Dealing with Copyright Infringement
Creativity always runs the risk of replication. Nowhere is this better proved than the entertainment industry. An actor, a filmmaker, a music composer or a writer – if you are one among them, you face the threat. Copying without permission is something that is quite common on this turf and I find this increasing day by day.
Now tell me something. What is the motive behind copying? Is it always and always profit? No. Sometimes well-intentioned acquaintances and friends do this without purpose. Suppose a fan can post his/her favorite artist’s song, picture or video on social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter or YouTube. Good intentions, but unauthorized copying no doubt! This is infringement of Copyright Law and unpardonable too. I suggest that anybody confronted with such behavior MUST take necessary action and stop forfeiture of rights immediately.
Letter for Cease and Desist
The first step that needs to be taken is to forward a letter to the infringer, thereby notifying him about the act and ordering him to desist from continuing it any further. Such letters can be framed and sent independently but having an entertainment lawyer to send it adds a degree of seriousness to the matter. A clear message is send via this: legal action awaits non-compliance.
When infringement comes through an online social networking or information service, action needs to be taken at 2 levels. The user who is responsible for posting the content can be sent a Cease and Desist letter as usual, but tackling the online service may be a little more knotty. The DMCA or Digital Millennium Copyright Law offers protection to the service provider in this case. For instance, the service provider, if he has integrated necessary mechanisms of offloading the offending material in his site, gains immunity from liability of the posted contents. A Take-Down Notice served to his office can initiate the procedure of getting the stuff removed from the venue. An entertainment attorney is the best person to draft the letter, as it is usually unrecoverable.
License the user
This is the best constructive method and a popular one at that, for settling a dispute of unauthorized copying. Grant the infringer a license of authorized use. Care however must be taken to ensure that the license is not too open-ended as it may run the risk of losing legal validity.
Communicating with the “infringer” and looking for a solution through mediation or dispute arbitration before sending him legal notices can sometimes yield positive results. Try it but consult an entertainment lawyer before that. You need to know how to protect your rights.