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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Business Law
Satisfied Customers: 117367
Experience:  All corporate law, including non-profits and charitable fraternal organizations.
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Seeking to render aid Thank you for your clear answer. Two

Customer Question

Seeking to render aid: Thank you for your clear answer.

Two related questions for you:

The Board of Directors recently me a "cease & desist" letter on church stationary instructing me postpone the printing of the latest edition of the magazine.

Unfortunately, because so much work had gone into the last edition and church members were clamoring for it, I went ahead and had it printed anyway. In hindsight, I wouldn't do this again.

But the fact is I acted in contrast to the board's 'cease & desist' letter.

Question 1: I'm just hoping that I'm not bound by the board of directors vote for me to "cease & desist" with the printing because I heard that normally a 'cease & desist' only has teeth if it's signed by a judge. In this case, the letter was signed by the board of directors of the church. Does their "cease & desist" have any legal teeth at all?

Question #2: am I in trouble? And if so, what are the legal consequences of my having acted contrarily to their 'cease & desist" letter?'
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Business Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
1) A Cease and deist letter is not a legal court order and the only way for the church could have lawfully stopped you would be by getting a court order against you. Since you did not get a court order, there only recourse is now to sue you for any harm or damages they suffered as a result of you publishing the magazine.

2) How much you could be sued for depends on their reason for issuing the cease and desist letter. If they really did not have any real grounds to issue the C&D letter then you are not in any trouble for publishing it. If it was for a legitimate copyright violation then it could cost you up to $150,000 per violation if they prove damages.

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
the magazine was printed because Fox studios gave me permission to use an image from their movie Avatar, but was not mailed out because the board prez was afraid the church would be sued unless they received a signed release form. Fox told me they do not give out such things, & that I should have gone ahead & mailed it months ago when they were in their window of promotion.
Since it was not mailed (they all still sit in my garage) no harm was done to the church.
However, since, because of her behaviour, I chose to separate the magazine from the church (who has had ZERO input or given financial aid) in the 15 years I have been editor, she is pissed & has now charged me with fraud, embezzlement & inurement saying the subscriber's payments to the magazine really belong to the church since I set up the bank act. under their EIN #, & is charging me with inurement because I paid legitimate magazine bills from the magazine's bank account. She said she could & would transfer the magazine's funds as soon as I set up my own non profit 501 C (3), which I have done but she wont turn the funds over. And she is charging ME with theft?! What can I do?
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
You need to file a countersuit against her for the damages and breach of contract since they had no right to prohibit the distribution of the magazine and has no right to withhold the money from you. As a 501 entity you must have an attorney represent the entity in this suit and you cannot represent it because it would be considered the unauthorized practice of law.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you Paul for your response of Sept 9th. You DO keep records of previously asked questions from an ongoing relationship? Another question is regarding the withholding of my mail. I asked the post master about this & they say once they put it in our mail box it is out of their hands. However the president instructed another board member to hide my mail from me, causing some credit card bills to go to collections. I was unaware of this situation until I was called about non payment of these bills for 2 months.
Surely this is an offense - if not a Federal offense? Is there a certain statute covering such illegalities? If so could I have the number or legal term & the penalty?

Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
You can file a complaint with the US Postal Inspector for interfering or tampering with the US Mail against them for taking your mail. Tampering with the US Mail could be a misdemeanor or a felony (it depends on how they want to charge it). As such the sentences range from up to 1 year in jail to up to 5 years in jail. Charges are up to the Postal Inspector of course and if they do not pursue it then you could pursue a civil suit for conversion of your property (your mail) and seek damages.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thank you Paul. When I called the Postal inspector he told me the PO washes their hands of it once they place it in our mail box (attached to the outside wall of the church.) I told them a Board member was secreting my mail away from me - to deleterious effect. They told me that was an internal affair.
But you are telling me that there is a State or federal statute prohibiting 'tampering' with the mail? If so, could you give me the number or State code? Reason being - I cant afford to take her to court but I would like to rattle some sabers loudly!
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
Of course (I sort of figured they would say that because the case is not big enough for them). You can contact the police for theft of your mail. If the police are not interested in a theft complaint, your final recourse is a civil suit for conversion and theft of your property (your mail).
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Backgound: A church has had a common law copyright for the last 20 years of the church magazine by virtue of the copyright information being printed in each edition of the magazine that states: "Love Street Lamp Post is published and copyrighted by the AMBCSC."

In the most recent issue this year, this copyright information was omitted by me as the managing editor. I'm now being accused by one of the church's board of directors of taking the magazine away from the church. I believe this accusation has no merit.
Question re: printed copyright ownership in church magazine.

Please confirm re a church with a common law copyright of the church magazine for 20 years: the omission of the copyright ownership verbiage in one issue in no way affects the church's ownership of the magazine. The church still owns the magazine copyright whether or not the copyright information is omitted.

Please give me a good solid quote I can take to the board of directors.


Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
Whether one puts a copyright note or not does not indicate or prove a common law copyright (unlike a registered copyright that has the (c) symbol). The common law copyright exists by virtue of the publishing of original material. They are obviously making excuses to get rid of you, not any legal arguments and that is their rights. It is the actual publication that gives the common law rights. Under common law, a copyright is automatically created when it is fixed in a tangible form for the first time. As long as it is an original work of authorship, you may claim ownership and protection
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Thanks. Please clarify further for me re the copyright verbiage that is normally printed in each issue of the magazine ("Love Street Lamp Post magazine is published and copyrighted by the AMBCSC"): is it valid for you to state that an omission of the copyright ownership verbiage (above) in one issue of the magazine in no way affects the church's copyright ownership of the magazine, that the church still owns the magazine copyright whether or not the copyright verbiage is included or omitted? If this is correct, please type it out in detailed verbiage so that I can quote you exactly.
Thanks, Dina
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 years ago.
It is absolutely correct that you do not have to state anything about copyright for a common law copyright to exists. People do so to give them added security but it is not legally necessary to have a common law copyright in the publication. I cannot say it any clearer than I already did above: " It is the actual publication that gives the common law rights. Under common law, a copyright is automatically created when it is fixed in a tangible form for the first time. As long as it is an original work of authorship, you may claim ownership and protection."

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