Copyright infringement happens when a company copies or misuses material protected under copyright legislation, like a picture or a product description. That business is an infringer, and it has diminished the original founder’s property somehow.
Let us consider three, ecommerce-related copyright breach cases.
Product descriptions. A little, online toy seller in Idaho, Labrador Toys, carries a line of figurines from Papo, a French toymaker. The company’s product descriptions are somewhat dry, and they appear throughout the internet on several toy-related sites — from Amazon and Walmart to little sellers.
So Labrador Toys hires a true poet to compose original, witty product descriptions for all the Papo figures it sells.
Sometime later, an ecommerce business decides to begin carrying Papo figures. The company owner hires his high-school-aged niece to write product descriptions. She finds Labrador Toys and reproduces the Papo product descriptions, changing a few words for good measure.
This is a clear infringement. The descriptions are automatically copyrighted from the U.S. Moreover, if Labrador Toys had registered the product descriptions, the penalty for willful infringement will be set by statute at $150,000 each instance. If a court determined the infringement wasn’t willful, the statute allows for between $750 and $30,000 per case for a remedy.
Product photography. Next, envision a boutique clothing store named Shelly’s Fabulous Fashion. The business has been working a brick-and-mortar shop for ages. Shelly has decided to begin selling online.
There’s 1 problem. Most manufacturer-supplied product pictures are faceless. To prevent paying model royalties, clothes makers often”cut off the heads” of product pictures. This will not do for Shelly.
A good example of a”headless” model from Carhartt. Many clothing manufacturers provide only product photographs with some part of the head cut off.
She hires a photographer and a gorgeous, fit model to receive unique product shots, head included.
A couple of states away, another recognized brick-and-mortar merchant has decided to begin selling online. The business has assigned to Becky, a marketing intern, the job of tracking down product descriptions and graphics.
Becky known as the clothing makers and fought to download large TIFF images from an unhelpful Scene7 website. In desperation, she finds Shelly’s Fabulous Fashion online and reproduces the photographs. Thus, Becky willfully infringes on the copyright.
Lifestyle images. Jen is a seasoned marketer responsible for the sites, podcasts, and social networking channels of an omnichannel retailer. Included in her content marketing program, she’s hired a certified master gardener to write a weekly article.
The gardener frequently takes her own photographs. But one article about how to develop better carrots just included pictures of grime. Jen heads to the net and finds a stock photography site where she pays $75 for a compelling photo of garden-fresh carrots.
Three decades later, Jen receives a note from an unknown stock photography site a photograph’s permit will expire next month and have to be renewed or eliminated. She is busy and doesn’t understand what it means. She ignores it.
A copyright infringement note follows.
Responding to an Infringement Notice
First, confirm that your company did infringe. Read the infringement notice carefully. Investigate whether your company misused copyrighted materials.
Here are some things to test:
- Was the material used with permission?
- Did your company hold a permit under another name?
- Is among your employees recorded as the permit holder?
- Was the permit in a manufacturer’s or designer’s name?
- Is your material elsewhere online under a different license?
- Is the substance copyrightable?
Additionally it is important to attempt and discover the way the infringement occurred. There’s an important gap in the cases above between Jen, the experienced marketer, and Becky, the intern.
Jen initially paid for a permit and misunderstand its extent. However, Becky willfully stole the picture, using it to get her company without consent.
Next, plan your answer. Typically, if your company really infringed on copyrighted material, it’s going to cost money. This cost could take one of three kinds.
- Pay the sum demanded from the infringement notice.
- Explain how the infringement occurred and settle for a lesser sum.
- Go to court and face a remedy of around $150,000 per case.
The USA requires that a work be registered before its founder can sue in federal court. The U.S. Supreme Court noted this in Fourth Estate Public Benefit Corp. v. Wall-Street. Com, a current instance.
“So, if a person uses product photo or the text of a site without consent, then won’t stop or compensate the copyright owner, then the copyright owner must file a copyright application and wait for it to register before filing a copyright infringement lawsuit,” said Joseph A. Mandour, a San Diego-based intellectual property lawyer.
Failure by the owner to enroll material doesn’t allow the infringer off the hook. It may still make more sense to repay.
We have addressed copyright matters through the years. Here are links some of our posts.
- “Legal: Copyright Registration“
- “Copyright Legislation for Ecommerce Merchants“
- “Avoiding Copyright Infringement in Product Photos“
- “How to Prevent Copyright Infringement Claims“
- “Online Retailer’s Guide to Photo Copyrights“
- “Internet Attorney on Online Defamation, Copyright Theft“
- “Copyright Infringement: What If Someone Is Stealing From You? “
- “Google’s’Orphaned Books’ Case, and Its Effects on U.S. Copyrights“
- “Protecting Intellectual Property“