Copyright Infringement

Copyright Infringement Attorneys in Houston

At Hendershot Cowart P.C., our accomplished team of copyright attorneys boasts a wealth of collective experience safeguarding the interests of copyright holders. Whether you require assistance with Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices, demand letters, or legal proceedings, we have the expertise to navigate these intricacies.

When confronted with copyright infringement claims, our adept approach benefits from our history of representing both defendants and plaintiffs. This vantage point allows us to construct potent strategies tailored to diverse circumstances.

Secure your creative endeavors with Hendershot Cowart P.C. by your side.

Hendershot Cowart P.C. is a Texas-based law firm providing nationwide copyright infringement representation. Contact us online or call our Houston office at (713) 909-7323 to discuss your matter with one of our attorneys today.

On This Page:

In the United States, copyright is a legal protection granted to creators of original works of authorship. This protection is granted under the U.S. Copyright Act and provides creators with exclusive rights to their works for a certain period.

Copyright protection covers a wide range of creative works, including but not limited to:

  • Literary works: Books, articles, poems, and other written materials
  • Visual arts: Paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, and other visual creations
  • Music: Compositions and musical arrangements
  • Dramatic works: Plays, scripts, and screenplays
  • Motion pictures and other audiovisual works
  • Software: Computer programs and applications
  • Architectural works: Building designs and plans

To receive copyright protection in the United States, a work must meet certain criteria:

  • Originality: The work must be independently created and show a minimum level of creativity.
  • Fixation: The work must be fixed in a tangible medium of expression, such as a book, digital file, canvas, recording, or a social media post.

Copyright protection is automatic upon the creation of a qualifying work; there is no need to register the work with the U.S. Copyright Office to receive copyright protection. However, registering a work with the U.S. Copyright Office provides additional legal benefits and remedies, such as the ability to sue for statutory damages and attorney's fees in case of infringement.

If you discover someone is using your copyrighted work without your authorization, contact our offices for a consultation. There are several avenues available to stop unauthorized use of your original content and enforce your rights. We can also advise you on protecting your intellectual property to prevent further unauthorized use and infringement.

Copyright infringement occurs when someone uses, reproduces, distributes, performs, displays, or creates derivative works from a copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright holder.

Here are some common examples of copyright infringement:

  • Unauthorized Reproduction: Copying and distributing copyrighted books, articles, music, videos, software, or other works without obtaining proper authorization from the copyright owner.
  • Online Sharing and File-Sharing: Sharing copyrighted files, such as movies, music, or software, through peer-to-peer networks or online platforms without the proper authorization. Attribution, such as linking back to the original copyrighted work, is not a substitute for permission.
  • Plagiarism: Using someone else's written or creative work without proper attribution or permission and presenting it as one's own. Even if you deem the work not creative, the threshold for creativity is low, and the work may still have copyright protection.
  • Sampling and Remixing: Creating music or other creative works that incorporate samples from copyrighted songs without obtaining the necessary permissions.
  • Using Images Without Permission: Using copyrighted images, photographs, or illustrations in publications, websites, or other projects without proper authorization.
  • Adapting Works Without Permission: Creating derivative works based on copyrighted material, such as fan fiction, fan art, or adaptations, without obtaining permission from the original creator.
  • Online Content Sharing: Reposting or sharing copyrighted content on social media or other online platforms without permission. Don’t assume the work loses its protection just because it is posted to social media. It may be easier to copy and “re-post” but the work is still protected.
  • Photocopying and Scanning: Reproducing copyrighted printed materials, such as textbooks or articles, without obtaining permission or without complying with educational fair use guidelines.

A Note About the Fair Use Doctrine

It's important to note that not all uses of copyrighted material constitute copyright infringement. Copyright law includes provisions for fair use, which allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission for specific purposes such as criticism, commentary, education, or research.

Fair use is intended to promote creativity, free speech, and the sharing of information while also respecting the rights of copyright holders.

The determination of whether a particular use qualifies as fair use involves a case-by-case analysis and is based on four factors outlined in the U.S. Copyright Act:

  1. Purpose and Character of the Use: This factor considers whether the use is transformative, meaning it adds new meaning, purpose, or value to the original work. Transformative uses are more likely to be considered fair use. Parody is a common example of a transformative use that is often considered fair use. Non-profit and educational uses are also generally favored.
  2. Nature of the Copyrighted Work: This factor examines the nature of the copyrighted work. Using factual or non-fictional works may be more likely to be considered fair use than using highly creative and fictional works.
  3. Amount and Substantiality of the Portion Used: This factor assesses the quantity and significance of the portion of the copyrighted work that is used. There are no legal rules defining the specific number of words or percentage of a work that may qualify as fair use. However, using a small or less central portion of a work is more likely to be considered fair use.
  4. Effect on the Market or Value of the Original Work: This factor considers whether the use of the copyrighted work would negatively impact the potential market or value of the original work. If the use would undermine the market for the original work, it may weigh against fair use.

Fair use is a nuanced concept, and its legal application varies based on the situation and circumstances. If you are unsure whether a particular use qualifies as fair use, seek legal advice.

As a business owner, executive, content creator, or social media influencer, you have a right to protect your copyrighted work from infringement, and you should move quickly. If you fail to enforce your rights or enforce them inconsistently, the courts may call into question the economic value of the copyrighted work, weakening any claims for damages.

Here are a few of the legal remedies your attorney may recommend to stop copyright infringement and recover potential damages:

  • DMCA takedown notices: Any individual or entity with a valid copyright claim on a work can submit a takedown request to online service providers or social media platforms. Internet Service Providers and social media platforms are required by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to remove access to alleged infringing material upon receipt of a valid takedown notice. In an era of anonymous social media posts and web content, this can be a powerful tool to mitigate the damage of having unauthorized copies of your work online.
  • Demand, or cease-and-desist, letter: An attorney can send a demand letter to the infringing party describing the infringement, warning them to stop the unlawful action, and outlining the legal consequences of ignoring the demand. A demand letter is not enforceable; however, when sent by an attorney, it can send a clear signal that you are willing to spend money to defend your copyright.
  • File a lawsuit: If you have registered your work with the U.S. Copyright Office, you can file a federal lawsuit for copyright infringement and request an injunction to stop the infringing activity immediately. If you prevail, the court may award monetary damages and you may be entitled to reimbursement for the legal expenses incurred during the lawsuit.

Your attorney can also advise you on additional steps you can take to protect your work and monetize it through a licensing agreement – if that’s your goal – without compromising your ownership rights.

If you're accused of using someone else's original work – whether it’s an image, song, recording, etc. – without the owner’s authorization, contact an attorney who specializes in intellectual property law.

Our intellectual property attorneys can review the merits of the claim and develop a defense strategy based on the specific facts of the case. There are various legal defenses to challenge the claim that aim to show that the alleged infringement does not qualify as infringement under applicable law.

Here are some common defenses to a copyright infringement claim:

  • Fair Use: As discussed earlier, the fair use doctrine allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission for purposes such as criticism, commentary, news reporting, education, and research.
  • Lack of Substantial Similarity: To prove copyright infringement, the plaintiff must show that the defendant's work is substantially similar to the protected elements of the copyrighted work. If you can establish that the similarities are not substantial or that they used common or unoriginal elements, this can serve as a defense.
  • Independent Creation: If the defendant can prove that they independently created their work and had no access to the plaintiff's copyrighted work, they may argue that any similarities are coincidental and not the result of copying.
  • Public Domain: Works that are in the public domain are not protected by copyright and can be freely used by anyone. U.S. Copyright Law does not define public domain, but the phrase generally refers to content not protected by copyright law, such as work with an expired copyright, work produced by the federal government, work dedicated to the public domain by the creator, or work without sufficient originality (such as facts or data), among other reasons.
  • License or Permission: If the defendant obtained proper licenses or permissions from the copyright holder to use the copyrighted work, this can serve as a defense against infringement claims.
  • Expired Copyright: Copyright protection has a limited duration, and works eventually enter the public domain when their copyright term expires.
  • Abandonment: If the copyright holder abandoned their copyright by explicitly giving up their rights or failing to assert them, the defendant may argue that the claim is invalid.
  • Implied License: In some cases, the defendant may assert that they had an implied license to use the copyrighted work based on the conduct or statements of the copyright holder.
  • Statute of Limitations: Copyright infringement claims must be filed within a certain period after the alleged infringement occurs.
  • Parody and Satire: Parodies and satirical works may be protected under the First Amendment as forms of free speech, even if they involve the use of copyrighted material.

Going forward, we can also help ensure that your actions and internal policies adhere to copyright law to better safeguard your creative pursuits against infringement claims.

Speak With a Texas Intellectual Property Lawyer

At Hendershot Cowart P.C., our intellectual property attorneys have decades of combined experience protecting the rights of copyright holders, from DMCA takedown notices to demand letters and legal action.

When it comes to defending against copyright infringement claims, we leverage our experience representing both defendants and plaintiffs to with infringement claims from both sides of the table to build a strong defense strategy.

Call (713) 909-7323 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with our team.

Why Choose Our Team? Unwavering Commitment to the Success of our Clients
  • We Shoulder the Legal Burden.™
    And let you get back to business.
  • We Want to Be Your Law Firm for Life.
    We take a vested interest in our clients' success – from start to finish.
  • We Believe in Prompt, Personal Attention.
    As a boutique law firm, we unite real experience with personal attention.
  • We Serve Clients Throughout Texas and the Nation.
    We handle matters from the Red River to the Rio Grande and beyond.
  • In Business Since 1987.
    Let us put the full force of our 100+ years of combined experience to work for you.

What Our Clients Say

  • “These folks represented me well and Ray was awesome. Ray was extremely easy to communicate with and was easy to get ahold of Ray also made himself available when I had questions or needed clarification on things. 10/10 would recommend.”
  • “Philip has been nothing short of amazing! He genuinely cares about his clients and is very accessible, a quality that is rare to find in other lawyers. He is meticulous and efficient, which are great qualities to have. I cannot recommend him enough.”
  • “Ian McNeill is a fantastic lawyer and a great person. I had the pleasure of working with him closely on a high level PSM OSHA project, and our company's top leadership group was very impressed with the outcome of the project.”
  • “Great communication and extremely knowledgeable team.”
  • “The Hendershot Cowart Law Firm has been and will continue to be part of our legal team. They provide the utmost professional services towards our South Texas medical practice. Trey Hendershot and Keith Lefkowitz are very receptive, skilled and amazing...”
  • “My business partner and I had a very complex time sensitive situation with a breach of a contract on a real-estate transaction. We hired Ky Jurgensen to help with the case and he took action immediately, same day we called he went to work.”

We Are On Your Side

Schedule Your Initial Consultation
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please enter a message.