Photo Infringement Warning for Web Developers, Webmasters, and others! Using unlicensed software plugins and web themes.
Building your corporate or personal WordPress website can be fun and good for business. Adding “plugins” is something that just about every web developer or webmaster has to do to make a great functional WordPress website. But each of these plugins are made by different companies, and each has its own end-user licensing agreement. Failure to follow these rules can result in an illegal copyright infringement demand letter, or worse yet, a federal copyright lawsuit.
Plugin case example
On this website, I have a “contact form” plugin. This is the form that is at the end of my blogs that allows you to send me an email if you want to contact our law firm. This plugin is great, but while I was looking at the licensing page I saw the following (which is not a big deal to me because I only manage this one website):
“Our license agreement says: “One plugin can be installed on one single domain and its subdomains”. You can use one Pro plugin for one domain only. When you are using Pro plugin on a different WordPress website, it is considered to be illegal use. If you would like to use the plugin on another website, you should remove the plugin from the old website and only then install the plugin to a new one. The license key is connected to the domain URL specified during the purchase.” What can happen is when you upgrade to their “Pro” version, you can download a .ZIP file, and this file can then be installed on other versions of WordPress the user might be running. For example, many websites like GoDaddy, Bluehost, and HostGator allow users to have multiple domains and multiple websites (many bloggers have multiple websites). But this contact form plugin (and the upgrade) should not be used on multiple websites at risk of facing a federal copyright action.
Adding WordPress Plugins – Dashboard
Make sure you are saving all of your licenses and receipts for your Plugins and apps!
As a web developer, CIO, CTO or other person in charge of the software asset management at your company, you need to MAKE SURE you are keeping software receipts for everything you are buying including WebThemes (ex Theme Forest) and WordPress plugins. This can mean a lot of different software programs, plugins, or other intellectual property that you are licensing from another company are subject to copyright laws. When you buy (or more likely "license" a new product), TAKE THE TIME to print out the email and put it in a folder confirming what you paid, when you paid it and having that proof of purchase. This may not be REQUIRED per se, but maybe a very smart business move in the long run.
Our firm deals with a lot of Microsoft Software Audits, Autodesk (AutoCad, Revit, Maya, Inventor) and BSA software audits. Here is what Microsoft lawyers tell us about having proofs of purchase for their software:
“PROOF OF LICENSE. a. Genuine Proof of License. If you acquired the software on a disc or other media, your proof of license is the genuine Microsoft certificate of authenticity label with the accompanying genuine product key and your proof of purchase. If you purchased and downloaded the software online, your proof of license is the genuine Microsoft product key for the software which you received with your purchase and your proof of purchase from an authorized electronic supplier of genuine Microsoft software. Proof of purchase may be subject to verification by your merchant's records.”
So you have to keep in mind that IT'S A JUNGLE OUT THERE (and legal liability trap for officers and directors) and companies are working hard to protect their intellectual property rights, and you do not want to have your company known for being a “software pirate.” At the end of the day, there could be costly fines, fees, and penalties levied against you, especially if willful copyright infringement is shown. We can help both companies needing to protect their rights and those accused of copyright infringement (many times of which the software companies are making unreasonable demands.
Using "Press It" type tools to copyright pictures onto your blogs
Another scenario that can get webmasters and blog hosts in legal trouble over copyright law is using Wordpress plugins that allow companies and individuals to COPY another website (including any photos, images, art, and illustrations) and to post the photos and potentially the blog articles on the webmaster's post or page. Usually, there is no warning or notice that this may create a copyright problem. In some cases, the photographer's name, image, or other copyrighted content may be removed or altered, creating a serious liability problem with what we call "Section 1202 copyright claims." These are separate claims from allegations of willful copyright infringement and can lead to damages of $2,500 to $25,000 PER ACT." 1202 claims require knowledge and intent so if you receive a letter alleging 1202 make sure to promptly call a copyright lawyer BEFORE you respond. Many people make the initial mistake of trying to handle these serious legal issues on their own, not knowing there are potential defenses of non-commercial use, fair use, and innocent infringement.
Watch Attorney Steve® Discuss Copyright Section 1202(a) and (b) Claims in Photo and Video Infringement
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Contact an Intellectual Property, Software Licensing & Internet Lawyer
We help companies and individuals (both Plaintiff and Defendants) in cases involving online copyright infringement, photo infringement, computer font infringement, jewelry, video (YouTube law), DMCA and "Fair Use" cases. We can also assist with federal copyright infringement, developing software licenses and terms of service, serving as your DMCA agent and handling other new media legal issues. Contact us at (877) 276-5084, or, you can use the CONTACT FORM BELOW! We are a leading copyright infringement law firm in the United States. We have appeared in over 150 federal court copyright cases and have excellent Client reviews! In fact, we were named as "Client's Choice" by the leading lawyer rating site Avvo.