09 May Copyright Infringement and E-commerce: How to Protect Your Online Business
With the rise of e-commerce, copyright infringement has become a major concern for online businesses. With the ease of copying and sharing digital content, protecting your copyrighted works in the online space has become more challenging than ever before.
Copyright infringement happens when there is unauthorized use of a copyrighted work without the permission of the copyright owner. This can include making copies of a work, distributing it, displaying it publicly, or creating derivative works based on the original work.
Copyright infringement can occur in various forms such as music, videos, books, software, and other creative works. It is considered a violation of the exclusive rights of the copyright owner, and if proven in a court of law, it can result in legal penalties and damages for the infringer. With that, let us explore the various forms of copyright infringement in e-commerce, how it can affect your business, and what measures you can take to protect your works from infringement. At the same time, there are a few key considerations that we should note regarding the liability for copyright infringement on e-commerce platforms.
Copyrightable Content on E-commerce Platforms
E-commerce platforms are digital marketplaces that allow businesses to sell goods and services to consumers online. These platforms may contain a range of copyrightable content, including product images, product descriptions, videos, music, and other digital content. Copyright law protects these types of content from unauthorized use, reproduction, or distribution.
Example of product image and description from Amazon platform.
To use copyrightable content on an e-commerce platform legally, businesses must obtain permission from the copyright owner. In some cases, copyright owners may license their content for use on e-commerce platforms. Alternatively, businesses may create their own copyrightable content to use on their e-commerce platforms.
Legal Requirements for Using Copyrightable Content on E-commerce Platforms
In Malaysia, businesses that use copyrightable content on their e-commerce platforms must comply with the Copyright Act 1987. This law sets out the legal requirements for using copyrighted content, including the following:
- Obtaining permission from the copyright owner: As mentioned earlier, businesses must obtain permission from the copyright owner to use their copyrighted content on their e-commerce platforms. This permission may come in the form of a license agreement or a purchase of the copyright from the owner.
- Paying royalties: In some cases, copyright owners may require businesses to pay royalties for the use of their copyrighted content. This may involve a one-time fee or ongoing payments.
- Giving credit to the copyright owner: When using copyrighted content, businesses must give credit to the copyright owner. This may involve attributing the content to the copyright owner on the e-commerce platform.
Liability for Copyright Infringement on E-commerce Platforms
E-commerce platforms may also face liability for copyright infringement if they allow users to upload copyrighted content without permission from the copyright owner. In Malaysia, e-commerce platforms can be held liable for copyright infringement if they have knowledge of the infringing content and fail to take action to remove it from their platform.
To avoid liability for copyright infringement, e-commerce platforms can implement measures to prevent unauthorized content from being uploaded. This may involve using software to detect infringing content or implementing policies to prohibit the upload of copyrighted content without permission. Red Points is an example of a platform that can fight counterfeits, piracy, impersonation, and distribution abuse. Based in New York, Barcelona, Salt Lake City and Beijing, Red Points is the fastest-growing Revenue Recovery company in the world.
What can a brand protection software do for you? By using the most advanced brand protection tools, they can detect and process thousands of Intellectual Property (IP) infringements automatically and tackle the most harmful offenders first. It helps in saving a lot of time rather than filtering thousands of websites manually. Red Points Brand Protection solution works by looking for infringements with bot powered search through text and images. The software filters in real time leveraging image recognition and logic rules to discard or confirm counterfeits or decide one by one.
Red Points’ Brand Protection Software that can detect infringements round the clock.
How Copyright Infringement Can Affect Your E-commerce Business
Copyright infringement can have serious consequences for your e-commerce business. Here are some of the ways in which copyright infringement can affect your business:
- Legal liability: If you are found to be infringing on someone else’s copyrighted work, you could face legal action, including fines and damages.
- Damage to your brand reputation: If your business is associated with copyright infringement, it could damage your brand reputation and lead to a loss of trust from customers and partners.
- Loss of revenue: If your copyrighted works are being infringed upon, you could be losing out on potential revenue, as others are profiting from your work without your permission.
- Compliance issues: If you are not complying with copyright laws, you could be violating the terms of service of e-commerce platforms, which could result in your account being suspended or terminated.
Examples of Copyright Infringement in E-commerce
Copyright infringement on e-commerce platforms is a common issue worldwide, including in Malaysia. One example of copyright infringement in e-commerce involves the unauthorized use of copyrighted works. If an e-commerce website uses images of a photographer without permission or attribution, the photographer may contact the website and demand that they remove the images, or pay a licensing fee to use them.
Another example involves the unauthorized reproduction of copyrighted works. Unauthorized use of music usually happens through product videos or advertisements. E-commerce businesses may use music from copyrighted sources without permission, leading to copyright infringement. For instance, a music streaming service allows users to download songs for offline listening. However, some users have found a way to download and distribute these songs illegally, without paying the copyright owner.
Copyright infringement also happens when there is unauthorized distribution of copyrighted works. A file-sharing website may allow users to share movies and TV shows. However, many of these movies and TV shows are copyrighted works that are being shared without the permission of the copyright owner. Lastly, plagiarism occurs when an e-commerce website copies product descriptions from a competitor’s website and uses them on their own website. If the competitor discovers this, they may threaten legal action.
How to Protect Your E-commerce Business from Copyright Infringement
Protecting your e-commerce business from copyright infringement is essential for ensuring the success and longevity of your business. Here are some measures you can take to protect your works from infringement. Remember to always register your copyright. By registering your copyrighted works, you can establish legal ownership and have a stronger case in court if your works are infringed upon. In Malaysia, copyright registration is not mandatory, but it is recommended to do so for added protection.
Ensure that you monitor your content. Regularly monitoring your e-commerce website and other online platforms helps to ensure that your copyrighted works are not being infringed upon. Use online tools or services to help you monitor for potential infringement. You can also include copyright notices. Including copyright notices on your e-commerce website and any other platforms where your copyrighted works are displayed will let others know that your works are protected and cannot be used without permission.
Do take legal action. If you discover that your copyrighted works are being infringed upon, you can take legal action against the infringing party. Consult with a party who specializes in copyright law to determine the best course of action. Lastly, use licensed content. Consider using licensed content for your e-commerce business. By using licensed content, you can ensure that you have permission to use the content and avoid any legal issues related to copyright infringement.
Copyright infringement is a serious concern for e-commerce businesses. With the ease of copying and sharing digital content, protecting your copyrighted works in the online space has become more challenging than ever before. However, by taking the measures discussed in this article, you can protect your e-commerce business from copyright infringement and ensure the longevity and success of your business. Remember to register your copyright, use watermarks, monitor your content, include copyright notices, take legal action when necessary, and use licensed content where possible. We can assist with all of that, right here at Intellect.