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Cease and desist

From Academic Kids

Cease-and-desist is a legal term meaning essentially stop: It is used in demands for a person or organization to permanently stop doing something (to cease and desist from doing it).

The term is used in two different contexts: A cease-and-desist order can be issued by a judge or government authority, and has well-defined legal meaning. A cease-and-desist letter can be sent by anyone, although typically they are drafted by a lawyer.

Cease-and-desist letters

A cease-and-desist letter is a letter demanding that the recipient "cease and desist from" continuing certain behavior. The behavior in question can include publishing materials or making statements that the letter's sender considers copyright infringement, trademark infringement, patent infringement, slander, or libel. The letter typically threatens legal action if the recipient continues to publish the materials in question or make statements similar to the ones in question.

There have been criticisms from civil liberties and free speech groups that cease-and-desist letters are often used by wealthy individuals and corporations to bully their less-monied opponents into silence, as many people will comply with even an unjustified cease-and-desist letter due to their unwillingness to engage in an expensive lawsuit. Such groups call this a chilling effect on free speech.

Court orders

A cease-and-desist order is an order from a judge or government ordering a halt to an illegal activity. This prohibition is sometimes done as the outcome of a trial, in which case it is a permanent injunction against the activity, and sometimes done as an emergency measure to prevent possibly irreparable harm, in which case it takes the form of a temporary injunction. A temporary injunction against speech is known as prior restraint.

External links

  • Chillingeffects.org (http://www.chillingeffects.org/) - A joint project between the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several universities to monitor uses and abuses of intellectual property rights on the internet. Contains a database of cease-and-desist letters.

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