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Infringement cases, criminal and civil, statutory damages

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The issues of the cases are many and may end up as civil and criminal cases. I have said many times that you cannot do this for money or an income stream. In one case of mine the money is limited by the fact the person who did the infringing has limited assets. The other cases are more complicated and could involve many companies. The nice thing is there are many others wanting that suit.

The single person suit may cost as much as can be collected. Notice I said collected not awarded. Even after all assets and recovered items if they have been moved the lawyer fees may exceed the total asset value. The amount of damages in that case can go over a million dollars. Using the maximum figures like the jury did in Morel the DMCA violation alone would be $ 1.6 million dollars. Another case they also exceeded a million dollars for only a few images. Even the minimum statutory damages will go over a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. That is not chump change and it does not include the court and attorney fees that are collectable under DMCA violations. The amount for a minimum statutory damage claim award could easily reach a quarter of a million dollars including attorney and court fees. I know, many of them think images and licenses are worth nothing because they can get a print for twenty cents at an image station somewhere. It just shows the level of the person you are dealing with; they really have no clue and could have cared less about doing it. It many cases they did it on purpose and that ramps up the fees over the figures used here. The new fee could be a hundred and fifty thousand dollars an image for willingness. These types of awards have been given out by juries, ref the Morel case for the most recent.

As I have stated many times this has to be about protecting the work. If we do not stand and fight people doing this type of activity the next generations will have no rights to authorship. It has finally come down to the rights of the author or artist versus the rights of the people who just take the work for free and do what they want with it. The law and the courts are on the side of the artists and the congress is starting to work on a small claims systems that will help the artist protect their work from people who wish to take it.

In recent years the excuses of the people who infringe have been removed as a defense. No longer can they claim I did not know, I did not mean to do it or I did not make any money from doing it. Simply put, intent, lack of knowledge and profit are no longer hiding places for those who infringe.

The other side of the coin is the criminal charges. I have also stated many times that it has to be the last option. Well, it may have to be the first option in some cases. The lawyers have made some very good points but I still have reservations about using it. I will file charges if necessary. I am pretty much a person that believes if it goes that far because they want to play games then they want a criminal fight. I will file all the charges against all the parties that can be charged if charges are necessary. I am a full believer in going full bore if things get forced there by the infringing party. One issue is that the criminal charges may be joined by a case of taking the hard copies which is another case from the infringing case. Criminal infringement is covered by the dollar amount and quantity and theft is covered by taking physical copies of the images like on a hard drive. Those are two totally different cases and will handled that way.

The questions about the domestic case are premature. That case has a 5 year window to file and it is just now half way. It will have to come to the forefront at some point but right now the infringement cases are getting very close to being filed. The first letters were mailed and I am awaiting responses. From there it is a matter of filing the paperwork and setting a court date. Of course there are the pretrial conferences and discovery. Those can take years. Very few cases actually go to trial as one side realizes it will most likely lose. Remember the standard for the civil case is more likely than not. That is kind of hard to beat when it is exact images and copyright changes. Also remember in my cases the infringement was added to by the adding of watermarks claiming the copyright. Even if by some quirk in the law they get off on the infringement the DMCA law which is separate and the copyright rules state that the only way they can do that is a transfer of copyright and it must be in writing. It is also supposed to be submitted to the USCO.

Just a note, thanks for the concern about writing on holidays. In many places it was not a holiday. Most of my articles are written days in advance of posting. If you are going to write I suggest doing it well in advance of the deadline and review it before submitting it. Do not forget that some places can and will censor what is published.

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.


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