Upload & Sell: On
| p.1 #11 · Screen captures and image theft |
The cost of the lawyer is going to be related to whether or not attorneys fees can be awarded, or are you on your own for the legal bill.
Two scenarios provide for awarding of attorney's fees:
1) Copyright violations with REGISTERED images
2) DMCA violations of watermark/logo/likeness removal (registered or unregistered)
These are OR scenarios as they are addressed in two different sections of the law.
As to the watermark/credit issue ... removal of a small watermark, is removal of your likeness and that is a violation of the DMCA, even for unregistered works. There is a lot of info about using a stop and decease letter ... but if they removed your likeness (watermark, logo, name, likeness, etc) ... the are liable for a MINIMUM $2,500 fine (per incident) ... AND ... attorney's fees.
With that in mind, while you certainly cannot stop others from grabbing your images ... putting a small watermark, or your signature, etc. that associates you to the image can make all the difference between an attorney telling you to pony up a big retainer, or the attorney taking the case because they know that they can be awarded attorney's fees as well as win you the case.
As one who has had photo theft and pursued it with multiple attorneys, I learned a few things the hard way, and have since helped a few other FM'ers win some meritable awards that they were appreciative of.
In the end ... YUP ... it gets down to rationalizing the expense of pursuit vs. the gain to be recovered, and the attorney's fees are usually daunting. But, if you give the attorney a chance to recover their fees via registration OR via watermark/signature/logo/likeness (and it gets removed) ... you've got a respectable chance at recouping way more than just a cease and desist when you have clearly had you your images stolen and used without your permission. And, even if you don't go the "legal beagle" route full course, this puts you in a better position when you KNOW that you've got that as an option (understanding that most of us would prefer not). Far too few people are versed in the aspect @ likeness removal violations, but it is there for our protection and restitution.
Another point differentiating the awards ... for copyright violations with unregistered images, the awards are limited to actual damages, whereas for registered images, punitive damages can be awarded additionally. BUT, in the case of DMCA copyright/logo/watermark/likeness removal, the fine is not contingent upon actual damages.
Why is this significant ... many people cannot make a solid case for actual damages, even when the violations are indisputable ... thus no award. Copyright/logo/watermark/likeness removal violations are contingent on neither registration, nor actual damages. The $2,500 fine (and attorney's fees) isn't held hostage by those conditions ... and thus afford opportunity for more victims to receive compensation ... as long as you've put your mark/logo/likeness/signature/etc. on the posted image prior to its theft and it was used with your likeness having been removed. In essence, the fine is for them fraudulently passing the work off as theirs (i.e. not yours) through the intentional deletion/omission of your identity as the works creator.