Taking action: what are the legal steps?
When someone does not ask or get your permission to do certain things with your work it is called a copyright infringement.
If you think someone has infringed your copyright, you can take action against them. The following steps explain how to do this.
Step 1) Talk to someone you trust
Talk to a friend, carer or family member about your concerns. Getting their opinion will help you work out the situation and confirm your feelings. If they agree that there is a problem, seek legal advice.
If you are told there is no problem, but things still feel wrong to you, get a second opinion.
Step 2) Contact the person or organisation
Contact the person or organisation you are unhappy with, either by phone or in writing. Explain the situation as you see it. There may be an easy way to fix the problem. Asking someone to help you do this is a good idea.
Step 3) Seek legal advice
If you have not been able to fix the problem by talking to the person or organisation you are unhappy with, get legal advice.
You must give the facts of the situation, such as:
- your personal and contact details
- what happened
- when it happened
The person helping you will work out if a copyright infringement has taken place. They will help explain the steps you need to take to protect your rights.
Step 4) Send a letter of demand
A letter of demand for breach of copyright will show that:
- you told that person or organisation of your rights; and
- you gave the person or organisation a chance to fix the problem.
Usually problems are fixed without going to court, by discussion or negotiation.
Step 5) Going to court
If the person or organisation has not fixed the problem through discussion, the next step is to take legal action in a court.
If the court agrees that an infringement has occurred, it can make an order saying:
- you must get a public apology;
- you must be paid money for the harm caused to you — this is called damages; and/or
- the person must stop the infringement — this is called an injunction.