What Is a Copyright Infringement Notice?
If you use images, short film clips or songs when operating your online business, you may be unaware of the potential copyright infringement you are committing. Copyright owners or internet service providers may issue you a notice of infringement, requiring you to take some form of action. This article will outline:
- what copyright is;
- what copyright infringement notices are;
- procedures to take if you receive a notice; and
- ways to avoid copyright infringement.
What Is Copyright?
Copyright is a type of intellectual property that protects original works such as books, songs, films and computer software. Copyright prevents others from copying or communicating your materials without your consent. In Australia, copyright law automatically protects original works as soon as they are materialised.
For example, copyright will not protect an idea for a film until it is written in the form of a script or a storyboard.
Copyrighted works usually bear a copyright notice, which will include the:
- ‘©’ symbol;
- year the material was made; and
- name of the material’s creator.
However, original works which do not have copyright notices are not necessarily free to be copied or communicated by others. For example, even if a design does not bear a copyright notice on Etsy, this does not mean that the seller has abandoned their exclusive rights to their design.
In the instance where the copyright notice is not visible, copyright infringements can still arise.
When Might Copyright Be Infringed?
A copyright infringement can occur if all or a substantial part of copyrighted material has been reused without the permission of the copyright owner. An infringement can occur regardless of whether you have profited from using the materials or have made some changes to the copyrighted work. Some instances where copyright might be infringed include:
- selling products with copyright material printed on it without permission from the copyright owner;
- authorising someone else to infringe copyright; and
- importing products containing copyrighted materials.
Copyright Infringement Notices
Copyright infringement notices are usually issued by:
- a copyright owner;
- lawyers on behalf of the copyright owner; or
- internet service providers who are alleging that some form of infringement has occurred in relation to their copyright.
A copyright infringement notice will generally:
- alert you to the fact that you have misused copyrighted materials;
- require you to cease and desist activity in the infringement; and
- warn you of the potential for legal proceedings if you fail to comply with the notice.
In the instance where you receive a copyright infringement notice, it is important that you immediately address the notice, or you could face potential litigation for failure to respond to the notice.
What to Do if You Receive a Copyright Infringement Notice
Although it might be tempting to remove the copyrighted image from your website and ignore the copyright notice, you should respond to the copyright infringement notice. A failure to do so could lead to unwanted and costly legal proceedings at your expense.
Often, a copyright infringement notice will ask you to ‘cease and desist’ use of the copyrighted material. When you receive this, you must stop engaging in the activity which is infringing on someone’s copyright. It is important that you then strictly follow the terms of the copyright infringement notice or else you could face potential legal action.
For example, a copyright infringement notice may require you to stop producing and selling copyrighted prints immediately.
For example, a copyright licence might specify that a specific font can be used by an Etsy seller on their products over a certain time period.
The type of licence you receive will depend on:
- the copyright material you intend to use;
- how you will use the material; and
- the purpose for using the material.
Above all, abiding by the terms of a copyright licence will give you the freedom to use copyrighted materials without infringing on the owner’s exclusive rights.
A copyright infringement notice alerts you to the fact that you are likely infringing on someone else’s intellectual property rights. Whilst copyright infringements are a daily occurrence on the internet, it is important that you comply with any copyright infringement notices that you receive in order to avoid further legal action. If you have any questions about copyright infringement notices, contact our experienced trade mark lawyers on 1300 657 423 or fill out the form on this page.
Frequently Asked Questions
It would be wise to cease using the material until you receive permission from the copyright owner in order to avoid potential litigation.
Websites such as Facebook and Etsy have strict intellectual property policies and copyright infringement notices can be submitted through their claim centres.
Different types of licences can be obtained from the Copyright Agency. Generally, most businesses apply for a commercial copyright licence to free their business activity from potential copyright infringement.