Have you copied a friend’s assignment or peered over someone else’s shoulder during a test? What happens when misbehaviour from childhood “grows up,” even though it might have gotten you into trouble (far) back then? When you refer to the behaviour in legal terms as “copyright infringement,” it becomes much more severe. We examine the reasons for the widespread nature of this type of intellectual property (IP) infringement online and offer tips on preventing becoming a victim or an offender.
What is a copyright violation?
When an artist uses intelligence to create a work of art, they typically receive compensation for their labour. Consequently, they are the sole authority to use, change, and distribute the author’s original work. Although music, movies, and literature come to mind when thinking of copyrights, this Intellectual Property protection can also apply to a broader range of professions, such as visual arts and photography, architectural designs, and even computer code.
With this in mind, it is evident that it violates the owner’s IP rights when someone copies a copyright-protected work entirely or partially without that owner’s consent. Right? Sometimes. While copyrights live longer than patents, they typically cannot be renewed forever as trademarks may. Some types of works have copyright protection that lasts for the entirety of the author’s life plus an extra 70 years in many jurisdictions, including the US and the EU. After that time, the work becomes public domain.
Additionally, the principles of fair use (used in the United States) and fair dealing (applied in other English-speaking nations) permit the reproduction of copyright-protected work for education, research, commentary, and criticism without the consent of the rights holder. The InfoSoc Directive harmonised copyright law in the EU with relative clauses.
Therefore, unless you are positive that your reproduction of someone else’s work fits under one of these exceptions, you may be considered an infringer if you included that song in your video diary or pasted that passage into your blog.
However, you must always acknowledge your sources properly, even when employing works whose creators have expressly permitted public use (avoid using so-called “stock photos”).
However, everyone does it.
Copyright infringement unfairly exploits the time, creativity, and potential earnings of others, yet it is pervasive online. How come this is the case? Convenience can be a simple explanation. You had to locate a physical copy and make a hard copy in the past. The ease of access provided by the internet has obscured a deliberate, labour-intensive process. People need to be aware of the seriousness of their acts because copying and pasting are so simple in the digital world. Or they might need to be made aware that what they think they are legally distributing is a copy made without permission.
Naturally, people are not exempt from the law simply because they must be made aware of it. The argument that copyright infringement is widespread and, as a result, less harmful or severe in individual instances can also be a crush. This mindset fosters more online crimes by creating a negative feedback cycle. It does not follow that you can or should do something just because you observe others doing it.
Remember, how would be identified as a copyright violator affect your standing and reputation as a person or organisation? A person who disregards Intellectual Property rights, whether through bad faith or negligence, would be considerably less likely to attract business partners. Not to mention any potential legal issues and financial consequences you might encounter.
How to recognise intellectual property
Avoiding copying another person’s work without their consent is a good idea, but how can you tell if your creations target copyright violations, and what can you do about it? AI tools and plagiarism trackers may help you find instances of infringement depending on the industry in which your organisation operates. YouTube’s Content ID system for music and video comprises a validated database of copyrighted content submitted by the rights holders, which are often big media conglomerates. Any potential conflicts are identified for further action when a new video is posted to the website and compared to this database.
Both of these methods can be used at all times or anywhere. Actively searching the internet for copies of your work could be more practical. Fortunately, the practicalities of business make this otherwise tricky chore easier; your direct rivals are most likely to violate your copyrights, and you are already keeping an eye on them.
IP Docketers has first-hand knowledge in this area. We publish a lot of content on various IP-related issues, as we’re sure you’ve seen. They include studies, whitepapers, assessments, and this blog. You may have also noticed that other IP industry players have done the same. We were to the ground by a rival for our piece on “IP theft and how to avoid it.”. But rest assured that, like any skilled craftsman, we are quick to respond appropriately and recognise our work as soon as we see it.
And what can be done about it?
Sending a cease and desist letter to the infringing party was our first, and in this case, only, essential step. The recipient promptly withdrew our copyrighted content from their website after we demanded that they do so. Not all infractions, though, are taken care of so fast.
Another incident of our content being second-hand without our consent involved a different IP-related organisation that engaged in several violations, even going so far as to advertise the information through outside outlets. When up against a more stubborn foe, it took a string of letters to eliminate all the offensive content.
The initial course of action should always be to send a firm a cease and desist letter, but it is not necessarily the last. Litigation is the next step if you are still looking for a solution in a fair amount of time. Of course, waiting to file a lawsuit until all non-litigious measures have been struggling can be detrimental to a plaintiff’s case. Additionally, it is essential to note that while significant cash outlays can frequently get better in judgement, time commitments cannot. For these reasons, outreach should be a permanent countermeasure to copyright violations.
A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client, and they may be right. However, a full-service IP supplier with experience working with clients will know how to complete the task. To safeguard your essential IP assets and uphold your international rights, get in touch with the professionals at IP Docketers.