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I am being accused of copyright infringement

Discussion in 'Copyright, Trademark, Patent Law' started by angela102080, Jul 21, 2010.

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  1. angela102080

    angela102080 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    9 months ago, I uploaded 3 videoclips (all averaging 15 minutes) on YouTube of a DVD which I purchased from the producer. The videoclips were supposed to be for private viewing only (for one person), however, I totally neglected to arrange the setting for private viewing only. Two days ago, this producer found out about the videos and now claims that I am responsible for his economic/financial loss. Since one of the videos had 800 views, he claims that each view could have been a potential DVD seller. He charges $49.95 per DVD, and he estimates that he usually sells 10 DVDs a month. To make a long story short, based on his 9-month estimation, I owe him $39,960!!! As soon as I received his e-mail, I immediately took down the 3 videos in question and apologized for my mistake. I see his estimations as nothing more than speculations, and he really cannot prove that I intentionally damaged his business; on the contrary, he should be thankful that I promoted his DVD on YouTube as a marketing tool.

    Anyone could've viewed the videos, and it's possible that one and the same person could've viewed the videos. Or, it is possible that the producer had known about this a while ago and that he pretended to have known it only 2 days ago! Or perhaps he could've told his friends to view the videos multiple times. Should the producer decide to sue me, wouldn't he be required to get a court order to access the IP addresses of every person that viewed the videos? And wouldn't he be required to present hard copy transaction records of the supposed 10 DVDs that he sold per month?

    By the way, the producer lives in California and I live in Massachusetts. I was advised that if the producer wants to take me to a small claims court, he would have to file it in Massachusetts? Is this true?

    Finally, the way I see it is this - I purchased a copy of his DVD and shared 15 minutes of selected clips to a person strictly for educational purpose It's not like I stole his DVD and purposely infringed on his copyright. I am also looking into "fair use" of copyrighted material which I heard is a grey area. What is the difference between buying a book, making photocopies of a few pages and sharing them for educational and noncommercial purposes and buying a DVD and uploading them on YouTube also for the same purposes?

    I am willing to negotiate with the producer to make amends. I am thinking of proposing to him the following:

    1. I could heavily promote his DVD on my website, say, for one full year, and also promote it via Facebook and other social networks. My website receives an average of 3,000 hits a week and an affiliate website gets an average of 5,000 hits a week. I also have a mailing list database containing almost 7,000 e-mail addresses. My website is a non-profit site that features my interest in beauty pageants.

    2. I am willing to pay him $149.85 which is the total amount if I were to purchase 3 DVDs (each for $49.95) - each DVD to correspond to each of the 3 video segments.

    Does this sound like a fair and reasonable proposal?

    The bottom line is that I cannot afford to pay the producer since I have a very low-paying and non-secure job and I live from paycheck to paycheck. I don't want to be spending the rest of my life paying someone for an act that I did not intentionally commit.

    I would appreciate if a legal counselor could review my posting and get back to me with advice as soon as possible.

    Thank you.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    Admit to nothing, offer nothing, say nothing, wait until he sues you.

    He won't because he'd have to come to MA to sue you.

    You're right, he can't sue you in CA.
    Well, he can sue you, but he can't serve you. A small claims court in CA has no jurisdiction over you in MA.

    So, you've done all you need to do.
    You took the postings down.
    Now, stop talking.



    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  3. angela102080

    angela102080 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you, Armyjudge, for your response. Much appreciated.
     
  4. angela102080

    angela102080 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hello Armyjudge -

    Today, I received a FEDEX envelope with a letter written by a lawyer that my accuser has hired. The letter states the following (I deleted actual names for privacy purposes):

    "The unauthorized dissemination of this DVD has caused ________ to suffer actual and estimated losses. The current estimated damages flowing from your conduct have been previously set forth. ____________ has previously attempted to resolve this dispute, however, you have ignored that request."

    "I would like to provide you with one last opportunity to resolve this matter before I file a legal action in the Federal District Court where the expense of litigation will then be nclude into the cost of this dispute."

    "Please respond to my office within seven days of your receipt of this letter."


    I am somewhat nervous as I do not know what to do. I would appreciate any advice from you.

    Thank you.
     
  5. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    In the future, don't accept anything from this creep. Don't communicate with this creep. It most likely isn't a lawyer.

    Say nothing more to anyone about this. I'm not gonna tell you what to do. I'm gonna tell you what I'd do. Nothing.

    If he sues, he's gotta prove his case. He can't prove you did anything. Sure, something may have happened. But, how can it be proven it was you?

    I doubt seriously this will ever go further than this pitiful attempt to bully and extort money from you. Don't do anything is my motto. Don't say anything.

    Anytime I ever sued anyone, I never threatened I'd sue them. I just sued them.

    This fake lawyer just wants easy money, your money. Now isn't the time to get scared or allow yourself to be bullied.
     
  6. angela102080

    angela102080 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I ended up consulting a lawyer who advised me pro bonothat the accuser has a case. My lawyer said that I cannot ignore the accuser because he will never leave me alone and that both parties may end up spending a lot of money in legal fees. So I decided that I will write a letter to my accuser's lawyer stating that I am willing to settle the dispute. I don't feel that I am being bullied. I do realize that I made a stupid mistake and that I have now acknowledged that it's just a harsh lesson in life.
     
  7. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You'll be very, very sorry.

    Never, under no circumstances ADMIT or CONFESS to anything.

    Telling the truth and confessing NEVER makes things easier. :yes:

    People say that to trap you.

    The best advice is NEVER admit to anything. :no:

    Look at it this way, if they're gonna hang you, why should YOU buy the rope, make the hangman's knot, build the hanging platform, put the noose around your neck, and pull the lever that trips the trapdoor, plummeting YOU to your demise? :confused:


    You'll be sorry, very sorry.
     
  8. angela102080

    angela102080 Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Too late for never admitting to anything. That's exactly the first thing I did. I told my accuser that I did post the videos on YouTube and that I took them down immediately after he wrote to me. I did admit to my wrongdoing. I don't see anything wrong in that per se. Humility can go a long way. I'd rather confront reality instead of running away from it, which you appear to be telling me.
     
  9. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    A little late to be so sanctimonious now, isn't it?
     
  10. reflex439

    reflex439 New Member

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    Consult an experienced intellectual property attorney and solicit their advice!

    I know this is farily old, but for others that may stumble across it.

    Copyright is a federal court issue. I'm pretty sure they can file suit in CA or MA, I don't think they have to file in MA at all.

    If you don't have a written letter of permission to upload the videos, your lawyer was right in advising you that they do indeed have a cause. And in this instance, they do have a pretty good way to assess damages since they can count the number of views, and possibly even unique IP addresses if YouTube logs that data. So the damages could be close to the figure they assessed.

    However, if the clips were only partial clips and did not contain the full contents of the DVD, there is spare to argue that they aren't getting the full contact of the DVD, and thus many might have gone on to purchase the full DVD anyway. Much like people might see a teaser of a film, 10 minutes out of a 2 hour movie, and then go see the film. It might be a valid argument to use when trying to lower the settlement costs or arguing in court.

    If they registered the copyright promptly and correctly, there are statutory damages and legal fees that they can recover if the infringement is upheld. Each infringement could be assessed fees of up to $150K PER infringement, or $450K total for all three videos. The court also has the option to order you to pay all of their attorneys fees. Theoretically, it could be $450K, plus actual damages, plus attorneys fees.

    More than likely it would be far far less, but could still be substantial. In either case, it could be very expensive if it doesn't go your way, and because of the attorneys fees and statutory damages, its worth their time to pursue it.

    Definitely consult an experienced IP attorney and follow their advice!!! Don't rely on the advice here since no one here will be stepping up in court to defend you! Only your attorney will. Good luck.
     

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