Section 1202 makes it illegal for someone to remove your “copyright management information” from your photo to disguise the infringement when used. The copyright management information need only be your name, identifying information, or copyright notice to qualify.
Many photographers place watermarks including their name, Web site, and/or the copyright notice on their images to prevent someone from infringing them. With digital technology, it’s fairly easy to crop or clone over the mark.
But when proved that the infringer removed or altered your information to use your photo in an unauthorized manner, you may recover for that removal under the DMCA.
The fines start at $2500 and go to $25,000 in addition to attorneys’ fees and any damages for the infringement.
What the Statute Says
The pertinent part of the statute is included below:
Section 1202. Integrity of copyright management information . . .
(b) REMOVAL OR ALTERATION OF COPYRIGHT MANAGEMENT INFORMATION.
No person shall, without the authority of the copyright owner or the law: (1) intentionally remove or alter any copyright management information . . . (3) distribute . . . copies of works . . . knowing that copyright management information has been removed or altered without authority of the copyright owner . . . knowing . . . that it will . . . conceal an infringement of any right under this title.
(c) DEFINITION. . . . “[C]opyright management information” means any of the following information conveyed in connection with copies . . . of a work . . . or displays of a work, including in digital form . . . : (2) The name of, and other identifying information about, the author of a work. (3) The name of, and other identifying information about, the copyright owner of the work, including the information set forth in a notice of copyright. . . .
Section 1203. Civil remedies…
(b) POWERS OF THE COURT. In an action brought under subsection (a), the court . . . (3) may award damages under subsection (c); (4) in its discretion may allow the recovery of costs by or against any party . . . ; [and] (5) in its discretion may award reasonable attorney’s fees to the prevailing party . . .
(c) AWARD OF DAMAGES. (1) IN GENERAL. . . . [a] person committing a violation of . . . 1202 is liable for either (A) the actual damages and any additional profits of the violator . . . or (B) statutory damages, as provided in paragraph (3).
(3) STATUTORY DAMAGES. . . . (B) At any time before final judgment is entered, a complaining party may elect to recover an award of statutory damages for each violation of section 1202 in the sum of not less than $2,500 or more than $25,000.
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