Criminal charges can go out of control. I have been a big advocate of not pursuing those unless it is absolutely necessary. There are reasons for restraint that have nothing to do with the person or the theft and use of copyrighted materials.
The real issue is that you lose control of your work and the consequences of filing a report. I have said here and other places that I write like I am talking to someone sitting across the table from me. I did that yesterday except they were across the table from me.
The filing of the charges that were done have been done and you now are dealing with the fact they just do not do what you want them to do. The filing of charges puts things in a different perspective and will involve many people in some cases. If you have or are contemplating filing charges just for the infringement of one or two items, I caution you about doing that. IF they are serious and high dollar infringements than make a decision on that as my opinion is I would not do that unless it becomes the only method left. Before you do it, I would also suggest getting at least three legal opinions concerning the process as you will get three different views. If you are being sued, defense attorneys will probably give you pretty much the same answers, you might lose but I can probably get you out of it. Just look at the numbers, they do not win very often. They normally just cut deals. IF you are being sued or possibly having charges filed against you, make your own deal. It probably will be less expensive than making a deal and paying an attorney or two for doing it. It is just my opinion.
I have been pretty clear on the facts that once you started down that path people and their friends and relatives will have some uncomfortable things happen. Now that assumes you are going after the taken files on the laptop. The taking of the HR files on the laptop is criminal and not copyright infringement. I have the same issue to a point that on a laptop that was removed is two shoots that we did together and they images where stored on that laptop. They were going to be transferred to the portable HD when the rest of backups where done. Needless to say those left with the laptop and the HD that contained the entire library. Again, understand the taking of copyrighted material is felony theft not copyright infringement. If you file charges we are not talking a slap on the wrist. This can be a life changing charge for them and others associated with them. Even if the court assigns a dollar value per image for a non-published photographer of $ 20.00 and you have a few hundred than it gets real serious very quickly. With that said, the photo attorney Carolyn Wright stated the average allowance for a photograph by the courts has been just a little under $ 400.00 per image so if you have 10 or more you reach the felony state for the infringement and theft in most cases. I referenced the article in another of my articles so if you are interested you can get it from her sight that I highly recommend or look at the articles on damages and values of copyright infringement that I wrote.
You need to understand what you have done by filing the charges. You have charged someone with felony theft and turned over everything to law enforcement to proceed. If they choose to do so, then they can overturn everyone’s life that the infringer has had contact with who might have the files or helped to remove the files by selling or destroying them.
That is the second reason I have not just filed charges on some. It is not that I am a nice guy but I am being nice about it. It will take time and could really cause a lot of grief for people who may not have had anything to do with it. The files could be at a boyfriend’s place who knows nothing about it or even family members who might have been told things that are not correct. The time will come when all holders have to make that decision. Live with the fact you made that decision and keep involved if they let you. Do not interfere and do not back down now, it is too late for that. I have had several conversations concerning this process and it is not something to take lightly as you have found out.
My opinion is if you got to the point that was the last resort you did what you had to do. The infringer made that choice as long as they had a way to contact you before. It is their responsibility to contact you not your to contact them. If they do not then you have no choice. Unfortunately, I am coming to the point shortly when I have to either sign the papers or walk away and I have never just walked away from protecting my work. This is more than that, someone took it away from me and that means by what ever means legally necessary to recover them.
I was somewhat surprised that they added some people to the indictment as I would not have thought about the co-conspiracy angle being applied like that. I am not an attorney and have never had to deal with someone taking things like that just because they could. I too, have learned a great deal during this process. Thanks for the updates and good luck.
I am fortunate to be able to share some things about the processes that people have to go through to protect their work from others taking it. That can be either a copy or the original file or both. The thing to remember is that taking the original files is theft not copyright infringement. Using those files is copyright infringement even if it is just posting on the internet. From there it just snowballs. Be ready for the publicity also. If the attorneys take it to court, you have a good possibility of it being public as many copyright issues are but most do not include the criminal aspects.
Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. These are my personal opinions and general information only. These are not legal advice and should not be used as such.