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Handling a Cease and Desist Letter in Your Site Redesign

3-10-2013, 08:30
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Handling a Cease and Desist Letter in Your Site Redesign

After you have gone through all the hassle of a site redesign, the last thing you want is to receive a cease and desist letter that claims your new site infringes on someone else's copyright. These sorts of claims are becoming more common. In some cases, the claim may apply only to certain images or it may apply to the theme itself. However, when you receive this letter, you need to perform the following steps to make sure that your site redesign does not get you into a lawsuit.

Investigate the Supposed Wrongdoing

A valid cease and desist letter will lay out the manner in which you have done wrong and provide proof of the ownership. If the person claims that you have wrongly used a template or a theme, then he should provide proof that he owns it. You need to verify this information. If it turns out that it's correct, then you will have to comply with his request so long as it is reasonable. It's not reasonable for him to request a large sum of money for your usage. If you actually purchased the templates or the images from somewhere, look to see if they had the rights to sell it. If you purchased them from someone who did not have the rights, then you are out of luck. Otherwise, you might be able to claim that your rights need to be honored here.

Remove the Offending Content

You will need to remove the offending content immediately. Substitute out another theme or image. In most stock cease and desist letters, this will be the first request. Make sure that you own the rights or have permission to use the content that you put up in its place. You do not want the content to be up in the meantime, even if it is something larger such as entire gaming web templates. Some sites handle this by putting up a generic "content removed for copyright reasons" notice, but it's best to avoid this if you can. Since you're running an eCommerce store rather than an information site, you don't want to run the risk that people will get the wrong idea about your business.

Respond Politely

When you receive a cease and desist letter relating to your website's design, you need to get in touch with the sender. Make sure that you are polite. If you have rights set forth by a legitimate purchase, you should state this in the letter. If you don't, and you used the images or theme by mistake, then you don't have to admit that. You just need to state that you have removed the content. Remember that if you don't respond and don't take down the content you could face legal ramifications.
Cease and desist letters are becoming more popular as more content goes out on the Internet. When you redesign your site, you may find that someone claims ownership over the components you use. Rather than ignoring this request, you need to investigate the claims. See whether there's a basis. Until you know, remove the offending content. Then make sure that you respond to the allegations politely.

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