Amazon Copyright Infringement
This page concerns copyright infringement issues on Amazon. If you have a trademark issue, please see our amazon trademark infringement page. If you have a patent issue, please see our amazon patent infringement page.
Copyright infringement is becoming an increasing problem on Amazon as the numbers of both legitimate and false copyright infringement complaints increase. Tension over copyright rights is chronic on Amazon, and there is a growing perception that the company is lagging in addressing copyright infringements and related problems effectively.
If you are an Amazon seller, you may already recognize that a serious copyright infringement problem exists. Some sellers use images and text they have taken from other vendors’ listings. Other sellers use false copyright infringement claims to try to get competitors removed from Amazon completely. These unfair practices impact Amazon buyers negatively over time by increasing costs, limiting product availability or constraining a choice of sellers. If it seems that nobody is paying attention to the problem, the sheer size of the market is probably an exacerbating factor. Amazon is on its way to owning almost 50% of the e-commerce market in the U.S. and was expected to generate more than $258 billion in sales. If you are an Amazon seller, you have no alternative but to be vitally concerned, given the slow erosion of your copyrights and your ability to defend yourself against false copyright infringement accusations.
Amazon Cease and Desist Letters
As an Amazon seller, you may already be familiar with copyright infringement problems. If so, you probably know that in addition to the reporting mechanisms Amazon itself provides, complainants can send out cease and desist letters to pressure alleged offenders to abandon infringing conduct. It is in your interest to learn more about the use of cease and desist letters as a means of stopping copyright infringement on Amazon. You should also be interested in your best course of action if you receive a cease and desist letter related to an Amazon copyright infringement claim. For more information on sending a cease and desist letter, or responding to one, please see our copyright cease and desist letter page.
Report Copyright Infringement Amazon
Apart from a cease and desist letter, we also report infringements directly to Amazon and often we are able to have a listing immediately removed. Essentially, Amazon concerns itself with three forms of copyright infringement: ASIN-Level Infringement, Seller-Level Infringement, and Image or Text Infringement. The first of these (ASIN, or “Amazon Standard Identification Number”) addresses the use of your copyrighted images or text on the product or the product’s packaging. The second involves an offer for sale of a product you think infringes a copyright you own. In such instances, it will be the offer only (rather than the entire ASIN) that is the basis of your complaint. The third type involves the unauthorized use of your copyrighted images or text in product descriptions. While anybody can report an infringement on Amazon, it should be done by a copyright attorney for two primary reasons. First, Amazon is known to prioritize infringement claims that come from attorneys. Secondly, abuse or mistakes in reporting infringement claims to Amazon can lead to being sued and being kicked off Amazon.
To avoid confusion concerning image infringement in product details, you should remember that in providing an image you own for a product detail page, you are also granting Amazon a license to use that image in circumstances in which other sellers may take advantage of it. You are voluntary limiting certain rights associated with that image, and you may be limited later in your ability to assert a copyright infringement claim. There is a disclaimer to protect Amazon from any suggestion that the information it is providing constitutes legal advice. Essentially you cannot rely on Amazon, and certainly not on other sellers, to define or confirm your copyright rights. The onus is on you to understand your copyrights and to substantiate them if you hope to assert them successfully.
Since unscrupulous sellers make false infringement claims, you must be prepared to defend yourself and your rights against demonstrably false allegations. In such cases, Amazon may not provide the level of support you would have wished. Amazon generally is not interested in involving itself in determining the validity of infringement claims.
1. Amazon Copyright Infringement Takedown Requests
While Amazon has a process to report infringements, Amazon has historically been slow to act on takedown requests, and it frequently frustrates sellers with its seeming reluctance to act on clearly valid complaints. The issue is likely that Amazon is flooded with such requests on a daily basis and has trouble keeping up with them all. This is why we always recommend that a cease and desist letter be sent to the infringer in addition to an attorney making the complaint to Amazon.
2. False Amazon Copyright Infringement Claims
If you receive a false infringement complaint, Amazon affords you a time-limited right to address it, and where applicable, to have your suspension lifted. However, you will have to act quickly and decisively if you hope to succeed. If you are the target of a fake copyright infringement claim, your de facto status may become “guilty until proven innocent.” In such cases, thorough research, proper documentation and sound professional advice will be necessary if you wish to set matters right.
3. Sending Cease and Desist Letters
Cease and desist letters should be written by an experienced attorney who has a thorough understanding of the subject matter because anything said will become part of a dispute-resolution record. If you are thinking of sending a cease and desist letter related to an Amazon copyright infringement, you have some choices to consider. Some instances may resolve themselves quickly, either because the infringement was inadvertent or because some offenders will simply stop when threatened with legal action.
If you elect to send a cease and desist letter to an offender, you must gather and present the information required to substantiate your claim of copyright ownership. You must provide the specifics of the alleged violation, the site and locations of the infringements, the name of the copyright holder, the nature of the violation, the actions you expect the recipient to take, and the consequences of non-compliance. These letters are taken far more seriously when they come from an attorney so we recommend that you retain a professional.
4. Responding to Cease and Desist Letters
Valid copyright infringement claims on Amazon are common, but so are false claims which have been a serious problem for some time. If you are targeted, you can suffer lost business, total account suspension and significant costs to rectify the situation. Someone targeting you with a false infringement claim essentially has the same options as someone with a valid claim. If you receive a letter relating to alleged infringement, don’t panic. We are able to resolve most Amazon copyright infringement claims before they become too serious.
You must first investigate to confirm the completeness of the claim including the supposed identity of the rights owner. If you discover (or already know) you are infringing, your only safe course of action is to end the infringement and limit your liability. If you can prove that you do own the copyright in question, you still bear the burden of taking action to convince Amazon of that fact. It may not be enough simply to present your evidence. There are other measures you can take, including verifying that claims against you comply fully with all of Amazon’s related policies, and keeping Amazon’s teams up to date as a claim progresses. Regardless of your situation, professional help to make your case is advisable.
Mandour & Associates – Amazon Copyright Infringement Lawyers
Managing your copyrights as an active Amazon seller will continue to be a balancing act requiring constant attention, time and energy. You must commit to staying informed and safeguarding your copyrights by all means at your disposal. If you are interested in professional help to do so, please feel free to contact us. We regularly assist Amazon sellers with copyright issues and we look forward to assisting you.
For legal advice regarding Amazon copyright infringement, please contact us today.