Sharing your creative work on the Internet is one of the best ways to get exposure and start building your brand. But protecting the fruits of your labor once you publish them online is difficult. After blog posts, illustrations, and other types of content go live, anyone can see them. So there’s always a chance that someone will copy them and take credit for your creations.
If someone steals and profits from your work, you may worry that there’s nothing you can do. But there are actually copyright laws that can help protect you in this situation. Here are some tips on what to do when someone makes off with your work and claims it as their own.
How Copyright Protection Works
Did you know that copyright protections automatically apply to a wide range of creative works? You don’t have to register your song or story with the Copyright Office in order for it to be covered. When you turn your idea into a tangible medium, such as recording a song or writing down a poem, your copyright attaches to it.
Here are some more examples of works that are covered by copyright law:
- Computer software
If someone violates your copyright by stealing and profiting from your work, you can take legal action.
What To Do When Someone Steals and Profits From Your Work
Now that you know a bit about how copyright protection works, here are some tips to help you stop the infringement and regain control of your creative works.
1. Issue a Cease and Desist Letter
A cease and desist letter is a formal document you can send to the person who’s stealing your work. It informs them that they’re infringing on your copyright and demands that they stop, or else you may take legal action against them. You don’t need a lawyer to write this document and can find lots of free templates online.
For your letter to be effective, it should explain how the person has infringed on your copyright. Did they sell a shirt with your designs on them? Did they change a few details of one of your stories and then publish it as their own?
You should also explain what you want them to do about the infringement. Do you want them to properly credit you for the work, pay for usage rights, or stop using your work entirely?
It may seem like a strongly worded cease and desist letter wouldn’t work. After all, this person blatantly stole from you. However, making it clear that you know about the infringement and may take legal action if it continues can go a long way. Most people will probably comply with your requests rather than risk getting sued.
2. Decide If You Want to Take Legal Action
If for some reason your letter is ignored, you’ll have to decide if you want to take further legal action. Is it worth it to get lawyers involved and rack up costly legal fees? Another thing to keep in mind is that it may be harder to sue for damages and win if your copyright wasn’t formally registered with the Copyright Office at the time of the infringement.
Talking to a lawyer can give you more clarity and help you decide your next steps.
It’s upsetting when someone steals and profits from your work. But you don’t have to simply accept it. You have rights and can issue a demand letter and even take legal action if they refuse to stop taking credit for your work.
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