Stolen property is not limited to physical objects anymore. In this day and age, anything produced digitally could be stolen and used by other people if you don’t protect yourself. Intellectual, or digital property is anything that you produce digitally. Graphics, photography, video, sound, writing, web design, coding and programming are among some of the digital properties that are produced for the web and social media.
As soon as you have created something, it is automatically copyrighted to you (or the creators). Copyright on it’s own is generally not enough to protect your intellectual property (even though it should be). You will also need to register your digital property with copyright.gov. This provides proof that you have copyright on your work. After your work is registered, you usually won’t have any issues with theft.
What to Do if Your Work is Stolen
If your work is stolen even after you’ve registered the intellectual property, there are a few things that you should do. As soon as you notice that your work has been stolen and used without your permission, you should get a lawyer. A lawyer can issue a cease and desist order. This order demands the thief to immediately stop using your digital property. If they do not cease and desist, then you can pursue legal action.
If you cannot afford to get a lawyer, don’t worry, there’s still some things you can do. You can issue a Digital Millennium Copyright Act take down request (Or a DMCA take down). This take down request will request that the thief remove your content from their website. If the thief refuses to remove your intellectual property from wherever they’re publishing it, the DMCA will contact the thief’s internet service provider. Their ISP will remove the content on your behalf. This form of take down request is an established internet standard used by website owners and internet service providers.
Just About Everything is Copyrighted
In this era of digitization, it is essential that everyone is aware of copyright and what it means. Nobody can simply make a Google search for “cats” and take any image of a cat that they see fit. Somebody actually owns those photographs. Unless you’ve paid for the copyright to use them, they are not for your use. It’s similar to breaking into the physical location of a photography business and stealing their actual photographs.
The good news is that there is a good chance you will successfully get the thief to stop using your property. The unfortunate part, is that you have to use your time and resources to get them to stop.