Copyright Infringement and Me
Nov. 3rd, 2010 @ 11:14 pm
Unknown. Looking into it. But thanks !
I'm going on the assumption that you didn't actually register the copyright in your article. If you had (and you have up to 5 years after initial publication to do so, but must do so before an infringement occurs), you'd be entitled to statutory damages of between $750 and $30,000, depending on circumstances. Without a registration, you have a more difficult fight, but still a potentially valid claim.
(Note: I am not an IP lawyer, but a publishing contracts and copyrights professional. The above is general information only, and not intended as legal advice.)
Is registration actually necessary? My (not-a-lawyer) understanding of the Berne Convention is that copyright is assumed to be inherent once a written work is created: registration might make proving authorship a smidge easier, but that's about it.
(And of course, the fact that the idiot admitted
to lifting the article hopefully makes the question moot.)
Registration is not necessary for ownership of copyright. The author owns what they've written from the moment it is written down. However, registration is necessary to bring a suit in the U.S., since it clearly proves ownership of the work. You can't ask for statutory damages without registration, and statutory damages are often/usually higher than the actual damages in a case like this one.
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 07:05 pm (UTC)|| |
Lawyers won't take it unless they will get a hefty chunk of change from it-- their take is usually something like a quarter to half of whatever you get, depending on whatever you work out. Or you could pay them on a per-hour basis, but that's prohibitive.
From the Copyright Code (Title 17):
§ 505. Remedies for infringement: Costs and attorney's fees
In any civil action under this title, the court in its discretion may allow the recovery of full costs by or against any party other than the United States or an officer thereof. Except as otherwise provided by this title, the court may also award a reasonable attorney's fee to the prevailing party as part of the costs.
That's no guarantee, but this seems like a pretty clear-cut case, with the editor admitting guilt ("my bad").
|Date:||November 4th, 2010 07:50 pm (UTC)|| |
I'm just passing on what they told me when I was trying to find an attorney to take my case last year. You know, attorneys have to eat, too, and all that. They all agreed that my case was clear cut and there seemed no doubt that my work had been stolen, but still I got the comments noted above.
|Date:||November 5th, 2010 03:34 am (UTC)|| |
I ran into a similar issue 10 years ago. A magazine had published a short article I had submitted, without prior notification it was accepted, and without prior payment.
In my case, I was ignorant of standard industry practice, and had no leg to stand on, but I did do some research.
Since your original publication was 5 years ago, you presumably did not register the article with the U.S. Copyright Office within the required period, so the damages you can be awarded will be limited. But if you can produce clear evidence of the infringement (and it sounds like you already have it), you should have no trouble collecting damages.
Contact a copyright attorney. An initial phone consultation will probably be free. If the potential award isn't worth the attorney's time, go for the maximum small claim. It will cost the magazine 10 times more than they would likely have needed to pay you if they bought the article legit, just to defend the claim, regardless of whether they win or lose. Heck, they'll spend that on transportation alone, if the court proceedings are on your home turf.
Check out magazines that could conceivably have purchased the article. Find out what they pay for similar articles. Find out whether they would pay the same for an article that has already appeared in another magazine.
That's your minimum damages. Since they modified the article without your permission, and in so doing introduced errors which could conceivably have damaged your reputation, you may be able to claim additional damages. If you can, get a copy of the print edition that your plagiarized article appeared in. (Any good reference librarian can help you there.) No judge would rule against you.
Best of luck. You've got thousands of writers pulling for you.
Dunno if anyone's said it, but it might be worth getting in touch with a local law school to see if their grads do free/cheap legal advice or work "practice" cases. Our local law school does so, and I imagine they aren't unique that way.
I got here via AskMoxie; I am APPALLED on your behalf.