I was hired to make a website complete with images and videos. My employer refused to pay the full amount for the work but took all the content and gave it to another designer to upload to a new website. The content is now online for all to see and I've been ripped off. Is this a copyright infringement?
It may be a work for hire agreement. Have a local attorney review your contract, emails and any other correspondence. Good luck.
The response above is not intended as legal advice since it’s impracticable to provide thorough, accurate advice based upon the query without additional details. It is highly recommended that one should seek advice from a criminal defense attorney licensed in your jurisdiction by setting up a confidential meeting. Moreover, this response does not constitute the creation of an attorney-client relationship since this message is not a confidential communication because it was posted on a public website, thereby publicly disclosing the information, which is another reason to setup a confidential meeting with an attorney.
General Practice Lawyer
It would depend upon whether you assigned copyright, or if copyright vested in him by contract, or if you reserved copyright. I suspect that it IS copyright infringement, without knowing more.
I am an Attorney-at-Law, licensed to practice law only in the state of California. Unless we have both signed a formal retainer agreement, you are not my client, and my discussion of issues does not constitute legal advice. Opinions expressed herein are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of those who hold other opinions.
Employment / Labor Attorney
Did you have a written employment contract? Were you an employee or an independent contractor? I suspect that there are more facts than you listed in the post. You might benefit from a consultation with an experienced attorney.
Intellectual Property Law Attorney
There are always at least two sides to a dispute. I'm quite sure the person who hired you will say that you failed to perform as promised and that his decision to pay you less than the agreed-upon amount [assuming it was agreed-upon] was justified. In fact, he may claim that because of your failure to perform he had to hire a different designer and that YOU are liable for that extra cost.
You want to know if you have any leverage that can be used to extract from him the amount he withheld. If that amount is less than $5,000 then pursuing this matter through legal counsel will not be cost effective -- even if you do have leverage [through copyright or contract or any other type of law]. Some disputes, and most inequities, have no efficient remedy or, indeed, any remedy at all.
There's a wrinkle in your fact pattern: You note that the website you created displays photographs and plays videos. You need to make sure that whoever owns the copyrights in those photographs and videos have agreed, in writing, that each one can be shown and played via the website. Without those permissions, YOU are likely liable for the infringements [along with your former client, the website owner]. If that situation is possible then you need to immediately speak with your own intellectual property attorney. Good luck.
The above response is general information ONLY and is not legal advice, does not form an attorney-client relationship, and should NOT be relied upon to take or refrain from taking any action. I am not your attorney. You should seek the advice of competent counsel before taking any action related to your inquiry.