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Best Copyright Infringement Defenses

5 Best Defenses Against Copyright Infringement Claims

Best Copyright Infringement Defenses

Original creative works can provide valuable revenue streams to their authors. That’s one reason that copyright can be used to protect original works in certain tangible mediums (e.g., movies, books, photographs, and computer software) against unauthorized use. Unfortunately, copyright trolls often attempt to take advantage of the law by pressuring others into cash settlements. When this happens, the party on the receiving end of a copyright demand letter will need to respond immediately – or risk a costly lawsuit. The experienced Los Angeles copyright lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP can help you mount a strong and vigorous copyright defense.

To learn more about the 5 best defenses against copyright infringement claims, keep reading this blog.

Responding to DMCA Notices from Copyright Trolls

A lot of copyright infringement claims are brought by copyright trolls. These are people who strategically sue individuals and businesses with the goal of pressuring the defendant into quickly settling the case in order to avoid expensive litigation. For example, a copyright troll might send a DMCA notice to a website owner or social media influencer alleging that they violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by publishing an unauthorized reproduction of an image, video, or text.

Whether it’s a copyright troll, or perhaps someone with more merit bringing a copyright or other type of intellectual property claim against you, most claims will start with a copyright infringement letter or takedown notice. How you respond to the initial claim will likely determine the next steps, which could include negotiating a settlement with the other party or contesting the copyright claim in federal court.

What Are the Most Common Defenses Available in Copyright Infringement Cases?

If the case does go beyond settlement negotiations and eventually reaches the litigation stage, it may be necessary to raise a strong defense at trial. These are some of the most common defenses available in copyright infringement disputes:

Defense #1: There is no substantial similarity between the original work and the new work.

One of the main tests used by courts to determine whether copyright infringement has occurred is the substantial similarity test. A work can only be found to have exploited another work’s copyright if both works are “substantially similar.” This means that, despite any superficial similarities, the two works are so strikingly similar that the second work could only have been copied from the first work.

Defense #2: Use of the work was licensed.

Even if you did not create the original work in question, you may still have a right to use, distribute, reproduce, or perform that work if you secured a copyright licensing agreement. Depending on the terms of the IP transfer, the licensed use might not have constituted an infringement of the copyright.

Defense #3: The fair use doctrine applies.

The Copyright Law of the United States explicitly provides for exceptions when copyrighted material is being used for certain purposes, such as news reporting, research, scholarship, commentary, and criticism. Courts use a balancing test to determine whether a particular use of the work constitutes a “fair use”:

  1. The purpose and character of the use, including whether the use is for commercial purposes.
  2. The nature of the copyrighted work, such as whether the work has already been in the public domain or whether there is a public interest in ensuring that the work is available to everyone.
  3. The amount or substantiality of the portion used, such as when a website quotes a few sentences from a much longer publication.
  4. The effect of the particular use on the work’s value.

Judges typically determine whether a specific use constitutes “fair use” by looking closely at the precise facts and circumstances of the individual case. The reality is that two similar uses of an identical work could yield entirely different results in court. That’s why it is crucial for anyone looking to raise this defense in a copyright infringement lawsuit to have an experienced copyright attorney on their side.

Defense #4: The plaintiff does not own the copyright.

In order to sue for damages, the copyright troll must be the “owner” or “exclusive licensee” of the copyrighted work. Often, copyright trolls send letters demanding money (and sometimes file lawsuits) when they are not the owner or the exclusive licensee. Tauler Smith LLP has won copyright cases on this basis, and the knowledgeable L.A. copyright lawyers at Tauler Smith can get to the bottom of who owns the images in question.

Defense #5: The statute of limitations has expired.

The statute of limitations in most copyright infringement claims is three (3) years. However, there is some question as to when the clock starts ticking on the statute of limitations. For instance, courts have held that the statute of limitations restarts after each new violation, meaning that a copyright owner could delay filing suit as long as they are only pursuing damages from the last three (3) years. Additionally, most courts have ruled that a copyright owner must first discover the violation before the statute of limitations begins to run.

Contact the Los Angeles Copyright Lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP Today

The damages in a copyright infringement lawsuit could be substantial, which is why you need to act immediately when you are first notified of an alleged violation. Your first step should be to speak with one of the Los Angeles copyright lawyers at Tauler Smith LLP. Our legal team has experience responding to copyright claims on behalf of our clients and protecting them against copyright trolls.

If you’ve received a copyright demand letter, call us today at 310-590-3927. You can also fill out the contact form below to schedule a consultation.

Do you have a copyright case?

Contact us for free evaluation.


Bitcoin

BitClout Raises Intellectual Property Concerns

Bitcoin

With the Bitcoin and NFT bubbles continuing to grow, a new crypto-based company has hit the market looking to capitalize on the investment wave. Instead of investing in a business or product, BitClout offers users a new investment option that is described by its owner as a “new type of social network that lets [users] speculate on people and posts with real money.” Backed by some of Silicon Valley’s biggest investors, like Sequoia Capital and Winklevoss Capital, BitClout’s creators hope that it is poised to have a bright future.

However, BitClout is not without controversy over some of its current business practices, some of which may raise intellectual property concerns. To learn more about the possible legal issues posed by BitClout, keep reading this blog.

What Is BitClout?

BitClout users deposit Bitcoin into the platform in exchange for BitClout currency, or creator coins. The value of these coins is based on the reputation or popularity of the celebrity profile the user chooses to invest in. The more popular the profile, the more valuable the creator coin. In theory, if there is a new indie band that a user believes will break into the mainstream, the user can purchase the band’s creator coin now while the cost is low; as the band’s popularity increases, so will the value of the coins the user has purchased.

While users can deposit BitCoin in exchange for BitClout currency, there is currently no way for a user to cash out should they want to do so. The founder of BitClout hopes to have a currency exchange in the future but has no specifics on how or when they will be able to offer a cash-out option. BitClout appears to be a volatile investment, offering the potential for a quick rise and equally quick fall in investment value, with no way for users to cut losses and cash out.

Legal Issues Posed by BitClout

Another point of controversy surrounding BitClout is their aggressive growth strategy, in which their network was pre-populated with profiles from the top 15,000 public Twitter profiles. Influencers like Kim Kardashian and Elon Musk had profiles created without signing up for or agreeing to the platform. While the founder of BitClout says this was done to prevent user impersonation or handle squatting, the company is currently using the private information of celebrities and influencers without their expressed consent.

One influencer, Brandon Curtis, has already served BitClout founder Nader Al-Naji with a cease-and-desist letter for using his personal information without consent. Curtis is arguing that it is the individual’s right to profit from his or her own identity, and to choose what organizations they collaborate with. Depending on the outcome of Curtis’ intellectual property case, it is possible that many of the other pre-populated profiles on BitClout will also seek to be removed from the platform.

Contact the California Intellectual Property Lawyers at Tauler Smith LLC

Tauler Smith LLC is a Los Angeles law firm that represents clients in intellectual property disputes, including cases involving copyright infringement. If you believe that you are a victim of a copyright violation, or if you have been accused of a copyright violation, our experienced IP attorneys can help you. Call or email us today to discuss your legal options.

DMCA Takedown Notices

Using Section 512(f) to Fight DMCA Takedown Notices

DMCA Takedown NoticesCopyright trolls have become a serious problem in recent years, with more and more people using outdated copyright laws to take advantage of an internet and social media landscape that is constantly changing. Using a decades-old law that pre-dated YouTube (let alone hundreds of thousands of fan sites on Instagram), the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) allows anyone to send automated notices to social media sites claiming that they own copyrights on content used by certain accounts on the sites. The objective of malicious DMCA trolling is typically to shut down the victim’s social media account. This is most commonly done because of personal jealousy, animosity, and/or retribution. Unfortunately, social media sites and their users are often powerless to do anything about it.

Could there be a new tool in the arsenal of copyright lawyers who look to aggressively defend individuals against fraudulent DMCA takedown notices? Keep reading this blog to find out.

What Is Section 512(f) of the DMCA?

The drafters of the DMCA statute wanted to prevent abuse of the system, which is meant to protect legitimate copyrights. So, they included a subsection called “Section 512(f),” which allows victims to sue if they are served with a DMCA takedown notice that is fraudulent.

Until recently, however, this provision in the law has not been put to good use by copyright defense lawyers. Since the DMCA was enacted in 1998, Section 512(f) has been only a “weak counterpressure on sending DMCA notices,” according to many commentators. In fact, one leading writer stated bluntly, “Section 512(f) of the DMCA is effectively dead.”

Hope for the Future of Section 512(f) as a Tool to Fight Copyright Trolls

Despite the long history of Section 512(f) being largely ineffective at stopping fraudulent DMCA takedown notices from copyright trolls, a recent order from the Central District Court of California has breathed new life into Section 512(f) and provided some measure of hope that victims of DMCA fraud can make dishonest people pay for their misdeeds.

Contact the California Copyright Defense Lawyers at Tauler Smith LLC Today

Have you been served with a DMCA takedown notice? The Los Angeles copyright defense lawyers at Tauler Smith LLC can help you. Contact us anytime by calling 310-590-3927, or by filling out the contact form below.