Readers of our columns and attendees at our seminars well know that A) theft of copyrighted images is rampant and B) you can do something about it.
The effects of thousands of successful claims and lawsuits brought by photographers and illustrators against record companies, newspapers, magazines, websites, blogs etc., is having the deterrent value we predicted.
Entertainment companies having paid out on claims made against them and simultaneously spent millions on pursuing their own claims against infringers, have begun to get their respective houses in order. The tide moves slow but is turning in favor of copyright holders. After being hit with numerous claims and lawsuits for copyright infringement from people like you, other attorneys are making efforts at informing their typically uninformed and/or arrogant clients to avoid becoming a defendant in a copyright action.
The copyright law is for the most part, rather simple. Here is a nicely done, simple, primer addressed to the record industry in Billboard magazine by an attorney, which could be titled “How Not to Get Sued” A link to that article here.
Here’s another article aptly titled “Copyright Abuse of Photography is Serious Business”. We couldn’t say it better ourselves. Both articles are worth the read and worth passing around.
What does give us pause is the belief being forwarded recently that cases are not taken by lawyers unless they have a value of $30,000 or that pursuing a copyright case will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And one press release regarding the small claims initiative being supported by many creative trade associations, got their $30K valuation mixed up with the cost of litigation. We take exception to these numbers being tossed around as being factoids. They contain a bit of truth, and can they be true part of the time, but not true all of the time in many, many cases. We go over this issue in more detail in our blog piece titled Copyright Small Claims Court, which is linked to here. The concern to us is that such factoids deter photographers from pursuing infringements.
As the two articles linked to at the beginning of this piece attest, infringer’s feet are being held into the fire these days. So much so that we’re seeing these articles warning of the dangers and high cost of infringing springing up more and more often. If photographers and artists weren’t seeing big checks going their way over infringements, we wouldn’t be seeing all these articles, as there would be no story.
All we can say is make sure you regularly register all your work and do your homework and due diligence when looking for a competent attorney. Ed has recently looked at a case where the photographer thought just a good Internet presence/reputation sufficed. After 18 months of inaction the photographer got the hint he hired the wrong lawyer when the initial lawyer clearly feared stepping into an actual courtroom to start a real trial and in effect, quit at the time of trial.