If you’re in a band, it’s likely you’ve made your music available on Facebook, ReverbNation, YouTube, or any of the other countless online places available to market your music. Many bands decide it’s good business to let their audiences preview their album or select tracks from the album, hoping the free listen will result in album sales—and it is. However, the ease with which your music is available can also result in piracy.
So what can you do to protect yourself? First and foremost: register a copyright for your music. This is a strong line of defense against improper use; if you attempt to bring legal action against anyone, your case will be much easier if there’s a copyright registration on file. If you never got around to it, you may have a difficult time proving your rights.
What’s the next step? Legal action can be costly and time-consuming. Suing someone is certainly your right as a copyright owner—but what if you don’t want to go through all that trouble? What if you’re not trying to sue for damages or lost profits—what if you just want the offender to stop?The Cease and Desist Letter is your magic weapon. It costs you next to nothing, and it tells the offender in no uncertain terms that you’re hip to their copyright infringement—without the hefty legal fees involved in bringing someone to court.
A Cease and Desist letter will usually contain the following:
- A statement that you are the copyright holder
- Copyright registration information (if you did indeed register), which shows you as the owner
- Explanation of the infringement (for instance, the website you found your song on and the title of that song)
- Your demand that the improperly used material be taken down immediately
- Threat of legal action, should your Cease and Desist letter be ignored
That last one is the kicker. You may not have any intention at all of suing—but your infringer doesn’t know that. All they know is that they’ve been found out, that you know where to find them, and that you’re not at all impressed with their shenanigans.
Sure, you’re taking a risk that the infringer will call your bluff. But the risk that they’d be taking in doing so—that it’s entirely possibly that you’ll sue them, successfully—is much bigger.