Copyright Confusion: Cease & Desist – Everyone’s Friend?

(To ensure there’s no confusion here: I am not a lawyer, I am a writer who has an interest in this subject because I would like to not be sued or ripped off. Noble motivations, I assure you.)

As I’ve been saying for a while, intellectual property laws aren’t exactly as clear as everyone thinks. They’re surprisingly subjective at times, even going so far as to make it possible for straight up piracy to sometimes be considered more legal than some non-profit fan productions. The parts of the legislation meant to protect those fans are also pretty subjective and provide no real protection until entering prohibitively expensive court proceedings. There are some corporations who have, either intentionally or unintentionally, abused this system as a result – some even lobbying for it. And, unfortunately, the whole thing gets murkier over time as it gets constantly reshaped by lawsuits – sometimes permanently and in unexpected fashion.

So it was with a great sigh of relief that the lawsuit between CBS Paramount and Axanar Productions ended up settling out of court. Regardless of what side of the issue you fell on, the lawsuit was actually pretty important. The core of the issue wasn’t so much the legality of Axanar itself but what the ruling would do to copyright laws. Even those opposed to Axanar were dreading the potential ruling as it would have left a mark on fan productions and intellectual property rights for years to come. If the court ruled in favor of CBS Paramount, fan-productions as a whole would have been irrevocably damaged and a legal framework would have existed to apply that to anyone’s properties. Meanwhile, should Axanar have come out on top, it would have been yet another in a long line of loopholes letting certain individuals do whatever they wanted so long as they could afford the lawsuit. Either way, whoever won, every other creator out there would have lost in some fashion.

It was because of this that people like myself were confounded by the lack of a Cease & Desist prior to the lawsuit actually being placed. Though incredibly unpopular, the Cease & Desist letter is generally the go-to route for situations like this and the lack of one is generally a strange anomaly that raises questions. Some were under the impression that it was because CBS Paramount was obligated to sue, but that is actually not quite true and is based on assumptions from other IP laws. Instead, it was just something they decided to forego. Supporters of CBS’ actions pointed out that the C&D isn’t a legally binding act.

But, of course, that’s exactly why the C&D is usually the first move… Continue reading Copyright Confusion: Cease & Desist – Everyone’s Friend?