Re: What do I do?


Terry Carroll (
Thu, 15 May 1997 10:09:46 -0700 (PDT)

On Wed, 14 May 1997, Vince Cheng wrote:

> I keep the Mountain Biking FAQ and I have found a commercial site at
> that is using my FAQ without telling me or
> giving me any credits. They took out sections that will direct people to
> my webpages for more FAQ info and they only left my name in the author
> intro section. They even used the old version of the FAQ and stole it
> right off the Ohio-State site. I'm quite mad and I'm thinking about going
> with some legal action here. There is no questino about it, the FAQ is
> mine and I put the little copyright thing at the end of it. What do you
> guys think I should do? I have already contacted them with no response.

As you already know, you have a U.S. copyright in your FAQ; the difficulty
now is in enforcing it.

What I did when my FAQ (the Copyright FAQ, of all things!) was infringed
was write to the infringer, explain that they were infringing, and pointed
out that the copyright statute provided for up to $100,000 statutory
dameges and for awards of attorneys fees. We settled quickly and cheaply.
(I let them continue to use the FAQ, they gave me some merchandaise of my

I note that statutory damages and attorneys fees, with some exceptions,
are only available if you register the copyright prior to the
infringement. That means that, assuming you have not so registered your
FAQ, you can't get either, and are limited to any actual damages you've
suffered or profits they've gained from your FAQ. That doesn't mean you
can't truthfully point out the provision of the staute however; you just
leave out that pesky detail that you don't qualify for those remedies (and
then register your FAQ now; you can always make the (probably losing)
argument that any continued infringement after you register entitles you
to those damages).

Mind you, this is all just a matter of effectively posturing. We all know
you're not going to actually sue over this.

A few anticipated questions: 1) I realize you're in Canada. That doesn't
change anything material. You still have a U.S. copyright under section
104 of the U.S. Copyright Act. 2) To register a copyright in your FAQ,
fill out U.S. Copyright Office Form TX and mail it to the Office with $20
and two printed copies of your FAQ. 3) Yes, you can download the forms
off the web. They're at, in PDF

My copyright FAQ, for more info, is at .

BTW, I'm a biking newbie, and I found your Mountain Biking FAQ very
interesting and useful when I started last August. Thanks a lot for
maintaining it.

Terry Carroll       | "The invention provides means for continuously
Santa Clara, CA     | trapping sparrows and supplying a cat and     | neighborhood cats with a supply of sparrows."
Modell delenda est  |                - U.S. Patent no. 4,150,505