A copyright infringement cease and desist letter is a document that demands a violating party that’s copying, stealing, or imitating your original work to provide proper credit or stop immediately. This notice threatens legal action unless the violator stops profiting from, claiming credit for, or using your original work without permission.
Copyright Lookup: Use the United States Copyright Office search tool to look up copyrights from 1978 to the present.
Laws: 17 U.S. Code Chapter 5 covers Copyright Infringement and Remedies, and 17 U.S. Code § 501(b) states that the person who owns the copyright must submit a written notice to the violating party before they can initiate a lawsuit.
- Benefits of Using a Copyright Infringement Cease and Desist Letter
- Is This Letter Legally Enforceable?
- What If My Copyright Infringement Cease and Desist Letter Is Ignored?
- How to Send a Copyright Infringement Cease and Desist Letter
- Copyright Infringement Cease and Desist Letter Sample
- Frequently Asked Questions
Benefits of Using a Copyright Infringement Cease and Desist Letter
Some benefits of using a copyright infringement cease and desist letter include:
- It can help you quickly resolve issues of copyright infringement without litigation.
- It can act as additional evidence if your case goes to court, showing that you attempted to end the copyright infringement.
- It can increase the damages you’re awarded in court if the offender violates copyright laws even after receiving your letter.
Is This Letter Legally Enforceable?
No, a copyright infringement letter is not legally enforceable. The letter only warns you that you may take legal action unless the infringement stops. Ideally, the violator will stop before you take legal action, saving you time, money, and stress.
What If My Copyright Infringement Cease and Desist Letter Is Ignored?
If your cease and desist letter is ignored, you can file an infringement lawsuit against the offending party. However, you must formally register your original work with the US Copyright Office to file the lawsuit. 
US copyright laws protect your original works.  As soon as the expression of an idea is written, the result is copyrighted, and the owner has the exclusive right to use and display this original copyrighted work.
Those exclusive rights include the following:
- Monetizing the work
- Creating derivative works
- Displaying the work publicly
Registering your work creates a public record of the copyright, and anyone wishing to use all (or a portion) of this copyrighted work must first get your permission as the owner.
Suppose your website is covered by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and a third party posts your copyrighted material. In that case, you may have to send a takedown notice to your registered DMCA agent.
How to Send a Copyright Infringement Cease and Desist Letter
Follow these steps to send your cease and desist copyright infringement letter successfully:
Step 1 – Prove Your Right to the Copyrighted Material
Before you start writing your letter, you must prove that you have the right to the copyrighted material. Use the United States Copyright Office search tool to find your copyright.
Step 2 – Collect Evidence of Unauthorized Use
Once you’ve checked that the material being infringed is copyrighted, you need to collect evidence of when, where, and how the copyright infringement occurred. For example, you can take screenshots or gather URLs if the material is being used online.
For URLs, use a tool such as the Internet Archive (“Wayback Machine”), which captures the URL at the moment so the website owner can’t remove the material and say they never used it.
Step 3 – Write Your Letter
Write your letter, ensuring you include the following elements:
- Infringement Method: How the offending party infringed on your copyrighted material
- Original Work: The material you own that the offending party infringed on and how their work is the same as or similar to your own
- Copyright Registration Number: The number provided to you by the US Copyright Office if you’ve registered the work
Also, include a date by which you expect a response.
Step 4 – Send Your Letter via Certified Mail
Send your notice via certified mail with a return receipt, which ensures you will be notified when the receiver delivers, accepts, and signs the letter. This process can also help your case in court, as you can show that you attempted to notify the violating party.
Step 5 – Prepare for Court
Suppose the copyright infringement is severe, and simply stopping the copyright infringement isn’t enough. In that case, you should meet with your legal counsel and prepare to take the case to court.
Copyright Infringement Cease and Desist Letter Sample
Here’s a sample of our copyright infringement cease and desist letter. Download the template as a PDF or Word file below:
Frequently Asked Questions
Is copyright infringement a crime?
Yes, copyright infringement is a crime. Infringing copyright willfully and for commercial or private financial gain is a criminal offense.
What does copyright infringement mean?
Copyright infringement is the reproduction, distribution, performance, creation of derivative work, or public display of copyright-protected materials without permission from the copyright owner. It means a third party is breaching the rights of the copyright owner.
How much can you sue for copyright infringement?
How much you can sue for when it comes to copyright infringement depends on several factors. There is no set amount, and the courts will consider actual damages, profits, and statutory damages. Going to court for copyright infringement can be expensive and time-consuming, so it’s worth figuring out how much you could sue.
What is the penalty for criminal copyright infringement?
The penalty for criminal copyright infringement includes imprisonment of up to five years and maximum fines of up to $250,000 per infringement.