Have you received a demand letter from the CopyCat Legal law firm based in Coral Springs, Florida? If so, then you are not alone. We have been forwarded emails, letters, and drafts of complaints, as well as other written correspondence from lawyers Daniel DeSouza, Esq. and James D’Loughy, Esq. at CopyCat Legal, demanding very large sums of money in exchange for a release of claims related to allegations of copyright infringement. While there are certainly people who receive these threats and letters and choose to simply pay the exorbitant demands, others have successfully retained us to reply to that correspondence and either drastically negotiate down these “settlement offers” or, in the alternative, fight these claims in courts of law.
If you have received a letter and/or draft complaint from the lawyers at CopyCat Legal, then feel free to contact us about your particular issue. We are licensed in the jurisdiction in which the team at CopyCat Legal is based, keep all communications confidential, pride ourselves on quick and active responses, and do not charge for initial consultations.
The CopyCat Legal law firm has recently increased the number of demand letters that it sends and lawsuits that it files based on allegations of copyright infringement. The firm seems to mainly represent a company called Affordable Aerial Photography, Inc., which takes aerial photographs of a number of properties and often obtains (but not always) copyright registrations for those images. Then, when an individual or company publishes an image owned by Affordable Aerial Photography or another one of CopyCat Legal’s clients, it will alter a template Complaint that it has on file and send it to an unsuspecting recipient who is commonly confronted with a big monetary demand to avoid being named a defendant in that Complaint, which can be filed in a court of law.
Do not ignore CopyCat Legal’s letters, even if you believe that it does not have a strong claim on behalf of its client or you think that the demand is way too high. CopyCat Legal is not afraid to file the Complaints that they draft, as evidenced by the vast number of lawsuits that have been initiated against allegedly infringing individuals and companies, and CopyCat Legal especially loves it when the defendant is not represented at all or represented by legal counsel who does not have the requisite experience in the complex area of copyright law.
The letters from CopyCat Legal typically begin by identifying the allegedly infringing conduct and that it constitutes as federal copyright infringement under 17 U.S.C. 501 in addition to other claims that potentially arise under federal and/or state law. The letter itself is inadmissible in a court of law based on it being structured as a settlement communication in an attempt to amicably resolve the dispute; however, the large monetary demands often make it very difficult for the outreach to truly be viewed as a reasonable attempt at an early resolution. Things you will want to know before even considering whether you have any defenses include whether the image has received a copyright registration, how/when the alleged infringement was discovered, what the typical licensing has been for the potential plaintiff with the particular image at issue, etc.
CopyCat Legal will pick and choose the specific legal precedent that obviously plays to its favor. This is where having an experienced law firm to help you, such as Heitner Legal, can serve as significant assistance in your efforts to deal with these alarming emails, letters, and Complaints. We will either help negotiate down the monetary demand or defend you in a court of law where the Complaint is filed. There also may be applicable defenses such as fair use or de minimis use for us to explore.
We have found that CopyCat Legal and its lawyers tend to be more aggressive than most copyright plaintiff firms, and so you will want to retain strong copyright counsel for yourself before the unilateral deadline to respond, as stated in CopyCat Legal’s letter, passes. As CopyCat Legal further states, removal of the image alone is insufficient to end the matter. You should take that statement seriously and be proactive in your defense against this law firm and its clients.