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If somebody has infringed your copyright, then you may need to send a copyright infringement letter. Infringement is when somebody uses your original copyrighted work without your permission or if somebody is misusing your work. Sending a letter of infringement is a way for you to let the infringer know that they have done wrong and that you will be taking action. This article will take you through what to include in your copyright infringement letter and some common mistakes that copyright owners make.

Copyright

If you have created original work, copyright may automatically protect it. Copyright protects work that falls under these categories:

  • literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works; 
  • the typographical layout of published editions; 
  • sound recordings; 
  • films; and 
  • communication works. 

Copyright creators are usually the copyright owners, but there are some circumstances where an employer can be the copyright owner. Additionally, copyright can be licenced or assigned to another person. Regardless of who the copyright owner is, copyright protection includes:

  • protected use of their copyrighted material;
  • the right to decide who else can use their material; and
  • legal protection.

What Is a Copyright Infringement Letter?

A copyright infringement letter is often a step before you initiate legal action. So, you must be sure of the details of the infringement and the details of the perpetrator. You may find it hard to determine who infringed on your rights and who the letter should be sent to, especially if it was online.

As copyright infringement is a legal matter, it is best to seek legal advice. The letter will usually set out your legal claim against the other party, so you may need a lawyer to help you do this.

The severity of copyright infringement often depends on how much of your material the other party used. You should also consider whether the use of your work was under any copyright exceptions. There are copyright exceptions for librarians, educators and archivists. Copyright exceptions also include:

  • research or private study;
  • criticism;
  • review; or
  • news reporting.

Any use under these permitted acts must classify as fair dealing. The exact nature of this will depend on the context of the use but will consider factors such as your purpose and the amount you copied.

Mistakes to Avoid

These are some common mistakes made when it comes to the content of your copyright infringement letter. 

You Should Include:

Possible remedies

You can decide how you would like to resolve the issue. If you state this clearly in the letter and follow through, you may not have to take further legal action. Examples of remedies you could include are:

  • Infringement stops. You can direct the infringer to stop using all of your material and either return it to you or destroy it.
  • Financial compensation. You can request payment for the use of your work or their gain or your loss.
  • Entering into an agreement. You could impose a licence or assignment agreement on them. This would ensure that everything is legal and you are aware of all of the terms and conditions.

Evidence of the infringement

You should always include examples of the infringement you are claiming. This will strengthen your letter and show the infringer that you have concrete evidence to use if the matter is not resolved. You may wish to use pictures and include specific dates.

A timeframe

It is a good idea to outline a date you wish to hear from them by. This means that you will not have to wait for an extended period of time without any action.

The next steps you intend to take

Let them know that you intend to take legal action if the infringing party does not meet your requests in time.

You Should Avoid Including:

Emotions

Even if you are angry, you should not use this language in your letter. For example, it may be the case that the infringement was an accident. Or, if it was not, you should still keep your letter as professional as possible by not including emotions.

Claims outside of your scope

You should be sure to stick within the scope of your rights. If you make claims beyond what has happened or beyond what you are entitled to, your letter might not stand up in court.

Key Takeaways

You should assert your rights as a copyright owner if you think that someone else has infringed them. There are common mistakes that copyright owners make when sending an infringement letter. You should be sure to include the essential things that you want to get across. Additionally, make sure you leave out the emotions to keep your letter professional. If you need further assistance with your intellectual property, contact LegalVision’s experienced IP lawyers on 0800 005 570 or fill out the form on this page.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a copyright infringement letter?

A copyright infringement letter is an assertion of your rights as a copyright owner. It can be the initial step before legal action when someone has infringed on your rights.

What is a letter of demand?

This is a list of demands that you have as a copyright owner for someone who has infringed on your rights.

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