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5 Copyright Infringement Terms You Need To Know When Dealing With A Copyright Infringement Case

In our digital world with the high availability of quality content and the ease of copy-paste, it has unfortunately become all too easy to copy and distribute content online. And with more than 3 billion images being shared per day (!) in news feeds, social media, advertising etc., copyright infringements are bound to happen - often without the infringing party even knowing that they’ve done anything wrong.

Copyright infringement is a lose-lose scenario, as:

  • The creator of the image or text loses money by not getting paid for their work - or worse: the incentive to create and make inspiring and original content available to the world
  • The user not only misses out on supporting the creative world, but also unintentionally breaches another person’s rights AND may end up paying more than if they had just paid for the use of the work in the first place. Seems pretty silly, right?

As a content creator, we hope that you won’t have to deal with copyright infringements too often. But should it happen that one day you find your precious work floating around the internet, without your permission (and without being paid or even credited!), knowing your rights under copyright law and some key terms about copyright infringement could come in handy.

This is why we have gathered Copyright Agent's top 5 legal terms for copyright infringement cases.

Knowledge truly is key to remaining copyright compliant online - whether that is enforcing your copyright or just respecting it. So, for content creators interested in protecting their content online (or dealing with an already-known infringement) and for content-users seeking to avoid infringing: get in the know!

1. Counterparty

If you choose to pursue a copyright infringement case, the term counterparty refers to the company or individual who has used and published your content without permission, hereby knowingly or (often) unknowingly breaching your copyright. This is also referred to as infringing copyright, which brings us to the next term.

2. Copyright Infringement

When someone or - for the sake of getting a hang of it - a counterparty uses and publishes your content without permission, a breach of your copyright happens and this is called an infringement. As the copyright owner, you can enforce your rights and claim compensation.

A copyright infringement occurs when your content has been distributed for public use, i.e. publishing your content in a public setting and whether the counterparty has made money off your work or not - and whether he or she was aware of the rules of copyright or not!

Ultimately, it is the counterparty’s responsibility to be aware of and act in accordance with copyright law, as we will understand with the next term.

3. Due Diligence

Within intellectual property law (and law in general), there is a principle of due diligence. The term refers to a form of “reasonable care” that people are expected to take when conducting business and especially when entering into an agreement or contract with another party. The driving force behind due diligence is the aim of preventing harm to other people’s or your own (intellectual) property.

In copyright law, exercising due diligence would look like this:

You would like to use some photos that you have not taken yourself, do not own or do not have a license to use. Part of your due diligence, then, is investigating and informing yourself about whether the photos are protected by copyright (they probably are!) - and in that case - who the copyright holder is, and also asking for permission to publish them.

Something that we hear quite often from counterparties when we contact them regarding a potential copyright infringement, is that they either were not aware that a photo is copyrighted or that a license is required to publish it.

While we understand that it can be hard to identify the copyright owner of content on the internet (especially when it has been published by multiple different sources..), lack of knowledge of the law (in legal speak: Ignorantia Juris Non Excusat) can never be a way out of a copyright infringement claim.

That's why we always advise to only publish content where you are sure of who the copyright holder is - so if in doubt: do not publish it.

4. Compensation Claim

If it turns out that someone has used your content without permission or a license, and therefore breached your copyright, you can claim your rightful compensation from the individual or company who has done so.

The amount that you can claim as compensation for the infringement varies and depends on several factors such as:

  • The value of the content (e.g. with photos, the listing price)
  • The context the content has been used in
  • The damages inflicted or loss of profits caused by the unlicensed use

At the end of day, it is the person who has had their rights infringed that can determine the compensation which they are due - within reason, of course!‍‍

5. Cease and Desist Letter

When a copyright infringement has been identified and you, the copyright holder, decide to pursue a copyright infringement case, the counterparty is notified in writing.

At Copyright Agent, we start all cases by sending an Opening Letter that seeks to start a dialogue with the counterparty. If a counterparty does not respond or remove the image in question, they will then receive a Cease and Desist order.

A Cease and Desist is basically a written statement demanding the counterparty to stop using your work (cease) and not reupload the image without license (desist). It also outlines that you are prepared to enforce your copyright and that this could entail legal action.

Cease and Desist letters include a more detailed explanation of the circumstance of the case as well as the evidence of infringement. You will also be provided with a payment request. The purpose of sending a Cease and Desist letter is to resolve the case in the most quick and painless way possible, i.e. without (further) legal action.

Understanding copyright law can be a jungle and it can be difficult to know what to do after finding your work used online without license or recognition, but Copyright Agent is here to help.

If you believe that your copyright has been infringed or are simply interested in learning more about your copyright online, get in touch with us at info@copyrightagent.com with any questions you may have - our legal experts are always up for a chat on all things copyright!