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What to do if Your Copyright is Infringed

27 August 2011

Attorney and professional photographer Carolyn E. Wright has a blog called Photo Attorney®. While some of her posts relate specifically to photographers, many apply equally to authors.

Excerpts from a post about what you should/might do if you discover someone is infringing your copyright:

You’re sitting in your easy chair and surfing the web. You’re not paying much attention, until you see it. It’s your photo, but you did not post it there. You can’t believe they used your photo without your permission. Now what do you do? The steps you take may limit your ultimate remedies so be sure to first understand what your options are.

Make Copies of the Infringement
If you think that the use is likely an infringement, make copies of it – both in electronic and print forms. Once the infringer realizes that she is caught, she will do what she can to get rid of the evidence of the infringement. You may need that evidence later.

If the infringement is in print, then take a photograph of it, scan it, photocopy it, and/or show it to another person who would be willing to testify about it. If the infringement is on the Internet and/or in electronic form, make a paper print of it and/or copy a screen capture of it; both are better!

. . . .

Research the Infringer
Next, find out what you can about the infringer. Research the infringer’s website to find his name and contact information. If the infringer is a corporation based in the United States, you can find information about it on the website of the Secretary of State for the state where the infringer is based. To find the Secretary of State’s website using an Internet search engine such as Google, search the corporation’s state’s name (such as “Georgia”) and the words “secretary of state.” The extension of the URL will be “.gov” or “.us.” Be careful – some sites attempt to appear to be the state’s website so that they can charge you for the information. Once on the proper Secretary of State’s website, look for “corporations search,” “business search” or similar language. You then will find the company’s registered or resident agent, officers, and/or official address.

You also may be able to find a contact name by searching the website’s “who is” information.

. . . .

Option #1 – Do Nothing
Now that you’ve documented the infringement and have some information about the infringer, you always have the option of doing nothing. If the infringer is in a foreign country where infringements are rampant and difficult to enforce or is a small website with little traffic, you may decide that it’s not worth your time and effort to fight the infringement.

. . . .

Option #4 – Prepare a Cease and Desist/Demand Letter Yourself
When you don’t want to alienate the infringer (the infringer is a potential client and/or appears to be an innocent infringer), you may want to contact the infringer to explain that the use is not authorized and either request payment of an appropriate license fee, a photo credit with a link to your website (as discussed above), or that the infringer cease use of the image. It’s best to do this in writing – a letter by surface mail seems to have more clout than email correspondence.

Link to the rest at Photo Attorney® There are lots of useful copyright posts plus Carolyn also has some great photos on her site.

Copyright/Intellectual Property, Legal Stuff

6 Comments to “What to do if Your Copyright is Infringed”

  1. Every once in a while, not often, I will find an image on Google images and post it on my blog. I try to figure out if the image if free use, but I’m not sure if I’m looking in the right place. Any tips? I’d feel terrible if I misused someone’s work.

    If I find an image on someone’s blog, for instance, an artist has posted a painting or photograph. I always ask for permission to repost on my blog and them make sure there are links back to the source. If someone has a retail website, I will not repost the image (or even bother asking, since they are selling the image) but I will post links.

  2. Strangely enough I’ve noticed that certain authors who complain loudly about piracy and theft don’t appear to be above infringing someone else’s copyright e.g. photo’s, music on book trailers, youtube links to things that obviously haven’t been uploaded by the copyright holder. etc.

  3. I buy images for $1 or $3 from a royalty-free stock photo site when I do character interviews on my blogs. I know some people would think it’s a waste of money to do this, but I figure I can keep the picture to use again if I find a reason to. 😀

  4. I’m like Ruth Ann, I buy royalty free photos/music for trailers or etc. Mostly I use my own photos for my blog and website, and have no idea if anyone has pirated them; although I do know my novel(s) have been pirated – a friend’s son uploaded one of my novels from a “piracy site” right in front of me and said, “that was easy . . .” – and really, though they try, there’s not a lot my publishers can do when those things pop up here there yonder while they’re trying to keep up (they say it’s a sign of success if your novel is pirated – huhn, lawd!).

    I used to think images that were from or seemed to be from clipart or whatever were royalty free, and I’d just credit the site I received them from, but I’ve learned that this may or may not be true, so off to archives I’ve been going to delete photos from back before I knew better – a long process that may take me quite a bit of time . . . ungh.

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