I took a photo in 2010 , This photo was newsworthy and I sold the limited use of my photo but not the rights tp the photo to 5 news outlets, over the last few months I have seen the image appear on websites for other news outlets websites, none of which are the original companies I sold the USE of the image, I see that these other companies took the photo from the website of a company I sold the use to.
can I ask these third party websites, some of which engage in sensationalism, and less than ethical news guidelines, to cease and desist with the use of my image, also can I request compensation for their previous unauthorized use of my photo?
2 Answers from Attorneys
Generally speaking, as the copyright holder you have the right to ask these sites to take the photos down and you also have the right to ask for compensation. However, unless the photo was registered with the US copyright office, one would not have the ability to force those sites to take it down or pay compensation. Not all is lost though, as the copyright can still be registered and you can demand a take down and seek damages going forward.
I can assist you in registering the photo ASAP and also in sending cease and desist notices. My office has a special offer for LawGuru users where we can register the image with the US Copyright office and send out cease and desist letters at a total cost of $297. To take advantage of this limited offer please go to:
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Under US law, your copyright interest in the work affixes automatically upon completion of the work. You are not required to register the work, contrary to my colleagues comments, to seek enforcement against infringement such as sending a cease & desist. You are prohibited, however, from bringing the infringement action to the federal court until the work is registered. Further, if you register the work post infringement you will not be able to ask the court to impose statutory damages (in this context, akin to punitive damages) and you will be left with compensatory or "real" damages. In many cases, this does not amount to much making the litigation somewhat useless.
I do agree that registering the material is the best course of action as a first step. While you probably have some claims, there may be some "fair use" defenses available to those who have used the photo, if, for example, the purpose was to comment on what was depicted within it especially if this was some kind of newsworthy event, but of course that is for the other side to raise.
You should probably consult an IP lawyer and get some insights on your options. If you would like to discuss further over a free phone consult, feel free to contact me anytime that is convenient.
DISCLAIMER: this is not intended to be specific legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. No attorney-client relationship is formed on the basis
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