Take Action

If you believe your work has been used without your permission and that your copyright rights have been infringed, there are things you can do other than giving up or immediately calling a lawyer. In fact, there are things you need to do, which is why we designed RightsClick to enable you to take action. First, and foremost, you want to feel confident that your complaint is copyright infringement (i.e., misuse of a work you own).

Just the facts.

Before you take action against an infringement, start with the facts. Try our Infringement Questionnaire to help you gather some of the basic facts you need to establish a case for copyright infringement.

If you want to contact an attorney, you can send them this information.

Before you take action against an infringement of your work, gather the relevant facts.

A more thorough Infringement Assessment tool is available in the RightsClick App. It can be used as the basis for taking certain actions to resolve infringements from within the app.

Brand Protection

Are others profiting from your brand on eCommerce or social media platforms without your permission?

  • lash out on social media.
  • publicly share the details of your complaint.
  • assume your first step is to find a lawyer.
  • immediately contact the alleged infringer with accusations.
  • ask your attorney friend who does not practice copyright law.

Remedies to Consider In Order

  • removing infringing material with DMCA takedown request.
  • resolution through direct, professional contact with the infringer.
  • resolution through attorney contact with the infringer.
  • resolution through a copyright small claim.
  • resolution through federal litigation.

As we preach all day every day, litigation is only available if the work at issue is “timely registered” (generally before the infringement is discovered).* But when you have a path to litigation, this naturally incentivizes the alleged infringer to settle the matter through one of the other steps mentioned above. We designed RightsClick to enable you to start the process on your own and then to facilitate initial contact with an attorney, if necessary.

*If you discover an infringement for a work that was not timely registered, and especially if the use is egregious (e.g., highly commercial and willful), we would encourage you to contact counsel to be sure that you exhaust all your options.

Damage Awards

Aside from the ability to file a lawsuit, the most important reason to register is to have the option to select “statutory damages.” This means that instead of having to prove the actual financial harm you suffered from the infringement, you can opt to have the court pick from a range written in the law. For ordinary infringements, this range is $750-$30,000 per work infringed, So, if ten works were infringed, that means a damages award of $7,500-$300,000. But if you can prove the infringement was willful, the maximum statutory damage award climbs to $150,000 per work infringed.

Another key advantage of registration is that, if you win a case, you may also ask that the infringer to pay all your court costs and attorney’s fees. As with damage awards, this is at the discretion of the court, but the law allows it—if your work is timely registered!

Of course, the practical reality is that most copyright cases don’t go to court. But imagine if you send a letter asking for compensation for unauthorized use and tell the other party that if you do go to court, they could be liable for such a substantial amount of money. In other words, a settlement becomes much more likely.

What’s the catch? Well, you can register a work anytime in the life of the copyright. But in order to be eligible for statutory damages and attorney’s fees awards, you must have registered within three months of the first publication of the work, or before the infringement in question started. That’s why at RightsClick, we plead with creators to make registration part of their workflow and to register before their works are out the door.

The Copyright Small Claim

On June 16, 2022, the Copyright Claims Board (CCB) began receiving small claims by copyright owners. Unlike federal litigation, a small claim may be filed for infringement of a work that was not registered at the time of the infringement. BUT a registration application must be filed along with the CCB claim, and the Board will proceed with the claim after the Copyright Office has approved the registration. The Copyright Office has also reduced its expedited registration fee to $50, if the service is requested in conjunction with a CCB claim.

DMCA Notice and Takedown

If your work appears online without your permission, there is a special provision in the copyright law that allows you to send the operator of the website a request to take down an unauthorized use of your work that was uploaded by a user/customer of that site. The law that created this system is the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), and the process is known as a DMCA notice and takedown. And while your position is always stronger if you have registered your work, registration is not required to send a DMCA take down request.

A DMCA take down request consists of four mandatory parts:

  1. A statement that you are the copyright owner of [Title of Work].
  2. A statement that unauthorized use of the work is being made at [copy URL].
  3. A statement that you have a good faith belief that use of the work is not authorized, is infringing your copyright rights, and that you request it be removed.
  4. A statement that the information provided is accurate to the best of your knowledge and that, under penalty of perjury, you are authorized to send the notice.
  5. Your contact info.
  6. Your name/e-signature.

Although not required, you may include a registration number, which might help expedite the process, as some service providers are known to question whether the notice sender is really the copyright owner.

The DMCA take down process is just to get the web platform to remove your work; it’s not about getting compensation from the party that actually used and uploaded your work. If you want to ask that party for money, you should consider sending a “Cease & Desist” letter backed by a willingness to go to court.

Yes, you may email us your copyright question, and we’ll do our best to answer, but RightsClick is not your attorney, and it does not provide legal advice.