Copyright Demands

Are you getting accused of infringing a copyright? Hold off before you pay up.

Recently, we have received numerous concerns from clients in regards to copyright infringement due to images posted on their webpages or blogs. If you receive a demand letter from a law firm asking for money because of an image or content on your website, take a step back and consider the following before you pay anything.

They have the wrong guy.

It is very common for the letter to go to the wrong person. Is it actually your website or your blog that posted the images? If you’re not in control, you’re likely not responsible for the infringement.

Did the copyright owner actually register the work?

Ask the law firm or owner to prove they have actually registered the copyright for the work.  If they have, there should be a certificate of registration.  If there is no federal copyright registration, they can’t get the big damages they claim.   

Does an exception apply?

Copyright law has numerous exceptions for the use of copyrighted works.  Consider if the use falls under the “fair use” exceptions, including if the purpose and character of the work is for educations or commentary purposes, or whether there was a commercial benefit.  If the use of the work was protected by fair use, there’s no infringement.

Check your images

A legitimate copyright infringement lawsuit can be very expensive.  If someone has a legitimate copyright on an image that you are using without permission, damages can range from $30-150k per infringement.  Do a check of your website and make sure you own the images on it, have the permission of the copyright owner (sometimes called a license), or are confident the image is in the public domain and free to use – or better yet, let the attorneys at Cokinos | Young do it for you!  We offer comprehensive website and content audits so you can be sure you are not at risk of receiving one of these demands.  We can also help you draft terms and conditions and implement other safeguards to take advantage of the safe harbor provisions in copyright law that shield website owners from infringement liability. The above article is not legal advice and should not rely on it as such. Do not hesitate to reach out to one of our Cokinos | Young attorneys with any questions or concerns.

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