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Sample Cease & Desist Letter to an ISP | NINC

Sample Forms for Cease and Desist Letters for Copyright Infringement of Books on the Internet

If you find unauthorized (i.e., bootleg) copies of your books being offered for sale on the Internet in any form (e.g., digital, hard copy or other formats) you can send cease and desist letters on your own using these forms as models.[1]  There are two different models for letters: (i) one for the website that is offering your book for sale; and (ii) one that can be sent to the Internet Service Provider (“ISP”) as a “takedown notice” pursuant to part of the federal copyright statute known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).[2] 

            You will see that there are places in the model letters to identify the copyright registration number if your book has been registered with the U.S. Copyright Office.  Even if you have not registered, however, your work still enjoys copyright protection, which exists as soon as your creative expression is put into a fixed medium (i.e., when it is written).  Copyright registration is a prerequisite, however, to being able to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement in federal court. Your ability to seek “statutory” damages and your attorneys’ fees is also dependent on whether and when you have registered your work.  (See fn. #1 in the model for the letters to the website that is selling bootleg copies of your book.)

            Under the DMCA, an ISP can be held liable for infringing material on one of the websites it hosts only if it has ignored a DMCA-compliant takedown notice.[3]  Upon receiving a proper takedown notice, the ISP will both remove the allegedly infringing material and notify the alleged infringer of the complaint.  If the alleged infringer demonstrates to the ISP that its use of the subject material is in fact proper/authorized, the ISP may restore it.  The requirements for the DMCA takedown notes are quite specific, as set forth in the model letter.

[1] These forms are intended only in cases of wholesale infringement of your work (i.e., title and all), not for instances in which you believe that a book is merely similar to yours because of characters, storylines or other plot elements that resemble those in your work.
[2] If there is any doubt, you should confirm with your publisher or other licensee that they did not authorize the use in question.
[3] This assumes that the ISP has set up a complaint procedure and has designated an agent to receive the DMCA takedown notices, but virtually all ISPs have done so.