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How Not to Write a Cease-and-Desist Letter 235

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the love-seeing-bullies-get-bullied dept.
In our overly litigious society it seems that many companies are all too happy to fire off a cease-and-desist letter if they see something they don't like. Many times these letters end up online just causing further embarrassment for the company. One such company has decided to try scaring their targets out of this response by including a copyright notice for their cease-and-desist letter. Public Citizen has fielded one of these dumb letters and has invited them to try to assert their cease-and-desist copyright (which isn't even registered).
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How Not to Write a Cease-and-Desist Letter

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:42PM (#20900325)

         
  • Ssh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:43PM (#20900339)
    Don't tell Darl about this.
    • by drachenfyre (550754) on Monday October 08, 2007 @01:46PM (#20901167) Homepage
      1. You do not need to register a copyright in the US to enforce it.
      2. You DO need to register it before pursuing legal action in the US AND damages are limited to actual damages, not statutory damages. Legal fees expended in defending the copyright are also ineligible to be claimed in this case.

      There are about 50 posts in this thread already going back and forth on this point and it's really clouding up what is a good discussion.
      • by evanbd (210358) on Monday October 08, 2007 @03:24PM (#20902657)

        From its content alone, your post is completely indistinguishable from any other post by someone who claims to know how copyright works in the US. It should be obvious that just because you know you're right, that doesn't mean the rest of us can tell that just because you sound certain about it. So, please post a link to a reputable reference, rather than just adding another post going back and forth on the issue and clouding up the discussion.

        (FWIW, I think you're right about this. But it would add a lot more to the discussion if you could actually include a reference.)

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by drachenfyre (550754)
          If you scan down, you'll see numerous links. The problem is, this issue was discussed back and forth 10-15 times at the time I posted this and even more people were posting the same.
          I didn't want to take credit away from those who posted proper links and deserve the karma, simply by reposting them as a reply at the top.
          I did want to end any other wasted discussion on this, as it threatened to destroy a good discussion.
          • If you scan down, you'll see numerous links.

            Unless I'm mistaken (I know that its scary to contemplate that somebody posting on Slashdot might actually be wrong), you could put links to those messages that have the good links into your message. That would actually have saved some people from wading through the wasted discussions and provided credit where it is due. The result would look something like this link back to the parent post [slashdot.org]. But hopefully it would provide some useful content.

            But this is Slashdot, where the simple technological solution

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by deblau (68023)
          Sigh. Read this [cornell.edu]. Relevant excerpt:

          [No] action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until preregistration or registration of the copyright claim has been made in accordance with this title.
          That's the basic rule, not the whole story. Read the linked text for the rest of it.
      • If damages are limited to actual damages, how could the RIAA get $220,000 out of this Thomas woman for 24 songs? Does the judge or jury or whatever actually believe that damages were indeed $220,000?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by the_humeister (922869)
      Ssh is a registered trademark of SSH Communications Security. You will be hearing from our lawyers.
  • Good idea / bad idea (Score:5, Informative)

    by networkBoy (774728) on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:44PM (#20900359) Homepage Journal
    How to get bad press: http://farmersreallysucks.com/editorialtakedown1.shtml [farmersreallysucks.com]
    How to get *good* press: http://farmersreallysucks.com/editorialgetafirstlife.shtml [farmersreallysucks.com]
    -nB
    • by sconeu (64226)
      The Linden Labs non-C&D is hysterical.
      • by networkBoy (774728) on Monday October 08, 2007 @01:03PM (#20900645) Homepage Journal

        The Linden Labs non-C&D is hysterical.
        I don't think it can get much better than this:

        In conclusion, your invitation to submit a cease-and-desist letter is hereby rejected.
        Point is, LL got just as much (or more) publicity from this letter as they would have gotten from a normal C&D, but instead it's all positive. By responding they secured their position of ownership, while not looking like asshats. IMHO most C&Ds are written from the perspective that if the company does not respond they risk trademark dilution issues. The problem is they respond wrongly, not that they respond. In the case of my C&D from Farmers, they quote all the commercial portions of US code and none of the sections that deal with comment or criticism. Once you read through Title 15 and 17 you will find that it explicitly negates its self when dealing with the personal side of publication. Specifically:

        (4) The following shall not be actionable under this section:
                        (A) Fair use of a famous mark by another person in comparative
                commercial advertising or promotion to identify the competing goods
                or services of the owner of the famous mark.
                        (B) Noncommercial use of a mark.
                        (C) All forms of news reporting and news commentary.
        So all a lawyer has to do is send a letter stating that they are asserting trademark ownership and such, while recognizing this particular application of their trademark is protected. They could then go on to request alterations as they see fit, and likely get a much more positive response.
        -nB
    • In the UK... (Score:5, Informative)

      by meringuoid (568297) on Monday October 08, 2007 @02:59PM (#20902323)
      ... Over here, there's a standard form for contemptuous replies to legal bluster. It goes: "I refer you to the reply in the case of Arkell v. Pressdram [wikipedia.org]".
  • by bnisonger (857781) on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:44PM (#20900369)
    There is no registration or notice requirement anymore to assert copyright.
    • Yeah, IANAL but I have seen stuff like this mentioned numerous places: "Thus, a natural copyright exists from the time a work is invented or created, regardless of whether it has been registered with a particular Copyright Office." - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright [wikipedia.org]

      I have no idea about the fair use question, but it seems a copyright would apply to the letter either way. Perhaps an IAAL could clear this up?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by budgenator (254554)
        the way I understand it is it not being copyrighted that is being considered here but the fact that an unregistered copyrighted material can only get actual damages. A lawyer's boilerplate letter is worth about $50.00 at most, and $0.00 at most likely. The argument would be along the liens that because the letter was specific between the two parties, it's worthless to anyone else so the actual damages would be zero. Now if the letter is registered with the copyright office there could be an award of statuto
    • by Tmack (593755)

      There is no registration or notice requirement anymore to assert copyright.

      But isnt such a letter being sent to the complain about the forum's users useless unless all the potential "users" of the forum that are being ceased and desisted can read it (ie: everyone on the intertubes)? By posting it, the "defendant's" law firm is just notifying everyone that might be involved of whats going on, and that someone is complaining about their opinions, so they better stop complaining about the scammy infomertial company.

      tm

    • True, however it is considered good for to register copyright before claiming damages for violating said copyright.
      Also, IIRC an unregistered copyright, while still protected, is not as enforceable. That is to say, damages awarded against violation of the copyright are negligible, and often limited to the infringer being barred from continued infringement only, and no monetary damages awarded.
      -nB
      • by badasscat (563442)
        Also, IIRC an unregistered copyright, while still protected, is not as enforceable. That is to say, damages awarded against violation of the copyright are negligible, and often limited to the infringer being barred from continued infringement only, and no monetary damages awarded.

        Copyright is copyright. One copyright is not stronger than another copyright.

        The only difference between a registered and unregistered copyright is the burden of proof. It is just slightly harder to prove that you own the copyrig
        • by hal9000(jr) (316943) on Monday October 08, 2007 @01:52PM (#20901285)
          From the US Copyright office FAQ on registration http://www.copyright.gov/help/faq/faq-general.html#register [copyright.gov]:

          When is my work protected?
          Your work is under copyright protection the moment it is created and fixed in a tangible form that it is perceptible either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.

          Do I have to register with your office to be protected?
          No. In general, registration is voluntary. Copyright exists from the moment the work is created. You will have to register, however, if you wish to bring a lawsuit for infringement of a U.S. work. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section "Copyright Registration."

          Why should I register my work if copyright protection is automatic?
          Registration is recommended for a number of reasons. Many choose to register their works because they wish to have the facts of their copyright on the public record and have a certificate of registration. Registered works may be eligible for statutory damages and attorney's fees in successful litigation. Finally, if registration occurs within 5 years of publication, it is considered prima facie evidence in a court of law. See Circular 1, Copyright Basics, section "Copyright Registration" and Circular 38b, Highlights of Copyright Amendments Contained in the Uruguay Round Agreements Act (URAA), on non-U.S. works.

          I've heard about a "poor man's copyright." What is it?
          The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a "poor man's copyright." There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration [ephasis added by me].

          so the mailing it to yourself adds no special protection.
          • by Creepy Crawler (680178) on Monday October 08, 2007 @02:19PM (#20901741)
            ---The practice of sending a copy of your own work to yourself is sometimes called a "poor man's copyright." There is no provision in the copyright law regarding any such type of protection, and it is not a substitute for registration

            Thats just false. If you do NOT register a valid work, you must prove it is yours. By providing a federal datestamp, it does provide some basic claim that it was created by X date.

            You still cannot sue for violating copyright if you didnt register it. The mail trick only works in preventing others from suing YOU.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by hal9000(jr) (316943)
              Thats just false. If you do NOT register a valid work, you must prove it is yours. By providing a federal datestamp, it does provide some basic claim that it was created by X date.

              Soooooooo, I cited an authoritative source. Where is yours proving or even intimating otherwise?
        • by belmolis (702863) <billposer@alum. m i t .edu> on Monday October 08, 2007 @01:54PM (#20901317) Homepage

          Copyright is copyright. One copyright is not stronger than another copyright.

          The only difference between a registered and unregistered copyright is the burden of proof.

          Sorry, this is wrong. Registration of the copyright provides a number of advantages, which are summarized here [copyright.gov] by the Copyright Office. Among them is that, if the copyright is registered within three months of publication or prior to infringement, statutory damages and attorney's fees may be obtained. If not, only actual damages may be recovered by the copyright owner. In the case of a letter such as this, which has no commercial value, actual damages would be zero, so the failure to register the letter effectively eliminates any financial recovery. (Of course, the author of the letter is unlikely to succeed in the threatened suit since this is an absolutely classic case of Fair use.)

        • HAW! HAW! (Score:3, Funny)

          by msauve (701917)

          the old trick of mailing a copy of something to yourself as soon as you've created it still works just like it always did. (Dated postmark.)
          I plan on mailing a bunch of (unsealed) manila envelopes to myself tomorrow. Then, in a couple of years, I'll retype one or two titles from the NYT bestsellers list, stuff them in an envelope, seal it, and sue.

          According to you, I'll have ironclad proof that they're infringing my copyright. I'll be rich!
    • by Zeinfeld (263942)
      There is no registration or notice requirement anymore to assert copyright.

      I was wondering quite where the assertion that there is no copyright in the letter comes from. Certainly its not a slam dunk, obviously abusive claim.

      I think you could plausibly argue that publishing the letter is fair use in the circumstances, but that is fair use of a copyright material, not a demonstration that there is no copyright. The difference being that you would need to littigate rather a lot to establish a precedent.

      • by Artifakt (700173) on Monday October 08, 2007 @01:16PM (#20900813)
        A legal notice, prepared so as to be admissible in a court proceeding, becomes a document of the court. As such, its broader publication is from then on to be determined by a judge, who could, for example seal the record, theoretically including the document. Unless a judge actually did this, the document is part of the public record, subject to various 'sunshine laws' and basic rules for federal proceedings, that override any assertion of copyright.
                The proper method to deal with publication is to go ahead and press the case, and ask the judge to issue an order prohibiting both sides from discussing the case in public forums as a pre-trial motion. There is no real venue to stop publication of the legal notice short of actually taking the case to court, and there are some powerful SCOTUS decisions on the first amendment issues involved that say any such method would be prior restraint.

        (please note my Sig. Any actual lawyers please feel free to correct me if I have got anything wrong here.)
        • by 2short (466733)
          "A legal notice, prepared so as to be admissible in a court proceeding, becomes a document of the court."

          True, but this isn't, because there is no court proceeding; this is just a letter from someone who happens to be a lawyer. The author does indeed hold copyright, so the proper way to stop publication is to sue anyone who does. Since the copyright is unregistered, they can't get legal costs, only actual damages, in this case nothing. They could mount an expensive lawsuit for no money, just to get an in
    • by cfulmer (3166) on Monday October 08, 2007 @01:10PM (#20900727) Homepage Journal
      Well... You are quite right that you do not need to register a work in order to have a copyright on it (at least in the U.S.). But, you can't sue somebody for infringement unless you've registered the original work. You can register after the infringement and then sue, but you still have to register.
      • by shashi (56458)
        Thank you... I'm glad someone around here actually knows how copyright registration and infringement suits work. :p
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by melanarchy (109486)
        That is a distinction that doesn't make any sense, since you can register and sue at the same time, registration becomes a part of a lawsuit, not something you have to wait around for before filing your suit.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by imgod2u (812837)
          You can register and sue to have have the unlicensed distribution ceased. You can't sue for damages you think already incurred. Copyright and patents last for a finite amount of time and you are only afforded protection from the date it starts (when you register) to the date it expires. Any infringement before and after are not liable for cost of damages.

          Also, I believe there is a time limit. In the case of patents, I think this is two years. If you do not patent an invention within two years of its co
      • by roystgnr (4015) * <roystgnr&ticam,utexas,edu> on Monday October 08, 2007 @02:03PM (#20901489) Homepage
        But, you can't sue somebody for infringement unless you've registered the original work. You can register after the infringement and then sue, but you still have to register.

        I was about to correct you, but I went to the US Code to find a relevant quote, and holy crap, it looks like you're right! Title 17, Chapter 4, 411:

        "Except for an action brought for a violation of the rights of the author under section 106A (a), and subject to the provisions of subsection (b), no action for infringement of the copyright in any United States work shall be instituted until preregistration or registration of the copyright claim has been made in accordance with this title."

        The exceptions in 106A appear to be about plagiarism/misrepresentation cases, not about simple "making unlicensed copies".

        I thought you registered your copyrights so you'd be eligible for statutory damages and attorneys' fees in a lawsuit. That's in the law, but it's just a reason to register copyright before any infringement begins rather than right before you sue. You learn something new every day. This must be why lawyers charge the big bucks.
    • by Nikker (749551)
      The thing I find interesting about their Copyright claim is, the copyright "owners" sent them the copyrighted material with out their consent, but requires their interaction. So if a musician sends me a copy of their music for my review and I don't agree with the terms of their copyright I don't have to review it, but if your mortgage company sends you a letter involving your account and there was nothing in the original contract stipulating copyrighted correspondence then are you forced to agree with thei
      • You reading the document does not invoke any copyright issues. You should even be able to hand the orginal to someone else (not copying it) without copyright ever coming up.

        The only way anything like that could have any effect is if you then copied the document, in whole or in part. Until then you haven't done anything but read what you were given.
    • by drxenos (573895)
      Correct, not since 1976. But you still need to register if you wish to file a lawsuit.
  • Oy vey.... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Kierthos (225954) on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:49PM (#20900413) Homepage
    Oh noes! Someone wrote something mean about my company on the internet! I gots to sue them!

    Please, God (or other available deity), strike these litigious dumbasses with your holy fire/hammer/lightning from the sky (as appropriate).
  • Copyright (Score:5, Informative)

    by aitikin (909209) on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:49PM (#20900421)
    Correct me if I'm wrong (cause I know you will), but I was always taught that copyright exists the moment you put pen to paper. You will have a harder time proving it if you haven't registered it, but legally speaking you own the right to allow copies to made and or distributed it the moment it's written.
    • Re:Copyright (Score:5, Informative)

      by Baricom (763970) on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:57PM (#20900513)
      That's true, but in the U.S., if you don't register, you cannot bring suit, and if you register late, you can only claim actual damages (as in, how much money you lost because somebody copied your work), not statutory damages (where the $100,000+ liability figures come from), and you cannot claim attorney's fees.

      Note: I am not an attorney. I used http://www.publaw.com/advantage.html [publaw.com] as my source.
      • Thanks for the note about difference in registration post- and pre-accrual-of-action. I'm in an intellectual property law class right now, but we haven't arrived at the "real world" of how copyright is done with respect to lawsuits yet. So you've taught a law student something new about IP law today. :)
      • by aitikin (909209)
        Well put. Thanks for the full explanation and the posting of your source. Probably going to be rather useful for me.
    • by gurps_npc (621217)
      Everything I will say is USA specific. Other countries have different laws, so it does not apply to other countries. You are correct. The act of registering the work makes it legally more dificult to claim that you do not know the object is copyrighted. But as the letter itself mentions the fact that it is copyrighted, it could be interpreted as being proven already.

      But that is besides the point, as being copyrighted does not in any way prevent someone from posting the full work and commenting on it,

  • Funny Stuff (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOspAM.gmail.com> on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:50PM (#20900425) Journal
    You can find the first letter to start all this here [citizen.org]. I recommend you read that letter and then the one linked in the text.

    They attempt to use Fair Housing Council of San Fernando Valley v. Roommates.com, LLC decision as a reason that Leonard is legally liable for hosting defamatory statements about an infomercial company! This is Charles Montgomery Burns quality humor.

    Also, for further comedic value, I heavily recommend The DirectBuy website [directbuy.com] done entirely in flash. Which doesn't offer much except a registration form (click the upper right hand ticket). I can't find a damned thing on how their business model works unless I sign up for it. Seems to be a way to get home furnishings as discount prices. But for some reason you have to go to a show room for that. Sounds like something where the value isn't really there but they're certain they can sell you on the idea if they get a half hour of your time. Probably not a scam but pretty damned close--time share style!

    Also what's interesting is how they respond to negative feedback questions [directbuycares.com]:

    We're happy to hear that you are considering a DirectBuy membership. We understand that negative information can make it hard for you to make an informed decision about how membership can meet your current and future buying needs, and we'd like to respond.

    DirectBuy's unique business model is very different than mainstream retail operation. Our concept, combined with our continued growth over 36 years, has made DirectBuy, just like any other sizeable corporation, a target for controversy.

    That being said, most of the information online is posted by individuals who have not attended an Open House, or have chosen not to become members.

    We realize that DirectBuy is not for everyone, and that's why we encourage individuals who are interested in taking a calculated approach to undeniable savings to attend an Open House to learn about our unmatched selection, savings, and service. The complaints you see online from those who have actually visited DirectBuy represent a very small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of individuals each year who attend an Open House. (And to set the record straight, DirectBuy has never been involved in a class-action lawsuit.)

    We're very proud of our long track record of satisfied members who have enjoyed the undeniable savings and wide array of merchandise that we offer. Our members invest upfront to avoid paying traditional retail markup and save significantly on virtually everything for in and around their homes. Members' satisfaction is our number-one priority.

    But the only way to make an informed decision about whether DirectBuy membership is right for you is to attend an Open House event at a showroom near you. There, you'll learn more about the benefits of DirectBuy membership by gaining exclusive access to our showroom and getting a firsthand look at the savings, selection and services available to members from our team of knowledgeable professionals.

    DirectBuy members, tell McBain about your membership experience here, too. We'd love to hear from you!
    I've bolded the sentence that worries me. It both sounds too good to be true and sounds like they take my money and promise me something later that's ill defined. What do you think?

    I'll bet any amount of money that wasn't written by a person with a soul. Shady legal threats from an even shadier company. What do you expect?
    • Re:Funny Stuff (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@HORSEop ... minus herbivore> on Monday October 08, 2007 @01:00PM (#20900577) Journal

      The really funny part is that their service is pretty much a scam... I've read up on them and apparently some of their policies are a little suspects, such as clause that do not allow you to return merchandise, cancel an order, or even (get this), terminate your membership! And where did this information come from? Try Consumer Reports [consumerreports.org]. DirectBuy is just another company with its head in the sand. Personally, I can't wait to see if this will end up in court.

      • by FatAlb3rt (533682)
        Isn't their pitch like a K-Mart blue-light special? Ie, buy our $4k membership now, as this is your only chance. Can't sleep on it and purchase tomorrow, non-refundable after 3 days...
        • by LMacG (118321)
          Right-o. If you decide to leave the showroom without purchasing the membership, you are "never" allowed back.

          They make Scientologists look like the most forthcoming guys on the planet.
    • Weasel worlds (Score:3, Informative)

      The two in question here are "significantly" and "vitually". Watch the best tv series ever, Yes Minister, episode The Right to Know, for an excellent explenation of how these words can be used.

      Sometimes I think all people should be forced to watch that series at least once in their lives, and if possible before election time.

    • by EricWright (16803)

      ... a calculated approach to undeniable savings ...
      ... enjoyed the undeniable savings and wide array of merchandise that we offer.
      ...firsthand look at the savings, selection and services

      I'm confused... are they savings, or undeniable savings? Why won't these clearly honest, above-board merchants keep their message consistent? Otherwise, how do they expect to sucker the gullible?

    • Re:Funny Stuff (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Luke Dawson (956412) on Monday October 08, 2007 @01:28PM (#20900933)

      What do you think?

      I find this bit the most amusing:

      We understand that negative information can make it hard for you to make an informed decision about how membership can meet your current and future buying needs, and we'd like to respond.

      As if, somehow, only looking for positive information about something is the best way to come to an "informed" decision. If anything, I'm looking specifically for negative information when I am trying to make an informed decision before buying something.

    • by jimicus (737525)
      I've bolded the sentence that worries me. It both sounds too good to be true and sounds like they take my money and promise me something later that's ill defined. What do you think?

      I think it sounds a bit like how Costco works.

      However, Costco are honest enough to admit that they're a cash & carry, allow you to sign in guests, you can return products and the registration fee isn't that high.
      • But Costco doesnt hide what they carry behind curtains either.

        One can go look around before buying a membership. They're happy to do so.

        That DirectBuy place is a ripoff. We requested to look around BEFORE buying. They literally laughed at us. So we took our 8 grand for furniture elsewhere (just got a new house and budgeted for furniture)
    • Open house (Score:3, Interesting)

      by iknownuttin (1099999)
      That being said, most of the information online is posted by individuals who have not attended an Open House, or have chosen not to become members.

      I once was "invited" to be a broker at a certain mutual fund that I can't even remember the name of anymore and they spent over an hour showing us overheads (yeah, it was back in '84) of broker's checks showing $1500.00 a week in passive commissions. In other words, you get someone to buy this mutual fund and every time they put more money in, you'd get a commis

      • by jandrese (485)
        How is that "mutual fund" you talked about not a pyramid scheme? They even had the classic pyramid scheme tactics (flash money like crazy and tell you to recruit everybody with a heartbeat).

        The rule of thumb for those "seminars" is that the more they talk about the money the less reputable it is and the less money you would ever see from the scheme.
    • by hawk (1151)
      >Probably not a scam but pretty damned close--time share style!

      Hey! Those are great.

      Aside from helping out with your vacation budget, it's fun to correct the salesman's abysmal economics, recalculate based upon market rates and your own investment returns, . . . :)

      hawk, who turned his $50 in one-way casino chips into a real $400
      • by jandrese (485)
        The best way to get kicked out of those seminars is to actually work the numbers yourself on a napkin and then pipe up about how massively wrong they are, or how they're trying to sell an 800 sq. foot condo a hour outside of Disneyworld for over a million dollars. The downside is that they don't give you the free stuff until the end, so you typically have to be good and just sit through it if you want those free tickets.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hawk (1151)
          Save the lessons for the one-on-one they insist upon.

          Also, discussing hard numbers is a great way to terrify your wife into thinking you might actually do it :)

          hawk
    • I see what you mean about the bolded sentence. When you combine that with the fact that you have to go to one of their sales pitches to learn more details, it just screams "high-pressure marketing". Me, I'll just wait till it's on special at normal suppliers.
    • by Epi-man (59145)
      My wife and I attended one of their open houses here in town since we were about to do some remodeling on the house. Basically, we eventually got them to discuss the costs of things, and mercifully we had already done some shopping for what we wanted. In order to break even on the membership fees, we would have had to be doing on the order of $30-50k worth of remodeling in the year...not quite what we were planning on. Their membership fee was just about double our cost estimate of the project...of cours
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by mosch (204)
      You have to go to a showroom because DirectBuy sells a "membership" that costs $5k for three years. (Don't worry, high-interest financing is available!) You're told that you may either join on the spot, or never come back.

      After purchasing this membership you're then able to shop from a somewhat random collection of goods. You won't be able to return them, or cancel your membership if the whole thing pans out poorly, though.

      Also, you can't take their price list to other retailers to shop around. It's con
  • by Skadet (528657)
    FTFPDF

    Moreover [. . . ] the copyright in the letter has not been registered.

    IIRC, copyright doesn't need to be registered. Demonstrable evidence that that person who claims ownership/copyright is sufficient (see: poor man's copyright [wikipedia.org] -- not the best example, but the line of thinking I'm going with)

    Aside from that, save the arguments for the judge, imo. Corporate attorneys don't care about your "logic" and "laws", they're slaves to the suits above them just like any other corporate worker (*gasp* there

  • by Zymergy (803632) * on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:53PM (#20900469)
    A Good comment posted from the original article:
    7. No License... No Reading by Todd on Oct 8th, 2007 @ 8:41am

    Dear Lawfirm,

    Regarding your recent letter containing copyrighted content, I seem to not have an appropriate license to read your letter. I sure wish I could respond to whatever allegations you claim, but that would require that I read your letter, of which I do not have a proper license to do.

    Sincerely,
    Your Victim
  • by Nymz (905908) on Monday October 08, 2007 @12:57PM (#20900507) Journal
    All submissions sent to my email become my property, and reciept of your email shall consitute your acceptance of this agreement. Expect a couter-suit detailing your violation of my copyright, as I do not permit my letters to be sent via email. Thank you.
  • is here(warning, PDF) [citizen.org]

    I tire of websites that make you jump through hoops to show you the dealio.
  • 'Dozy', or what? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Dr_Ish (639005) on Monday October 08, 2007 @01:39PM (#20901071) Homepage
    A close look at the silly lawyer letter reveals that is comes from the "Dozier Law Firm". The name seems apt. Their web site at http://www.cybertriallawyer.com [cybertriallawyer.com] include a YouTube [youtube.com] video on the front page. Let us hope that they have the correct release for that. Of course, I would encourage eveyone to take a look at their web site, for informational purposes only of course! It is also worth noting that one of their people has the nickname 'Bull'. I guess I will continue my profound dislike of BestBuy. Their loss is Circuit City's [circuitcity.com] gain.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cavemanf16 (303184)
      ROFL! His blog is a complete waste, too: http://johndozierjr.typepad.com/my_weblog/ [typepad.com] No trackbacks, and no comments for any of the articles on the front page. LOL!!

      And I love this ringing endorsement that appears on every single sub-page that he has linked at the top of the main page:

      "Thank goodness for John and his team. These big law firms just don't understand how to handle technology litigation. With their trial record, technology expertise, and legal and business perspective, they have been a godsend

  • Mobbing at its finest... [google.com]

    Or do I just wait for others to change [slashdot.org]

    and for more supportive information to come along such as Non-Patentable findings [wsj.com] that in essence supports Abstraction Physics and the Virtual Interaction Configuration [abstractionphysics.net]

    So should I sue or just wait for the slanderers and libeler to realize they steped in their own B.S...?

    Copyright enforcement on a cease and desist order to prevent the receiver from ...... doing what? Defending themselves? Standing up for consumer rights? ..... ... or just applyin
  • Maybe these dumb companies can encrypt the cease and desist letter and then if anyone tries to fool with it they can go after them with the DMCA.
  • I didn't realize people who were stupid enough to buy something from an infomercial actually know how to get online and post to forums. Ok, sorry, off topic, but still...Who buys anything they see in an infomercial anyway?
  • The only time you have to register a copyright is if you want to be able to collect money from copyright infringements. Otherwise the copyright holder can seek a court order that would result in a cease and desist. Of course, if the copyright was registered, it would help out in terms of proving that there is copyright infringement; but like I said, it's not necessary.
  • form letter (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Johnny Mnemonic (176043) <mdinsmore AT gmail DOT com> on Monday October 08, 2007 @02:33PM (#20901981) Homepage Journal
    My wife worked in the Claims department of a large rental car company. If you were hit by a rental car of this company, and the driver accepted the insurance at the time of rental, you would contact her to get your claims fulfilled. Yes it sucked. Notice the tense.

    Anyway, she received a letter from an attorney that demanded a response, but stipulated that form letters would not be accepted as legit response.

    She sent a letter, but it was returned with "FORM LETTER REJECTED" stamped all over it, and the lawyer subsequently demanded more communication.

    Which she ignored, because:
    a) it wasn't a form letter;
    b) even it was, the attorney couldn't possibly prove it;
    c) even if he could prove it, you can't dictate the terms of the response as long as it's legally sufficient;
    d) his stamping of the letter provided nice verification that he had received it and read it. He may as well have signed for receipt.

    He kept demanding further response, and she followed up with letters that basically said "see previous".
  • "FOR NEGOTIATION AND SETTLEMENT PURPOSES ONLY."

    This is a LICENSING statement. It licenses the copyrighted work for the purposes of "Negotiation and Settlement". Which in this case enables me to publish the work as a means to publicize their C & D letter and criticism of it, a common tactic in Negotiations.

    Just use the copyright within the guidelines of their copyright license. :-D
  • Fair use protections take into account, among other things, the impact on the viability of sales of the copyrighted work from the perspective of the copyright holder. Unless DirectBuy is in the business of selling C&D form letters (which is unlikely, since templates on the Intarweb are far less than a dime a dozen), they're blowing smoke up their own asses. If they did try to file suit for reposting the letter, they'd face a real risk of paying the target's legal costs when they lose, according to cop
  • by cdrguru (88047) on Monday October 08, 2007 @05:16PM (#20903935) Homepage
    We have been engaged in an interesting experiment for the past 15 years or so. It is called the Internet. Under the terms of this experiment, everyone is immune to prosecution because, well, it's the Internet. It isn't "Real Life".

    Not knowing this, the folks at DirectBuy do not realize that they have utterly no recourse to anything stated about them, no matter how unsubstantiated, defamatory or libelous. Their lawyer seems to be under the impression that there is some other sort of universal shield law for everone (publishers, web service providers and posters alike) on the Internet. I suspect once one gets their head around the idea that it is the Internet it will become obvious that they can't sue an IP address and defending an IP address is pointless.

    Unsubstantiated, anonymous reviews on the Internet are the norm. You can find scathing reviews of high school dates intended to utterly destroy people. You can find scathing reviews of nearly any business that some customer has had a problem with with the clear intent to force the company out of business. Normally such sites do not post anything positive, mostly because positive reviews are hard to come by. People are far more motivated when they perceive they have been wronged.

    Of course, if you find such a review of your personality, your business or anything else you might as well just declare bankruptcy, move to a deserted island and kill yourself because it is highly unlikely you are going to get any sympathy on the Internet. And getting the information removed is impossible. After all, it is the Internet and nobody is responsible for anything.
  • by CuriousKangaroo (543170) on Monday October 08, 2007 @06:04PM (#20904381)
    I believe the following is the earliest example of a popular (at the time) site that received a Cease-and-Desist letter and responded by posting it for everyone to see:

    http://www.ibiblio.org/elvis/manatt.html [ibiblio.org]

    Also see the following articles which mention it:

    http://home.earthlink.net/~barefootjim/writing/websight/websight1.html [earthlink.net]
    http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/1997/web.whatnext/hit.miss/hit06.html [cnn.com]

    Of course, posting such letters has been the standard response ever since. Interesting that it took this long for someone to try copyrighting their letter to try to prevent this...

  • by fishbowl (7759) on Monday October 08, 2007 @07:43PM (#20905327)
    Ok, here's an example:

    You have a lease contract form that was purchased at a office supply store. That contract form is copyrighted by its publisher.

    You and your tenant fill it out.

    Now, are you not allowed to copy the filled out, executed contract so that you and your tenant each has a copy?

    If you and the tenant enter a legal dispute, are you both forbidden from copying this document (which is a derivative work, your writing on a copyrighted form) and giving the copies to your lawyers or the court?

    I do not think you will ever see a judgment that declares legal correspondence to be constrained by copyright to the degree that it actually forbids a party to the correspondence from sharing that correspondence. To assert this is to abridge a party's rights, which could have fatal consequences in a lawsuit situation.

    The last thing you want to do as plaintiff in a lawsuit, is give a judge a reason to believe you have been unfair to the defendant with respect to his right to mount a defense to your claims. The reason you shouldn't pull a stunt like this "copyrighted letter" is simply that you don't want to give the defendant any place to stand where he can suggest you acted in bad faith. Even in a solid position, bad faith actions can cost your case.
  • If some lawyer attempted to go after my client with this BS they would get an anti-SLAPP special motion to strike [casp.net] on their desk. My client would get his/her/its attorney's fees paid.

    Such a motion is available in California and in other states as well. [wikipedia.org]

    Essentially, it is a way for the small guy to fight Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation (big companies trying to shut the little guy up by suing him) by giving other lawyers incentive to take the cases on contingency. If this shit happens to you, contact the EFF; they send out emails to lawyers across the country who may take your defense on contingency.

Man must shape his tools lest they shape him. -- Arthur R. Miller

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