I Received A Letter Claiming Copyright Infringement

What do I do now?

March 23, 2021

Demand letters alleging copyright infringement are a serious matter, no matter who they come from or what information you find on the internet about the sender.  Take them seriously when considering your next steps.
Despite what you might read on the internet about the sender, copyright law is strict liability [Read more here].  This means that if you used someone’s work or image without permission, you have very likely infringed someone’s work.  There are very limited exceptions.  
However, these letters are meant to scare you into paying a moderate sum of money, with the threat of federal litigation and thousands of dollars in damages hanging over your head if you do not comply, while making it seem an unnecessary expense to engage an attorney to help settle the matter.  A skilled attorney can save you possibly thousands of dollars in legal fees, court costs, and you’ll sleep better knowing you’re avoiding a potential legal nightmare.  

Steps to take to Respond to a Copyright Infringement Letter

1. “I didn’t do anything wrong” should NOT be your first reaction. 

If you are receiving this letter, there is a chance you did do something wrong, whether accidentally, by shrugging your shoulders at using a work without permission, or on purpose.  The first step is acknowledging this fact. Giving the creator credit will not cure liability. Assumptions it is "fair use" or "public domain" won't  erase the infringement unless whatever you posted fits those very specific legal definitions. Then, do not ignore the letter.

2. Take down the allegedly infringing work.

This does not cure the fact you infringed the work, but it stops the infringement from continuing. 

3. Gather Any Documentation.

Find any documentation you have related to the image - this can include stock license purchase receipts, licensing agreements, terms and proof of an active account with a stock image service like Canva, contract terms between you and your content creator that warrants any intellectual property of others incorporated into your content will be free and clear for use, etc. 
Pro Tip:  If you do not already do this, keep diligent records of any and all documentation related to images, videos or any other content you use in your business. This includes contracts with social media managers and content creators, stock footage/image platform terms and conditions, receipts or licensing agreements. 

4. Contact a Copyright Attorney with experience in responding and settling copyright infringement claims. 

This should be the step you take before 1) panicking or 2) contacting the sender of the letter.  While you may have liability, someone with this expertise can help to minimize the amount you might owe, or identify a reason why you may not be liable at all.  You need an advocate skilled at challenging these claims. These matters can often be settled before a lawsuit is filed. 
Pro Tip: These claims are serious legal matters. Do not leave the handling and outcome of such matters to bloggers on the internet. I see a ton of information purporting to be advice for how to handle copyright infringement claims, with disclaimers “not legal advice.”  The advice is bad, often, and could result in higher monetary damages owed by you or an expensive lawsuit in federal court.

Did you receive a copyright infringement demand letter from Higbee & Associates, PicRights or someone else?  Don't ignore it.

We can help. 

We offer affordable all-inclusive flat rates to negotiate a settlement and resolution before a lawsuit is filed. 

Typical Fee: $999 + up (fee increases for complex matters).

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