What Do I Do If Someone Is Suing Me For Violating Their Copyright?

What Do I Do If Someone Is Suing Me For Violating Their Copyright?

Recently, a New York Times photographer, Robert Caplin sued blogger Perez Hilton for copyright infringement of 14 of his photographs for $150,000 per photo. Perez Hilton posted the photos to his website (with his own watermarks on the photos).

Photographer Caplin and blogger Hilton are a perfect example of a copyright infringement case.If you find yourself in similar shoes as the photographer (doing the suing) or blogger (being sued), it’s important to remember there are exceptions to copyright laws, punishments (and ways to copyright protect work in the first place).

Copyright Your Work

Guilty of Copyright Infringement:
• Anyone who reproduces, redistributes or republishes work which is copyrighted without the owner’s permission.
• Copyright infringement is a federal offense (regardless of ignorance to the laws).

Exceptions To The law:

• Fair use is the major exception to copyright infringement (Fair use is a defense not an excuse) .
• Fair use is most commonly applied in academic settings such as using the work for teaching, reporting and researching.
• Courts look to many factors in fair use including:

o the reason the copyrighted work was used

o the nature of the copyrighted work

o the amount of the copyrighted work used

o the effect on the potential market for the copyrighted work due to the use

Punishment 1: Civil Penalties
• Being found guilty of copyright infringement could mean having to pay damages.
• Damages are determined by the amount of money lost in profit from your infringement along with the number of times you infringed.
• You may also be responsible for paying legal fees.

Punishment 2: Criminal Penalties
• When you are guilty of copyright infringement in order to make gain financially or profit, if you distribute an item through the internet which is being sold (such as a cd or dvd), or if the infringement is more than $1000
• If found guilty you could spend a year in jail while being forced to pay financial damages and legal fees.
• When the infringement amount is over $2500 you could face up to five years in jail (along with the costs and damages).

If you are unhappy that people continually freely use your photos it’s highly suggested you copyright your work. Once your work is copyright protected, you have the right to stop others from using it.

You can avoid the hassle and time of the copyright process by using the LegalCentral website. For a price of $89.99 you can have your work copyright protected without going through a tedious process and pulling your hair out.

Photo via Chris Potter on Flickr

This entry was posted on Monday, September 9th, 2013 at 1:18 pm and is filed under Copyright.

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