Some Law Firms Cashing on Possible Copyright Infringement by Bloggers

First things first.

We always encourage everyone to be respectful and mindful of others’ intellectual property, which in this electronic media age can be tricky. Nowadays, people can easily step into copyright infringement territory, if they are not careful.

Recently, it came to our attention the case of blogger being accused by certain law firms of copyright infringement.

Some good intentioned bloggers may be tempted to download and post pictures that circulate in the internet to illustrate a topic of discussion, driven by the seduction of images that emphasize written content and attract eyes to the blog.

However, you need to know that many images which are apparently available online are actually protected by their owners such as photographers, artists, media agencies, etc.

You may be surprised to know there are law firms in the search for potential infractors, making a handsome business out of it.

A client referred us a person who had been receiving communications from a law firm, accusing the blogger of copyright infringement and demanding a payment to avoid a lawsuit.  

Yes. There are several infringement-watchdog companies and law firms which send cease and desist letters, subpoena notices, legal demands, etc. seeking settlement and threatening lawsuits. This may be scary for the average blogger, who may not have the resources to deal with a steep payment for a settlement or a lawsuit.

These law firms apparently dedicate their time to hunt for copyright infringements through reverse image search tools available online to catch bloggers and similar users.

The United States copyright law may be cited in these letters, establishing legal liability that could reach as high as $30,000 to $150,000. These amounts are frightening for anyone.  

Some users may be dismissing these letters as fraud. But if after a search online you find out that the letter comes from a law firm, you may need to confront the situation. This is what we suggest you can do.

1.-Remove the photo or art in question.

2.-Do not accept responsibility but seek to settle the issue.

3.-All settlements are negotiable so use your skills to make a deal that is convenient for you or contact us so we can help with the negotiations.

4.-Contact Marcos E. Garciaacosta, Esq. Legal Business Global to lead the negotiations if you do not want to do it yourself. We recommend to contact us BEFORE you communicate with the law firm. You can always hire us and answer those requests with: “Talk to my lawyer”.

There are provisions in the law protected by the first amendment, such as the fair use of the material. It means that you may be using some copyrighted material if you are commenting about an issue, without seeking to commercialize or monetize the use of such material.

To avoid any problems, of course, we suggest to be mindful of the other’s intellectual property and respect other persons’ work all the time.

Buy a membership from a photo stock business for your blogs such as (my favorite) Fotosearch, which you can buy one by one picture without a monthly fee. There are several good services at different price levels.

Your web developer platform may also contain the use of an art library for free and finally, you can be creative and produce your own photographic material for your blogs, this way nobody should have a base to accuse you of copyright infringement.

This blog is written for informational purposes only and it is not legal advice. Attorney Marcos E. Garciaacosta is always ready to help with your legal needs. Call us for an appointment at (480) 324-6378.

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