As someone who works in design, you know it's possible to have your work stolen. It might be someone who takes the image from the internet and copies it onto a canvas for sale, or it could be someone who prints it on a T-shirt for a campaign and ends up making money off the sales.
Whatever happens, you know it's not legal for them to use your work. You might just be one person, but you do have the right to take legal action against someone who violates your copyright. There are some steps you can take to protect yourself.
1. Get that copyright
To start with, you should always record your idea. Ideas themselves are not copyrightable, but if you write down the idea, then they can be copyrighted. Take the time to put down the date and time of the idea, too, so you can justify any complaints about others taking your work.
2. Prove where the other person saw or found your work
To hold the other person liable, you'll have to show how they found your work. Did you post it online? Was it at a local art fair they attended? This information is important to your case and can help you prove that they stole the idea intentionally.
3. Send a cease and desist letter to stop the party from selling your work
Once you see that someone else is using your work, you should format and send a cease and desist letter. Demand that the individual stops using your work and takes down the copied work immediately. It's a good idea to have your attorney draft this notice. The other party's attorney may negotiate with your attorney at that point, but in most cases, this will resolve the issue.
4. Determine if you want to go to court
Finally, you should decide if you want to go to court over the copyright infringement. If you do, you should begin to build your case with the above documents and proof of asking the other party to desist. You may want to consider going to court and suing if you find that you've lost substantial income as a result of the infringement. If not, it may not be worth the battle, so it's a good idea to consider your options carefully before deciding on what you want to do.
These are four steps to consider if someone violates your copyright. Your legal options are open to you, so consider carefully what you want to do.