You’ve labored over your creative work, then someone comes along and reuses your idea to make a profit. Seems unfair, right? That’s because it is; in the eyes of the law, copyright infringement is illegal. That’s because a person deserves to protect their work, determine how it is used and control its profitability. So what is copyright infringement and how does it happen?
Copyright infringement is when copyrighted work – such as a piece of art, music, website design, photo, logo or written work gets reproduced, distributed, or made into a similar work without the owner’s permission.
Important: Copyright can only protect tangible forms of expression. So ideas are not protected.
|How do you copyright your work? Simple. Fill out an application and submit it, along with a small fee to the copyright office located in Washington D.C.. This can be done online or via mail. Read more here.|
Most common copyright infringements
Don’t make these mistakes. Many of these copyright infringements are carried out unknowingly and by well-intended people. While the federal court will take this into account, you can still be prosecuted by the copyright holder and liable to pay monetary damages.
- Copy and pasting text and/or graphics into your own work.
- Using a photo without permission.
- Unauthorized downloading and/or distributing of digital media.
To avoid making these mistakes, and ultimately, a lawsuit from the copyright holder:
1. First get permission from the copyright holder to reuse their work.
2. Be specific on how the work will be reused.
3. If the copyright holder consents, then keep a record of your conversation, in case the holder changes their mind and decides to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement against you.
If you are being sued for copyright infringement, it’s important to seek legal representation, as you can bet that the copyright holder will have their own. Robinson & Henry’s litigation attorneys can fight on your behalf, contact us to request a free consult now.
Monetary fines. Depending on the extent of the violation and whether it was knowingly committed, a defendant can be charged up to $250,000 for each offense.
Jail time. While uncommon, a violator can serve jail time. A first-time offender can serve up to five years in prison, while repeat violators can face an additional 10 years.
What you can do about it:
It’s important to note that the language you use in your disclaimer is very important and, if drafted without being reviewed by an attorney, can leave your work vulnerable. A poorly worded disclaimer can allow an infringer to escape prosecution in court. Some individuals may be tempted to use another business’s copyright language – but beware, this is an act of copyright infringement itself and should be avoided.
Additionally, it is always recommended to register your copyright with the Copyright Office. This can be done online or by mail.
Prosecute a violator
Put an immediate stop to the copyright infringement. Initially, a copyright holder can send a cease and desist letter to the violator or notify the website platform of the unauthorized use of your work. If the violation continues, an attorney can file an injunction against the violator, which immediately stops them from continuing to use your work.
Get monetary compensation. A copyright attorney can sue the violator on your behalf in federal court. During this process, you can seek monetary compensation for any damages caused by the violation, as well as any profits the violator accrued from use of the copyrighted work.
Get a free case assessment. Call now to schedule a 30 minute free case assessment with one of our copyright attorneys now. Our lawyers can make sure the violation stops, pursue reimbursement of monetary damages and make sure you are protected against future violators.