I learned the following that I assert to be factually true and correct after a proposal and architectural drawings were stolen from me by faculty of the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee — School of Architecture and Urban Planning that shopped my stolen works to others who then constructed an entertainment venue marketed as Milwaukee RiverSplash.
What I learned about copyright infringement was taught to me by a lawyer working for a law firm which specializes in intellectual property law. That law firm is located in America’s “Silicon Valley” (San Jose, California), the geographic location where the best of the best intellectual property law firms located to be near America’s most successful software development and Information Technology companies.
I advise all those concerned with preserving –-and defending— a copyright or those interested in avoiding being bullied by sleazy lawyers or otherwise being misled by false and misleading "facts" about copyright registration to seek out intellectual property law firms in Silicon Valley to verify what my experience conveys. When I discovered my works had been stolen and used to build RiverSplash I sought out well over a dozen intellectual property law firms in and around Milwaukee, Wisconsin and several in Chicago, Illinois.
Over a dozen firms were contacted because I got nowhere and learned nothing until I realized most intellectual property lawyers are not "intellectual" at all because most never need to learn anything beyond sending a cease and desist letter which is generally a very effective tool used to B+B (Bullshit and Bully). Apparently, most of these types of lawyers have never even stepped into a federal court room to actually litigate a claim of infringement and have no real experience or knowledge of the details which really matter –or—they were just parasites who would say nothing about anything until paid several thousands of dollars in retainment fees.
So like former President of the United States Ronald Reagan is known to have said, "trust but verify" and when verifying what I convey I advise seeking legal advice from law firms located where the Information Technology industry in America got started: Silicon Valley where hundreds of millions of dollars of intellectual property is managed by the brightest and most experienced lawyers any of the rest of us may learn from.
So let’s get started with the fundamentals: U.S. copyright law itself and the rules of the U.S. Federal Courts (USFC) are two different things. It is within a USFC where any and all such claims of copyright infringement –must– be litigated and the USFC makes and enforces its own rules which determine how the USFC recognizes and responds to any and all claims of copyright infringement.
So please pay close attention as this next comment is very contentious as it is sure to be claimed to be false by the ignorati or those with an agenda because these facts are not well understood at all as the facts themselves are not generally made known:
It is widely believed that U.S. copyright law no longer requires anybody to pay a fee and register a copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office (USCO). It is believed that those that do not pay and register a copyright with the USCO still hold an enforceable copyright. That belief is a fallacy as the belief is only partly true being based on facts which pertain to copyright laws themselves -–but—beliefs which are ignorant of the facts or disregard the facts regarding the rules of the USFC.
Yes, it has become true that registration with the USCO is not -–required– by law but it is also true (as I have learned the hard way) that the rules of the USFC disallow any copyright infringement claims to be brought before the court for litigation unless a copyright has been registered with the USCO. A copyright may be registered with the USCO at any time which allows litigants entry into the USFC to argue –and prove– their claims of infringement –however– not registering the copyright with the USCO within 90 Days of “Reduction to Practice” will result in significant adverse circumstances as determined and applied by the rules of the USFC.
As it was explained to me, according to the rules of the USFC the plaintiff that fails to register within 90 days of reduction may register at any time thereafter so as to be allowed to have their claim of infringement appear before the USFC where they may proceed to successfully prove infringement.
However, infringing defendant’s will not be ordered to compensate plaintiffs that acquire registration after the 90 day reduction to practice and then attempt to seek compensation for lawyer’s fees after proving infringement. Nor will the successful plaintiff be awarded any punitive damages. All a successful plaintiff who proves infringement will be awarded will be those costs of their actual losses. Of course it must also be stated that actual losses must also be proven as the presumed infringement must also be proven. Welcome to the real world so sayeth the rules of the USFC as explained to me by a friendly lawyer from Silicon Valley.
Since the USFC will generally not even allow a pro se litigant into the court it was also explained to me typical law firm fees amount to at least $100,000 and more as the typical copyright infringement case incurs lengthy and costly arguing back and forth during the process of litigation. Hence, because I did not register during the 90 day reduction to practice seeking remedy was not economically feasible. The costs of course of proceeding with copyright litigation are pertinent to both plaintiffs and defendants and in the real world what may be proteceted and preserved must be worth spending the money to proceed. Unless we are talking about some type of work that actually produces revenue most pursuits of remedy are therefor crazy to pursue when what may be awarded may not be worth proceeding. Especially when the rules of the USFC are what they have been explained to me when one believes for whatever reason they have a copyright which was not registered during the 90 day reduction to practice.
Since all of the false and misleading information in blogs and elsewhere fail to recognize these facts as they were explained to me it must also be noted that it is also factual that copyright law does not allow anybody to paint claims of infringement with a broad brush. There is some really stinky ca-ca de toro spread around as fertilizer by the ignorant or the sleazy and dishonest actors such as those claiming linking to Web pages or using RSS Web feeds in digital signage for example can result in copyright infringement when both HTML and XML (the RSS Web feed file format) are types of declarative programming language which may not be copyrighted. The actual images or videos linked to may be copyrighted of course but have those alleged copyrighted images or videos been registered with the USCO during the 90 day period of reduction to practice? It pays to insist on knowing the facts as they really are.
While it is true there are indeed legitimate claims of infringement most claims of infringement far and wide are asserted by sleazy lawyers using FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) in a shallow but generally effective attempt to B+B the falsely accused into compliance with specious cease and desist letters.
I advise any and all that may receive a cease and desist letter as it pertains to an allegation of copyright infringement to respond in writing asking for a copy of the registration –and– copy of the receipt of payment remitted to the USCO –and—you might scare the bastards right back by asking for a copy of any such receipts that prove your presumed infringement has resulted in an actual loss. Simply explain you intend to cooperate and will indeed cease and desist when satisfied that the copyright has been registered with the USCO and leave it at that. Once learning what I have this has worked for me: twice.
If you receive such proof of registration of course it is prudent to respect the request to cease and desist. However once you verify what this account of my experience conveys you will know how you may choose to respond: when no such proof of registration is forth coming you will know in all confidence that having let the sleazy lawyer know that you are aware of the facts that simply asking for the copy of registration implies you know about the rules of the USFC. You will then be comforted in knowing that it will be a cold day in hell before you hear from that particular bottom feeder again.