You get done with your work and after a long commute you check your email and you see a copyright infringement letter from Boxist.com Stock Photos.
You open up the letter and it hits you, Boxist.com is demanding that you cease and desist the copyrighted content and remove their images from your website and to pay for images that were used on your website. Typically the first settlement range is between $150 to $750 per image for copyright damages.
This same image could be bought for $50 to $150 via their website, but now Boxist.com is stating that “the damage has been done” and the settlement payment is necessary for them to drop the matter, and this is your chance to avoid a copyright lawsuit.
Usually this is done when someone purposely steals an image, or they download the image they found on the internet, or if they forget to filter a photo by license and grab an image that has a copyright.
Before I explain what happens next, when it comes to photos, when in doubt, assume it’s subject to copyright and don’t use it without the appropriate permission, Permission is often only given if you pay for a license. If you ignore that, then you are guilty of infringement.
Should I ignore their letters?
Ignoring an infringement notice and hoping it will go away, especially without consulting with a copyright lawyer, is a bad idea.
It may be tempting to ignore the accusation while stopping any potentially infringing activities and removing infringing works; however, doing so may result in increased damages, so make sure to find a copyright lawyer experienced in intellectual property law. Copyright law is nuanced and complex.
What’s going to happen next?
1) Boxist.com will send between 2-4 copies of a similar letter explaining that if you don’t settle with them, they will take you to court and the penalties could be far beyond what they are asking as a settlement, sometimes in excess of $8000.00.
2) If Boxist.com doesn’t get a response from you during the next 14 days, they will turn you over to an attorney that they work with who will send you a new letter stating a similar scenario as the original letter, but the price to settle just went up because they now have a lawyer involved.
Growing number of attorneys worldwide have developed business models built upon accepting low-value infringement claims on a contingent fee basis. In these cases the photographer is not required to pay upfront “and usually very high” retainer fees but, rather, agrees to pay 45 percent to 65 percent of any award, either by court decision or through settlement, plus various costs incurred by the attorney as part of the litigation.
3) If Boxist.com is still unsuccessful with those attempts to get you to settle, they will turn your case to their attorneys for assessment and they will file the lawsuit in court.
4) You can (potentially) be taken to court by Boxist.com because they own the copyright for their images, and they have their images registered at the US copyright office.
So, now that you have seen the steps above, it all looks like doom and gloom, You must be thinking, “How on earth am I going to pay all of this money to Boxist.com?”, with copyright infringement, you cannot claim you didn’t know what you were doing. Infringement of copyright will result in monetary damages, lawsuits, and legal fees.
What should you do with Boxist.com demand letter?
If your use of the image is infringement, so it is best to begin by correcting the problem and you should consult a copyright lawyer on what to do next before they escalate the issue.
Keep in mind, this company in the photography business since 2005 and they owns the copyright of their images (Chicago Based Photographer: Sam Mugraby), and in many cases they offer a fair settlement fee, and if the settlement payment is paid during the first 14 days and if their image is removed they will close the case immediately and they will end all legal actions.
If you ignore their attempts in resolving the copyright infringement or if you fail to respond within the given period they will go after you, legal conflict is a stressful time. If a matter can be resolved amicably then it is always the preferred approach.
Boxist.com legal recovery connections is based on a contingency fee contract with many attorneys worldwide (in exchange for a large percent of any award, either by court decision or through settlement) and they will use your failure to comply with their settlement demands as evidence of intentional copyright infringement or “willful infringement”. The penalties for intentional copyright infringement are heavier than for unintentional violations, and the presence of their copyright settlement notice will be used as evidence that your actions were intentional.
The presence of Boxist.com copyright infringement notice precludes infringers from claiming in court they had no knowledge of the copyright or that they were infringing on it. The “innocent infringement” defense can result in a lower damage award, but the presence of the notice defeats the defense.
What are the penalties for copyright infringement?
The law in the US provides a range from $200 to $150,000 for each work infringed. Infringer pays for all attorneys fees and court costs. The Court can issue an injunction to stop the infringing acts.
Statutory damages are set out in 17 U.S.C. § 504 of the U.S. Code. The basic level of damages is up to $30,000 per work, at the discretion of the court. Plaintiffs who can show willful infringement may be entitled to damages up to $150,000 per work, In the United Kingdom upon conviction in the magistrates’ court for copyright infringement a fine of up to £50,000, In Canada, the Copyright Act provides for statutory damages up to $20,000, In Australia under the Australian Copyright Act 1968, A person who makes an unauthorized use of copyright material infringes the copyright owner’s rights and can be sued for damages, and penalties include fines of up to $117 000 for individuals and up to $585 000 for corporations.
This entire article is based on research I have done and the experience that I dealt with. This article is based on suggestions from resources I have seen and worked with, but it is up to you to decide what to do in this situation.