SXSW Film 2014

Write Reviews, Not Responses to Cease & Desists


When you’re starting up your own critic site or podcast, you don’t want to think about lawyers. But they’re thinking about you, and they’ve got their cease and desist letters ready. Use the wrong image, embed the wrong clip, leak the wrong story, or even just get a little too slanderous, and the lawyers start circling like dementors. You can’t always protect yourself, but you don’t have to walk blindly through the dark either. Through my experience on both sides of the cease and desist letter (as a critic and website operator and as an intellectual property lawyer), I’ll try to give you some guidance and lessons learned that will hopefully keep you focused on creating your reviews and podcasts – even if you’re reviewing “Grown Ups 3,” I promise that’s more fun than dealing with a cease and desist letter.


  1. Can I run with this exclusive story from my trusted inside source?
  2. What video clips can I embed on my site?
  3. How can I avoid photograph copyright trolls coming after me?
  4. Where's the line on fair use of an image, song or film excerpt?
  5. What do I need to worry about when excerpting content from another site (and how can I stop the sites that steal my content)?



Seth Freilich, Senior Associate, Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe

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