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.

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