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Copyright Infringement Penalties

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What Is Copyright Infringement?

Copyright infringement refers to any unauthorized use of a work that is protected under copyright laws. These may include the right to:

  • Reproduce the work
  • Distribute or sell the work
  • Perform or display copyrighted work
  • Make “derivative works” from the copyrighted material
  • Perform various other types of actions in connection with the work

Thus, performing copyrighted work without the owner’s permission can form the basis for a copyright infringement lawsuit. This can lead to various legal penalties and court fees for the defendant. 

Are Copyright Infringement Penalties Serious?

Copyright infringement penalties can often be more serious than other types of intellectual property claims. This is because many state and federal laws actually make it a crime to engage in infringement of copyrighted material. These laws are often known as “anti-piracy” laws, and are particularly aimed at protecting electronic media such as songs, movies, and computer files. 

Thus, copyright infringement may result in criminal penalties such as criminal fines and a short jail sentences. These fines may often amount to hundreds or thousands of dollars. 

Also, in addition to state or federal criminal penalties, the owner of the copyright may also impose a civil lawsuit on the infringing party. This can result in additional legal consequences, such as a damages award to reimburse them for their monetary losses. In order to be able to obtain damages through a civil lawsuit, however, the owner needs to prove the value of the IP rights that were infringed upon.

What If I Need to File a Copyright Infringement Lawsuit?

Filing a lawsuit for copyright infringement will generally require various forms of proof. For instance, the plaintiff will need to prove that they actually created the copyrighted material, and that their current copyright is valid and not expired. The scope of copyright holder rights can sometimes be broad, and may need to be supported by evidence such as a copy of the work, and documents from previous filings. 

They will also need to provide documentation of their financial losses if they expect to be reimbursed. Speculative losses or losses that can’t be calculated will not be reimbursable.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Copyright Infringement Penalties?

Copyright infringement penalties can often be challenging to deal with. You may need to hire a qualified lawyer in your area if you need any assistance with copyright infringement issues. Your lawyer will be able to provide you with legal information, advice, and guidance throughout the process. Also, if you need to file a lawsuit, your attorney can represent you during formal court hearings. 

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 09-01-2015 09:32 AM PDT

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