You are smart and business savvy. You have made copyright registration of all of your works part of your normal, everyday business routine. You have employed the best possible paperwork the content of which you have had officially blessed by a knowledgeable attorney familiar with the laws of your state. Everything you create is watermarked and you employ every trick with your metadata to prevent theft.

And then it happens…one day, out of the blue and without warning….

Your work is stolen, infringed, copied, misappropriated by somebody or some company with whom you have never had any contact nor even heard of. You are outraged! With good reason, you feel violated, ripped off, victimized, angry, disgusted, horrified, appalled and really, really ticked off!

Because you know how to take care of business, you collect copies of the infringements, buy the product using your image, pull out your registration and rather than do the dumb, impulsive move like contacting the infringer, or sending them an invoice, you do the wise thing and contact your experienced, knowledgeable lawyer. (If you don’t have one, see our multiple pieces on this blog by entering “hiring lawyers” in the search box and/or read the section in our book The Copyright Zone on how to hire a lawyer.)

Upon your arrival at the lawyer’s private office – not a diner (seriously) – you are entitled to expect certain things from your attorney. You have every right to expect to receive his/her attention, a review of your materials, to be subjected to some questions that might be uncomfortable for you to answer (ie. “I haven’t made a dime this month and my kid’s tuition is due”) a demonstration that the attorney has had matters like yours before, knows the law, local practices and courts, will provide a written fee letter, speaks to you in a manner you understand and so on.

Do not however, expect outrage.  Oft times creatives are turned off by what they mistakenly consider “indifference” that the attorney exhibits.  Some attorneys are, or appear to be, more passionate than others and that’s fine. “Outrage” is not a trait or emotion experienced copyright attorneys often exhibit. Experienced litigators are not unlike experienced surgeons. They have a job to do. If an emergency room doctor needs to put yet another shattered leg back together before the patient bleeds out, the surgeon has no time for “outrage” at the horrible injury sustained by an innocent child. Similarly an experienced litigator has likely seen your situation more times than he/she can recall.  There is no time nor need for the attorney to feel the outrage that you justifiably feel.

Very little surprises litigators about the base qualities of many individuals and companies alike. Seemingly “good folks” lie in court under oath, falsify documents, steal money from their kid’s college trusts, sell dangerous products and steal their elderly parents blind – and lets not even discuss what criminal attorneys are exposed to on any given day. So there is very little chance that an experienced litigator is going to be “outraged” by an act of copyright infringement regardless of who the perpetrator may be.

The lawyer’s lack of such emotion is often an indicator that he/she is a competent attorney who actually knows how (like the surgeon) to address the situation. A lawyer who expresses that that he/she is as shocked and ticked off as much as you are about an infringement case, is likely to have never been exposed to one.

Experienced lawyers nationwide are addicted to the phrase, “This is not my first rodeo” to indicate their legal experience to clients, other lawyers and judges. . To stretch – only slightly – the sports analogy, rookies get nervous and make “rookie mistakes” veterans less so. Vets are cool and act like they have been there before…because they have”.

On this Memorial Day weekend it is worth noting that this is especially apt when describing our vets who wear and wore the uniform of our country. We salute those that gave their all, for all of us, on this day of remembrance.