When an artist, writer, entrepreneur or other creative person discovers someone else using copyrighted material without permission, it can be shocking and upsetting. After all, not only may the other person profit unjustly from the copyright owner’s intellectual property, but he or she may damage the reputation of the creator if the material is misused. The first question a New York copyright owner may have is, “How do I make them stop?”
The first step is often to send a cease and desist letter to the offending party. This letter legally informs the person that the copyright owner is aware that the other party is infringing on his or her rights. The owner may demand that other person stop using the protected material, or that he or she give proper credit to the owner.
Sending a cease and desist letter first is the most appropriate way to make sure that the offending party is now fully aware that the material is copyrighted and that someone else owns it. Otherwise, the person who is misusing the material may claim in court that he or she was unaware that it was protected by copyright law. The copyright owner establishes ownership and can demonstrate the date when the other party was informed of the violation.
If the other party fails to comply with the cease and desist letter, the New York copyright owner may decide to pursue legal action. It is wise at this point to contact an attorney with extensive experience in intellectual property law. In fact, unless the copyright owner has legal experience, he or she may benefit from consulting an attorney for assistance in drafting an effective cease and desist letter.