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What can i do about someone using a photo I own for an article badmouthing my industry?

Smyrna, GA |

I have a pageant business. We take many pictures at our events and display them on Facebook. There is a news website that has an article about pageants being banned in France and sexualization of girls (which isn't true, by the way) How do we get them to take it down and/or do we have good grounds to sue this company.

I'm sorry, I forgot to say that they are using our picture on that article.

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Attorney answers 2


If you are serious about this matter, and you believe that the news website is actually using your copyrighted photo (whether registered or not, you obtain common law copyrights to any original work of authorship as of the moment said work or expression is reduced to a tangible medium, in this case, a photograph. Your major impediment - although this is somewhat down the line (2-4 weeks) however, will be overcoming what you should absolutely expect the news company's to raise as its defense, namely, the well-settled doctrine of FAIR USE - this carve out of CR and TM law was, I believe, initially and originally developed so as to protect journalistic integrity and the ability of news broadcasts to adequately broadcast the news without a gag-order looming in their minds and/or without being fearful of retaliation by any famous persons who may claim copyright infringement. FAIR USE is a defense which permits the user of the protected copyright or trademark to use that mark - NOT as an original work of authorship or expression (copyright use) and NOT as a source identifier (trademark use), but rather, solely as a necessary means of referring to the parties involved for purposes of providing an informative and not disjointed or fractured news segment.

If you still want to take action, feel free to contact me at your earliest convenience.

There is a very specific and narrowly-tailored procedural mechanism for "taking down" allegedly infringing websites or URLs, under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) whereby you would first take note of each and every URL you find to be infringing on your copyrights, and then having an attorney prepare for you a DMCA "Takedown Notice", which, if properly prepared to the ISP in charge of hosting or providing Internet service to the site or domain in question, will result in the the ISP's notifying the registrant of the domain name (usually owner of website), that they have received such notice and must comply with the DMCA which requires that any and all identified infringing URLs be TAKEN DOWN and SUSPENDED for a period of 10-14 days (varies from ISP to ISP and their respective reaction/responsive times).

However, do note that unless you are prepared to sue them in federal court which has exclusive jurisdiction over such federal questions (i.e., re: federal copyright and/or trademark questions), then the most you will get is 10-14 days of silence - obtained quite aggressively and expediently at that - but the suspension will only continue and not expire after 2 weeks' time if and only if the attorney who prepared and served the ISP with the Takedown Notice provides proof within such time of a federal lawsuit having been commenced by the attorney's client, whose copyrights were allegedly infringed. Further, the ISP will advise the registrant of their equivalent right to counter such Takedown Notice by filing a "Counter Takedown Notice", which will essentially moot the issue if adequately pled, and relinquish the parties back from whence they came, making both sides whole and republishing the original postings, and free to litigate the matter in federal court as between themselves should they wish to pursue the matter further.

Hope this helps!

Matthew A. Pek, Esq.

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"I don't care what you say about me, as long as you say something about me, and as long as you spell my name right." - George M. Cohan

You are likely fighting a losing battle and being counterproductive. Public controversy makes people take note and watch.

Who cares if you have great grounds to sue. If you have enough to get past summary judgment, you might consider the suit a publicity stunt. One of the ways Donald Trump gets people to pay attention is by being controversial, and he owns the biggest pageant. Learn from the pro!

Perhaps you should see an IP attorney and grab some headlines.

I am not your lawyer and you are not my client. Free advice here is without recourse and any reliance thereupon is at your sole risk. This is done without compensation as a free public service. I am licensed in IL, MO, TX and I am a Reg. Pat. Atty. so advice in any other jurisdiction is strictly general advice and should be confirmed with an attorney licensed in that jurisdiction.