Some people have seen this in emails I have sent them as a notice that this summer is going to be a very bad time for infringers and cost them a lot of money. At least that is what they probably think it meant. Again, you have to understand the infringer and how they think. They assume a lot of things, such as everything is Fair Use, public domain or I will not get caught. If I do get caught no big deal and everything is about me. All are very bad assumptions on the infringer’s part.
It actually is meant as a statement on the whole copyright infringement arena. Late March the 9th Circuit Court decided a case it has been working on for over 3 years. In September the USCO is releasing its report and recommendations for a new federal court system to handle copyright infringement only. Just think about that for a minute. A whole new court system is being looked at just to handle copyright infringement. How serious does the congress and businesses think the problem is if they are going to spend that kind of money developing this? The process started in 2009.
The 9th Circuit ruled AGAINST companies that provide the system for people to violate copyrights. I have written on it several times. It is called secondary infringement or vicarious liability. They were declared to be in violation of the law. The same general ruling that destroyed Napster, Grokster and KaZZa. The effects of the ruling are huge. Many have seen this coming for a long time. Companies like Pinterest, FB, YouTube, Tumblr, Instagram and others have been changing the Terms of Service to allow them to move things overseas where US copyright laws are much harder to enforce if they can be enforced. Just read their TOS. People, there is a reason. Pinterest will disappear if it loses a lawsuit like this. It has problems with people suing its users for copyright infringement. I am one who is considering having a company do that for me.
Is it all bad for infringers? Heavens no! People who have been pushing this understand the problems involved. I have a person I know that very possibly may get sued for a huge amount of money. With two problems they have and the idea that the providers of the service can sue them for any losses sustained because of them the numbers get huge very quickly. So what is the good news? It means that the providers share the responsibility for damages and costs . The infringers still infringed but the people helping them to do so is just as guilty and have to share the costs. Infringers need to thank the creators for pushing this. I have been holding up on some things awaiting this ruling and the effects it will have and if it is appealed and if the Supreme Court will even hear an appeal.
Things are changing because of what is coming. Terms of Service and Use are being modified almost daily by companies everywhere. Some very large companies who exist because of no liability see the writing on the wall. You cannot just help people break the law and infringe without consequences of your own. Are the infringers still guilty? Yes but they may not have to pay the bill all by themselves and this ruling means in my cases I can work on billing the service providers separately than the infringers.
The bottom line is it is going to be a very long and very hot and very expensive summer for infringers and the providers who have dumped everything on the users. It may not happen this year if things are appealed but the ship is sinking and the rats are running to get off . They are moving the infringing materials to other companies they buy overseas. I hope the new system coming in allows them to still be sued.
With the new system all but guaranteed and with the penalties being reasonable for suits against individual,infringers they need to really consider what they are doing. I visited a site today about people arguing about YouTube videos and the stupid, yes stupid statement some are putting on them. I do not own this video. A public admission of willful copyright infringement by that person is not smart. Get out your checkbook and title to your house. I am really glad to see the people on the website chew the person up that is saying it makes it Fair Use. It is really simple if the author is not dead for 50-75 years depending or they have not publicly declared it is public domain, it is not. I know some people cannot grasp that but it is the way it is. Fair Use does not come into play as many people try to say. One person defending the person who posted the public domain statement said anything with a note about the author is Fair Use. The lack of knowledge in the rules, regulations and laws scares me because they are everywhere and people believe it. Just like the ones that believed my photo is public domain because a blogger used it and said so. Lessons need to be learned and publicly displayed to stop the tide of wrong information. The blogger used Pinterest and had a large PinIt button on it. That use and that button is costing them thousands of dollars. Who says you cannot sue Pinterest and other sharing site users.
Simple rule to keep from being sued, if you did not do it, do not post it and if you did use it cut a deal and stay out of court. The new system will get you sued faster and they have three years to do it. I heard with the sheer volume of people stealing work that they are considering expanding it to 5 years. Also the DMCA does cover changing the copyright information or claiming ownership as the copyright notices posted on other peoples work might be seen to do. The law is simple, $ 2500.00 fine minimum to a maximum of $ 25,000.00 for each one IN ADDITION to the copyright infringement fees. It also allows for court and attorney fees and costs.You can find this information in the CMI section of the DMCA. The section about claiming ownership is in the last section of the CMI section. The law is about 68 pages, single spaced.
I know right now that there are groups and individuals lining up to sue people and places like Pinterest. I know because I have been emailed and I am working with a law firm that is gathering information for a class action suit against Pinterest. All users are at risks because some of the people there and other places have no clue what they are talking about. The meeting this afternoon about billing all the people who have infringed my work on Pinterest was very interesting. Especially the businesses that changed the name of the photo and have been using it for profit since then. What a bad assumption or idea that was on their part. The only questions left are when is it going to happen, how much is it going to cost and who is next?
Disclaimer: I am not an attorney. These are my personal opinions and general information. The information should not be used as legal advise.