Copyright Infringement In Action September 14, 2009
Wil was talking about the woodgrain background that is a prominent feature of Delicious Library. As the story progressed he found yet another application that had just taken his copyrighted .png files from his desktop app and reused them in iPhone apps.
And at best I’d maybe get an injunction, not damages. And, really, they’re not making enough money for me to regain my losses.
He makes a good point. Even if he had registered a copyright on the images (the only way to get statutory damages, as opposed to actual damages), the company that was using his images probably did not have enough assets for him to recover whatever judgment he could win. And even if the company had money, that would all be sunk into lawyers before Wil saw a dime.
So, what’s an independent developer to do?
So I’m going to call them thieves publicly and embarrass them. Skip the lawyers, let’s go back to shaming people!
The strategy was effective. Eight hours after that last tweet, Wil posted this update:
Stolen images update: Tom from Netwalk apologized, said he didn’t know it was my texture, promised a resubmitted “MyMovies” update tonight!
There are really two important take-away messages from this story.
- Copying an image from someone computer’s program and using it in your own can constitute copyright infringement. If the owner of the image has registered that copyright, it can open you up to RIAA v. The People sized damages: thousands to tens of thousands of dollars per infringement. If you are selling the images, it could expose you up to jail time.
- There are ways other than the courts to resolve copyright disputes that leave both parties happy. Here, Wil was happy that people stopped using his intellectual property, and the people who took his images were no doubt happy that he won’t be filing suit, as he very well could do.
And, yes, these tweets were reproduced with permission.