Help! Someone is Using My Copyright Material…
Most people think of traditional responsibilities such as finances, staffing, accounts and stock when it comes to running a business. However, there’s an often overlooked aspect of running a business in the modern era – Copyrighting and Copyright Infringement. Copyright Infringement can be a troublesome issue to sort out, and many businesses simply do not understand what is involved, or how to resolve the problem if they fall victim. This guide provides everything you need to know about Copyright Infringement, including what to do if someone rips your hard work off unlawfully…
What is Copyright Infringement?
Copyrighting Law is a branch of law that involves granting exclusive rights to an original piece of work and allowing the owner to dictate how and when that piece of work is used by others (if at all). Material that can be copyrighted includes written content, music, motion pictures, sound recordings, paintings, drawings and designs to name a few. The below is a definition of copyright infringement:
Copyright Infringement – a basic definition
At its most basic definition, copyright infringement is where a person or company uses material that has been copyrighted without prior permission. In short, the terms of the original copyright contract have been breached. Examples of copyright infringement could be piracy of films and music for distribution to the public, or use of a company logo on marketing content without permission. It also extends to blog content, or your main website copy, for example.
How can copyright infringement affect your business?
For businesses who have their copyrighted material used without permission, the effects can be considerable. Imagine someone using your company logo and media without permission and profiting from the effort and work you have put in? You are losing potential revenue, and your own business name could potentially be damaged if a third party uses your copyrighted material in a negative way.
If you are knowingly breaching a copyright agreement as a business you could be in equally as much trouble. Using copyrighted material without permission could lead to court proceedings, fines and even imprisonment depending on the severity of the case. Your business reputation will risk being damaged as a further consequence..
Can a company receive compensation if someone uses their copyrighted material?
When copyrighted material is used without permission and the business makes a complaint or wishes to take action, compensation is usually involved. A business can calculate the compensation they feel they are owed using potential earnings and profit estimation. Let’s look at an example, however – you have downloaded a music album through an illegal streaming service that cost £9.99. From that £9.99, the distributor would earn a £2.99 profit – they could, therefore, claim £2.99 compensation as a minimum from you.
There are many variations and deviations involved in calculating copyright infringement costs but in most cases, it will never get to this stage. In most instances regarding copyrighting of business material, the culprits are usually asked to remove the copyrighted material and come to a mutual agreement, or risk being taken to court/sued etc.
Serve A Cease and Desist Order
What you can actually do in the event that your own material is used illegally without your permission? First and foremost your material must be copyrighted. If you have not clearly displayed a copyright notice anywhere on the material in contention then you don’t have much recourse, legally.
Take a look at the Creative Commons website – this organization provides various copyright licenses for business use.
If you are protected by a copyright license and you find someone has used your material without permission, you can then take action and serve a Cease and Desist Order. The following are the steps you can take if you find your work has been used illegally:
1. Find the breach of copyright and obtain proof of its existence
2. Make contact with the offender and request they remove the copyrighted material
3. If this does not work, serve them a Cease and Desist Order
4. Finally, you can file for legal proceedings through the IPO (Intellectual Property Office)
As you can see there are several means you can use to combat copyright infringement. You should always first build a solid case and gather evidence of the offending material – without this, you will have no backing or credence.
Furthermore, before you take any legal action, you must first attempt to use mediation and cooperate with the offenders to see if they will willingly take the copyrighted material down. Often, using a process server to officially serve general notices or a cease and desist order will show the offending party that you mean business.
Filing for further legal proceedings should be a last resort if all else fails, or if the offender has no intention to remove the illegal material.
What Does the Future Hold for Copyright Infringement?
As digital technology has advanced over the years we are seeing a new range of ways that businesses are tackling copyright infringement. One of the industries affected majorly by copyright infringement is, of course, the entertainment and creative industry. Writers, music producers, musicians, singers, film producers and actors all suffer from copyright infringement.
To help combat entertainment copyright, Blockchain technology is being used in some unique and interesting ways. For example, Po.et is a Blockchain based token and system that creative types can use – they can publish their work on the Po.et platform and then obtain a Po.et token as proof of ownership. Others will then be able to purchase rights to the work using the same token system.
As we see new technologies such as Blockchain emerge and become more prominent, we should see further inventive methods of copyright protection being created. On the flip side, we see more creative ways and means used to bypass copyright licenses that allow businesses to pump our pirated material so it is a constant battle.
If you are contemplating using protected material then you should always seek permission from the owner first. If they do not grant you permission to use their material, under no circumstances should you continue with your proposed usage. On the flip side, if you fall prey to copyright infringement, you should now have a strong understanding of how to deal with this nuisance. Contact Diem Legal for assistance in any such cases.