When you come across someone who has infringed your copyright, you may be unsure what to do next. Can you enforce your copyright? And how do you go about doing so? One option is sending that person a copyright infringement letter.
What Should I Include?
The letter needs to explain that you are the owner of the copyright and you have exclusive rights to its use. You will need to detail how the other person has breached your rights with accurate information. You need to be clear, concise and rational in the way you structure your letter to get across your message in a professional way. Letting them know what you want to be done about their breach of your rights is the next step. For example, you may seek compensation for the value of the work they have taken from you or any profits they have made from the unauthorised use of your work. Other options include asking for all of the material they copied to be returned to you.
It is also important to include when you would like to hear from them and in what form. For example, you may require that they respond in writing within 14 days. Following this up with a statement referring to when you will commence litigation if you do not receive an adequate response will show the person you are serious about defending your rights.
What Shouldn’t I Include?
Even though you are probably angry and frustrated at the other person for breaching your rights, it’s important not to come across this way in your letter. You do not want to attack the other person, as often they have not meant to infringe your rights, and they have simply done so through carelessness or ignorance and not with malicious intent.
Making sure you are well aware of the facts involved is essential, as you do not want to accuse someone of breaching your rights by threatening legal action if you are not really sure they have committed an offence. If you do, you could be liable for defamation or for breaching the Copyright Act. You should gather enough evidence to show you are the rights holder and the other person has had access to your work and has copied it. Attaching documentation to this effect to the letter you send is a good way to prove to the other person your rights, and will show the court you provided them with the appropriate evidence.
Sending Your letter
Once you have written your letter, it is best to get legal advice to make sure you have covered everything you need to say and confirm that your letter is appropriate, reasonable and provides correct information. You should then send your letter by registered post or fax so you can confirm they have received it.
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