Stranger things have happened – Netflix writes funny cease and desist letter

Sharon Givoni Consulting Consumer Law, Copyright, Entertainment Law, Film, Intellectual Property

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 licences. 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 deist letter professionally drafted!!!***

What is a “cease and desist letter”?

A cease and desist letter is a document sent to an individual or business to stop 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.

Stranger Things have happened…

One of these is the TV show Stanger Things staring 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.

Recently in the US, Netflix shut down a “Stranger Things” themed pop-up bar 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 bar’s operation but rather the letter that it sent to the bar owners.  Not the most ordinary legal letter we have ever seen but geeky and funny and certainly gets the point across. It is no surprise that it has gone viral.

You know what they say about media attention – and this letter sure hit the mark. Here it is 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.

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.

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.

That said, have a read of the Netflix letter:

Stranger Things have happened – 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 licences. 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 deist letter professionally drafted!!!***

What is a “cease and desist letter”?

A cease and desist letter is a document sent to an individual or business to stop 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.

Stranger Things have happened…

One of these is the TV show Stanger Things staring 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.

Recently in the US, Netflix shut down a “Stranger Things” themed pop-up bar 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 bar’s operation but rather the letter that it sent to the bar owners.  Not the most ordinary legal letter we have ever seen but geeky and funny and certainly gets the point across. It is no surprise that it has gone viral.

You know what they say about media attention – and this letter sure hit the mark. Here it is 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.

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.

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.

  • Refer to letter: Martin Brenner is a major character in the first season of Stranger Things

Here is the letter:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This article is of a general nature and not to be replaced with tailored legal advice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Sharon Givoni

Sharon Givoni (link to www.sharongivoni.com.au) is a Melbourne-based intellectual property lawyer with clients in the window furnishings industry. She does trade mark and designs work as well as contracts and copyright advice.  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 (sharon@iplegal.com.au) or called on 0410 557 907 or 03 9527 1334. Her website for “Sharon Givoni Consulting” is: www.sharongivoni.com.au.