Most people don't fully understand the ins and outs of copyright laws -- and that's a big problem when you accidentally impinge on someone else's rights if you're blogging, sharing photos or otherwise using someone else's material for your business.
If you make a mistake, it may not take long for someone to file a lawsuit for copyright infringement against you -- and you could end up paying a lot of money in a settlement even if you think it's unfair. The owner of the copyrighted material is entitled to ask for his or her actual damages if any exist, but he or she may also ask for statutory damages. That can cost you between $750 to $30,000 per incident even if you didn't intentionally infringe. If the owner of the material can prove your infringement was deliberate, the cost can be even higher.
Here are some of the most important things that you should understand about copyright laws before you post anything online:
- You can be guilty of copyright infringement even if you didn't intentionally take someone else's work or credit it back to the original source.
- You can be sued for infringement even if the owner of the intellectual property didn't issue you a warning and a takedown notice.
- You can be sued even if you didn't profit from the infringement and never intended to do so.
- You found the photo or copy you used somewhere else on the internet and thought it was uncredited or available as "open source."
Increasingly sophisticated web search technology now allows many copyright owners to keep track of the use of their images and content remotely, via automated processes. With that in mind, the internet doesn't seem like such a vast expanse after all. You can bet that, eventually, your unauthorized use of someone else's material will be noticed.
With that in mind, make sure that you seek out experienced legal representation for a copyright infringement issue. Contact our office to learn more about how we may be able to help.