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Help Needed in Canada


Help needed in Canada!

I received a copyright infringement notice from a lawyer representing a photographer in vancouver for one of his images he claims I used in my company's marketing materials on one of the Social media sites. My marketing material is designed by various freelancers I use who are all outside Canada. Of course the infringement was not willful and the image did not appear on my own business site but rather a social media account. I immediately removed the image and also deleted the social media account. Also, the business website is registered/hosted overseas.

The lawyer wants me to cease the future use of the photograph and pay a licensing fee of C$2750. I have seen similar images are not worth even C$100. Can any one please guide me how to best handle this situation and how to resolve this as I feel the amount claimed is out of proportion and way above market value. Should I negotiate the claimed amount, outright deny it or simply go ahead to pay it.  :( :'(

Copyright infringement is not about knowing you did it, or by having the intent to commit it knownly. If the images are being displayed under your banner (business or personal) in any capacity without proper authorization, you're at fault. You will have two options:

1. Ignore, and refuse to respond any more regarding communication regarding the issue. I've started and managed many legal cases in my career, and a letter from a lawyer in the form of a demand letter isn't the same as being served with a statement of claim. I've had lawyers issue out demand letters, and they were not retained. These letters are used for two reasons, 1: scare tactic, 2: last ditch effort to avoid additional cost and time pursuing the matter further. They're not required to give you any 'non-court' related notices prior to filing a statement of claim.

2. Attempt a settlement, and pay up.

If they do sue you, they will need to prove damages that extends deeper than saying you owe $2750 just because. There is a minimum infringement penalty you will have to pay in Canada if you lose, but damages are not clear cut. Do not waste your time disputing the infringement, all they care about is how much you will pay them, nothing more. If you're going to outright deny the claims, it's better not to discuss the issue any further and let them do what they need to do. You will have to wait until the limitation period is up, which starts from the day they acknowledged you made the infringement (use any hard copy letters or emails as proof). Otherwise, pay and settle the matter if you're worried.

Keep in mind, if they decide to sue you it means nothing. Once they have judgment how will they execute on this judgment? If your company ran the social media site they will need to sue your business, and it's extremely hard to enforce judgments against a company if they have no idea where you bank, what assets your company owns, and who your receivables are. If your company is not limited, then you may personally be liable (ie. sole-proprietorship - John Doe o/a John's Cleaners) I've tossed out many potential legal accounts because it was simply not worth the trouble to skip trace for assets, and the process to seize and liquidate. I personally wouldn't go through the trouble for $2750 unless I was trying to make a point.


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