Artwork I used to have in online portfolio used without permission

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  1. #1
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    Artwork I used to have in online portfolio used without permission

    Okay, so I was cleaning up my online portfolio one day, getting rid of pieces I no longer wanted displayed. During this same time, I noticed that I had accidently not updated my 'Copyright' notice on the bottom of each of my pages on my website. So I removed the pages for the pieces I no longer wanted (though I kept them uploaded, but removed the links to them), and I changed the copyright notices to 'Copyright 2007-2011' (and actually also for the pages for the pieces I removed, just in case I wanted to bring them back for some reason).

    Soon after that, I went into my hosting services' 'AwStats' tool, which allows me to see stats about who links to my site, among other visitor statistics. I don't get many visitors (my site is very basic and I'm still a student), but I clicked on one, and discovered that it was a blog...a blog that I very much want to have zero association with (as far as its political leaning goes). The woman had likely just used Google image search and found my image, and posted it along with her blog entry. This was near the start of July, and I saw that she had had it there since some time in May. I sent her two emails, about two weeks apart, asking if she could please remove my artwork (not saying the reason why, in fear that I'd inflame her and make her argue with me or something); no reply (even though it SAYS on her blog that she WILL remove images if someone asks her to). I emailed wordpress, and it is a wordpress.com blog, and they sent me this:

    "Hi,

    If you would like to formally report an instance of copyright infringement for materials or content you own, please follow the instructions on this page to submit a DMCA notice identifying yourself as the copyright holder:

    http://automattic.com/dmca/

    As per the information contained at the above URL, please ensure that your DMCA notice includes the following information (otherwise, it will be deemed invalid):

    * An electronic signature of the copyright owner or a person authorized to act on their behalf;
    * An identification of the copyright claimed to have been infringed;

    * A description of the nature and exact location of the content that you claim to infringe your copyright, in sufficient detail to permit Automattic to find and positively identify that content; for example we require a link to the specific blog post (not just the name of the blog) that contains the content and a description of which specific portion of the blog post – an image, a link, the text, etc – your complaint refers to;
    * Your name, address, telephone number and email address; and
    * A statement by you: (a) that you believe in good faith that the use of the content that you claim to infringe your copyright is not authorized by law, or by the copyright owner or such owner’s agent; and (b) under penalty of perjury, that all of the information contained in your Infringement Notice is accurate, and that you are either the copyright owner or a person authorized to act on their behalf.

    If you are having trouble composing a proper notice, as outlined above, we recommend using the available form at http://automattic.com/dmca/ to submit the notice. Please note that any notices submitted via this form are still legally binding and will be forwarded to the owner of the site publishing the allegedly infringing material.

    Thank you."

    Unfortunately, if you notice the part I bolded... there's the problem of me having not updated the Copyright notice on that page, and also that I removed the page for that piece from being an active page of my site. I emailed a professor, and he suggested that for future pieces I put the copyright directly in the .jpg instead of just on the site. He said that things would be complicated, as I suspected, with the issue of me not having updated, and having removed the page. He said that another illustrator friend of his suggested sending her an invoice to show that I'm serious about this. He also said I could talk to him more once the semester starts...

    But I'd possibly like to know what I can do now. What's the proper course of action? What would the invoice look like, if I did that? I began filling out the form that Wordpress told me to fill out, but I'm confused about my copyright complications. If anyone wants a link to my site or this woman's blog, let me know, but I'm not sure if I'm allowed to do that here.

    Also, I've heard that there's a possibility that because this piece was in fact made for a class at my college, that my college somehow owns the piece? And that I could talk to my college and have them pursue this situation for me...?

    If this is the wrong sub-forum, I'm sorry, but I couldn't figure out what other place would be better.

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  2. #2
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    Just fill out the form and take it from there. If it's really important to you, register the piece with the copyright office (you can actually register multiple unpublished pieces as one collection). Having or not having a copyright notice on the site or the image itself is irrelevant, a work is under copyright from the moment of completion, but if you want to pursue any legal action you'll have to register it anyway. And no, the copyright of student work does not belong to the school, although most schools have language in your enrollment forms that gives the non-exclusive rights to use your student work for promotion.


    Tristan Elwell
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  4. #3
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    I'm confused.. What you said just sounded kind of contradicting to me... you say I should just 'go ahead and fill out that form', because any artwork completed automatically falls under copyright protection.. but then you say that if I want to pursue legal action (which filling out this form is, right?) then I have to register it.... ?

    And what about the fact that she took and used my artwork in the past; what good is me registering it now anyway?

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  5. #4
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    Pursuing legal action= getting layers and courts involved. Although all works are copyrighted on creation, in order to bring an infringement suit, the work has to be registered. The registration can occur at any time after the work was created. Whether the work was registered before or after the infringement only becomes an issue if you are looking for monetary damages, which in this case you aren't. I don't know what sort of proof of copyright the hosting company requires, they may accept something short of registration. So, fill out the form as best you can now and take things from there. Do not send any sort of invoice, it will only muddy the waters.

    Also, since you are still a student, now is the perfect time to familiarize yourself with the Copyright Office's website, especially the FAQ: http://www.copyright.gov


    Tristan Elwell
    **Finished Work Thread **Process Thread **Edges Tutorial

    Crash Course for Artists, Illustrators, and Cartoonists, NYC, the 2013 Edition!

    "Work is more fun than fun."
    -John Cale

    "Art is supposed to punch you in the brain, and it's supposed to stay punched."
    -Marc Maron
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