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“International” disputes: Copyrights without borders

The internet is international. The internet is also a place where crime can occur. But how is a case then letigated when someone in Belgium infringes on the rights of a copyrightholder in South Africa? Is it just a lawless wolrdwide west? Luckily, the answer is 'no' but how is a case then handled? CatchScan is here to explain all the details of international disputes.

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This may come as a shock to many, but handling law on the internet is really difficult! You see, international disputes are always a maze of issues, confusing paperwork, and little-to-no precedents for cases. Then add a user-friendly internet to the mix and, suddenly, a kid accessing Wi-Fi in America can infringe on copyrights in Germany, Algeria, and Japan before breakfast. The solution? Easy! We agree the internet was a mistake and abolish it. No? That’s not gonna work? Plan B, then: CatchScan explains how international copyright disputes are handled and what you need to know to protect your images. 

The nearest court to where the damage was done 

When it comes to any legal dispute, it will always fall to the closest possible court to deal with the issue. What does “closest” mean? It means that if Danish citizen infringes on another Danish citizen’s copyrights, it simply falls to a Danish court to rule on it. But that is not what we are here to talk about, though. No, we are dealing with crimes across borders! So, what would be the closest court in instances where there are international copyright disputes? If you know anything about legal issues, you have probably heard this answer before: It depends.  

International disputes within the EU 

EU member nations have an agreement to let copyright holders protect their IP using their own country’s laws and legal system. Okay, that was a bit of a motuhful with a lot of jargon, so let’s simplify it. If a Spanish copyrightholder notices that her content is infringed in France, the disputes is within the EU. That means the copyrightholder can sue through the Spanish legal system and, even though the copyright infringement happened in France, the infringer still has to deal with the Spanish legal system. Essentially, many legal disputes are made simpler by the fact that this is an on-going agreement between member states of the EU. But… there are many nations outside the EU. So then what happens in those cases?  

International disputes across the world 

Okay, so a dude in India steals an image from Instagram and infringes upon the German profile owner’s copyright. In that case, the damage may have occurred to a German citizen but, legally speaking, the damage was committed in India. That means the nearest court would be an Indian court. So if our German Instagrammer wants to protect the copyright of the image that means suing through the Indian legal system. Overall, though, most nations have a tacit agreement to at least try and accommodate other nations’ laws (if for no other reason than to have their own laws internationally recognized). Well, except for one pretty significant exception.  

Like we just said, most nations will likely try to accommodate other nations’ laws, but in America you don’t have a case if you haven’t register your copyright at the US copyright office. If an American citizen in America infringes on the copyright of a Swedish citizen’s online photo gallery, the nearest court would be an American court. And said American court doesn’t particularly care about accommodating laws outside the country’s borders. They will simply check if the copyright is registered at the US copyright office and if it isn’t… then there is no case.  

What to do? 

If you want to handle an international copyright infringement case yourself, you’ll have to prepare yourself for using a foreign legal system! And if you want to stand a chance against infringement committed in the US, you’ll have to register whatever you want protected through Luckily, you don’t need to be a US citizen in order to do that.  
Does foreign legal systems too much of a hazzle? Let CatchScan handle these things for you! With a free account, we can find and litigate infringements of your images, no matter what they have been uploaded.  

Christian Bredvig Fjordside
Christian Bredvig Fjordside
Christian Bredvig Fjordside is CatchScan's communications consultant. His job is to talk to the legal department and translate the law jargon into what we fellow mortals refer to as "English".
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