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

UPDATED: May 31, 2012

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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


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 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.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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