Demand Letters That Purport to Forbid Posting

by Paul Alan Levy

After the late John Dozier was humiliated about ten years ago after it came to light that his office was routinely including a tag line in its demand letters threatening to sue for copyright infringement if the demand letter was republished, I thought it had become well-established that using those lines was such a sure route to public ridicule that such lines had become a thing of the past. 

Not so fast. Defamation demand letters sent in the last few days of October, one from Venable lawyer Geoffrey Garinther complaining that Tucker Carlson defamed Tony Podesta by associating him with Paul Manafort, and one from Venable lawyer William Briggs complaining that some obscure blog defamed Taylor Swift by associating her with the alt-right. The blog post about Swift  is convoluted and well-nigh incomprehensible – I imagine the Northern California ACLU’s publication of its response to the demand letter will likely bring far more attention to the blog post (and thus to the gist of the post as described by Briggs) than the review would ever have received otherwise. 

Copyright threat

Oddly, Briggs’ page on the Venable firm web site asserts that IP law is among his specialties. Seems to me he needs a refresher course on copyright law. I have written to him to challenge his copyright claim. And given the nearly identical closing paragraph in the demand letter from Geoffrey Garinther, I have reached out to Venable to learn whether this paragraph has become standard in demand letters transmitted by Venable lawyers.  I have had no response yet from either.

I'd be glad to provide some free CLE over there about IP law and about how to send demand letters without running afoul of the Streisand Effect.

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