Gather the Evidence
If you suspect that your copyright has been infringed, you should immediately begin collecting evidence of the infringement. First, make copies of the infringing material, both electronically and in hard-copy form. You should do this immediately because once the infringer figures out that his infringement has been discovered, he may try to destroy the evidence. Plus, you'll need this information later.
If the infringement is in print, say in a magazine article or poster, take a photograph of it, scan it, and photocopy it. Also, show it to an acquaintance or friend who would be willing to testify about it. If the infringement is on the net, make a print of it and a screen capture. Making a PDF with Macs is supremely easy: click Command-P and then choose "Save as PDF." Windows machines have a myriad of ways of making a PDF from a web page. You might also try using Snagit by TechSmith.
Once you document the infringing material that you found, you should also conduct a Google image search to see if there are any additional infringements of the material.
You might be surprised to find how one instance of infringement leads to another. (See Rachel Scroggins's article.)
Next, determine whether your copyright management information (CMI) has been wiped from the infringed material. With Macs, you can click Command-I in Preview and it will show you the CMI information about the photograph.
If you have a Windows computer, you can do the same by exercising a right-click on the photograph.
If the alleged infringer has stripped the metadata from the photograph, the copyright, author, and contact information will be blank. You might then have a DMCA claim in addition to a copyright claim. If the CMI is intact, you might have a willful infringement claim which could result in a higher settlement or award.
One element of an infringement claim is the length of time the infringer used the infringing material. One way to check this is the Wayback Machine at archive.org. The Wayback Machine can help in that it might have preserved the history of the webpage that contained the infringing material. If the infringer, however, infringed by using the material on more than just the webpage you found more investigation would be needed.
Firefox is also helpful for viewing information about photographs on the internet. For instance, you can click Command-I on a photo and Firefox will let you know the last date that the webpage was modified.
Once you complete these tasks about the image, you should also consider doing the following:
- Save a text file with the webpage's source code.
- Save a copy of the full .html webpage on your computer.
- Save a text file that includes the url of the webpage where is image is hosted.
- Download and save a copy of the photograph as used on the website.
You can also do a WhoIs search which will tell you who owns the website. This is information concerning this site.
It is extremely important to employ these tools to gather evidence for a possible infringement claim before you communicate with the alleged infringer.
Complete the Evaluation Form
Once you have gathered your evidence, contact our office through the evaluation form below. The information you provide in the form is critical for a proper review of your claim. Please be as complete as possible.