Should you be worried about a copyright infringement notice? Is there any real reason for you to be concerned?
The answer is yes. At the same time, it’s in your best interest to carefully read the notice before jumping to conclusions.
Let’s tap into the process in more detail, shall we?
What do I Need to Know About Copyright Law?
Copyright legislations are part of a wider legislative body known as Intellectual Property (IP) Which broadly covers the creations of the human mind.
The purpose of copyright law is to protect the exclusive rights of authorship on an original creation. In other words, the author holds every right to his/her creation against public intent to use it.
Why am I Being Notified?
To understand why, you need to understand what constitutes copyright infringement.
If the author didn’t give you permission to perform these actions and you still did, you’re breaking the rules:
◣ Copy or reproduce the creation
◣ Create a derived material from the original work
◣ Sell or giveaway the work or its copies
◣ Perform or display the work in public
Whenever you’re notified, chances are that you’ve performed one of these (or similar) actions.
What kind of work is usually protected by copyright legislation?
A broad example:
◣ Literary works
◣ Databases/computer Software
◣ Artistic works
◣ Technical drawings, maps
What Should I do After Being Notified?
First, you need to discard the possibility of an illegitimate notice (these exist mostly as scams).
Spotting an Illegitimate Notice
According to SangFroid Web, illegitimate notices often come in the form of phishing scams.
The intention of these is to scare you and lead you to perform unwanted actions such as clicking links or download files. The scammer will then be able to access your device, email, banking accounts, or infect your machine with viruses.
In order to spot one, pay attention to the following red flags:
◣ Awkward or informal grammar
◣ Bad spelling or typos
◣ Unexpected attachments or links
◣ Intimidating context
A valid copyright infringement notice provides proof of ownership and is either sent by the holder of rights or a representative agent. It shoots straight to the point, directly mentioning the committed infringement.
Actions to Take After Verifying Legitimacy
1- Don’t ignore the notice
2- Contact an IP lawyer
3- Don’t attempt to contact the copyright claimer
4- Don’t offer to pay for the work
5- Don’t continue to violate exclusive rights
6- Don’t go to court unless advised to do so
Am I Being Sued?
No. The good news is that the purpose of infringement notices is to warn you that the specified activity should stop and “ask” you to take down any infringing material.
If it brought no significant harm, it’s good practice to send a cease-and-desist letter or email. It quickly solves the problem without legal hassle.
On the negative side, you should be worried about a copyright infringement notice if you don’t stop the infringing activity immediately after being notified. Increasing the likelihood of being sued.
“Sidenote – if you own a website, make sure to have a DMCA policy in place. It protects your content from being stolen and it’s also a handy layer of protection against expensive lawsuits.”
Is Copyright Protection Automatic?
Since January 1st, 1978, copyright law automatically protects works upon creation. Registration with the U.S Copyright Office is not needed for automatic protection to kick in.
Taking this into account, if your work is unpublished and you find yourself fighting a copyright infringer, you must have tangible proof that it’s indeed your creation to succeed against any allegations.
Automatic protection is not bulletproof though, plagiarism is more frequent nowadays with the most common targets being often photos and written content. A fight against an infringer is never a guaranteed win. If you have any form of content you need to protect, making a formal copyright registration with the U.S Copyright Office will provide substantial proof that you’re the author of your creation.
How to Avoid Copyright Infringement
◣ Start by always assuming any work is copyright protected
◣ Seek permission to use, alter, share or copy
◣ Read licensing agreements carefully
◣ In case of doubt, speak to a lawyer
According to Section 107 of the Copyright Act, fair use is a legal conduct that promotes freedom of expression. It allows the use of copyright-protected works for specific purposes such as research, criticism, comment, news reporting, or teaching.