Companies that do business online depend on their intellectual property – photographs, graphics, logos, and other content designed to reach potential customers. The company may have generated this content itself, or it may have contracted with a third-party photographer or graphics designer to create it for them. But what happens when someone copies this intellectual property and uses it without permission?
Unfortunately, we encounter cases like this all too frequently. In one instance, a company’s entire website was copied by a fake business that took orders for products that never existed and were never delivered. In another case, a client’s website photographs were copied and used on a competing website. Victims of such blatant forms of infringement can have the content taken down pursuant to the terms of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
The DMCA addresses infringement on websites hosted by third-party web hosting companies. The act provides a safe harbor provision for web hosting companies that permits them to escape liability if they act swiftly to remove the infringing content. Otherwise, both the infringing website and the web hosting company may be held liable for copyright infringement. If the work is registered with the U.S. Copyright Office, a single instance of willful infringement may result in statutory damages of up to $150,000 per work in addition to reasonable attorneys’ fees. In case you are interested, a full copy of the DMCA is available here. KCW helps clients enforce their rights every day.