Intellectual Property | Copyright Infringement | Technology | Software

Copyright Watchdog – Did you receive a photo infringement demand letter from Higbee & Associates?

Sep 20th, 2017 | By | Category: Copyright Litigation

Photo Infringement – Using a Copyrighted Image on your website without a license can be COSTLY!

digital image infringement attorney

 Introduction

If you received a photo infringement letter from companies such as Artist DefenseMasterfile, Getty Images, BWP Media, Sanders Law PLLC, or Higbee & Associates this blog will hopefully prove helpful.  We can help individuals who receive cease and desist letters, subpoena notices, legal demand letters seeking settlements, and federal copyright infringement matters.  This post deals with infringement letters from Higbee & Associates.

Overview of demand letter you may recieve

In one case I reviewed, here is what I found to be the general structure of their rights enforcement and settlement process:

  1. You upload a copyrighted photo onto your website (without paying a license fee), or used a copyrighted photo in some other way
  2. You get a letter from the law firm indicating they represent the rights holder as “attorney in fact”
  3. A copy of the infringing photo(s) may be included, along with a list of URL’s where the unlicensed image may have appeared
  4. The letter may ask you to submit to a settlement in a certain amount and offer to grant you a “retroactive license” for past use of the image (but may not be offering you rights to use the image past the “effective date” of the settlement.
  5. The letter may attach a certificate of copyright registration
  6. You may be given the option to mail in a payment or submit payment online
  7. The letter may offer terms of a liability release.  You especially need to make sure all claims are being released against all officers and directors of your company.
  8. A credit card authorization form may be included

What are the potential penalties for infringing a photo or digital image?

We have discussed copyright infringement damages in this video.

Don’t forget the “Fair Use” doctrine

When you receive a cease and desist or legal demand letter from a IP law firm, you need to ask whether or not your conduct is protected by the first amendment or the “fair use doctrine.”  Here is one video that can explain it a little bit better and help you find cases in your jurisdiction that may help you oppose the demand letter:

copyright fair use defense

VIDEO – how to respond to a photo infringement letter

image copyright lawyer

VIDEO:  Click on the picture above to watch this video.  Make sure to SUBSCRIBE to our popular youtube channel.  We are now up over 4,200 subscribers.

Does Higbee & Associates file lawsuit for photo infringement?

Yes.  It is possible.  Here are some sample allegations in one case I viewed on Federal Court Pacer Search: Case 2:17-cv-07098-R-JEM Document 1 Filed 09/26/17 filed in the Central District of California:

MICHAEL GRECCO PRODUCTIONS, INC. d/b/a MICHAEL GRECCO PHOTOGRAPHY, INC., Plaintiff,

v.

CREATIVE CARE, INC. d/b/a www.creativecareinc.com; and DOES 1 through 10 inclusive, Defendant.

“Michael Grecco Productions, Inc. d/b/a Michael Grecco Photography Inc. (hereinafter “Plaintiff”), by counsel, brings this action against Creative Care, Inc. d/b/a www.creativecareinc.com, and DOES 1 through 10 inclusive, (hereinafter “Defendants”), with regard to the unlawful use of a copyrighted image owned by Plaintiff.”

“Plaintiff’s principle, Michael Grecco, is an award-winning commercial photographer and film director noted for his iconic celebrity portraits, innovative magazine covers, editorial images and advertising spreads for such companies such as NBC/Universal, GE, Pfizer, HBO, Kodak, ABC, IBM, Yahoo!, ESPN, Wired, Time, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Premier, and MAXIM. His work is regularly featured in prestigious galleries around the world.”

“Plaintiff is informed and believes that Defendants used Plaintiff’s copyrighted Image without permission and that Defendants published, communicated, posted, publicized and otherwise held out to the public for commercial benefit, the original and unique Image of Plaintiff without Plaintiff’s consent or authority, and acquired monetary gain and market benefit as a result”

“PRAYER FOR RELIEF WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment against Defendants as follows:

• For statutory damages against each Defendant in an amount of $150,000.00 for each infringement pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 504(c);

• For general and special damages against Defendant according to proof together with interest thereon at the maximum legal rate;

• For costs of litigation and reasonable attorney’s fees against each Defendant pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 505;

• For an injunction preventing each Defendant from further infringement of all copyrighted works of the Plaintiff pursuant to 17 U.S.C. § 502; and

• For any other relief the Court deems just and proper.”

So yes, when you get a legal demand letter or copyright infringement notice from a law firm, it is important to look them up, and in this case yes, lawsuits are potential.

Online Resource

Here is a blog thread that talks about experiences people have had with Higbee & Associates filing lawsuits when they are not paid.

Contact a Photo Infringement IP Law Firm

We can help you evaluate your options if you received a demand letter from a copyright holder or a law firm representing them.  Call us at (877) 276-5084.  We offer low flat rate fees for most (non-litigation) infringement matters, If you are involved in an arbitration, mediation, or litigation, we can also help.

 

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We are a business and civil litigation firm with a focus on copyright infringement cases involving illegal movie downloads (torrent cases such as London Has Fallen, ME2 Productions and Malibu Media defense), software audits (ex. Microsoft audits, SPLA, Autodesk audit notification letter, Siemens PLM defense, SIIA, Adobe and Business Software Alliance defense) and other software vendors threatening piracy and infringement. We also handle cases involving internet law, anti-SLAPP, media law, right of publicity, trademarks & domain name infringement, and we have a niche practice area handling California BRE licensing disputes, accusations, subpoena response, statement of issues and investigations. We have offices in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Newport Beach, San Diego & Phoenix, Arizona and accept federal copyright and trademark cases nationwide. All content on our website is general legal information only and not a substitute for legal advice, and should not be relied upon. Decisions to hire counsel should not be based on advertising alone. Blogs, videos and podcasts are authored by Steve Vondran, Esq. unless otherwise noted. We can be reached at (877) 276-5084.

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