Copyright infringement occurs when a person encroaches on the exclusive rights held by the owner of a copyright.

How Can I Prove Someone Infringed on My Copyright?

To prove that someone infringed on your copyright you must show actual copying of protected material that has led to substantial similarity between the infringing work and your copyrighted work.

How Can I Prove Someone Copied My Work?

You can prove copying if there is direct or indirect evidence that someone took material from your work. 

  • Direct evidence is evidence showing that a person copied your work
  • Indirect evidence is evidence showing that a person can be assumed to have copied your work because he had access to it and his work is similar enough to suggest copying

Is the Material They Copied Protected?

Although someone's work may seem very similar to yours, it might not actually infringe your copyright if the material it copies is not protected by United States Copyright Laws. You may not be able to sue for copyright infringement if the copied material is: 

  • Factual: Facts are not protected by copyright. Therefore, if you wrote a book about a historical event and someone else wrote about the same historical event, using different words and a different style, you could not sue for copyright infringement.
  • A general idea: Ideas are also not protected by copyright. Therefore, if you wrote a play about a hero with extraordinary strength, the creators of Superman could not sue you for copyright infringement on that alone.
  • Non-original elements: Any elements that necessarily follow from general ideas are also unprotected. For example, if you set a story in San Francisco and have your characters drive across the Golden Gate Bridge, this element of your story is probably not protected.

Is the New Work Substantially Similar to Mine?

Generally, a new work is substantially similar to yours if the overall look and feel of the new work is the same as your copyrighted work. 

I Think Someone Infringed on My Copyright Do I Need a Lawyer?

A lawyer skilled in intellectual property will help you navigate through the tricky terrain of copyright infringement. If you do have a case of copyright infringement, an intellectual property lawyer will try your case and work to get you the appropriate remedies.