Copyright is one of the most valuable intellectual property rights because it applies to many kinds of original works, including novels, films, photographs, artwork, songs, jewelry, clothing, and software code. Basically, any kind of original content that you create can potentially be protected against copyright infringement. The idea behind copyright law is that anyone who creates something should have the exclusive right to earn money from their creation. When someone copies or steals your work and attempts to pass it off as their own, you may be able to file a copyright infringement claim to get an injunction against the other party, in addition to getting compensation for lost revenues or other damages.
The San Diego copyright lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP represent plaintiffs and defendants in copyright violation cases. If you believe that someone has violated your intellectual property rights, your first move should be to speak with one of our experienced attorneys about your case. Contact us now to schedule a consultation.
Protect Your Original Works of Authorship Against Copyright Infringement
Before you can protect your original creations against unauthorized use, it is important to understand exactly what constitutes “copyright infringement.” When you create an original work of authorship – such as taking a photograph, shooting a video, recording a song, or writing a book – you immediately become the copyright holder over that work. This gives you intellectual property rights, including the exclusive right to reproduce, distribute, or perform that work for commercial benefit. Moreover, for most works, those exclusive IP rights typically last for the life of the copyright owner plus an additional 70 years. If someone else reproduces, distributes, or performs your work without permission to do so, and they derive any kind of economic benefit, it may be a copyright violation. Even if the unauthorized use involves a work that is not identical to your original work, it may still be considered copyright infringement – the determining factor will be whether the works are substantially similar.
The mechanism for protecting your copyright after it’s been violated is usually the federal courts, specifically the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California. That’s because the Copyright Act of 1976 provides a legal cause of action to anyone who has created, and registered, an original work of authorship. Although official registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is not needed for you to get copyright protection, registration is required before you can file a copyright infringement lawsuit and enforce the copyright through legal action. A San Diego copyright lawyer who has experience representing clients in the U.S. District Court in San Diego will be best equipped to handle your case.
San Diego Copyright Attorney Helps You Get Damages for Copyright Infringement
An experienced San Diego attorney can help you explore your legal options when someone has infringed on your copyright. The main remedies for copyright infringement include the following:
- Monetary Damages: If the defendant profited from their unauthorized use of the copyright, they may be required to pay to the plaintiff any profits they received. Additionally, the defendant may be responsible for compensating the plaintiff for any losses suffered because of the copyright violation. An alternative to awarding actual damages is an award of statutory damages, with ranges set forth in the Copyright Act.
- Injunction: If the plaintiff wins their copyright infringement claim, the court is also likely to issue an order that prevents the defendant from continuing to violate the copyright in the future. This is to ensure that the copyright infringement stops.
- Attorney’s Fees: In addition to receiving damages for a winning copyright claim, the plaintiff may also be eligible to seek attorneys’ fees from the defendant.
The financial damages in a copyright infringement case can be substantial, especially when the original work has significant value. The reality, however, is that courts struggle to determine the actual damages for a copyright violation. This where statutory damages often come into play. The Copyright Act of 1976 allows for the plaintiff in most copyright infringement claims to be awarded as much as $30,000 per infringed work. The amount is capped at $30,000 in most instances, but it can rise all the way up to $150,000 per infringed work if the plaintiff can prove that the defendant “willfully infringed” on the copyright. For this, the plaintiff must show one of two things:
- The defendant either knew about the existence of a copyright, and they still went ahead and violated the copyright.
- The defendant should have known about the existence of a copyright, and they recklessly disregarded it.
What to Do When You Are Accused of Copyright Infringement
What if someone has accused you of copyright infringement? Perhaps you used a photo on your website or social media account, and now someone is insisting that you did not have permission to do so. If you’ve received a cease-and-desist letter or a DMCA notice alleging that you violated someone’s copyright, it is imperative that you speak with a San Diego copyright defense lawyer immediately. An experienced attorney who is familiar with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) will be able to help you contest the claim and, if it does eventually reach trial, win the case in court.
Unfortunately, the sad truth is that many copyright infringement claims are brought by “copyright trolls” who are simply looking to threaten a business owner with a lawsuit and pressure them into paying a quick settlement amount. The general thinking of copyright trolls is that the lawful copyright holder will still be willing to pay them to avoid costly legal action. These claims are often completely without merit, and they can be fought with a strong defense showing that you had a legal right to use the copyrighted material.
San Diego, California
San Diego is one of the largest and most populous cities in California, with a land area of just over 372 square miles and a total population of nearly 1.4 million people. Slightly less than half of all households in San Diego have married couples, and the average family size is just over three people.
Tourism is an important part of San Diego’s local economy. The city’s warm climate and numerous beaches make it a very popular tourist destination. Visitors to San Diego County spend more than $10 billion every year, and the county’s tourist industry is responsible for nearly 200,000 jobs. Major tourist attractions in San Diego include Balboa Park, Belmont Park, the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Zoo, and SeaWorld San Diego.
Free Consultation with San Diego Copyright Attorneys
The Tauler Smith LLP legal team has extensive experience representing clients in copyright disputes. Our San Diego copyright attorneys have an in-depth understanding of the applicable federal statutes, and they know how to win these cases in court. If you are a victim of copyright infringement, or if you have been accused of infringing on a copyright, we can help you. Call us at 310-590-3927 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free consultation.