The term intellectual property refers to creations of the human mind such as designs, inventions, and artistic works. Types of intellectual property include copyrights, trademarks, patents, geographical indications, and industrial designs. Copyrights define the rights that individuals have over their artistic and literary works. The works covered by copyrights include paintings, music, books, computer programs, advertisements, and technical drawings. Patents are exclusive rights granted to an individual for an invention. They give the creator the right to decide whether others can use their inventions. Trademarks, on the contrary, are mostly used in business entities, especially for helping the public distinguish their products from others. Similarly, geographical indicators are used on products, which possess qualities that are attributed to a place of origin. Industrial designs are a type of intellectual property, which constitute the aesthetic aspect of a given article. Intellectual property infringement is a legal term, which defines the violation of an intellectual property right. Forms of infringement include an unauthorized duplication of material and using information for personal use without the creator’s knowledge. The three scenarios pertaining to Professor Brodie’s work represent forms of intellectual property infringement.
In the first scenario, a member of Professor Brodie’s audience, Mr. Hall, takes photographs of the Flipchart, which he intends to reproduce for personal use. This is a case of copyright infringement; copyright laws protect original works of authorship, such as manuscripts, paintings, and books (Atkinson and Fitzgerald, 2011, p.13). Therefore, Professor Brodie has exclusive rights to reproduce the work, display the copyrighted work publicly, and distribute copies of the work to the public (McJohn, 2009, p.144). The professor should recognize that Mr. Hall violated the copyright law, which constitutes a criminal offense. In the second case, Ms. Rahimini, a journalist, used Professor Brodie’s notes to write a critical review for a magazine. This is also a case of copyright infringement, in which the creator’s work is reproduced without their knowledge. Dr. Vikka, another member of Professor Brodie’s audience, violates the copyright law by translating the professor’s work into Russian, then publishing it in a Russian Journal. According to the copyright law, copyright in a work is infringed, if another individual, who is not the owner of the work or copyright, exercises the rights bestowed upon the copyright.
The first step to stopping a copyright infringement is approaching the liable party directly. This can be done through a professional letter, which states clearly, what work has been used without her consent. Therefore, Professor Brodie should draft professional letters to Mr. Hall, Ms. Rahimini, and Dr. Vikka, citing what part of her work they used without her permission. The professor should elaborate that she owns the copyrights to the work, as a way of requesting them to remove the copyrighted work. The letters should also include a list of rights conferred by a copyright to the owner, to make it clear to the liable parties that they have infringed Professor Brodie’s copyrights. The professor should also provide a timeline within which, she expects the parties to respond. At this point, the professor should keep a record of her attempts to deal with the infringement, in case the parties do not respond to her request. The second step to dealing with the copyright infringement is gathering evidence against the infringers. If Mr. Hall, Dr. Vikka, and Ms. Rahimini do not heed to Brodie’s requests, then the professor should gather all information, which proves ownership of her stolen work. This is a necessary step, especially if the infringement results in a legal case.
The next step is notifying the infringers of the next actions through a cease-and desist order. A cease-and-desist order is a form of a follow-up notice to infringers to stop using copyrighted material. However, in a cease-and-desist order, the owner of the copyright implies a threat of action, if the liable parties do not remove the copyrighted material. While the first notification letter is addressed directly to the party involved, the cease-and-desist order should be sent to everyone involved (Espejo, 2009, p.51). For example, in Ms. Rahimini’s and Dr. Vikka’s cases, the professor should send cease-and-desist orders to all parties involved, such as publishing houses and broadcasting houses. This would ensure that all parties are aware of handling copyrighted material. Professor Brodie’s cease and desist order may include information such as a notification of copyright infringement, a clear timeline and deadline for response, a specific request for a move that will satisfy her need to have the copyrighted materials removed, a notification of the infringers’ liability for any damages caused by copyright infringement, and a demand for compensation for any income or profits derived from the infringement. In addition, the professor should specify that she would seek legal redress if her demands were not met by the deadline. Brodie should also notify the liable parties how they are to respond to her, regarding the action.
In case a cease-and-desist order does not trigger the removal of copyrighted material, the professor should proceed and seek legal redress. She should file separate legal suits against the parties who do not respond to her demands. This would ensure that she receives compensation for any losses caused by the copyright infringements. Moreover, a legal suit would ensure that the professor receives compensation in the form of profits made from the use of her material. The first step to filling a legal suit against the infringers is hiring an attorney, who would be her representative. It is important to note that an attorney can be hired even in the cease-and-desist order stage, through whom the infringers respond. An attorney is beneficial as they aid in evidence gathering and facilitate the compensation procedures. Hiring a copyright attorney should involve looking for one who has specialized primarily in copyrights. Most intellectual property attorneys can handle cases pertaining to copyrights, patents, and trademarks competently. However, it would be crucial if Professor Brodie avoids attorneys who have specialized on patents, because some of them do not put much effort on copyrights. Additionally, Brodie should first agree on a payment arrangement for before and after the case prior to settling on a copyright attorney.
The steps to filing a lawsuit against a copyright infringement include hiring a professional lawyer, evaluating claims, and assessing the goals for instituting the lawsuit (Espejo, 2009, p.56). As mentioned, hiring a professional and experienced copyright attorney is crucial as it influences the chances of winning a case. Professor Brodie could hire one attorney to represent her in all three cases, to minimize the costs incurred in paying different lawyers. The lawyer she hires will help her determine whether her lawsuits are worthwhile by establishing her chances of winning. Evaluation of claims, which is the second step of filing a lawsuit against copyright infringement, entails the assessment of several elements, which pertain to a copyright. The professor should first ensure that her copyright is valid. According to the copyright law, protection against infringements exists immediately when the owner creates work that is eligible under the Copyright Act. Under this Act, the types of eligible works include musical, literary, sound recordings, architectural, and pictorial or graphic works. Therefore, the professor should note that if her work was copied from another person or did not fall under the eligible works, then her copyright claim might be invalid.
While evaluating her claims, Brodie should also establish that the infringers had access to her copyrighted work. In all three scenarios, the liable parties infringed copyright knowingly, as the professor presented her work to them publicly; therefore, her claims are adequate to file a lawsuit if the liable parties do not respond to her demands to eliminate the copied materials.
Before seeking legal redress, it is necessary for the copyright owner to determine whether the copyright infringement meets a copyright exception. Exceptions to copyright laws are defenses, which arise from an alleged infringer, claiming that their use of copyrighted material was lawful (Gisselberg, 2013, p.8). Ensuring that copyright infringement claims are not subject to exceptions to the copyright law is crucial, as it would save costs, which the professor would otherwise incur upon proceeding to file the lawsuit. A court looks at various factors when establishing whether the alleged copyright infringement meets the exception of fair use (McJohn, 2009, p.169). Such factors include the nature of copyrighted work, whether the market for the copyrighted work has been affected, and the purpose of the infringing use. Thus, Professor Brodie should consider the validity of defenses, which may be raised by the defendants before seeking legal redress against them. Her attorney could aid in this step. An assessment of the goals for instituting a legal suit against copyright infringement should be a consideration prior to filing it. Most copyright owners sue infringers for money; their objective is reimbursing themselves from lost profits. The motive behind others, however, is to force the liable party from using their work as well as proving their ownership of the copyright. Whatever the reason, the professor should evaluate whether instituting the lawsuit would be more beneficial to her.
The most appropriate and cost effective way of handling a copyright infringement is protection of copyrights (Poltorak and Lerner, 2011, p.47). The professor should not only focus on handling the current infringement cases, but also prevent others in the future. This could be done through the generation of a copyright infringement strategy. An infringement strategy involves an assessment of intellectual property rights and a generation of parameters for instituting an infringement action. An effective infringement strategy should include identification and awareness policies, proactive measures, detection methods, budgets for infringement action, and objectives for such actions. Identification and awareness policies entail the education of people about intellectual property rights and their enlightenment on where and how to access permission to use intellectual property. Brodie should incorporate a page citing her copyright policy in her lecture notes to make the public aware that the materials are her intellectual property. This would limit the number of copyright infringements on her material. Another awareness measure would be encouraging the public, to whom she provides her notes through lectures, to ask her for permission before reproducing her work. The use of proactive measures such as access codes is a proactive measure, which could be utilized to prevent and detect copyright infringements. The use of passwords and access codes is particularly effective for copyright material on the internet. However, for physical materials such as Professor Brodie’s notes, physical protection measures such as a copyright policy page would be effective in preventing copyright infringement.
Additionally, Professor Brodie could prevent copyright infringement by limiting the number of people who can access her work. She could also watermark her pictures and diagrams so that individuals such as Mr. Hall do not use them. The professor should also incorporate detection strategies to discover copyright infringers, as a way of minimizing the number of such cases. She could do this, for example, through periodic reviews of other related publications. An efficient infringement prevention strategy includes the budget and objectives of an infringement action. A budget is an integral part of any infringement action because losing a legal suit, for example, could translate to immense losses for the copyright owner. The owner, therefore, has to evaluate the value of the copyright and decide whether imposing a suit against its infringer would be worthwhile. Similarly, the objectives should always be weighed against the possible benefits in determining whether an infringement action would be necessary in a given case. Registration of copyrights is also an effective way of preventing copyright infringement (Leaffer, 2005, p.44). In the United States (US), for example, copyright owners register themselves with the US Copyright Office, which protects their rights. The professor should focus on preventing a recurrence of copyright infringement scenarios in the future by registering with a copyright office in her locale. Moreover, she could register with an agent at the copyright office, who would send her notices in case of any infringements on her copyrights.
Intellectual property defines innovations of the human mind. Types of intellectual property include copyrights, patents, trademarks, and industrial designs. Intellectual property laws protect the creators against infringements. Examples of works covered by copyrights include paintings, music, books, computer programs, advertisements, and technical drawings. Copyrights give the owner of a given piece of work the right to reproduce the material, show it to the public, and even distribute copies to others. Three individuals in her audience infringed Professor Brodie’s copyrighted work in three ways. The first took photographs of diagrams and reproduced them, the second used her theories in an article, which was published, while the third translated the work into Russian, and then published it in a journal. The professor should follow due procedure, to handle the infringement cases. The first step would be approaching the three parties through a professional letter, which cautions them to cease using her work without permission. The second step would be gathering evidence of copyright infringement while the third would be issuing a cease-and-desist order. The failure to comply with her demands should trigger a lawsuit. To avoid such cases in the future, the professor should formulate a copyright infringement strategy, which includes proactive measures, detection techniques, and ways to make the members of the public aware of her ownership of the copyrighted material. In addition, Brodie should register with a copyright office, to have her rights protected.
Atkinson, B. A. C., and Fitzgerald, B. F. 2011. Copyright law. Farnham, Surrey, England: Ashgate.
Espejo, R. 2009. Copyright infringement. Detroit: Greenhaven Press.
Gisselberg, T. 2013, "Where to Sue in Copyright Infringement Cases", Copyright & New Media Law Newsletter, 17(1), pp. 7-10.
Leaffer, M. A. 2005. Understanding copyright law. Newark, N.J: LexisNexis.
McJohn, S. M. 2009. Intellectual property: Examples & explanations. New York: Aspen Publishers.
Poltorak, A., and Lerner, P. 2011. Essentials of intellectual property: Law, economics, and strategy. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.