All too often, temptation is simply too much to resist. And, with so much valuable and interesting material just an Internet click away, far too many people are pilfering copyrighted materials that do not belong to them. Case in point: Lars Liebeler PC represents a successful real estate brokerage firm in the Washington Metropolitan area. A critical component of the brokerage’s success is a series of visually stunning and easy to use maps that the brokerage created to allow house hunters to quickly narrow their searches to specific neighborhoods.
With the firm’s assistance, the real estate brokerage registered the maps and other original works under the Copyright Act of 1976. Subsequently, as more and more customers flocked to the brokerage web site to use the maps, a steady stream of imitators began to copy the maps without authorization and post them on their own competing real estate web sites.
Mr. Liebeler immediately sprang into action to prohibit the unauthorized copying and use of the brokerage’s original works. The firm sent cease and desist letter, demanding that the maps be removed from the offending website and demanding payment for damages.
Although most maps were removed immediately upon receipt of the demand letter, several infringers wrongfully claimed a right to use the maps despite the clear violation of copyright. In several cases the Firm was forced to enforce the copyright through litigation in federal district court and successfully obtained injunctions prohibiting any further use of the maps, as well as a judgment for statutory damages and attorneys fees.
Original literary and artistic works should be protected through the proper use of U.S. copyright laws. Experienced legal counsel should be consulted to insure that all legal requirements establishing full rights are met.
Proper steps must be taken to maintain the protection of works even after they have been copyrighted, particularly in an age of advanced Internet usage and presentation.
Once a potential infringement has occurred, swift and effective steps must be taken in response. It is mandatory that the owner of a copyrighted material take the appropriate legal steps to protect its property.
An association with counsel that is able and prepared to litigate the issues is mandatory in order to protect the copyright.