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Author Topic: Recovering damages for infringed copyright. The truth hurts.  (Read 6231 times)

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« on: June 26, 2011, 22:35 »
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Since I've been working on a couple cases of copyright infringement these days I was looking further into the matter and it did quite upset me.

To make a long story short:

- Copyright attorneys (or IP lawyers) will probably only work on contingency if the case is easy to overview, your files are registered with the US copyright Office and the infringing party is loaded with money. Which means very large companies and not Joe Doe's plumbing service from the next block that nicked a couple of your images for his web site. As the lawyers want to make sure they get paid, they only want to deal with liquid companies.

- Don't ever cry anymore about Zazzle, Cafepress, Art.com or other POD sites where other users sell your products. Face the fact that a DMCA claim is the only and best way to bring it to a stop. Don't expect to get any money out of it. Those cases are too small. Sadly, the infringing parties might get away with hundreds of $$$ in royalties (as they did on the stock agencies as well - until they get caught).

- Various sources confirmed that a somewhat average rate would be between the upper 4 digit to 5 digit amounts for hiring an IP attorney. Don't ask me if that includes litigation but I'm still nauseous because of that. Lisa, you had an instance before with some TV show that infringed your right and you took a lawyer. I think it was settled quite easily. Maybe you can share some more info.


Now, as much as some of this isn't new to many, what bugs me most is the fact that many, many small infringements, that we can't pursue due to the high legal costs add up to a lot of money.

Just the accrued royalties for infringements that I found with my images added up to about half a year's income so far. So it is a significant amount for me, while it maybe a laughing matter to other photographers or lawyers.

Nonetheless, money recovered or not, our copyright has been infringed which is another whole issue on top of that.

So the essence of the whole research is that basically no one, has to fear any serious consequences if they sell stolen images on a small scale at various agencies or POD sites.

I'm trying to find young and aspiring IP attorneys who are interested in working together with photographers to find a way to simplify the process of recovering damages by reaching settlements. If anyone knows someone who could help let me know or contact them to get the ball rolling.

Best of luck to everyone, pursuing and fighting for their copyright.


Carl

  • Carl Stewart, CS Productions
« Reply #1 on: June 27, 2011, 04:40 »
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The solution to this very real problem lies in being able to file your own lawsuit and act as a "pro se" (representing yourself) litigant in the USA.  It can be done, but not without the knowledge that comes with a course developed by Dr. Frederick Graves specifically for these types of situations in which the lack of money precludes access to the courts and to justice.  I took the course, and the legal system no longer intimidates me.  I can now file my own lawsuits, defend myself if one is filed against me, and gain access to the courts with confidence.  I strongly recommend it to every freedom-loving American.  Check it out at www.jurisdictionary.com.  These thieves who steal our work are fully aware that we're in this situation, but when you can tell them that you don't need a lawyer in order to file a complaint against them, it changes the situation dramatically.

lisafx

« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2011, 14:05 »
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- Various sources confirmed that a somewhat average rate would be between the upper 4 digit to 5 digit amounts for hiring an IP attorney. Don't ask me if that includes litigation but I'm still nauseous because of that. Lisa, you had an instance before with some TV show that infringed your right and you took a lawyer. I think it was settled quite easily. Maybe you can share some more info.


Wow.  Very depressing results.  It's alarming to say the least.  If IP rights are so difficult to enforce, they might as well not exist :(

My situation wasn't an IP case exactly.  They legitimately purchased the image, but they used it in a "sensitive" way, that violated the license.  I hired a general, all purpose attorney.  He wrote them a letter and had a few back and forth phone conversations, all of which cost me $1,100 (although he had originally said it should be about $300).   I did get back some of the money in a check for "damages", but atty's fees were well over the damage amount.  When all was said and done I was about $500 out of pocket.  The most important thing to me was that my model was satisfied to have the image taken off the air and she has continued to be a great model for me. 

To be honest, I would be hesitant to pursue something like this again unless it was really a gross abuse.  Either that, or I would ask for more in damages. 

« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2011, 14:11 »
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Thanks Lisa, for sharing those numbers. It nicely illustrates what is being quoted and where you might end up with (or at).

I just started to get the ball rolling with my two cases and have a foreign lawyer looking into the matter.

The case is clear to me and so far to the attorney as well. Now I guess it's a matter of financing the whole thing. I'll see what the attorney will offer to do for me.

Keep you guys posted.

lisafx

« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2011, 14:28 »
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I just started to get the ball rolling with my two cases and have a foreign lawyer looking into the matter.

The case is clear to me and so far to the attorney as well. Now I guess it's a matter of financing the whole thing. I'll see what the attorney will offer to do for me.

Keep you guys posted.

I will be following this thread with interest.  Wish you the best of luck!

velocicarpo

« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2011, 14:37 »
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Persuing license violations should be done by the agencies of identifiable.

« Reply #6 on: June 27, 2011, 16:51 »
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Persuing license violations should be done by the agencies of identifiable.
In a perfect world that statement would be correct.

« Reply #7 on: June 28, 2011, 00:36 »
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Just found a link (on Rob Galbraith's) to an interesting blog entry:

http://www.jeremynicholl.com/blog/2011/06/13/the-10-rules-of-us-copyright-infringement

RacePhoto

« Reply #8 on: June 28, 2011, 03:05 »
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Just found a link (on Rob Galbraith's) to an interesting blog entry:

http://www.jeremynicholl.com/blog/2011/06/13/the-10-rules-of-us-copyright-infringement


Nice that he intersperses his raving and rants with some accurate facts. Problems is, not all he writes is factual or accurate. No matter, his flipping finger logo and shouting makes it entertaining. Keep in mind that attracting traffic is important to a blog. Controversy or wild claims will often accomplish that.

velocicarpo

« Reply #9 on: June 28, 2011, 10:07 »
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Persuing license violations should be done by the agencies of identifiable.
In a perfect world that statement would be correct.

We have to fight for that and stop permitting everything to the agencies.

lisafx

« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2011, 10:24 »
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Just found a link (on Rob Galbraith's) to an interesting blog entry:

http://www.jeremynicholl.com/blog/2011/06/13/the-10-rules-of-us-copyright-infringement


Lots of good information in this article about copyright registration. 

Unfortunately, the specific instance of abuse would be much more difficult for a microstock photographer to prove.  The media company who used his image without his permission and credited him would just appear to be a regular in-action to any of us who sell on micro.  I assume the only way he knew they hadn't paid was if he only sells directly. 

Another advantage he had was that his copyright info is displayed right under his pictures on his site, so they could not claim to have not seen it.  We have no control over where, or IF the micro sites display our copyright info. 

I am glad he was able to get a 5 figure settlement, but it would be unlikely any microstock photographer would have in the same situation. 

RacePhoto

« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2011, 11:21 »
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Only if we believe he got a five figure settlement and sometimes bloggers tend to adulterate the facts. In this case five figures coming from this source might be $123.45 not what we are led to imagine.

Just like the debate years ago about some seller making hundreds of thousands on IS. And then it turned out the person writing was using S-African Rands as the big number. (1 Euro = 9.84130 South African Rand ) So 100,000 rand is just over 1000 euro or $11,480 US dollars. Not making "six figures with microstock".  ::)

Read into the site a little more and see how position on anything free and Orphan Works. It's a rant site!


Just found a link (on Rob Galbraith's) to an interesting blog entry:

http://www.jeremynicholl.com/blog/2011/06/13/the-10-rules-of-us-copyright-infringement


Lots of good information in this article about copyright registration. 

Unfortunately, the specific instance of abuse would be much more difficult for a microstock photographer to prove.  The media company who used his image without his permission and credited him would just appear to be a regular in-action to any of us who sell on micro.  I assume the only way he knew they hadn't paid was if he only sells directly. 

Another advantage he had was that his copyright info is displayed right under his pictures on his site, so they could not claim to have not seen it.  We have no control over where, or IF the micro sites display our copyright info. 

I am glad he was able to get a 5 figure settlement, but it would be unlikely any microstock photographer would have in the same situation. 


 

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