Thursday, January 15, 2009

Original Release Dates May Be Important

It crosses my mind some comments I have read in numerous websites related to copyright infringements and the problems some people are having with legal issues of copyright infringements. The issue is the original date of content release by the infringer combined with the stated date of infringement by the "owner" of the copyright.

From what I have read, the owner of the registered copyrights must have completed the official copyright registration PRIOR to the date of the infringement. To me this means that if you put some text or an image in your website and got a letter saying you're in trouble for copyright infringement for that media, you may have a point to avoid legal impact.

If you posted an image in your site in 1999 and the letter came to you in 2008 stating you used a protected image, you should ask to see the registered copyright documents. Moreover, you should inspect the letter sent to you for the supposed dates of infringement. If the letter states you infringed in 2005, it may be a ploy to work you over. They may state 2005 because that's when they feel they gained copyright protected ownership of the image in question. If you can prove or dispute the original date that the image was released, and it is prior to the date sent in the letter, you have preceded the copyright registration date, and may not be so guilty.

This is not to say you shouldn't remove the image. Heck, there's no sense in beating an issue like this to death unless you are forced to or know you are right. There's always an alternative to a fight, including image substitution. Apparently there are many images (amongst other media types) that are available publicly as well as through various distributors "without copyright registration protection" that are later bought by stock houses. Once the image stock house gains control of the image, they may seek copyright protection, else claim copyright protection, and then send you a letter threatening legal action.

I'd be interested to hear legal confirmation from a trained and experienced copyright attorney. Beware the following caveat:

Image stock houses hire crappy people to pretend they are attorneys. These pseudo-attorneys browse places like this blog and try to defame such tips and comments. Beware web posts that make your situation sound horrific and persuade you to give up and give in to ridiculous demands.

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