Are There Remedies for Internet Infringement?

DM Gutierrez

Internet infringement consists of the online use of intellectual property without permission. Intellectual property can include original works of literature, art, music, and photography. Other categories may include cinematography, computer programming, architectural drawings and maps. The creator of the work typically holds the rights to intellectual property from the moment of creation. Online copyright infringement is the posting of these materials by individuals or corporate entities that did not create them or obtain the rights to the work from the copyright holder.

The use of intellectual property online without permission is considered internet infringement.
The use of intellectual property online without permission is considered internet infringement.

In 1970, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) was formed by the United Nations to address international intellectual property rights issues. As new technologies emerged, the WIPO developed new regulations and registration procedures to protect creative rights. United Nation members followed suit, instituting similar legislation. For example, in the United States, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 (DMCA) was enacted to extend legal copyright protection to all intellectual property in digital form. If the copyright holder of intellectual property discovers the improper use of his or her original work online, he or she can attempt to remedy the Internet infringement by filing a DMCA takedown notice.

Copyright holders often contact the Web site owner practicing the Internet infringement and request the material be removed, a tactic which is usually effective. If the Web site owner is not responsive, the copyright holder may need to file a cease and deist order with the Internet service provider hosting the infringing site. A typical takedown notice includes the title of the copyrighted work, the location at which the infringed material is being displayed, an affirmation that the complainant is the legal copyright holder and that all statements are true and accurate, and an electronic signature. Most service providers act rapidly to remove the material once a legitimate complaint has been filed.

Many Internet hosting companies require Web site owners to abide by terms of service that prohibit copyright infringement. Violation of these terms can result in removal of the infringed material, loss of public access to the site, temporary suspension or permanent ban of the offending account.

Some copyright holders consult intellectual property rights lawyers, also known as IP lawyers, for assistance with battling Internet infringement. In many countries, complainants can appeal to governmental agencies. In the United States, for example, complaints that involve monetary restitution or other penalties are usually filed with the U.S. Department of Justice. Claims to intellectual rights are typically stronger when filed with a copyright registration agent such as the U.S. Copyright Office or the World Intellectual Property Organization, which represents 90% of the international community.

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