I am a photographer who sells my personal photographic works on two websites: Fine Art America and Redbubble. Recently I had an image removed from Redbubble because they received a complaint from someone alleging that my r artwork violates their rights. The image is of Portland Lighthouse in Maine. I have checked with the lighthouse and they have verified that this is a public location at which we are free to take photos, as well as publish/sell those photos if we so desire. The complainant is Merch Stores, LLC t/a DragQueenMerch.Com (an official online store for drag queens performers Worldwide). This image was taken by me on June 26, 2013 at Portland Head Lighthouse in Maine. In the United States, my understanding is that when one takes a photograph, one automatically has copyright of the image as soon as the shutter is released. Therefore, I believe my rights to that image originate from that date. This image was first published by me on my website at https://joan-carroll.pixels.com/featured/portland-head-lighthouse-2014-joan-carroll.html on August 15, 2014. The image was registered with the copyright office as part of a collection of my published photos from July through December 2014. The registration of those photos was accorded the US Copyright office registration number of VAu 1-201-820 dated January 22, 2015. The copyright of this image means that I have exclusive rights to reproduce the work, to create derivative works based on it, to distribute copies, and to display it in public. Therefore, I have a good faith belief that the material was removed or disabled as a result of mistake or misidentification of the material to be removed or disabled. However, in order to contest the removal by Redbubble, I have to send a counter notice, part of which is that I state that "consent to the jurisdiction of the Federal District Court, San Francisco County, California, United States and that you will accept service of process from the person who provided notification described above or an agent of such person". Redbubble refuses to do anything short of this counter notice, e.g., demonstrating how the complainant believes I have violated their rights. I would like to reinstate my work, however, I am leery in making the statement that I will accept service of process. Is there any way around this provision that holds legal weight (i.e., that I can agree to a decision by the relevant court without agreeing to the service of process). This provision seems to favor frivilous complaints and does not protect 'the little guy'. Any feedback would be helpful!
1 Answer from Attorneys
The counter notice requires you to accept service in the jurisdiction where you reside (if in the US) or in the jurisdiction where the ISP is located (if you are not a US resident). This does not matter, but if they want to sue you they will anyway. Saying you are willing to accept process does not really offer the other side any real advantage.
This is a very good overview here:
If you need clarification, I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.
If you would like to discuss further over a free phone consult, feel free to contact me anytime that is convenient.
Our firm is now referred by the American Bar Association (see under the New York section): http://www.americanbar.org/groups/delivery_legal_services/resources/programs_to_help_those_with_moderate_income.html
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