At RightsClick one of our core beliefs is that professional creators can take control of their copyright rights and take action against many unauthorized uses without the time and expense of consulting a lawyer and filing a federal lawsuit. Copyright registration is the lynchpin to successful DIY enforcement, which is why we built a tool to make it quick and easy to submit works for registration with the U.S. Copyright Office.
One area where registration makes a difference is compliance with DMCA takedown notices. Many creators have experience with some of the major platforms—Meta, YouTube, et al—avoiding compliance with takedown requests, whether the work is registered or not. We could spend pages discussing why these companies behave like this, but one area where DMCA compliance still works fairly well—and where that registration number appears to make a difference—is in conjunction with counterfeit and fraudulent merchandise sold on platforms like Etsy, Ebay, and Amazon. And this is one area where our partner Qti.ai may be able to help protect your business.
Counterfeiters infringe intellectual property in a number of ways, but a common practice is to make and sell copies of visual works, or products featuring visual works, that are already being sold by the legitimate copyright owner. But just because you aren’t selling your works doesn’t protect you. Sometimes they make unauthorized copies of visual works that the artist never intended to sell as merchandise – and sell it anyway. Counterfeiters also often copy product shots from a legitimate seller’s page to display on an illegitimate seller’s page. So, if you are selling merchandise, for example, you may want to register both your underlying work (e.g., designs) and the product shot photographs.
Unfortunately, counterfeiters frequently operate outside the U.S., making it difficult, if not impossible, to reach them directly through enforcement action. A silver lining is that many of the ecommerce platforms do comply with properly filed takedown requests in a timely manner, and when they are provided the registration numbers, this seems to aid in that compliance. This makes sense because registration with the U.S. Copyright Office is legal evidence of your ownership of the work.
Still, the enforcement process in the world of counterfeiting can be cumbersome, which is why we are very excited about the work being done by our partners at Qti.ai. “We love to help protect the brands of small artists and designers, so they can concentrate on their craft,” says co-founder Cheryl Darrup.
A U.S. company based in western New York, Qti.ai has developed some impressive enforcement methods to help small-business creators and to protect consumers. Their “Scam Intelligence Algorithm” is offered free to consumers to help determine whether a product offer is legit before an order is placed. But for copyright owners like entrepreneurial creators, their service can be used to monitor the major platforms for infringements and to initiate takedowns on behalf of the copyright owner. And Qti.ai has had success dealing with some of the largest platforms, both in the U.S. and abroad. “Our industry-leading Scam Intelligence Algorithm boosts efficiency in detecting infringements and keeps our monthly costs reasonable for our clients. As we fortify our database with deeper threat indicators, our strong success rate of takedowns will continue to improve across ecommerce platforms,” Darrup says.
We’ve had some great discussions with Cheryl and co-founder Will Boychuck, including ways we can work together to help small-business creators. It’s a natural collaboration. RightsClick is all about getting your portfolio organized, getting your work registered, and taking the most affordable actions possible to protect your business. And Qti.ai may be exactly the enforcement tool you need to stop counterfeiters from reaping the rewards from your intellectual property.