California Plaintiff’s Attorney Helps Artists, Inventors and Other Creators Fight Infringement

Preeminent trial lawyer pursues statutory damages for works registered with U.S. Copyright Office

At Fergus, A Law Office, I understand there’s nothing more frustrating for artists than to have their works appropriated without their permission and used for someone else’s profit. If this has happened to you, I may be able to help. As a plaintiff’s attorney, I’ve been able to secure compensation for a variety of artists whose copyrights were infringed, either through damage awards or licensing agreements.  I have fought on the side of inventors, artists, authors, copyright owners and trademark owners in numerous infringement actions. I can accurately assess your case and advise you on the best course of action for enforcing your rights.

Statutory damages available only for registered Works

If your work has been published and you registered your work as a published work with the United States Copyright Office within three months of publication, or you registered your unpublished work prior to infringement, you may be entitled to recover:

  • Starting at $200 for an innocent infringement, up to $30,000 per infringement
  • Up to $150,000 per infringement (if the use was willful)
  • Attorney’s fees and expenses

If you have not registered your work as described above, you still own the copyright, but statutory damages are not allowed.  Before you can sue for damages you would still have to first register your work with the United States Copyright Office.  Then you could sue for actual damages, meaning you’d have to prove the amount of economic loss you suffered because of the impermissible use.  Alternatively, you could seek to recover the amount of profit made by the infringer as a result of the infringement.  Depending on the type of work, proof of actual damages or infringer profits attributable to the infringement may be difficult and expensive.  Often parties resort to negotiating a licensing agreement if the infringer is interested in continuing to use your creation. (It is also important to note that not all use without permission is impermissible use; exceptions exist for “fair use” of copyrighted works, as in news reporting and criticism.)

A wealth of experience asserting creator’s rights

The case In re Literary Works, MDL 1379, United States District Court Southern District of New York, illustrates how I’ve helped artists by securing monetary damages for infringements.  As one of the original lead counsel, I helped achieve a class settlement of more than $18 million for freelance writers after online databases and publishers had infringed their works. Though the court held that owners of unregistered copyrights had no standing to sue infringers for statutory damages, we were able to include those plaintiffs in the class settlement, because in this unique situation, the defendants wanted permission to continue using that content.

Creating an income stream by licensing your registered copyright materials

One of the most important economic engines for creators of copyrighted works is licensing the use of that work. Licensing also benefits the creator, because it establishes the range of economic loss to the creator from other unauthorized uses. I have negotiated effective and profitable licenses for my creator clients, both exclusive and non-exclusive, across all different types of media. As suggested above, what starts as unauthorized use can often turn into a long-term licensing deal.

Contact a preeminent copyright attorney in California to protect your ownership rights

If you are the owner of a registered copyright, or you are interested in negotiating a licensing deal that protects your ownership rights, Fergus, A Law Office, can help. Call me today at 415.537.9030 or contact my office online. Our office is conveniently located in downtown San Francisco.