If another company steals an image from your website/etc without permission, what can be done?

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If another company steals an image from your website/etc without permission, what can be done?

Another company stole an image from our website/etc without permission. They edited it and then post it on their website where they sell services from. They won’t take it down willingly.

Asked on May 31, 2012 under Business Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If you owned the rights (e.g. the copyright) to that image, then they have misappropriated your intellectual property. You could, if necessary, sue them for the infringement, seeking monetary compensation (e.g. for the value of the image) and/or a court order (injunction) directing them to remove it. Note that even if you did not register the copyright, if the image was created by an employee or contractor of yours, you most likely are the owner of it as a "work made for hire"; or if you purchased the rights--not just a license to use it yourself, but the actual copyright--from another, you'd be the owner. But if this is an image from the public domain or which you yourself licensed from a photo or picture library, then you are not the rights owner and cannot take action UNLESS the way they are using the image would create a confusion in the mind of a reasonable consumer as to who they are, their affiliation with you, etc.; if that's the case, you may be able to bring a claim against them for unfair competition.

If you think that you have either a viable copyright or unfair competition claim, you should consult with an attorney about taking action--unless the value to you of the image is less than the cost of the attorney, in which case it's likely not worth legal action.


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