Many thanks to Lenn Harley for once again very clearly defining copyright and laying out her approach to theft of her on-line content.
It is fascinating to see the cavalier responses she repeatedly receives from those who infringe. I have had my own photos cut and pasted and posted on line from Flickr by other agents, and it is dismaying to say the least.
Inspired by a thoughtful post by Jacob Clayton, it's time for an attitude change about copyright infringement.
Folks who have had their copyright protected content (any original writing, image, photo, video, etc.) copied and published by another person, usually have pretty typical reactions:
Sick to the stomach!
WE ARE NOT FLATTERED! Are these the emotions of a person who has just been flattered? If you find that any property has been stolen, do you feel flattered??? I don't. Telling me that I should feel flattered when my property has been stolen is to demean the value of my published content. Our content has valua. It is, after all, our advertisements to the public that bring us contacts leading to commissions.
OUR CONTENT HAS REAL VALUE. Perhaps many believe that our content has lettle value because we do it ourselves. If we pay a web site design company $10,000 to create a web site for us, we know that web site content has value. However, there appears to be a belief that, since we have designed, written, provided content to the web site ourselves, that it has less value. Not so. Copyright infringement damages can be very costly to the offender. I have successfully collected anywhere from $750 to $41,000 from persons who used my copyright protected web site content on their web pages. I also have a judgment for $60,000 from another. At this time, I am in court with another and am ready to file on another. Over the past 3 years, I've collected over $200,000 in copyright infringement damages. That is real money. If I had felt flattered, I would not have pursued these cases. I was shocked, sick to the stomach, in disbelief and angry, so I protect my copyrights vigorously, as provided by the law, see:
(c) Statutory Damages. -
(1) Except as provided by clause (2) of this subsection, the copyright owner may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered, to recover, instead of actual damages and profits, an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable individually, or for which any two or more infringers are liable jointly and severally, in a sum of not less than $750 or more than $30,000 as the court considers just. For the purposes of this subsection, all the parts of a compilation or derivative work constitute one work. More. . . .
COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT IS ILLEGAL. Over the years since first advertising my real estate services on the Internet, I've discovered my original and copyright protected content on the web sites of others no less than 20 times. I can tell you, when I see my property on another agent or broker's web site I DO NOT FEEL FLATTERED. I pursue each and every case discovered. My first reaction is "shock". Then the emotions slowly turn to a feeling of "sick to the stomach". Eventually, the shock and sick to the stomach feelings turn into "anger". Throughout the discovery, the "disbelief"that a competitor or other entity would steal the content of another for personal or commercial gain in violation of the law.
IF YOU ARE CAUGHT WITH MY INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY ON YOUR WEB SITE, IGNORING ME WILL COST YOU! One thing is constant. When receiving a Cease and Desist and Demand for Damages letter from my attorney, the reaction is almost routine. First the offender removes my copyright protected content from their web site. Then they ignore us. BIG MISTAKE. The longer they think that I'll just go away, the more it will cost them. The attorney's letter didn't say, "Remove Lenn's content from your web site and we'll go away." It's already too late for that. The damage is done. You have already benefitted from the illegal use of my intellectual property and you will pay for that use. My attorney is very good and very expensive. The longer the offender delays settlement, the higher the legal fees to me and the higher the demand to the offender. As the case proceeds, the more obsticles placed in the way of settlement, the higher the demand. If the case gets to a judge, damages are very, very high.
OUR EMOTIONS ARE NATURAL. When discovering my property on another person's web site, my reaction of shock, sick to the stomach, disbelief and anger will not be dismissed by telling me that I should be flattered. When discovering that the article we agonized to write, or the image we worked hard to create, or the photo that we took the time to take and publish has been used by another who expended little energy, no creativity and no actual work beyond a simple "cut and paste", our emotions are not a feeling of having been flattered. It is a primal feeling of. . . . . . .
Sick to the stomach!
For more light reading on copyright, see: http://activerain.com/blogs/lennharley/tags/copyright