Higbee & Associates: Copyright Trolls
So, you have received a letter or email from the Law Firm of Higbee & Associates. Not to worry, you are not alone. Like many businesses, our clients have gotten numerous emails and other written correspondence from the firm. Furthermore, the numerous emails become increasingly more annoying than truly worth merit. After further questioning and research, discover why we can agree with the internet’s labeling of Higbee & Associates copyright trolls.
What is a “Copyright Troll”?
A modern-day problem, “copyright trolling” occurs in response to an individual using imagery or even textile patterns that don’t belong to them. In fact, the fashion industry has seen a rising number of lawsuits stemming from copyrighted fabrics and prints. A “trolling” party enforces copyrights that they or their client holds for purposes of making money through litigation. Often, their efforts are unduly aggressive or devious. More often than not, the entity cannot produce licensing for the works it’s litigating for to make matters even more murky. The fact of the matter is, copyright trolls rely on the ability to cast a very wide net.
Higbee & Associates Copyright Trolls
They send out hundreds of accusatory letters at once. The goal is to profit on license fees through offenders that infringe upon the copyright at hand. Often the trolls succeed, receiving some percentage of settlements back from these parties without a lawsuit or having to go to court. Copyright law also allows any claims to target all parties involved in the production process, which hurts industries in full. By naming each of these parties in its complaint, trolls ultimately stand to collect millions of dollars from one infraction.
Consumer Warning: Copyright Trolling by Higbee & Associates
The Los-Angeles based law firm Higbee & Associates have garnered a reputation for reaching out to various businesses. Higbee & Associates reach out to businesses and make accusations of copyright. These are aggressive and unsupportable demands for the payment of significant sums of money. Their “modus operandi” is to prey on individuals and nonprofits. The law firm claims to target websites that feature copyrighted graphics, and photographs that they saw online but did not license. The firm’s principal, Mathew Higbee, shows no remorse regarding his reputation for aggressive enforcement.
Higbee & Associates patrol the Internet looking for graphics (especially photographs) that they claim have been “copied improperly” from online sources. They search businesses through a specialized search firm or the firms own software. The next step is that the firm then sends a demand letter to the business. This letter is officiated with Higbee’s signature and threatens to seek up to $150,000 in statutory damages as well as attorney fees unless the target of the letter promptly agrees to pay a specified amount. They demand a large sum of money in exchange for a release of claims related to allegations of copyright infringement.
How “Copyright Trolling” Works
The Law Firm of Higbee & Associates is the type of law firm that is commonly referred to as a “copyright troll.” These “trolls” represent all types of holders of copyright with the intention of enforcing copyrights far and wide for the purpose of earning a percentage of the payments received. This is typically done prior to actually engaging in any litigation against the alleged infringer. Higbee & Associates is known for being aggressive and tenacious in its communications. They will not hesitate to ramp up aggression. This is especially true when an accused infringer is not represented by legal counsel.
Letters From Higbee & Associates
Businesses who are targeted by Higbee & Associates will receive letters from the. These letters start with identifying the client that they are reaching out on behalf of. They remind the business that there is still time to resolve the matter before it gets more expensive and possibly ends up in court. They usually attach exhibits to the letter to demonstrate the use of the copyrighted works at issue and the alleged infringing use. Letters usually reference The Copyright Act in order to scare the recipient. The Copyright Act cites the largest possible amount of statutory damages of up to $150,000 for intentional infringement. However, it is especially rare that any judgment for infringing copyrights ever gets that high.
Technical Infringements In Copyright
The Law Firm of Higbee & Associates deliberately avoids discussing technical infringements of copyright that are commonly not worth litigating. The damage to the copyright holder could be minor. Furthermore, even though technical infringement exists, that does not preclude an infringer from prevailing with an affirmative defense such as fair use or de minimis use.
What Should You Do If Contacted by Higbee & Associates
We have found that, while the Law Firm of Higbee & Associates is extremely aggressive with non-represented clients. We will craft a thorough response that highlights the weaknesses in the firm’s position, as well as the strengths of our potential defenses. The file is commonly closed with the firm choosing not to spend the time or money to litigate. It is important for our clients to quickly recognize that, if there are any technical infringing activities, the infringing content be immediately removed from websites, social media accounts, etc.
How To Handle Accusations
Never ignore letters from the Law Firm of Higbee & Associates. That very well may be the worst thing that you can do if you find yourself getting these types of demands. Inattention accompanied by ignorance could certainly result in the initiation of litigation. Showing up and calling them out can save you quite a lot in the end. That way, you aren’t spending money in defending against the claims.
Higbee & Associates and other copyright trolls or scams are still prevalent via the internet and physical mail. We spoke about how you shouldn’t ignore these letters and you want to protect your presence, brand, and wallet. Luckily, we know how you can defend yourself against these types of accusations. Let’s break it down for you.
- If you have more data on the image you can try to look up the copyright on this site https://copyright.gov/ Email firstname.lastname@example.org about your case # along with the “details” they sent you about your case. Ask them specifically for the copyright information associated with the image from the U.S. Copyright Office. In most cases they will not be able to do this but they will email you back and inform you that they will copyright the image and get back to you. This is in fact illegal.
- If you’d like, you can email them back to let them know that you have contacted the U.S. Copyright Office and that this is where you found no copyright on the image.
“Dear #, We have contacted the US copyright office and that is where we found there was NO copyright on the image.Thank you,“
- You can tell them that the info they provided you is incorrect and that you require valid information in order to move forward. There is no record of the copyright through the proper channels.
- If they attempt to use either of these sites https://publicrecords.copyright.gov/ to justify their claim, these are not the correct websites or databases. The real database https://www.copyright.gov/ and if you read these URL’s you can see the difference.
- Did you receive the ACTUAL copyright information or is what they sent you a fakery? This may be information fed to you you in order to deliberately mislead.
So, in conclusion, unless they can provide you with copyright information, about the image in question, from the U.S. Copyright Office, then you are in the clear.
Please do not hesitate to reach out to us if you have trouble with this. If you have been contacted by Higbee & Associates or other copyright trolls and aren’t sure what to do, are suspicious, or simply don’t want to battle them alone please call us at tel:1-800-357-1299 and see how we can help.
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Need some assistance on how to handle this issue? Reach out to Faceless Marketing for some consultation and education. You never know what you may learn next. Call 1-800-357-1299 or Shoot us a Message Here.