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Webmaster Questions and Answers

Question: Another Website is stealing content from mine and I want to send him a Cease and Desist letter. The problem is I don't know how to write one! Can you help?

Answer: Cease and Desist letters are best written and presented by lawyers because it is one of the methods that leads up to a lawsuit if the Cease and Desist letter is ignored. I have provided below a simple example of what a Cease and Desist letter looks like. If you decide to write your own (not recommended), try and find the mailing address of the offender and send the letter via certified mail. If you cannot find a mailing address, then go ahead and send it via email.

For this fake scenario, let's assume that your name is John Doe and your Website is called MySite.com. You discover that another site called MeSite.com, run by Jane Smith, has been taking your original content, word for word, and republishing it on their site. Here's the type of Cease and Desist order that John Doe may send to Jane Smith:

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June 15, 2000

Dear Jane Smith,

It has come to our attention that you are republishing original content from MySite.com on your Website, located at MySiteIsBetter.com.

Your unauthorized use of original material from MySite.com is in violation of copyrights owned by MySite.com. If you do not immediately remove the copyrighted material from MySiteIsBetter.com, and notify us in writing that you have done so, we will have no choice but to pursue legal action against you. We require the copyrighted material to be removed and written notice given that such has been removed, by no later than June 30, 2000.

Sincerely,

John Doe
for MySite.com
---

Before having a lawyer write a Cease and Desist letter (or writing one yourself if you so decide) there are a few things you'll want to do.

1) Make sure that each of your Web pages that contain original content are clearly marked with a Copyright emblem and copyright notice, like the ones at the bottom of every Webmaster Techniques page.

2) When you find a violator of your copyright, you may want to first send a friendly notice asking the person to remove the material from his/her site. If the material is not removed and you do not get a response then consider the Cease and Desist letter.

3) Notify the offenders ISP (the people hosting his/her site) that they are in copyright violation. Send the ISP a copy of the Cease and Desist letter. Some ISPs will immediately close the account of a person who is found to be in flagrant copyright violation.

Joe Tracy

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