How Can I Protect My Company from Copyright Infringement?

Copyright InfringementIn this digital age, most companies maintain an online site where they upload content that is helpful to their target market while building their brand. It is often a challenge to protect the vast amount of images and text this entails. While copyright law is there to protect original works of authorship, such as written works, photos, movies, software, and songs, you need to remember that in some circumstances, copyright law is not applicable. Facts and ideas, for instance, are generally considered to be in the public domain.

Copyright infringement is the offense committed when someone reproduces another’s original work without permission or credit. It may please you to note that there are tools available online if your company property has been the target of copyright infringement.

Google Image Search Is Your Friend

A common form of copyright infringement is grabbing photos from a blog or a website. If the other website did not ask for your permission in using the images, even if they cited your site as the source, this is still copyright infringement and is actionable as such.

The three common image search engines are:

In fact, Google Images now allows searching for exact and similar images. If upon using Google Image Search or its browser extension, you discover that your photo has been used by someone, you can either demand for the photo to be removed from the site or sue the offender for damages.

As a preventive measure, it helps if you put watermarks on your photos to protect your images. If the photo contains a watermark, it is an indication that it was not released under a free license.

Stolen Content + Uncited Sources = Copyright Infringement

Another common form of copyright infringement is through using content from another blog, news article, or book. Quoting with a proper citation or voicing one’s opinions through a comment on a blog is not infringement. However, when somebody takes large portions of your blog posts and uploads it as if it were their own work, you can sue for infringement.

As with a Google image search, the simplest way to look for unauthorized reuse of written material is to copy a sentence or phrase from your posts, put quotation marks before and after to limit the search to that specific phrase or sentence, then paste it into the Google search box. Google will consolidate all entries, whether website, blog, or article, that include the specific words you searched for. In this way, you can check which sites used your content.

Being Proactive Is Key

As soon as you discover that your company’s copyrighted texts, photos, or web design has been stolen, act on it. If the site has contact information, you can reach out to the owner and ask the material to be taken down. Otherwise, you can file a civil lawsuit against the violator. If the copyright violation was committed with the willful intent to profit off of it, the violator can face severe penalties, including up to 10 years of incarceration under federal law.

Alternatively, you may send a notice to the service provider or web host of the site to take down the content. This is in accordance to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. You must clearly state your company’s works which have been infringed and where they were used. Include your contact details and the claim to the copyright of the items you reported, under penalty of perjury. Rest assured, action on the part of the web hosts will be immediate so that they can free themselves of liability.

A Little Extra Help

You can also utilize some websites that exist specifically to help your company track stolen copyrighted material. Copyscape is one such site. You just copy your website’s link or the entire content of your article, and Copyscape will look for duplicate content.

You may also use the free Plagiarism Checker site, which works similarly to Copyscape. The main difference is that you can paste up to 32 words in the text box.

Consult the Legal Professionals

Intellectual property rights are crucial to any business. Any copyright violation can negatively impact your company. Intellectual property law is a dynamic field. Even if the law is clear, its effect may not be so black and white. An experienced intellectual property lawyer will be able to work with you to fight copyright violations.

Our intellectual property attorneys at War IP Law PLLC have vast experience litigating and resolving copyright disputes in various industries. This experience may help in all stages of the dispute resolution process, from initial case evaluation through settlement efforts and even trial. Call us now to schedule a case evaluation.