You posted new pictures to your instagram to promote your brand only to see someone use it for a flyer or a facebook ad without your permission!
You give an artist a rough mix of a track you produced and next thing you know it's up on itunes and spotify without your permission or a split sheet!
You write a song in a session and months later you hear your song on the radio. When you check the credits your name is no where to be found!
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN SOMEONE STEALS YOUR CONTENT?
1. Register Your Work with the US Copyright Office (seriously...do NOT just mail it to yourself!)
Just because you don’t necessarily need to file your work doesn’t mean you shouldn’t. A "poor-mans" copyright is not going to help you get your money in court. Regardless of whether you think it has value or not, take the 30 minutes it takes to file a copyright and do it! Filing your copyright protects you and your POCKETS in the event someone steals your work.
Yes it only takes 30 minutes. Guess what? Most copyrights only cost $55.
Having filed with the copyright office gives you the ability to bring your claim in front of a court to enforce your rights and makes the process of taking someone to court and being awarded money without having to prove how much the other person made if anything that much easier.
2. After you file your copyright notice put the public on notice it is protected!
A copyright notice like this one —> © <—- puts people on notice that you have filed for registration of the work with the US Copyright Office.
3. Next...watermark, watermark, watermark.
The number one thing you can do to discourage thieves is to watermark watermark watermark. Whether its your Instagram name in an obvious place that can't be cropped out or your producer mark at the beginning and middle of a track. Make it harder for thieves by marking your work.
This is easy. It is free. Don't be lazy. Get it done.
4. So they still stole your ish...now what?
So you follow steps 1-3 and some triflin person still steals your content with no shame? Your next step is to find out the person's contact information and send them what is called a cease and desist notice.
A cease and desist notice puts the person on actual notice of your legal rights (see step 1) and that you WILL enforce them if they do not take the work down and stop using it. Take things a step further and contact the DCMA agent if its on facebook, instagram, etc and let them know someone is using your content and they will also shut the person down...but AGAIN you need to have completed STEP 1 because they will want to see proof you are the actual legal owner of the work.
However, normally having a well worded (insert scarily worded) cease and desist hit someone's inbox is more than enough muscle to get the fraud to stop in their tracks.