What to do if Someone Violates Your Copyright
As a publisher, my job sometimes gets pretty boring. I spend most of my time
reading articles that aren't fit to be published, and formatting articles that
are. So, when I received the email message below (relevant individuals names
withheld), I was delighted to have a break from my tedious work.
It has come to my attention that you have made an unauthorized use of my article
entitled Marketing Yourself in this Ever Changing Field of Law (the "Work") see
its original publication in the preparation of a work derived therefrom. I
reserve all rights in the Work, which was first published in 2001 for Paralegal
Press Newsletter. Your website has posted a work entitled "Marketing Yourself as
a Paralegal" by ________ which is essentially identical to the Work and clearly
used the Work as its basis.
As ________ has neither asked for nor received permission to use the Work as the
basis for "Marketing Yourself as a Paralegal" nor to make or distribute copies,
including electronic copies, of same, I believe you have willfully infringed my
rights under 17 U.S.C. Section 101 et seq. and could be liable for statutory
damages as high as $150,000 as set forth in Section 504(c)(2) therein.
I demand that you immediately cease the use and distribution of all infringing
works derived from the Work, and all copies, including electronic copies, of
same, that you deliver to me, if applicable, all unused, undistributed copies
of same, or destroy such copies immediately and that you desist from this or
any other infringement of my rights in the future. If I have not received an
affirmative response from you by February 3, 2007 indicating that you have fully
complied with these requirements, I shall take further action against you.
Let me first say that I sympathize with the writer of this message because
sometimes writing comes easy, and sometimes writing feels like you're dragging
an anchor to which an ocean liner is still attached. If this individual's work
was indeed stolen or plagiarized, that's unfortunate.
Since the advent of the Internet, with a simple copy and paste, everyone's work
is easily accessible for theft. On the Internet, hard-earned work is being
stolen all day long every day of the year. Unless you've got lot's of time on
your hands or that ocean liner is stuffed with money to hire lawyers, there's
not a darn thing you can do about it.
Lets go over the email message to see what mistakes were made, and how you can
go about protecting your work in the proper manner.
Any professional writer will immediately see one major glaring mistake in the
message. It's suicidal for a writer to threaten and intimidate a publisher. For
one thing, a publisher doesn't plagiarize, a publisher only publishes what someone
else may, or may not have plagiarized. Secondly, a publisher will probably warn
their colleges that this writer is troublesome. In other words, the writer could
This individual should have approached the publisher and explained the situation
politely. This would have given the writer more credibility and better rapport.
Most publishers have an infinite source of material to publish, so one article
doesn't mean a thing to them, and if you ask nicely, they'll just remove the
article immediately - no problem. In fact, I've done that many times.