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Dimitry K., Esq.
Dimitry K., Esq., Attorney
Category: Intellectual Property Law
Satisfied Customers: 41221
Experience:  I assist my clients with IP questions that arise in their daily course of doing business.
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I am the owner of a web site at; The web

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I am the owner of a web site at; The web site provides free information about low income housing, and we make money by selling ad space on the pages.

Anyways, I recently downloaded an image from a European web site ( that said the image was free and available to be used. So, I took the image and placed it one on our web site pages.

But now we are being sued by a guy (in the U.S.) who claims to be the owner of the image. His lawyer has sent proof showing that he owns the image, and they have also indicated that they are willing to settle out of court for a $1,800 payment.

I, obviously, did not know that the use of the image was unauthorized, as it was made easily available to download in high resolution from this European web site.

Also, my thinking is that he should first be sending me a "cease and desist order". I am willing to comply with this order, but not willing to make any payment to him.

Here is the page on our web site that features his image:

What should I do?
Thank you for your question. Please permit me to assist you with your concerns.

I am genuinely sorry to hear that you are in this situation. I do see that you have made up your mind on what your next step should be. Are you seeking confirmation on whether or not that is the right decision, or are you looking for how US law generally handles such situations, and whether or not he had to send you a letter first? Please advise.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
Yes, please advise me on what I should do, and if my decision is correct. Also, please advise on your legal opinion. Should I just pay the settlement fee? Can it be much worse if it went to court? Will my defense hold up in court? If it were u, what would u do. I am willing to listen to all of your legal expertise on this matter.


Thank you for your follow-up. I do appreciate the trust you have put into my information. One comment, if I may--I cannot advise you on what to do as I am not your attorney. While I can answer your questions and I can explain options, I cannot make a decision for you.

Having said that:

There is no obligation under US law that a victim of copyright infringement first send a cease and desist letter. If the violation is real, it is up to the copyright holder to enforce his own rights in this instance. He could file suit for damages otherwise and seek fines of up to $30,000 for each infringement, and if he can prove that the infringement was intentional, the fine can be increased up to $150,000 per each event. This is in addition to filing fees, court costs, attorney fees, and direct damages if any. This is why for most, paying the fee is much cheaper because getting attorneys involved for defense will invariably be more expensive (a decent intellectual property attorney will charge $400-$450 an hour, which would eat up that fine quite quickly).

The defense that you had no idea the image was not protected is not a valid defense--the courts do not accept claims that are based on ignorance in this instance. Please understand that I cannot tell you what to do, but at least in terms of costs, typically paying the fine is the cheapest outcome available.

Good luck.

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