Let's say that I find a non-affiliated source that offers some creative work under a copyleft license and I decide to use that work, stating where I found it and under which license. If in the future that 3rd party gets sued for copyright infringement, can I be considered liable?

1 Answer 1


If you used some creative work of mine without my permission (I'm the copyright holder, and you have no license giving you permission) then I can sue you to make you stop using my work, to get payment for damages, and to get payment for statutory damages. If you used my work because someone else told you wrongly that you had a license, that's very unfortunate for you, but is no reason why I wouldn't or shouldn't sue you.

Obviously in this situation that third party did something badly wrong. I can sue both of you together to make sure that I get payment from whoever has deeper pockets. You can also sue that third party if you think that their lying, or being mistaken, about a non-existing license caused you damages, or if there is a contract or something that makes them responsible.

  • 5
    Yep, you can’t take my car either just because some rando said you could.
    – Dale M
    Commented Nov 29, 2021 at 21:09
  • 18
    @DaleM I think the analogy is less "take your car", and more "am I liable if I purchased a car in good faith from a third-party, who misrepresented they had the rights to sell the car, but it actually was the case that the car was stolen from you (by the third party or someone else)".
    – R.M.
    Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 0:06
  • 2
    However, if you rely on a third party's false assertion that they license my copyrights to you, and I sue you over your unlicensed use, then that may provide you grounds for suing the third party. Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 0:27
  • 9
    "is no reason why I wouldn't or shouldn't sue you." Certainly there's a moral reason. And there are public policy reasons to limit such suits. Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 6:27
  • 6
    @DaleM: If I purchase a car in good faith from someone who offers me a seemingly-valid title, but the car happens to be stolen, I would in most jurisdictions be required to forfeit the car, but if I make no attempt to prevent such forfeiture I wouldn't have any criminal culpability or civil liability beyond that.
    – supercat
    Commented Nov 30, 2021 at 16:29

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .