In this post you’ll learn, in my opinion, what a good lawyer does when that dreaded moment hits: you’ve been copied. Spoiler alert: a good lawyer will just walk you through your options. And those options are:
- contacting the infringer,,
- DMCA takedown,
- sending a letter,
- filing a lawsuit, and
- doing nothing.
Option When You’ve Been Copied: Contact the Infringer Yourself
People know and understand so little about copyright law and what they can and can’t do. (It’s sometimes surprising.) So it’s very possible that, even when you’ve been copied, whatever the infringer has done was an honest mistake.
Depending on the severity of what’s going on, your lawyer might tell you to contact them yourself. The message will consist of something like “Here’s what I own, here’s what you’re doing, take it down.” Something like that.
Next Option: DMCA Takedown
The next option of course is what’s called a DMCA takedown. You’ll see this at the bottom of tons of websites like Facebook, YouTube, Etsy — any platform where users can upload content. Those types of sites usually have some kind of IP policy, copyright policy, or DMCA policy. There, you can submit a takedown request. It’s protection for the website owners so that they don’t get sued for copyright infringement because of what somebody else did or what somebody else uploaded.
The takedown process is as simple as filling out that form and saying what happened, what you own, and what needs to be taken down.
A Stronger Option: Cease-and-Desist Letter
Nothing says “stop it right now” like receiving a strongly-worded letter from an attorney.
Now, not every letter has to be a FIRE AND BRIMSTONE and WE’RE GONNA SUE THE CRAP OUT OF YOU, mean, YOU’RE INFRINGING-letter. There’s mean, and there’s effective. (Side bar: Given the option, I’ll go with effective.)
A good attorney will walk you through it. “Okay, tell me about what’s happened, do you know about this company or person, what are the circumstances.” It’s often more than just “okay let’s send a letter right away.” A good attorney walks you through what’s going on and the tone that the letter should have in order to get whatever your ultimate goal is. If your ultimate goal is for the infringer to take down whatever it is, then the attorney will walk you through how to best achieve that ultimate goal.
Another Option: Filing a Lawsuit
Filing a lawsuit is always an option. Again, a good attorney will talk you through what’s going on and what the best step forward is. Oftentimes a lawsuit is not the first step forward, but sometimes it is, so that’s definitely something to talk through.
And then…. there’s do nothing.
Ultimately, it’s your decision whether you want to spend time and agony and expense to go after this infringer. Again, it depends on what’s going on. What have they infringed? If it’s something that’s really valuable to you and that’s at the core of what you create, it might be worth doing something.
But sometimes, in certain specific circumstances, a client will elect not to do anything.
So again, an attorney should walk you through all of these options. She should discuss which of these is the best plan of action for you.
I hope that helps you understand what a good attorney will do when you’ve been copied.
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