesn’t produce a response, you then second the second template, the “final” C&D. I’ve also included a sample §512(c) DMCA take-down notice, which is what you’d send to the Internet service provider to get this third party site to take down the infringing material if the individual is giving you the middle finger.
Still Do Your Own Due Diligence
Please note that this blog post is only up to date for the date posted, and the laws are constantly changing. If you’re looking at this post years from now, even one year from now, who knows what the revised laws and guidelines will be and what are applicable to you now. So again, don’t rely on these templates. Do your own due diligence.
My Favorite Copyright Law Sources on the Web
Also, some legalese copyright reading material for you:
- Copyright – An Overview (Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School)
- Title 17 – Copyrights
- 17 U.S. Code § 512 – Limitations on liability relating to material online
- Copyright Crash Course: Using Materials from the Internet (Georgia K. Harper, University of Texas Libraries)
- Copyright and the Internet (Virginia Montecino, George Mason University)
- IP Basics: Copyright on the Internet (Professor Emeritus Thomas G. Field, Jr., University of New Hampshire School of Law)
- Copyright and Fair Use (The Center for Internet and Society, Stanford Law School)
- Linking and Liability (Daniel A. Tysver, Esq., BitLaw)
Worth reading if you want to be informed about U.S. copyright law, especially since I haven’t gotten into the legal logistics of when you’re entitled to send a C&D and when you’re probably barking up the wrong tree.
Presumption of Valid Copyright and Actual Infringement
I might do a 101 seminar on copyright law as applied to professional or commercial tarot practice at some future point, but this little blog post isn’t it and doesn’t cover any of that.
Note that these C&D templates and this whole post assumes that you are an authorized holder of the copyright in question and that the copying that has taken place is actually infringement. So if it’s not your copyright to claim interest in, or what has happened isn’t actually considered copyright infringement, or there is a strong fair use defense, then you may be S.O.L. as they say and my C&D templates won’t help you.
There are certainly instances when you may think someone has infringed on your copyright but that use is covered under fair use, so carefully consider your circumstances before shooting out C&Ds left and right.
My Moral Philosophy on Copyright
Now that we’ve covered the logistics, let’s talk about morals (as opposed to ethics). My moral philosophy when it comes to intellectual property is to be a proponent of free, unfettered dissemination of ideas and expressions to advance knowledge in the collective unconscious. Yes, a part of our guts hurt when we see someone copying what we perceive to be our personal work and that person has not given proper credit back to us, or when someone has hijacked our ideas and is passing them off as her own, but that part of the gut that is hurting is just our ego. Always consider the greater good before you take action against another. Just as the act of copying or misappropriating another’s work can demonstrate a lack of integrity, being hostile and hyper-defensive about “yours versus mine” can be an even worse demonstration of our shadow selves.