Is a private email protected? How? 3 Answers as of May 29, 2015

Is the author of a private email protected under copyright laws? I sent a confidential email (I denoted this several times within the email), but then it was forwarded to others. I am extremely upset about this because it included information about my family. I hope that there is something I can do to make sure that it does not go to anybody else.

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Banner & Witcoff, Ltd. | Ernie Linek
Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. An e-mail might or might not qualify for copyright protection - it would depend on the content. Go see a copyright lawyer to find out.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 5/29/2015
Michael M. Ahmadshahi
Michael M. Ahmadshahi | Michael M. Ahmadshahi, Ph.D., Esq.
You should at the very least target the first recipient who forwarded your email for breach of the confidentiality agreement that became operative between you and the first recipient. As to the others who were forwarded your email by the first recipient, you can prevent them from further use or distribution through state and federal privacy laws.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 5/29/2015
Sebby Law Office
Sebby Law Office | Jayne Sebby
While your e-mail may fall under copyright law (it depends upon the content), the actual issue here is whether you had any valid reason to believe the other person would keep your comments private. While you told the recipient that you wanted the information to stay just between the two of you, he or she didn't feel bound by your request. You can contact all the other recipients of the e-mail and ask that they not forward it to anyone. But your comments are already beyond your reach and you can't take them back. In the future, don't send anything out that you don't want the world to know.
Answer Applies to: Nebraska
Replied: 5/29/2015
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