Diary of a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit – 1 (To File or Not To File)

Photographers often find that their photographs have been used without permission.  While they may be able to resolve their infringement claims informally, sometimes the only option to recover their damages is to file a formal lawsuit using the court system.  This will be the first of a series of blog entries that will be posted occasionally on the procedures and events of a copyright infringement lawsuit.

While most photographers will contact an infringer either directly or through an attorney to attempt to resolve an infringement claim before filing suit, the law doesn’t require it. Instead, you may file your copyright infringement lawsuit immediately after finding the infringement without ever contacting the infringer.  But it’s usually best to first contact an infringer for a variety of reasons, including:

  1. Lawsuits are expensive and you may be able to resolve the matter without incurring those expenses.
  2. Lawsuits dramatically increase the emotions of the parties, so that it may be more difficult (and thus expensive) to resolve the matter.
  3. If the infringer is a a client, then you may be able to salvage the relationship for future work (without infringements).
  4. The infringer may eventually become a client after learning a lesson and/or correcting a mistake.
  5. You may find that, while you thought the use was an infringement, it was legitimate.

In sum, it’s a business decision as well as a legal decision to file a copyright infringement lawsuit.  Discuss with your attorney how you can best protect your work after you find that infringement.

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