You're searching for images to use in a book you're working on. You find an image with a Creative Commons license on Wikipedia or some other website. So you use it, adding the proper attribution.

But after your book is published, you're sued by someone for copyright infringement. Turns out user "nox7" uploaded a copyrighted image, falsely claiming it was licensed by CC.

If the website you got the image from is still online - solid evidence that you were duped - what bearing, if any, might that have on your case?

I'm assuming you can still be sued, and you could lose. But are there cases where a court says, "Hey, this guy was lied to. He made an honest effort to ascertain the image's legal status, but he was duped by user nox7"?

The judge then throws the case out, on condition that the image be removed from future copies of the book. Or the defendant still loses, but he gets off with a light fine.

Can anyone give me some guidance here? If there's no definite answer, it would be helpful to know about specific cases involving this situation.

  • You don't get "convicted" or any sort of fine if you are "sued". Convicted/fines relate to criminal cases; if you are sued that is a civil case, and you have to pay "damages". – Martin Bonner supports Monica May 28 '18 at 16:01
  • I edited my question. Thx. – David Blomstrom May 28 '18 at 16:17
  • Thanks for editing to add the jurisdiction. I also added the corresponding tag. In the future you can do this yourself; we try to have a jurisdiction tag on every question where it's relevant. – Nate Eldredge May 28 '18 at 16:32

Under US law, you are still liable for copyright infringement even if it was unintentional. But if you can prove it was unintentional, then the damages can be reduced.

17 USC 504 (C) (2):

[...] In a case where the infringer sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that such infringer was not aware and had no reason to believe that his or her acts constituted an infringement of copyright, the court in its discretion may reduce the award of statutory damages to a sum of not less than $200. [...]

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