What to do if you receive a letter from an IP enforcement agency.
You are a successful upstanding business person with high ethical standards. One day you receive a letter from a copyright enforcement agency saying that you have used an image on your website that belongs to another and claiming $1,000.
You do have an image on your website and although it did not belong to you, you thought it would be alright to copy it and put it on your site. You realise now that this may have been wrong. The problem is that even with your high regard for ethics you do not want to pay $1,000 for a photograph which on reflection you do not even want.
You visit your lawyer and he advises you to remove the image from the internet site, delete it and do nothing.
You do nothing and a second letter arrives. You call your lawyer and he warns you to say nothing and do nothing without asking him first.
You receive a bill from your lawyer.
A third letter arrives. You hesitate before calling your lawyer as the claimed amount is starting to look very reasonable when compared with the prospect of paying $1,000 and your lawyer’s bills.
What happens next is either:
1. The letters eventually stop and you wish you had not called your lawyer, at all.
2. The enforcement agency calls you and tries to get you to admit your wrong doing as part of their evidence gathering. At that stage it is best to involve your lawyer to negotiate an off the record settlement to try and prevent your name being publicized and minimize the payment.
3. You send a cheque for $1,000 and hope they go away. This risks adverse publicity.
4. You get sued. Your lawyer can usually interpret the wording of the letters to determine how near the enforcement agency is getting to taking court action.
Enforcement agencies cannot sue everyone but they can sue you, as an example.
What is the best way of dealing with an enforcement agency? Well, it depends if you are feeling lucky.
(c) Paul Brennan 2010. All rights reserved.