Small business owners and those with a website who create and publish content online are at risk of receiving a copyright infringement letter. These letters can be alarming and intimidating as they come with warnings of legal action and financial penalties. However, receiving a copyright infringement letter doesn't mean the end of the world. In this blog post, we'll discuss what you should do if you receive a copyright infringement letter.
First things first- Don't Panic! - The first thing you should do is remain calm. Receiving a copyright infringement letter does not automatically mean you're guilty of infringing someone's copyright. It's essential to assess the situation and the validity of the letter. Don't rush into taking action without first investigating the issue.
Determine the source of the infringement - Once you've received the copyright infringement letter, determine the source of the infringement. Did you use a particular image, text, or video without getting permission (known as a license) from the owner? Did the letter include a copyright registration number? Is the letter from the copyright owner, or from a third-party or law firm who claims to represent the owner? Understanding the source of the letter will help you understand who is doing what.
Remove the Infringing Content - If the infringement is valid, take immediate action and remove the infringing content from your website. This does not automatically mean a presumption of guilty. This demonstrates to the copyright owner that you're taking their concerns seriously and are working to resolve the issue. It may also save you from a court finding of willful infringement later on.
Seek Legal Counsel - In any case, consult with a lawyer who specializes in copyright law. Legal experts like Intellequity can help you understand the legal implications of the infringement, assess the potential validity of the letter and advise of the next steps to take. If need be, legal counsel will be much better prepared to negotiate with the sender, should the claim be valid. You may end up paying a fraction of what they are asking ...or nothing at all.
Respond to the Copyright Owner - Once you've assessed the situation, whether through legal counsel, or on your own, do not ignore the letter! That could make things much worse. Instead, let them know that you've taken their concerns seriously and have taken immediate steps to address the issue, if necessary, or in the alternative, provide them with information showing you have a valid license or other reasons why your use of the content is not infringing any copyright. Again, in these cases, it is best to hire legal counsel to do this for you!
Receiving a copyright infringement letter can be stressful and confusing, but it's essential to remain calm and take appropriate action. Determine the source of the infringement, consult legal counsel, and remove any infringing content. Most importantly, communicate with the copyright owner, demonstrate your willingness to address their concerns, and resolve the issue amicably. By following these steps, you can protect yourself, your business, and your website from legal action and financial penalties. Should you need further information, feel free to reach out to Intellequity Legal Services at 503-877-0881 or book a consult here.