It can happen - Learn how and what to do about it
If you get someone else to post content directly to your blog or website, it will save you time and potentially stop your readers from being bored to death. Until, that is, a lawyer’s letter arrives accusing you of infringing copyright.
It turns out that the other person also wanted to save their time by using someone else’s work that they found on the internet.
Although you did not put up the infringing material, the allegation is that you authorised the infringement. There are many legally intriguing replies to this allegation, but the cheapest response is to take it down immediately.
Lawyer’s letters do not usually stop there. They want money.
If you have seen the film Dirty Harry, you will know the question to ask yourself: “Are you feeling lucky?”. If so, do nothing and hope that the lawyer goes away after a couple of reminders. If not, or you have a reputation to protect, then see your lawyer.
Your lawyer will tell you that “authorising” is to “sanction, condone, or countenance” the infringement which, although unhelpfully vague, sure sounds great.
The court will look at:
• our power to prevent the infringement;
• the nature of the relationship; and
• whether or not you took any reasonable steps to prevent or avoid the infringement.
In one case, a library installed a photocopier but did not monitor use or warn users that copying books without permission was a copyright infringement.
Your lawyer will want to argue that you:
• took it down on receiving the complaint.
• regularly monitor for such infringements; and
• have a policy/contractual term prohibiting such conduct.
I warn you that copyright law may seem dull but lawyers find it fascinating. Or is that just me?
(c) Paul Brennan 2018. All rights reserved.