Using someone else’s creation without their consent has its consequences. Just like plagiarism is prohibited in the writing industry and pirating movies, this same concept applies to almost everything.
A copyrighted piece of work is protected under a law that if anyone were to replicate it and use it for their monetary benefit, they will face some serious charges.
The protected content requires the owner or creator to give their permission for their work to be utilized. Even if they do give the “OK” to use it, you are still obligated to give credit where it is due.
The penalties for copyright infringement if found guilty include:
- Paying fines that range from $200 to $150,000.
- Paying for court costs and attorney fees.
- Paying restitution meaning the damages and paying back any profits.
- The infringement acts will cease.
- Depending on the severity of the infringement, you can face up to 5 years in jail. For a second offense, it will become 10 years.
- The stolen body of work will be removed and disposed of.
Many people think that because a certain piece is on the internet that it is open for public use. This rule applies to written pieces, music, logos and brand names, color schemes, products, audio/visuals, art, and architecture.
To avoid a copyright infringement lawsuit, you must understand the rules and limitations before sharing or using a body of work for yourself.
A copyright assignment is an agreement where the owner signs over the property rights to another person. This is a formal document that allows another person to use the piece of work and have proof that they have the ownership to do so.
When an owner wants to hand over the rights of their body of work, it is not legitimate until the document is signed by the owner or agent. This form does not transfer the physical ownership over the body of work, it allows the piece to be shared and represented by the other party.
When creating and signing the agreement, the amount of money exchanged will need to be decided on. Companies and creators can sign rights to someone else and continue to gain profit from the agreed price. As long as both parties are gaining something from the agreement, anything can be exchanged.
Understand that once you sign your rights away, as the original owner, you are permanently releasing any authority over your piece of work. If you try to use the work afterward or try to take control of where your work is used, that is copyright infringement.
The owner can allow the other party to copyright all or part of their work. For example, assigning a part of the copyright from a movie to a television show. Because they would be related to each other or a translated version.
Works For Hire Vs. Copyright
If you are someone that is employed and creates original pieces, you will need to know the differences between “works for hire” and copyright. Some limitations have to do with works for hire and copyrighting.
Employees who develop original content, under the creation of intellectual property work for hire, you will not have the ability to copyright your work. Your employer has the right to the work that you produce. Your employer can give you permission to copyright a piece of work but you cannot transfer copyright rights.
What To Do If Someone Infringes My Copyright
If someone has infringed your copyright and has used your original work for their own gain, you can contact them directly, use mediation, or seek legal ramifications.
Seeking legal advice is the best option for this because they can provide you with additional legal options are available. They will walk you through the process to make sure that you get the justice that you deserve. By taking legal action, if the other party is found guilty, the court will ensure that your original work is removed from the other party’s possession and render you any damages.
To prevent your work from being illegally used and copied, it is important to get your work licensed with a copyright and to keep an eye out for potential infringements of copyright so that you can take the correct action against it.
What To Do If Accused of Copyright Infringement
If you are accused of copyright infringement of another person’s original work and content, you will be notified in the form of a demand letter. In the statement, they’ll provide options to fix the situation like paying an “after-the-fact” license fee or ceasing all use of the content. It will let you know whether or not they are wanting to take you to court.
Before anything, make sure that the demand letter is legitimate by looking at your content to determine where you are at fault. Take note of the content that was approved and given the right to share or use the content.
When accused of copyright infringement, there may be an option to use a fair use defense. This means that there is a chance that the use of the content can not entirely qualify as copyright infringement. When the content was used for educational, nonprofit, commentary, or news reporting purposes, it qualifies under the fair use category.
Finally, it is always best to consult with a lawyer in these kinds of situations. Once you have determined whether the claim is valid and have figured out the details of the claims against you, seek legal help. Find a qualified attorney with experience in copyright infringement to guide you through this case and potentially provide a desirable outcome.
If you are in search of a place that specializes in copyright laws you are in luck because Florida has some of the best companies that will assist you with patents, copyrights, and trademarks. It is financially smart to copyright a name, logo, or creation to profit from.
As with any business, notoriety and credibility is the key to success. When everyone can recognize your brand and can tell the difference between your products and other companies’ products will promote your companies success.