Stranger things have happened – Netflix writes funny cease and desist letter
When Sheriff Hopper knocks – Netflix cease and desist letter gets media attention
The words “cease and desist” letters often get used in intellectual property matters. We think of bigwigs in Hollywood going after fans and creators of fan fiction, sending cease and desist letters threatening legal action if people are using content without appropriate licenses. However, there are no set “rules” for a cease and desist letter and Netflix took the unusual approach though of threatening the Demogorgan rather than court action!
***Note we do not recommend using threats of the Demogorgan and recommend you get any cease and desist letter professionally drafted!!!***
What is a “cease and desist letter”?
The definition of a cease and desist letter is a document sent to an individual or business to stop a purportedly illegal activity.
The letter may warn that if the recipient does not discontinue specified conduct, or take certain actions, by deadlines set in the letter, that party may be sued.
The way copyright laws work is that copyright owners have exclusive rights to perform the work. For example, the streaming service, Netflix, must negotiate directly with the copyright owners to obtain permission.
However, Netflix also has its own films and TV series so it is not surprising that they take action to stop copyright infringement or infringement of other rights in relation to its shows. Whether this is the use of their logo and associated fonts, character names, storylines or any other material owned by the company.
Stranger Things have happened…
One of these is the Duffer Brothers TV show ‘Stanger Things’ starring Winona Ryder, about a young boy who vanishes. A small town uncovers the mystery surrounding this boy uncovering secret experiments, frightening supernatural forces, and an odd young girl nicknamed Eleven. Currently, the show has aired two seasons with Season 3 expected to land somewhere near the end of 2018 or early 2019.
Recently in the US, Netflix shut down a “Stranger Things” themed pop-up bar in Chicago which was a hit with fans of the popular Netflix show.
Perhaps what is most interesting about this case, is not that Netflix shut down the Logan Square venue’s operation but rather the letter that it sent to the bar owners. Not the most ordinary legal letter we have ever seen but it is geeky, funny and certainly gets the point across. It is no surprise that the letter has gone viral online.
You know what they say about media attention – and this letter sure hit the mark. Check it out below.
This ploy by Netflix may have been part of a broader strategy – with the release of season 2 of the hit show, Netflix probably did not want to take the heavy-handed legal approach. Even if the owner of the pop-up bar had not been so obliging and agreed to shut the pop-up, Netflix would still have benefited from the press. Already the intriguing story is being covered by news sources, shared on Reddit, and being turned into internet memes.
What if you have your own copycat?
However, this tactic may not work in all circumstances and often a stronger and more usual legal letter is required to get results – and may not look so silly if you later need to rely on that letter in court.
Found yourself in the Upside Down? We can help you!
So on a more serious note, if your copyright (or other rights) have been infringed – whether it be music, art films or written works, call us to assist. We can also help out if you get a letter of demand from a copyright owner.
Our letters may be a tiny little bit more “legal” than the Netflix “cease and desist” (and may not contain threats of the Demogorgan), but they sure can be just as frightening.
Here is the letter:
Disclaimer: This article is of a news and review nature and not to be replaced with tailored legal advice.
About Sharon Givoni
Sharon Givoni Consulting is a boutique law firm (www.sharongivoni.com.au) specialising in intellectual property, trade mark, internet and commercial law matters for businesses of all sizes. Sharon’s book Owning It: A Creative’s Guide to Copyright, Contracts and the Law, available through Creative Minds Publishing (link towww.creativemindshq.com/owningit), aims to demystify the law for creative and small business owners regarding the protection of their designs, trade marks, copyright, reputation, confidential information and other intellectual property. Sharon can be contacted by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or called on 0410 557 907 or 03 9527 1334.