Will I be sued?

“The risk of being sued for copyright of ‘orphaned’ works is typically quite small. Because they were probably never registered, they would have to first register them (submitting their own originals), then prove that they legally own the title to the copyrights, then prove you infringed their rights, then prove that your infringement has somehow caused them ‘damages.’”

“Lawyers often send letters warning of copyright infringement, but in reality few lawsuits are commenced.”
Steven P. Aggergaard

“You own a copyright as soon as you create something. The main reason for registering a copyright is to make it easier to sue someone for copyright infringement and to actually seek and receive monetary damages.”
Steven P. Aggergaard

From the U.S. Library of Congress:

The Library is unaware of any lawsuits involving the use of its historical images.

The Library is aware of a few cases where a user was told by someone claiming to hold the rights to images in the Library’s collections to “cease and desist” publication of the images. When the users requested proof of rights ownership, however, the matter was dropped.

To establish a prima facie case of copyright infringement, the plaintiff must prove “ownership” of copyrighted material and “copying” by the defendant. (Norma Ribbon & Trimming, Inc. v. Little, 51 F.3d 45, 47 (5th Cir. 1995) (citing Lakedreams v. Taylor, 932 F.2d 1103, 1107 (5th Cir.1991). A plaintiff establishes “ownership” by demonstrating that the material is “copyrightable” and that he complied with the statutory requirements in securing the copyright. Central Point Software, Inc. v. Nugent, 903 F.Supp. 1057, 1057 (E.D. Tex. I995).

If it is difficult for you to find a rights holder after employing due diligence, it ought to be equally difficult for a claimant to show that a copyright had been secured.

U.S. Library of Congress

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