You own the copyright in the material that you create. It includes your written work, such as website copy, plays and poems. It also includes images and videos, such as drawings, photos, and films.

Unfortunately, online written content is easier to copy and reuse than hard copy brochures. Images online are more vulnerable to a breach of copyright and more easily reproduced than hard copy images, such as a photo you have taken that is hanging on your wall in your office.

What can you do if you think that someone has breached your copyright?

If you are a creative, and you believe someone is infringing your copyright, you can send a cease and desist letter, and/or a letter of demand.

You need to be able to back up your claim to owning the copyright as well the claim that it is being infringed. For example, prove that you took the photo by taking a screen shot of their website using the image.

What is a cease and desist letter and letter of demand?

 A cease and desist letter informs the alleged infringer that:

  • you own the copyright in the creative work that they are using,
  • that they have infringed your exclusive right to use the image,
  • that they must stop infringing by a given date. Be specific, for example, you must remove the images from your website, destroy any hard copies of the image, and stop selling the images in any form.

You can add a demand, for example, that they pay you all profits that they have made from selling your work.

You should let them know the next step that you will undertake if they do not comply.

When do I send it?

It is important to send the cease and desist letter and/or a letter of demand as soon as you area aware of the potential infringement. You want them to stop the infringing behaviour as quickly as possible.

Conclusion

If the matter is not resolved after the cease and desist letter and/or a letter of demand, then you may need to take further legal action.

You can use the cease and desist letter and/or a letter of demand in court to show that you took steps to inform the other person of the infringement and gave them the opportunity to rectify the situation.

If you do not receive a response or the person does not agree to remedy the situation, you may consider taking legal action. Please contact an experienced intellectual property lawyer to help you understand your rights and the strength of your case.

Ursula Hogben

Next Steps

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