I have written numerous articles on why it is important to copyright your original work. Below is a more practical discussion on what you can do if someone steals your intellectual property (IP).
Why Copyright At All?
Easy answer – so you can enforce your rights to your IP. Although it is true that you get automatic copyright as soon as something is created in tangible form, i.e., recording a new song or content on your website – you cannot enforce your rights without registering a copyright. For example, you are a photographer and post your wedding pictures on your website. Anyone can literally use these photos on their own site so long as they give you credit as the photographer. You can’t force them to take the pics down or recover lost revenue. Not a good deal. Only by filing your works with the copyright office in Washington, D.C. can you enforce your injunctive rights to require an infringer to stop his/her bad acts and recover lost revenue.
What’s the Best Way to Stop Someone from Selling my IP online?
Fortunately, federal law gives you lots of rights. A law called the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) gives IP owners important rights to protect their creations in this digital age. For example, if someone is selling your original pics on EBAY – you can force eBay to remove the seller on their site – assuming you previously copyrighted your IP, of course!
How Do I Get EBAY or other Site to Take Down an Infringer’s Listing?
Can an Infringer attempt to “Put-back” my IP after it was Removed?
The answer is yes – but rarely occurs. The reason is that the infringer must represent that there is a good faith basis for using your IP and also consent to jurisdiction should you disagree and decide to file suit against him/her/it!
Is it Expensive to get a Copyright?
Usually – not. It depends on the volume of what you are trying to copyright and the documentation of the works. Best to consult with a lawyer and find out.
Protect your IP like you would the money you have in the bank or a safe. By taking simple steps you can stop infringers in their tracks!