My First Official Cease and Desist

Well, it’s been approximately three years of writing this blog. In that time, I’ve gotten one friendly request from a label to take down an mp3 — and that’s been my closest run-in with the law.

That is, until a couple weeks ago. I got a beautifully impersonal letter from the IFPI in regards to a new Travis song I posted here.

A couple things to note: The letter says they sent me a previous notice on June 24. I never got it; you’d think I’d probably remember that. Also, the letter references the mp3 in question as a song by Hercules and Love Affair, a band about which I never ever have posted here. It was clearly a shoddy cut-and-paste job on the part of the IFPI.

I actually wrote Travis about this and singer Fran Healy responded. First, the letter in full:

01 July 2008

Somuchsilence.com
Email: somuchsilence@gmail.com
Ref: R25147
Re: http://www.somuchsilence.com/mp3/travis_jsmith.mp3

Dear Sir/Madam,

We are contacting you concerning the above-referenced site that we originally brought to your attention in our letter of 24 June 2008(please see attached e-mail). As you have been made aware, the IFPI is a trade association whose member companies are some 1,450 major and independent record companies in the US and internationally who create, manufacture and distribute sound recordings. Under penalty of perjury, we submit that the IFPI is authorized to act on behalf of its member companies in matters involving the infringement of their sound recordings, including enforcing their copyrights and common law rights on the Internet.

We have learned that your service is hosting the above files on its network. These files contain sound recordings by the artist known as Hercules and Love Affair. These sound recordings are owned by one of our member companies and have not been authorized for this kind of use. We have a good faith belief that the above-described activity is not authorized by the copyright owner, its agent, or the law. We assert that the information in this notification is accurate, based upon the data available to us.

We are asking for your immediate assistance in stopping this unauthorized activity. Specifically, we request that you remove the infringing files from your system or that you disable access to the infringing files. In addition, please inform the site operator of the illegality of his or her conduct.

You should understand that this letter constitutes notice to you that this site operator may be liable for the infringing activity occurring on your service. In addition, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, if you ignore this notice, you and/or your company may also be liable for any resulting infringement. This letter does not constitute a waiver of any right to recover damages incurred by virtue of any such unauthorized activities, and such rights as well as claims for other relief are expressly retained.

You may contact me at IFPI Secretariat, 10 Piccadilly, London W1J 0DD, United Kingdom or email Notices@ifpi.org, to discuss this notice. We await your response.

Faithfully,

(NAME REDACTED) [I just always wanted to do that.]
Head of Internet Anti-Piracy
IFPI
10 Piccadilly
London
W1J 0DD
United Kingdom
Email: Notices@ifpi.org

I was slightly perturbed because Travis singer Fran Healy had encouraged sharing of the song on the band’s forum at its Web site.

So I sent a MySpace message to the band. Healy responded within a half-hour:

“I guess until they get the correct song you can keep on posting it. You definitely have my blessing as one of the 4 holders of the copyrights to that specific recording. I actually think this is bogus.
Anyways thanks for posting that on your site. It was lovely to see it out there doing the rounds. We didnt take it to radio so your helping with the pollenation of the nation.”

There you have it. Despite Healy’s blessing, I’m trigger-shy in reposting the song because I fear the next step will be the IFPI going after my site’s server host, thus shutting down this party.

I’m more baffled than angry, really. And I feel validated in posting the song in the first place after reading Healy’s response.

Anyway, I wanted to share. More music to come.

12 thoughts on “My First Official Cease and Desist”

  1. Hey man, things are ok up here in the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Trying to post somewhat regularly again…Much love to So Much Silence as always.

    “Damn the man, save the empire”

  2. Send the IFPI a letter back stating you have the okay of the musician and if they decide to try to take this further, you will take them to court for wrongful legal threats. They have no rights to demand this, and they are overstepping their bounds, not to mention lying in their letter, as there is no evidence they represent that artist. If they can show evidence that artist has requested the take down, then proceed, but until then, the IFPI is breaking the law by sending a false legal threat. Take them to court over it, represent yourself, they have no case.

  3. I would re-post the song. If you are sued, plead in Travis singer Fran Healy, and state that he induced your infringing activity by both telling fans to post songs and by then stating in his reply that you should continue to post the song. In reality, IFPI would end up having to sue the artist they are attempting to protect.

  4. I understand that you took down the song, I probably would have, too. However, I would request two things from the IFPI: First, clarification regarding their mixup of Travis and Hercules and the Love Affair – which song and band they really meant. Second, notify them that you have express consent of the band to post the song and include your exchanges with Fran. Request detailed clarification that in case they insist you are still unauthorized to post the song, exactly why they think so and on which legal basis. Then state that in case you do not receive satisfactory answers you will repost the song. State that you believe you have taken all necessary steps to ensure you are within the law.
    Fight back, but not in court!

    One last tidbit: This letter is from London. When exactly did the US DMCA empower non-US lawyers to send cease-and-desist letters? I’d like to be enlightened.

  5. Pingback: So Much Silence
  6. Hey Kev…long time! I’m sorry about that. Anyway, if it were real, they’d have likely sent it to Dreamhost and you would get a warning letter from them (i’ve gotten a few). This is mostly like a scam. I got one telling me to take down a song by Maritime that was actually posted (and still is) by Flameshovel on their site. I just sent them back that link and never heard from them again.

  7. I highly suggest you take this to court, IFPI will receive bad press and you’ll be left alone.

    They cant take a copyright holder to court for distributing his/her own music online. IFPI will go into court, get shot down and walk away leaving you to do what you want.
    Problem solved.

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