Our Guidelines for Accepting Copyright Infringement Cases:
Handling copyright infringement cases on a contingency basis requires careful consideration by attorneys. It involves proving damages and evaluating the likelihood of financial recovery. We follow specific criteria to decide which cases to accept:
A) Value of the Copyrighted Work: Creative works, whether photos, videos, software, or more, are the result of artistic effort. While putting a precise value on creativity can be challenging, it’s crucial for infringement cases. For us to pursue a case on a contingency basis, there must be a potential for monetary recovery. The aims are to halt infringement and recover compensation.
B) Severity and Intent of the Infringement: The intent behind copyright infringement holds substantial importance in legal proceedings. When infringement is deliberate, it can lead to higher statutory damages, potentially reaching up to five times the amount for innocent infringement. At our firm, we emphasize the necessity of evidence gathering to support these claims.
When clients and photographers approach us with copyright infringement concerns, we guide them through a comprehensive process:
- Collecting Evidence: To build a strong case, we rely on evidence. Our clients and photographers play a vital role by providing proof of the infringement. This can include documentation, records, and any relevant information that supports the claim.
- Prior Contact and Amicable Solutions: We assess whether our clients have communicated with the infringer and tried to resolve the issue amicably. A genuine effort to find a solution demonstrates a reasonable approach before escalating the matter legally.
- Cease and Desist Ignored: If a cease and desist letter was sent to the infringer and ignored, it serves as an important indicator. Ignoring such a notice shows a disregard for copyright and suggests a potential intent to infringe.
- Continued Usage After Notification: If the infringer persists in using the copyrighted material after being informed of the infringement, it strengthens the case for willful infringement. This demonstrates a lack of intent to comply with copyright laws.
- Rejection of Settlement Offers: We investigate whether the infringer was given an opportunity to settle the matter by paying a fair market fee for the image. If they reject the settlement, it could indicate an intention to infringe willfully.
- Distribution and False Claims: We scrutinize whether the infringer is distributing the image in larger versions or making false claims of copyright ownership. These actions suggest an intent to exploit the copyrighted material for personal gain.
- Manipulation of Copyright Information: If the infringer removes or crops out copyright information from the image, it’s seen as evidence of willful infringement. Altering copyright details indicates an intention to conceal the origin and gain unauthorized benefits.
- Removal of Digital Rights Management: If the infringer removes or bypasses digital rights management mechanisms put in place to control access to copyrighted content, it indicates a deliberate intention to misuse the work without hindrance.
- False Claims and Counterclaims: If the infringer makes false counterclaims of ownership or attempts to shift the blame onto the copyright holder, it can indicate a strategy to deflect responsibility and continue using the copyrighted material.
- Expertise or Awareness: If the infringer possesses knowledge of copyright law or has previously been involved in copyright-related issues, it implies an awareness of their actions and suggests intent.
The presence of such evidence significantly impacts the outcome of copyright infringement cases. Willful infringement attracts higher damages due to the intentional disregard for the rights of creators.
C) Damages Incurred by the Copyright Holder: Depriving creators of income or royalties due to unauthorized use is a common form of damage in copyright infringement. Our experts assess the validity of your claims for financial recovery. The extent of damages plays a role for both the copyright holder and our attorneys, and it’s discussed if we take the case on a contingency basis.
D) Profits Gained by the Infringer: The Copyright Act allows recovery of earnings made by infringers through unauthorized use. We examine the infringer’s earnings from exploiting your copyright. Additionally, we evaluate whether the infringer has the means to pay any awarded damages, possibly through available insurance.
E) Copyright Registration: Proving actual damages is complex, making statutory damages and attorneys’ fees important. To qualify, the copyright must be registered. This applies even to foreign works, enhancing protection and recovery options.
F) Defenses to Infringement: Various defenses, such as fair use, statute of limitations, or DMCA safe harbor, impact infringement cases. The “fair use” defense, based on specific criteria, can be an absolute defense. Time is also a factor, with a three-year statute of limitations from discovery. Other defenses like DMCA safe harbor require thorough assessment.
At our firm, we take these factors into account when deciding to accept copyright infringement cases on a contingency basis. Our experienced team ensures that potential financial recovery, legal options, and a solid defense strategy align before proceeding. Rest assured, we’re dedicated to safeguarding your creative efforts and pursuing your rightful compensation within the legal framework.