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Ever had your creative work stolen?3306

Helen private msg quote post Address this user
This may not be the place to discuss this but a real estate video I had done for an agent two years ago has been used by another agent without my permission the original agent did do a property introduction which the edited out and also edited out my branding on the end, but there is no doubt that it's my video How do I approach this? Yes it would be easy to ask them to remove it but it looks like the house is already sold so they probably wouldn't care anyway. As a practise I do not remove videos unless the agent has told me it has sold and asks me to remove it. Which they should be doing. Frankly I just do not have the time to go through my works to see if it is active or not. How far do I take my unhappiness of the situation? Realtors are a pretty tight knit group and if I take it to far I am sure that it would be discussed with other agents maybe scarring them off from working with me. I really cannot believe the actions of some people! I was very surprised they would have done this as it is a preaty reputable company in my community. I am just a small home based business trying to earn a honest living for my family.
Post 1 IP   flag post
ScanMan private msg quote post Address this user
Try the friendly approach - Hey guys you've been a bit cheeky and Im guessing you know you have taken a bit of a liberty here but instead of me getting pissy how about you commission some new work from me instead.
If that doesn't work unleash your wrath on them ;-)
Post 2 IP   flag post
North Palm Beach, FL
hometakes private msg quote post Address this user
Ive gone after everyone of them, they know they are stealing when they do it. Most agents are honest, they may be cheap, but they are honest. For one of them to try and badmouth you to others that you went after them after they stole your stuff is the same as saying, "look what she did to me after I took her Video". I have a specific email that I send to them as well as sending them a copy of the email as a registered letter and everytime, and I mean everytime, I received a check in the mail and got paid. I charge them what the cost of that original order from the previous client paid for the tour. I will post the email that I send them in a moment.... Let me search for it. Use it if you wish....
Post 3 IP   flag post
North Palm Beach, FL
hometakes private msg quote post Address this user
I think that this scares the living @#$% out of them and thats why they always pay. Theft is theft, no matter how you slice it. Stiff fines for bootleggers of Black market movies. We do movies, only on a smaller scale... its no different.....

Hello ,

This notice is considered an official notice to you as we have emailed it to the email address that appears on MLS where our tour was found on your listing that has since sold.

It has come to our attention that you have used photographs and/or a video tour that belongs to NAME OF YOUR COMPANY for which you had no permission for their use (MLS# ).

This is a clear violation of copyright infringement laws. The photographs appear on MLS as well as and other websites that they have propagated to such as Zillow & Trulia.

If you choose to ignore this notice and offer of settlement, we will take legal action to collect payment for infringing on our intellectual property rights 10 days from now. Also, your MLS board and your local Realtors Association will be notified (The board even made a video regarding copyright:

We will also report the infringement to the state attorneys office and can show that there was 'willful intent' (theft). ‘Willful intent’ can easily be shown because you cloned the photographs from another listing on MLS or just ignored our copyright watermark on the photos or video. According to the law, this makes the infringement a prosecutable criminal offense, see section § 506 (below) Criminal Offenses.

We will seek damages for this infringement no matter how little or long they have long they have been seen or used or whether or not you successfully sold the property. Removal of the photographs from MLS does not negate you from the infringement. You may settle the infringement by mailing a check for $ AND REMOVING the photos from MLS and any other website that you uploaded them to.

If we receive payment within 10 days of this notice, we will consider this matter settled and no further action will be taken. The check should be made payable to YOUR COMPANY NAME and mailed to:
YOUR STREET ADDRESS. If you wish to pay by credit card, please let us know and we will email you our credit card form.

If you choose to settle this matter after we retain counsel (10 days from now), please be aware that the settlement fee will increase by an additional $500 plus the attorney fees. Attorneys fees and punitive damages will be added to any future negotiations of a settlement if you do not settle this matter now. If we have to pursue this matter through the courts, we will seek full compensatory and any punitive damages that the law provides for which will cost you considerably more money than the settlement fee offered here.

Thank you,

Copyright Law of the United States of America

and Related Laws Contained in Title 17 of the United States Code

Circular 92

§ 504. Remedies for infringement: Damages and profits5

(a) In General. — Except as otherwise provided by this title, an infringer of copyright is liable for either —

(1) the copyright owner's actual damages and any additional profits of the infringer, as provided by subsection (b); or

(2) statutory damages, as provided by subsection (c).

(b) Actual Damages and Profits. — The copyright owner is entitled to recover the actual damages suffered by him or her as a result of the infringement, and any profits of the infringer that are attributable to the infringement and are not taken into account in computing the actual damages. In establishing the infringer's profits, the copyright owner is required to present proof only of the infringer's gross revenue, and the infringer is required to prove his or her deductible expenses and the elements of profit attributable to factors other than the copyrighted work.

(c) Statutory Damages. —

(1) Except as provided by clause (2) of this subsection, the copyright owner may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered, to recover, instead of actual damages and profits, an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable individually, or for which any two or more infringers are liable jointly and severally, in a sum of not less than $750 or more than $30,000 as the court considers just. For the purposes of this subsection, all the parts of a compilation or derivative work constitute one work.

(2) In a case where the copyright owner sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that infringement was committed willfully, the court in its discretion may increase the award of statutory damages to a sum of not more than $150,000. In a case where the infringer sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that such infringer was not aware and had no reason to believe that his or her acts constituted an infringement of copyright, the court in its discretion may reduce the award of statutory damages to a sum of not less than $200. The court shall remit statutory damages in any case where an infringer believed and had reasonable grounds for believing that his or her use of the copyrighted work was a fair use under section 107, if the infringer was: (i) an employee or agent of a nonprofit educational institution, library, or archives acting within the scope of his or her employment who, or such institution, library, or archives itself, which infringed by reproducing the work in copies or phonorecords; or (ii) a public broadcasting entity which or a person who, as a regular part of the nonprofit activities of a public broadcasting entity (as defined in subsection (g) of section 118) infringed by performing a published nondramatic literary work or by reproducing a transmission program embodying a performance of such a work.

(3) (A) In a case of infringement, it shall be a rebuttable presumption that the infringement was committed willfully for purposes of determining relief if the violator, or a person acting in concert with the violator, knowingly provided or knowingly caused to be provided materially false contact information to a domain name registrar, domain name registry, or other domain name registration authority in registering, maintaining, or renewing a domain name used in connection with the infringement.

(B) Nothing in this paragraph limits what may be considered willful infringement under this subsection.

(C) For purposes of this paragraph, the term “domain name” has the meaning given that term in section 45 of the Act entitled “An Act to provide for the registration and protection of trademarks used in commerce, to carry out the provisions of certain international conventions, and for other purposes” approved July 5, 1946 (commonly referred to as the “Trademark Act of 1946”; 15 U.S.C. 1127).

(d) Additional Damages in Certain Cases. — In any case in which the court finds that a defendant proprietor of an establishment who claims as a defense that its activities were exempt under section 110(5) did not have reasonable grounds to believe that its use of a copyrighted work was exempt under such section, the plaintiff shall be entitled to, in addition to any award of damages under this section, an additional award of two times the amount of the license fee that the proprietor of the establishment concerned should have paid the plaintiff for such use during the preceding period of up to 3 years.

§ 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.

§ 506. Criminal offenses6

(a) Criminal Infringement. —

(1) In general. — Any person who willfully infringes a copyright shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, if the infringement was committed —

(A) for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain;

(B) by the reproduction or distribution, including by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copies or phonorecords of 1 or more copyrighted works, which have a total retail value of more than $1,000; or

(C) by the distribution of a work being prepared for commercial distribution, by making it available on a computer network accessible to members of the public, if such person knew or should have known that the work was intended for commercial distribution.

(2) Evidence. — For purposes of this subsection, evidence of reproduction or distribution of a copyrighted work, by itself, shall not be sufficient to establish willful infringement of a copyright.

(3) Definition. — In this subsection, the term “work being prepared for commercial distribution” means —

(A) a computer program, a musical work, a motion picture or other audiovisual work, or a sound recording, if, at the time of unauthorized distribution —

(i) the copyright owner has a reasonable expectation of commercial distribution; and

(ii) the copies or phonorecords of the work have not been commercially distributed; or

(B) a motion picture, if, at the time of unauthorized distribution, the motion picture —

(i) has been made available for viewing in a motion picture exhibition facility; and

(ii) has not been made available in copies for sale to the general public in the United States in a format intended to permit viewing outside a motion picture exhibition facility.

(b)(b) Forfeiture, Destruction, and Restitution.—Forfeiture, destruction, and restitution relating to this section shall be subject to section 2323 of title 18, to the extent provided in that section, in addition to any other similar remedies provided by law.

(c) Fraudulent Copyright Notice. — Any person who, with fraudulent intent, places on any article a notice of copyright or words of the same purport that such person knows to be false, or who, with fraudulent intent, publicly distributes or imports for public distribution any article bearing such notice or words that such person knows to be false, shall be fined not more than $2,500.

(d) Fraudulent Removal of Copyright Notice. — Any person who, with fraudulent intent, removes or alters any notice of copyright appearing on a copy of a copyrighted work shall be fined not more than $2,500.

(e) False Representation. — Any person who knowingly makes a false representation of a material fact in the application for copyright registration provided for by section 409, or in any written statement filed in connection with the application, shall be fined not more than $2,500.

(f) Rights of Attribution and Integrity. — Nothing in this section applies to infringement of the rights conferred by section 106A(a).

§ 507. Limitations on actions7

(a) Criminal Proceedings. — Except as expressly provided otherwise in this title, no criminal proceeding shall be maintained under the provisions of this title unless it is commenced within 5 years after the cause of action arose.

(b) Civil Actions. — No civil action shall be maintained under the provisions of this title unless it is commenced within three years after the claim accrued.
Post 4 IP   flag post
North Palm Beach, FL
hometakes private msg quote post Address this user
@ScanMan - fellow Brit living in the USA here. #1, most wont know what cheeky is and even if they did, they wont take it seriously. I tried the nice guy approach, and you know what they say about nice guys right? Nice guys finish last. Unleash your wrath in the beginning so that they know that they #$%^&*@ with the wrong person. May come accross as a bit Maffia style, but no-one in their right mind messes with the mafia. And if they did by accident, you know to come crawling to them to beg their forgiveness and that you never knew it was them you were messing with..... They'll accept your apology after you grovel and pay them the 300% vig that they ask for.....
Post 5 IP   flag post
ScanMan private msg quote post Address this user
Iv'e been a Photographer my entire life and have faced copyright theft from clients all over the globe. The current theft I'm dealing with involves a photo agency that ripped my images from the web and sold them to the Daily Mirror. 12 images in total. I never go in heavy handed any more. It just creates ill feeling from the start and creates hostility. I always reach an amicable settlement. In this current situation I have even ended up shooting work for the agency. Iv'e gained more work from them by not unleashing my wrath on them. But thats just my approach. It works for me.
Post 6 IP   flag post
North Palm Beach, FL
hometakes private msg quote post Address this user
I find is strange that you say creates hostility. Were they not secretly hostile (in essence)when they stole your images and sold them to The Mirror? They would have been crimanaly charged here and someone would have been going to Jail. Have they paid you the same money that they sold them to the daily mirror for and not a penny less? If so, I would have wanted to see the check that the Mirror sent them. If you havent been paid for them, it sounds like that they are trying to sweeten you up with giving you some work. If its anything like in the UK regarding copyright law and the fines you would get here from winning a copyright case in the courts, its a boatload of money. Theres a photographer local to me that settled with a brokerage company with just two offices and 60 agents for $120,000 for taking his photos. Thats what they settled for which means that they didnt want to risk losing more money if they lost in court. Fortunatley for us being the copyright holder, its not hard to proove theft.
Post 7 IP   flag post
ScanMan private msg quote post Address this user
I've been dealing with this crap for 25 yrs. life's too short. But each to their own. I'm just saying what works for me and my preferred route. I've had long drawn out legal battles in the past and sure I've won but was it worth it....
Post 8 IP   flag post
North Palm Beach, FL
hometakes private msg quote post Address this user
I totally agree with the legal battles stuff..... I've been in one lawsuit involving attorneys and swore that I would never be in one again. That said, I'm not suggesting to get into a lawsuit with the letter. And I have never asked for more than the cost of the tour.

Its intended to scare the theif that its easier to 'give back what you took' than to get into a lawsuit. In this case, give back the value of what you took in terms of money.

Lets say theres a two person shop lifting crew. One gets out the door with the goods and the other gets caught by security. If security gave you the option of calling your partner in crime and have them bring the goods and they would let the pair of you go with a ban never to return or option B, call the police and have you arrested, we all know what the smart thing to do would be..... Thats why I have had a 7 out of 7 sucess rate of getting paid. Its easier for them to pay up then to risk the threat of a lawsuit. Im not going to sue them, but then, they dont know that.....
Post 9 IP   flag post
Narvan891 private msg quote post Address this user
"Walk softly and carry a big stick" as Teddy Roosevelt said aptly long ago!

I'd try the genial approach first - contact them and let them know that it appears that they've inadvertently used your creative work without getting the required usage license (temporary or permanent at xx$$ - two different price structures of course) and that it would " really great" for them to be sure to cover that immediately and here's how: (we have them place an order on our site for the usage license)

We've had this happen frequently enough over the years here that the granting of licenses for image usage "after the fact" is not an uncommon occurrence - one common instigator for this happening is that the previous owner for the agent you first worked with acquired the images somehow and gave them to the new agent saying that they were theirs - and the agent then uses them unwittingly...

In any case, I'd try the gentler approach first, and if they blow you off, then perhaps a call to their head broker at their office, then the MLS itself and/or bring out the heavy guns as hometakes has put nicely together above...I wouldn't be afraid of scaring off other agents from working with you because of taking action!
Post 10 IP   flag post
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