What to do if Your Photography Work is Infringed

Posted on Sep 9, 2019

What to do if Your Photography Work is Infringed

You work hard to produce the pieces you create. If someone used your work without gaining your permission in a perfect world, you would simply send him a bill for it, he would pay the bill and you would move on. If he didn’t pay, you could just threaten to sue him and he would quickly realize how much he didn’t’ want that to happen so he would settle with you and you would be paid for your work. But this is the real world and some people are not mindful of your rights nor are they moved by threats. So what should you do when your work is infringed?

If your published work is infringed and it takes place before your piece has been registered, the owner of the copyright can obtain typical remedies for copyright infringement, including injunctions, impounding and disposition of infringing articles, actual damages and lost profits, and so on. But if registration was not made before the infringement took place or within three months after the first publication of a work, special remedies (such as attorney’s fees) cannot be obtained by the owner. 

Small claims court may also be an option for you. If your published work is being used by somebody local and without your permission, you may be able to get satisfaction by taking them to small claims court. You won’t be able to sue for copyright infringement (as this must take place in federal court) but you may be able to file a breach of contract claim. 

The nice thing about small claims court is that you can skip the step of hiring a lawyer, so you don’t even necessarily need to be compensated for attorney’s fees. It may be a good idea however to pursue the advice of an attorney before you get started just to be sure you have everything lined up.