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A Small Business Owner's Dilemma: Receiving A Copyright Infringement Notice

Receiving a copyright infringement notice can be a scary thing.
Copyright infringement is serious business!

Sara Small was a young entrepreneur who had recently started her own small business, a boutique clothing store called "Elegant Threads". She had put all of her heart and soul into making it a success. From selecting the perfect location to curating unique pieces for her customers, Sara had done it all.

Small Business Owner
Copyright infringement can happen to anyone.

One day, while checking her emails, she came across one from an attorney with the subject line "Copyright Infringement Notice". Her heart skipped a beat as she opened the email and read its contents. It stated that Sara's website was using an unlicensed photo taken by Paul Photographer and demanded that she take it down immediately or face legal action. The attorney also mentioned a settlement fee of $2,500 for the license, which unknown to Sara, would have only cost $150 if purchased beforehand.

Sara felt like someone had punched her in the gut. She couldn't understand how this could happen when she thought she always made sure to follow proper copyright laws. Sara's mind started racing as she tried to remember where exactly she got that photo from, as it had been several years since it was posted. Was it her web developer or perhaps even herself when designing the website? But nothing seemed to click. If it was her, did she rely on web search engines' filter options for selecting usage rights for photos that were supposedly free?

Feeling overwhelmed and scared, Sara didn't know what to do. She had so many questions. Should she just pay up even though she couldn't afford it? Should she take down the photo as requested, or would that be an admission of guilt? Did she even do anything wrong? Was someone else liable?

Copyright Infringement Attorney- Intellequity Legal Services

Just then, while doing some research on the topic of copyright infringement and finding it very confusing, Sara stumbled upon Intellequity Legal Services. Without wasting any time, Sara contacted them and explained everything.

Copyright Attorney Jim Boness

Attorney Jim Boness listened patiently and assured Sara that he would handle everything professionally and efficiently on her behalf. He went through every detail of her case with precision looking for a way to defend her or to find information to leverage in the negotiations. During his research, he not surprisingly found multiple other websites using Paul Photographer's photo, and that the image appeared as free to use in the search engine. Although he could not know for sure if these uses were licensed or unlicensed uses, the number of uses and his experience gave Jim pause to think that this photograph and how it was obtained by others was similar to how Sara had obtained it, and a rather common issue faced by many small business owners. Unfortunately, for Sara in this situation, it was not a complete defense that she relied upon a search engine’s filters to use an image without permission.

Instead of giving up, however, Jim worked professionally and diligently to negotiate with Paul Photographer's attorney and was able to come to a reasonable settlement that Sara could afford, which turned out to be much less than was initially asked, even after paying for attorney fees. Jim also guided her through the process of removing the photo from her website and finding an alternative one to use.

Sara learned two important lessons from this experience – first, copyright infringement is serious business these days, even if unintentional, and second, as a small business owner, it is crucial to have the right support and resources at hand in times of need. Thanks to Intellequity’s expertise and dedication towards helping small businesses like hers, Sara could now focus on growing her boutique without having to worry about her copyright legal issues.

Not all copyright infringement situations are like Sara’s, although her situation may be the most common. In some cases, you may be receiving communication from a known copyright troll attorney or other firm. While not directly affecting your liability, many times these firms do not do their due diligence before sending the letter, and in any case, they are always looking for a quick buck for their client (and themselves) and not necessarily interested in pursuing litigation. This makes them more likely to accept a lower offer. In other cases, the complaining party doesn’t even own the copyright in the picture, meaning they have no standing to pursue a claim at all. Sometimes the complaining party may enjoy rights to the photo, but has not federally registered a copyright in the work, making it much less likely they would pursue an action. Finally, the use of the image may be excused by a copyright doctrine called ‘fair use’. The point is, every situation is different and a law firm like Intellequity, who understands copyright law, can research the specifics of your situation in recommending the best course of action for you.

So remember, when in doubt about copyright issues or any other legal matters related to your business, don't hesitate to reach out to Intellequity legal services – we've got your back! Call Jim at 503-877-0881, visit us on the web at or email at

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