Answer: Among the several options available, you could: (1) ask the user to remove the content; (2) sue the user; (3) ask Youtube to remove the content; (4) ask Youtube for ad revenue to be redirected to you.
If you just want the user to remove your content from their video, or the video in its entirety, look to responses (1) and (3). If you want to get paid, look to responses (2) and (4).
(1) An Informal Attempt to Stop Infringement
First, and perhaps easiest, is to (1) contact the user and ask that they remove the content. State that you are the exclusive owner of the content and that you have not licensed its use to anyone. Ask if they have received a license from any other party, which has purported to have the authority to license the content. They may comply with your request, in which case you’ve accomplished what you’ve set out to do. If they ignore your request or refuse to comply, proceed down the list of options.
(2) Filing a Lawsuit to Protect Your Images
If you registered the images with the U.S. Copyright Office for copyright protection before the infringing content was posted (or within three months of creating the content), you’re well-prepared to recover in an action for copyright infringement. Reach out to 2-3 attorneys and see if one you’d be willing to work with will contact the infringing party on your behalf. A law firm’s letterhead on your demand letter may make the infringing party think twice before ignoring your claims. An attorney may try to negotiate a reasonable retroactive licensing fee for the content, before filing a lawsuit on your behalf.
If you did not file for copyright protection, your images are still protected, but you’re generally entitled to less money if the claim proceeds to federal court. Registering your images with the U.S. Copyright Office before infringement (or within 3 months of the creation of the image) also allows an attorney to recover their fees from the infringing party and not from you. Without registration, an attorney is more likely to seek payment upfront, from you, before assisting with an infringement claim. So, if you haven’t registered the images, it may make more sense for you to try pursuing this action through Youtube, on your own, first.
If you feel uncomfortable initiating this legal process on your own, or find the process overwhelming, contact an attorney who focuses on copyright law – ideally one with experience submitting Content ID copyright claims.
(3) and (4) Using the Youtube Content ID System
Alternatively, you may utilize the Youtube has a copyright strike system, “Content ID,” You may submit an infringement notice to Youtube requesting that the video is either (3) taken down or (4) ad revenue is redirected to you. You can file a copyright complaint against the YouTube user here: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2807622?hl=en&ref_topic=2778544.
Still Looking for More Information?
If you are asking a similar question, an attorney who has the opportunity to review all of the associated documentation with your case will be able to give you clearer answers tailored to your specific situation. Reach out to a North Carolina Copyright Attorney by emailing the author at Will@BlacktonLaw.com.