A question I am often asked is “what must I do if someone else is using my song?”. Well, it all starts with a basic understanding of copyright laws, specifically when they relate to infringement.
Copyrights give the copyright owners a wide range of rights, such as the right to make a reproduction (a copy), the right to broadcast, make an adaptation (change) and so forth. If someone is using your copyright, perhaps they have changed it a bit to try hide the fact that they are using your copyrights, then that is still infringement. In those circumstances, you could argue that they have made both an adaptation, as they have changed your material, as well as a reproduction, as they have copied it. You would then sue them, as these are rights which are exclusive to you, the copyright owner.
I usually tell my clients to start by sending them (the infringers) an email to let them know that you know what they are doing, and ask them to stop. This can be done amicably and without lawyers. But sometimes people are cheeky and take chances, in which case you must then bring lawyers in. Keep in mind, that it will be costly – but if your copyrights are worth protecting, then you should protect them. Simple! For example, I know of up and coming photographer who takes lovely scenic shots. A company used one of his images without asking him. Now, he usually charges a R800 license fee to use the image. He told the company to please pay up, and the company took the image down (great) but refused to pay (not-so-great). Should he sue them? Nah – to hire a lawyer to claim R800 is pointless – you fighting on principle. I mean he would probably win, but at what cost,the image was already taken down.
Anyway, I digress – once you go to court, you must prove all the four requirements mentioned above. The last two are incredibly tricky – but as I said, if you have copyrights worth fighting for, then you shouldn’t hesitate to get a legal team who understand copyright law to help you.