Are there penalties for false copyright claims?

gavel4CC0If you believe someone has infringed your copyright, before taking any enforcement action, you should determine whether the use is actually infringing. Consider whether the alleged infringer is acting within the scope of any license you may have granted, for instance through Creative Commons or social media, and whether the use may be considered fair use. Taking legal action is appropriate in cases of copyright infringement, but legal tactics should not be abused.

Corporations have been accused of abusing the DMCA takedown notice process by issuing large numbers of takedown notices through an automated process that often misidentifies material as copyrighted, and does not take into account whether the use is fair. Fair use activists have called for penalties to be applied when the takedown process is abused. Issuing a takedown notice in bad faith constitutes perjury.

Sending an improper cease-and-desist letter could result in the alleged infringer filing a copyright lawsuit against you seeking a declaratory judgment that their use is not infringing. Filing a copyright infringement lawsuit could result in you having to pay the defendant’s attorney’s fees, if the defendant wins and the court awards such fees.

These potential consequences of ill-considered legal action mean that you should consider your options carefully.

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