Receiving a copyright infringement notice can be scary
But it is important not to panic and focus on gaining clear and accurate view of the claim and what to do next.
Words by Dr Martin Douglas Hendry
Copyright infringement is a serious issue that can result in legal action against those who violate it.
If you receive a copyright infringement notice in the UK, it is important to assess the claim correctly to be in a position to respond promptly and appropriately.
In this blog, we will discuss the recommended way to respond to a copyright infringement notice and what you should do to protect yourself.
Understanding Copyright Infringement
Copyright infringement is the unauthorized use of someone else's copyrighted work.
This can include anything from copying a book, music or photograph to sharing digital content without permission.
Copyright infringement is a violation of the creator's exclusive rights to their work and can result in legal action against the infringer.
In essence, these legal rights arise automatically when the copyright work is made, and the copyright owner has the exclusive right to its reproduction and distribution, economic rights related to any financial benefit from its use and moral rights relating to attribution (amongst others).
A copyright infringement claim can occur at any time that one or multiple of these exclusive rights are infringed upon.
Notably, a claim is only as serious as the legal arguments being made – as such, a calm and expert review of the claim is crucial to put you in the position of understanding your liability and the best next steps.
The Copyright Infringement Notice
It is recommended that you do not respond to any notice as soon as you receive it.
A copyright infringement notice is a legal document sent to an individual or organization suspected of copyright infringement.
Typically these perform the function of notifying the alleged infringer before any legal action is formally taken, providing them with an opportunity to resolve the claim before legal action is formally taken.
The notice is usually sent by the copyright owner or their representative, and it contains information about the alleged infringement, including the specific work that has been infringed and the date and time it was allegedly infringed.
The notice also typically includes a request to remove the infringing material and/or pay damages as well as a deadline for response.
You may be tempted to contact the other side in the first instance to plead your case, however, it is better to simply gather evidence as it relates to the claim and speak to a professional in order to ascertain the scope of infringement, the accuracy of the claim and the proportion of your liability.
It can also be beneficial to remove any of the alleged infringing material in order to minimize any further damage occurring.
How to Respond to a Copyright Infringement Notice
If you receive a copyright infringement notice, it is important to respond before any stated deadlines and on the basis of legal advice.
Here are some steps you can take:
Review the claim: It is important to determine whether the claim is valid or not, to take note of any deadlines which are given (which if lapsed may result in legal action being formally taken), and the conditions being proposed by the copyright owner as it relates to dismissing the claim. As above, taking down the allegedly infringing material is also beneficial at this stage to limit any ongoing damage.
Consult a lawyer: Next it is best to consult a lawyer who specializes in copyright law. They can help you understand your rights, liabilities and obligations and provide advice on how to respond.
Contact the claimant: If you believe the claim is valid, your legal representative can contact the claimant to negotiate a settlement. You may be able to resolve the matter without the need for legal action.
Negotiate a settlement: If you agree that you have infringed the copyright, you can negotiate a settlement with the claimant. This can include paying damages or removing the infringing material. This may or may not be in line with the demands received in the initial letter. Often it is possible to reduce the claim’s financial impact in the settlement process.
File a counter-notice: If you believe that the claim is invalid, you can file a counter-notice. This is a legal document that disputes the claim and provides evidence to support your position. If accurate and convincing in its legal position, this may result in the claim being dismissed entirely.
If you do not respond to the copyright infringement notice or if you are unable to resolve the matter with the claimant, formal legal action may be taken against you.
This can include a court order to remove the infringing material, paying damages or fines, and even imprisonment where the infringement relates to criminal activity.
Ultimately, it is often better to settle such claims before this stage or seek their dismissal if they are not legally sound. Speak to an IP specialist lawyer to determine which pathway is best for you.
In conclusion, if you receive a copyright infringement notice, it is important to respond promptly and appropriately.
Assess the validity of the claim, consult a lawyer, contact the claimant, negotiate a settlement or file a counter-notice.
Remember that copyright infringement is a serious issue and can result in legal action, so it is important to respect copyright law and protect your rights as a creator or user of copyrighted works.
If you have received a copyright notice and would like our team to assess it, contact us below.
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DISCLAIMER: The content within this post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Virtuoso Legal does not take any responsibility for those that use this information and waives any liability for any resulting effect on your personal or commercial circumstances.