Re: Copyright action through small claims court?

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Posted by M. Arthur Auslander on January 25, 1999 at 04:16:44:

In Reply to: Copyright action through small claims court? posted by Christine D. Clemens on January 24, 1999 at 23:50:49:

: Hello,

: I'm seeking a little advice. Someone on AOL recently copied portions of my web site (which clearly displays my copyright notice) and put them on their own site. I wrote to them a number of times asking them to remove the pages, and copied the emails to AOL's legal department. Neither have responded. I know that the girl who copied the pages is only 15 and that in CA, people have to be over 18 to be sued in the small claims court. So I'm assuming I'll have to sue AOL.

: As I'm not suffering finanical damage the damages I'd be after are pretty small... really I want AOL to be forced to remove the pages, and I think they owe me some damages for having done absolutely nothing about if for 2 weeks.

: As I'd be asking for an amount around $500, I'm assuming the small claims court is the place to go. However, I'd like to know whether the fact that AOL aren't in CA will make this difficult. What is the procedure for suing someone in another state?

: I'm hoping of course that a legal letter will be enough to spur them into action, but I'd like some more information. My father is a lawyer so I can get the basic copyright information easily, but he's in the UK so he can't help me on the US specifics or on filing the claim. (I've been in the US for about a year.)
Dear Christine,
Copyright action can only be brought in the Federal Courts. Statutory damages may be awarded up to $100,000 per infingement. The courts are sympathetic and can award attorneys fees.
In order to proceed in court the copyright must be registered. AOL may be reached to be sued under the CA long arm statute and may in any event be doing business in CA. Even though the courts are liberal in awarding counsel fees in copyright matters, there does not seem to be mucn incentive for a local lawyer to take the case on a contingency.
I'm not eager to do the research to confirm, there is some law which may protect AOL. If I knew what part of CA you were in I might see if I know someone locally who might be interested.
M. Arthur Auslander
Auslander & Thomas-Intellectual Property Law
505 Eighth Avenue, New York, NY 10018
212-594-6900, fax 212-244-0028,
ELAINE's Workshop: E arly L egal A dvice I s N ot E xpensive
: Thanks for any advice,
: Christine


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